Today in Texas History – July 28

From the Annals of the Toreros –   In 1908, Harper Lee of Ysleta made his first appearance as a novillero, or apprentice matador, in the Plaza de Guadalajara.   In 1895 Harper’s mother married Samuel M. Lee, a resident of Guadalajara. Harper joined the family there and enrolled in high school in 1899. He called himself Harper Baylor Lee even though he was never legally adopted. His amigos called him El Gringo Harper.  Lee showed early promise in bullfighting games.  He was invited to bull haciendas as was given the opportunity to test young fighting bulls and breeding cows.  He showed exceptional talent with the cape.  Under the tutelage of his friend Francisco Gómez, El Chiclanero, a retired matador from Spain, Lee decided to become a professional torero.  His initial appearance in Guadalajara launched a remarkable career in which he ultimately became the first North American to be acknowledged as a full-fledged matador de toros.  His career was cut short by the turmoil of the Mexican Revolution but he appeared in 52 corridas and  dispatched 100 bulls.  He “cut the pigtail” in the formal ceremony of retirement on December 3, 1911.

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