CARTHAGE — Historian Bill O’Neal writes one book at a time.
Although one time he said he tried working on three books at once: “It just like to have driven me nuts.”
For the Carthage resident’s latest book about plainsman Billy Dixon and his adventurous wife, Olive, O’Neal did research in 2017 and wrote it in October 2018. The research trip was planned out, and at each place he went, he said people helped him.
“Billy and Olive Dixon: The Plainsman and His Lady” was recently published as a paperback through Eakin Press. A book-signing and several programs are in the works.
Billy Dixon is noted for his role at the Battle of Adobe Walls in 1874, between the Oklahoma border and Amarillo. Not too much later, while serving 10 years as an Army scout, Dixon earned the Medal of Honor as one of six men who fought against a group of 125 Indians at the Buffalo Wallow.
Dixon was given land at Adobe Walls, and it was then he met Olive King.
Fellow adventurer King came to the Texas Panhandle to visit her cowboy brothers. She became a frontier schoolmarm and met her famous and much older neighbor, Billy Dixon. Billy and Olive fell in love, married and had eight children in 15 years.
In later times, Olive persuaded Billy to dictate his memoirs to her, and the result was a 1914 biography, “Life of Billy Dixon: Plainsman, Scout and Pioneer.”
After her husband died and her children grew up and moved away, Olive Dixon became a force in Panhandle history, helping to establish the Panhandle-Plains Museum, writing and speaking about her own pioneer experiences as well as her husband’s and erecting monuments at Adobe Walls and at Buffalo Wallow.
O’Neal also is working on a book about Wyoming and has spent time in Cheyenne and Laramie.
He is a former state historian of Texas and has written almost 50 books in the past 40 years.
As state historian, O’Neal traveled tens of thousands of miles as an ambassador for Texas history. He is a past president and fellow of the West Texas Historical Association and the East Texas Historical Association.
He received the Panola County Citizen of the Year award in 1988 and 2014.
O’Neal also has appeared on TV documentaries on TBS, The History Channel, The Learning Channel, CMT, A&E and the American Heroes Channel Series, “Gunslingers.”
He also taught at Panola College, and, in 2013, the college named a new dormitory Bill O’Neal Hall. That same year, he received an honorary Doctor of Letters from his alma mater, Texas A&M University at Commerce.