Texas Ranch House -- Meet the Adventurers
Meet the Adventurers
Visit the Cooke Ranch
Interactive History
Adventurers Take Stock
1867: Places, People & Events
About the Project
For Teachers
"I'm a problem solver. [Lisa] comes up with ideas, and I solve the problems and make them work."
Bill Cooke diary cam Watch video
Bill discusses the role of his wife on the ranch.

Watch video
The Cookes watch the rain on the Texas plain.
Bill Cooke Lisa Cooke Vienna Cooke Lacey Cooke Hannah Cooke Maura Finkelstein Ian Roberts Ignacio Quiles Stan Johnston Rob Wright Shaun Terhune Anders Heintz Johnny Ferguson Jared Ficklin Robby Cabezuela
Bill Cooke, Age 53, From California
Bill Cooke in 21st century clothing
Bill Cooke in 1867 clothing

Bill is the proud father of three teenage girls, and the husband of Lisa Cooke. The tight-knit family lives in a suburban home in California where Bill recently worked as a controller at a hospital and is now an emergency services administrator. Bill's ideal evening is coming home from a long day's work and coaching his daughter Hannah, who is a star fast-pitch softball pitcher. Bill enjoys spending time with his family and tending to the berry patch that gives his wife Lisa plenty of fruit for her homemade jam and preserves.


"I'm different from Lisa. I'm less of a risk taker than she is for one. She's a visionary. She sees beyond the current time. She sees potential of things. I'm a problem solver. She comes up with ideas, and I solve the problems and make them work."

1867 Profile

Bill Cooke is an upper middle-class San Francisco entrepreneur with a reputation for risk-taking and going wherever financial opportunity beckons. In this most recent and daring financial endeavor, he has invested the majority of his net worth into the purchase of 10,000 acres on the Texas frontier. The longevity of Mr. Cooke's fledgling "rancho," the livelihood of his family, and his ultimate success depend on his capacity to show a profit at the end of his first cattle drive. Key to this speculative venture is Mr. Cooke's ability to claim as many free-ranging, maverick Longhorn cattle as possible, care for them, and trail them to a profitable market.

As "el Patron," or owner, of the ranch, Mr. Cooke will need to exert his will, command respect, earn the trust of his hands, and play the role of gentleman. All financial decisions, from purchasing supplies to bookkeeping to paying hired hands, fall under Mr. Cooke's jurisdiction. The ranch crew answers directly to him and is responsible for executing his vision. One of the first things Mr. Cooke must do to establish his authority is create and institute a set of ranch rules.

Mr. Cooke lives in a five-room adobe with his wife, three daughters, the foreman, and the "girl of all work." He conducts morning meetings with his foreman to discuss and determine the day's objectives. Because his ultimate task is overseeing the fiscal betterment of the ranch, Mr. Cooke spends most of his time with the ranch ledger, balancing expenses and income and determining a plan that maximizes the ranch's profit. He must pay the charge made on his account in September after the first cattle drive, so he must balance ordering food and supplies, paying his ranch hands in silver once a month, and monitoring the ranch's consumption of common goods. It is Mr. Cooke's job to ultimately determine the needs of the ranch and maintain this line of credit. In order to determine that the ranch is functioning per his specifications, it is imperative that he observe the work activities of his men on the range.

The close of Mr. Cooke's workday is marked by dinner, after which he and his family engage in leisure activities of their choosing. It is Mr. Cooke's responsibility to include his family in the interests and operation of the ranch.

Print this page
Email to a Friend
Video Podcast What's this? Video Podcast