The Codys: Wild West Adventures
The first showdown between the two champion shooters, Captain Adam Bogardus and W. F. �Doc� Carver, did not take place until February, 1883. Both men had returned from their successful European tours long before that date, but Bogardus felt he had little to gain from risking his recognized crown as champion shooter. However, Carver�s challenges grew more strident, and they reached a point where Bogardus� pride could not accept being labeled an �artful dodger� by Carver any longer.
Their first match was held in Louisville, Kentucky on Feb. 22, 1883. They agreed to use shotguns in deference to Bogardus. The targets were live pigeons. Bogardus� intimidating presence�the elegant clothes, the custom guns and cases--had no effect on Carver, who was 6�4�, weighed 265 pounds, and wore an outlandish western outfit of a fringed buckskin coat, a huge wide brim cowboy hat tilted high above his brow, and leather leggings decorated with glass bead designs. Bogardus� title of �Captain� was offset by Carver�s �Doc,� though Carver�s credentials as a dentist were lapsed. In later years he suggested he was given the nickname of �Doc� by family, but by other accounts his early manhood was spent in that career.
Carver won, 83 birds to 82.
Bogardus requested another match, and Carver eagerly agreed. They met next in Chicago, and this time shot one round of 100 live birds and a second round of clay targets. The clay targets were a new innovation, and even Bogardus had to acknowledge that they flew better than his own patented glass ball system. The glass ball targets were still used for many years afterwards, however, because exhibitions in enclosed buildings and around large crowds required the use of shells with light loads of gunpowder; and glass balls would break when shot by light loads where other targets would not.
Carver prevailed in both rounds.
Thousands of people attended these first two matches, and the results were printed in newspapers across the country. Bogardus and Carver agreed to move on and meet again in St. Louis. On their arrival there, they received a written offer from George Ligowsky, the maker of the clay targets that had been used in Chicago, to compete in a whole series of 26 matches, with the winner to take $300 per match. These contests took place in March and April in 1883 in many Eastern cities, but the results hardly varied: Carver won 19 times, Bogardus 3 times, and 3 times they tied.
The popularity of the Bogardus-Carver matches only solidified the plans of one of Carver�s old prairie hunting acquaintances, William F. Cody, to promote a traveling exhibition of scenes and skills from the American frontier. �Buffalo Bill� Cody had already made a name for himself in the late 1870s with stage melodramas built around his larger-than-life character, an image derived from fanciful Ned Buntline dime novels. Cody found that indoor stages limited the action he wanted to present. His idea was to build a show for a large circus tent or an outdoor arena that would feature authentic white settlers, Native Americans, cowboys, scouts, soldiers, wild horses, cattle, elk, and buffalo in skits demonstrating fighting, roping, horsemanship, hunting�and, of course, shooting.
Carver bought into Cody�s grand plan and swore himself as his partner, even as he was still touring with Bogardus in the spring of 1883. Cody and Carver bandied different names for the show back and forth, and settled on �Buffalo Bill and Doc Carver�s Wild West, Rocky Mountain, and Prairie Exhibition.� Not only did Carver invest in the show, he insisted on a starring role. The success at the gate of the matches with Bogardus (even if the outcome was lopsided) enticed Cody and Carver to invite Bogardus to join the cast. Bogardus agreed, but wanted to build a separate act around his three young sons, who were already skilled shooters. The �Wild West� show concept came at the perfect time, when the great circus showman Barnum no longer seemed an innovator; and when there was a national passion for the �vanishing West.� The only thing lacking in the planning of �Buffalo Bill�s Wild West� was the recruitment of a manager who knew anything about the entertainment business.
* * *
The lack of show business acumen nearly doomed the first year of the Buffalo Bill�s Wild West. Typically, the show would sell out the initial dates in a town, but as it exhausted the audience of newspaper boys, shoeshine boys, and other dime-novel readers, it found few middle-class ticket buyers. To many city dwellers, the all-male cast appeared more threatening and barbaric than heroic. It didn�t help matters that Cody and nearly all the other noted cowboys they recruited used the tour as an excuse to drink copious amounts of alcohol. One entire car of their special show train was rumored to be a liquor warehouse.
Carver proved to be a lackluster and temperamental performer, whether he was one of the drinkers or not. On several occasions he shot badly; and took his frustration out on his mounts with cruel treatment in plain view of the audience. Cody had enough sense to realize that their partnership was not working, and that he and Carver seemed to bring out the worst qualities in each other. At the end of the 1883 season, Buffalo Bill unilaterally ended the relationship with Doc Carver and implored a successful theater manager, Nate Salsbury, to be the show�s business manager for the next season. Salsbury signed on and immediately ended the open binge drinking in the company.
Salsbury immediately grasped that the company needed more touches of traditional showmanship in order to appeal to a broader audience. Cody had an aversion to the word �show��he thought �exhibition� conveyed more authenticity�but Salsbury recognized the Wild West for what it was: a scripted entertainment. He added a band to heighten the drama of various skits, and developed the show�s trademark climatic scene, the raid on the settler�s cabin. Through 1884, his efforts stopped the hemorrhaging losses the show incurred, but it was not yet profitable. Some element was still missing that Salsbury could not put his finger on.
* * *
After a six month courtship, Frank Butler married 16-year-old Annie Moses in August, 1876. Frank continued to tour over the next five years as a one-half of the expert shooting act, Baughman and Butler. Annie accompanied Frank, but did not shoot in the act or competitively. In 1881, Baughman and Butler were performing their act in the Sells Brothers Circus, one of the major circuses of its day. One particular part of the act involved Frank shooting a potato or turnip off the top of Baughman�s head. On the night of May 23, while playing in Milwaukee, when they came to this part of their act Butler seemed to spectators to be very agitated. He shot at the turnip on Baughman's head and missed. He shot four more times in rapid succession, missing each time. Finally, on his sixth shot, Baughman pitched forward and fell on his face. The small caliber bullet had penetrated above his right eyebrow to the bone, but then glanced upward leaving just a deep scalp wound. Baughman survived (on regaining consciousness, his first words were a request to not have his mother told about the accident), but their partnership did not. Frank continued with the Sells Brothers Circus with a new partner, John Graham.
A year after Baughman�s accident, in May of 1882, Frank�s new partner John Graham fell ill and could not dress for the curtain. Frank tried to perform solo, but shot badly and had the audience heckling. Annie came onstage with a rifle in hand and created a sensation with her flawless aim. Graham never rejoined the act, and over time Frank�s own role shrank as it became clear that Annie was the attraction that drew the crowds. Her shooting skill, combined with a demure composure, modest hand-embroidered dresses, girlish enthusiasm, and a winning smile set her apart from the jaded appeal of other women performers. She soon took a stage name--Annie Oakley.
The grind of travel to the frequent circus bookings wore on both Frank and Annie. They lasted through the 1884 season with the Sells Brothers Circus, but after the last engagement of the season in New Orleans, they approached Buffalo Bill Cody to join his Wild West show. Although still not solvent, the Wild West show was making a mark in the entertainment business as a top notch operation�the Butlers could reach no higher than to be a part of Cody�s show. However, Cody declined their initial approach; although Doc Carver was gone, between his own shooting and Captain Bogardus, he felt the show had an ample roster of sharpshooters. Frank and Annie resigned themselves to a return to variety theater performances.
As the Buffalo Bill Wild West Exhibition prepared for the first shows of 1885, it was still trying to recover from an accident: steamers carrying much of the equipment of the show--most of its animals, and Adam Bogardus� rifles�sank in the Mississippi. Bogardus quit his contract in a dejected huff. Cody suddenly was in the market for a sharpshooter, and so Annie and Frank reappeared to audition. Nate Salsbury was present at Annie�s try-out, and immediately recognized not only her skill but her middle-class appeal. She was hired on the spot, and Frank continued as her manager and assistant. Annie was an immediate hit with the Wild West audiences: over 140,000 people saw her perform in 1885, in 40 different cities.
In 1886, Buffalo Bill�s Wild West played the entire summer in New York, encamped at Staten Island. In that season they drew half a million people, and Annie�s name was billed second only to Buffalo Bill himself. Even so, Cody felt compelled to add another female shooter to the show for their trip to England in 1887�a fifteen-year-old prodigy named Lillian Smith. Salsbury and Cody likely wanted to prevent Lillian from signing with another Wild West show or circus�their success had now bred many competitors, and Lillian had already made a name for herself in nationally publicized challenge matches. Lillian was profane, brash, and anointed herself as a �Champion� shooter. She brazenly announced that she would be the show�s premiere shooter. She also partied with the show�s cowboys, while Annie and Frank remained aloof. Putting it mildly, the two women sharpshooters did not get along.
Annie Oakley tolerated Lillian for one season only�and finally bested her in a long-delayed head-to-head match. After the tour of England completed its run in the fall of 1887, she and Frank quit Buffalo Bill�s show. The next summer she toured with Pawnee Bill Lillie�s Wild West show, and accepted challenge matches at state fairs. She coexisted fine with sharpshooter May Lillie, Pawnee Bill�s young wife. Towards the end of 1888, Annie agreed to star in a new western-themed melodrama stage production that Frank decided to promote, Deadwood Dick. The show called for a cast of cowboy heroes and bad men, which, since the Wild West shows were on their seasonal hiatus, were in short supply on the East Coast at the onset of the winter season. However, there was one handsome young buckaroo that was more than glad to join the production, considering the alternative he had just escaped.
* * *
Doc Carver was nicknamed the �Evil Spirit of the Plains,� which, according to publicity flyers, was a translation of a title bestowed on him by Spotted Tail of the Brul� Sioux, who was supposedly awed by Carver�s trophy kills of a white buffalo and a silver elk. Before issuing his challenges to Adam Bogardus in the late 1870s, Carver�s name is found in the lists of San Francisco gun meets as a good competitor�but often not the best. There is no denying that by the early 1880s, Carver was an exceptional shooter; but some credit his rise to that status was based on countless hours of gun club range practice�and not to skills honed on the wild frontier, where buffalo and elk did not fly on the wing.
Following his acrimonious breakup with Buffalo Bill at the end of the 1883 season, Carver spent the summers of 1884 and 1885 traveling with his own small-time Wild West show. He had frequent legal spats with Cody over the name �Wild West�, which both men claimed to have originated. Carver was an even worse businessman than Cody, however, so by July, 1885, his own show had folded. He spent the rest of 1885 and 1886 performing exhibitions, and ducking challenges from the prepubescent wonder, Lillian Smith�who hounded Carver the way he had hounded Bogardus.
In 1887, Doc Carver teamed up with circus impresario Adam Forepaugh to headline the Wild West segment of Forepaugh�s show. Forepaugh was well aware of the new threat to his audience share from Wild West shows like Buffalo Bill�s and Pawnee Bill�s. He became the first circus owner to adopt a full-blown Wild West show into his tent show, and hired Doc Carver to manage that part of the combination. Carver performed his sharpshooting exhibitions and embraced the role of the gallant General Custer in the climatic �Custer�s Last Rally� Little Big Horn skit. Carver�s own preening nature well suited him for the role.
Forepaugh, for his part, was delighted with the exciting riding skills the cowboys brought to his show, but couldn�t resist making it bigger and better. To expand the Wild West acts for 1888, Forepaugh committed $60,000 towards more Indians, cowboys, cowgirls, horses, buffalo, elk, etc. Over the winter, he assigned his agents to scour the land for prime specimens of a vanishing and half-imaginary way of life.
Adam Forepaugh was not a showman by training; he had been a cattle drover and horse trader who had acquired the assets of a circus from a debtor, and then built it into an entertainment empire second only to P.T. Barnum. Forepaugh and Barnum had their own history of cutthroat skirmishes, highlighted by 1884�s �white elephant� war. Barnum had found an albino elephant and announced he was importing it to America. Forepaugh unveiled to the public his own white elephant, named the �Light of Asia,� before Barnum�s elephant arrived. Barnum immediately labeled the �Light of Asia� a fraud. Forepaugh answered the charge by parading out expert testimony from university zoologists attesting that the �Light of Asia� was a genuine wonder. After a year, it was finally revealed by a former trained that the �Light of Asia� was an ordinary gray elephant that had been whitewashed with a plaster of Paris solution. After that episode, which hurt the reputation of both men, Forepaugh and Barnum called an uneasy truce. For the year 1888, they agreed to route their shows to different parts of the country. Forepaugh would tour the Northeast: eastern Pennsylvania; New Jersey; New York City; Connecticut; Massachusetts; Rhode Island; Maine; New Hampshire; Vermont; upstate New York; and western Pennsylvania.
Adam Forepaugh was a ruddy, heavy man of Pennsylvania Dutch parentage. He had massive shoulders, thick legs, and muscular, sinewy arms. His hands were those of a workman; and Forepaugh more than once bunched them up and exercised them on employees who challenged his authority. Although he trusted his underlings to come up with publicity stunts, he himself took charge of what he called �faking the fakements.� Before taking over as the �main guy� of the circus, one of his enterprises was to supply horses to the streetcar companies of Philadelphia. He bought their old tired nags, revived their spirits by giving them the free run of an island on the Schuylkill River, and then resold them to a different company than where they had originated. The streetcar companies were amazed that the �new� stock seemed to have an innate sense for street traffic.
The winter headquarters of the Adam Forepaugh circus was in a huge, high-ceilinged warehouse in Philadelphia, Pa. For a month and a half prior to the season opening in mid-April, the circus and Wild West cast developed their acts, trained newcomers (both human and animal), practiced their skills, prepared their equipment, and repaired worn canvas and ropes. Inside the warehouse was a circus ring; at its center stood a huge wooden mast. From this mast a wooden armature was set on a rotating collar about twenty-five feet off the ground, allowing it to sweep the full circumference of the ring. With pulleys and ropes, it was used to harness the trick riders as they ran through their drills of standing, leaping, and somersaulting. First, the trainees would go through their paces on the ground; only after mastering their moves on solid ground would they be allowed to try them from horseback. The horses used by the trick riders were white--not to impress, but to provide a contrasting visual reference for the leaping and twirling acrobats who rode them. The circus ring itself--its size and shape--was developed by trick riders to take advantage of centrifugal force to keep their balance.
The headline equestrian act was Adam Forepaugh, Jr. who also managed the other equestrian acts. The climatic event of each show, for many seasons, was his control of 30 bareback riderless horses from the back of one horse. He would direct the horses to walk up steep inclines, jump through papered hoops, and jump through rings of fire. The most famous horse act was �Eclipse�, a horse trained to leap from one elevated platform hanging from chains to a second suspended hanging platform. It was billed as the �trapeze-leaping pony.� Doc Carver never ceased to wonder at the appeal that Eclipse had to the public. Another acrobatic horse was �Blondin�, the tight-rope walking horse. Forepaugh also had another equine that he billed as the �biggest horse in the world.� Thoroughbreds and jockeys recreated races around a quarter-mile track that ran the perimeter of the tent�s two rings. Horse-drawn Roman chariots were an element of the set of �Sports of the Roman Amphitheater.�
In that spring of 1888, one trainee was a girl just turned sixteen named Maud Maria Lee. She hailed from the nearby city of Norristown, Pennsylvania, and was the daughter of an English emigrant, Joseph Lee. Her father was a foundry man from the industrial city of Manchester, England. He now worked in one of the many iron foundries near Norristown, where many hazards met meager pay. Joseph and his wife, Phoebe, had only one child, Maud, who from a young age fell in love with acrobatics and circuses. Maud was attractive, with a pleasing face and curvaceous figure, but her beauty was not fragile. Her shoulders were broad and her limbs were firm from exercise.
Everyone in a circus had to perform multiple tasks to earn their wage, so aside from gymnastic schooling, Maud would have been taught other skills, such as working with the animals, or donning skimpy oriental outfits for the salacious �educational� skits. In the 1888 season, these skits included Cleopatra and her hand maidens trolling her golden barge to meet Marc Antony; and Lalla Rookh leaving the court of her Mughal father to meet the mysterious prince to whom she is betrothed. Female performers were needed for the Wild West scenes, also. Cowgirls were made a necessary part of a Wild West show according to the precedent set by Buffalo Bill and Nate Salsbury. Genuine western cowgirls were as hard�or harder�to find during an East Coast winter as cowboys, so a trainee like Maud might have been needed to assist in practicing the western scenes.
Forepaugh�s cowboy search that winter had reached Helena, Montana, where a 21-year-old wild horse trainer named Samuel Franklin Cowdery answered the call. Cowdery had left his Davenport, Iowa home as a boy, after his ailing father had already deserted the family. Despite his relative youth, Cowdery was a veteran cowpoke by 1888; by his own account he had been engaged in buffalo hunting, horse training, cattle herding, and prospecting since he was fourteen. The Texas cattle ranches he claimed to have worked on were in the eastern section of the Texas panhandle, and had summer feeder ranches on the Powder River in Montana. The longhorn cattle were driven north each spring following the Western Trail through Dodge City and Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. In later years, Cowdery told tales of a Texas family homestead, Indian attacks, and prospecting for gold in the Klondike�tales of suspect plausibility given the self-mythologizing that nearly all Wild West showmen dabbled in to match fantastic dime novel fiction. However, Cowdery carried undeniable proofs: he was an expert in riding, shooting, and roping.
All those open range skills would be on display in Forepaugh�s Wild West show that season. Aside from the main circus, the Wild West show alone had a cast of 200, including cowboys, cowgirls, sharpshooters, trappers, scouts, plainsmen, vaqueros, and Cavalrymen. His �genuine blanket Indians� were Sioux, Comanche, Kiowa, and Pawnee; and included �bucks, squaws, papooses, chiefs, and medicine men.� Participation in shows by Native Americans from the Plains tribes was increasingly discouraged by the Federal government, ostensibly because of reports of their mistreatment in Buffalo Bill�s show. A more likely motive could be found in Indian Bureau policies that tried to force white culture on the reservations�to make the natives dress, speak, work, and farm like white settlers. The U. S. government did not want the Wild West shows to perpetuate what it considered a barbaric and obsolete way of life. Real Native Americans willing to go out on tour may have been in short supply�in April of 1888, 7 Seneca tribe members from Western New York were engaged. Their knowledge of Plains life probably was not much greater than that of Forepaugh�s white, eastern audiences.
The cowboys and cowgirls were scripted to do a set of �Sports and Pastimes� including: bronco busting; steer roping; horse roping; steer riding; and trick shooting with rifle, shotgun, and pistol. Doc Carver�s female counterpart as the sharpshooting star was �Mexis, the Mexican Rifle Queen.� The Native Americans did demonstrations of bow shooting. The Sioux did a �Sun Dance� that was probably a very tame recreation of the real ritual involving painful self-mutilation. Other scenes depicted were: fort life; the rescue of a white captive about to be burned at the stake in an Indian camp; and the capture of a horse thief by lasso, and his subsequent lynching.
One of the two extensive skits were the �Atrocious Mountain Meadow Massacre�, a recreation of a slaughter of white settlers by Paiutes and Mormons disguised as Paiutes�a real event from the 1850s, but presented by Forepaugh with all possible bias against the Mormons. The other climatic Wild West skit was �Custer�s Last Rally,� which was Doc Carver�s showcase. The Little Big Horn reenactment had once been an element of the Buffalo Bill Wild West show, but was later dropped. Several other scenic sets in the Forepaugh Wild West show were direct copies of elements of Buffalo Bill�s Wild West: the attack on the Deadwood Coach; Pony Express riding; and a Virginia Reel danced by horses ridden by cowboys and cowgirls.
Upon his entry into the show business, Samuel Franklin Cowdery changed his name to Samuel Franklin Cody. This was an obvious ploy to capitalize on his physical resemblance to a younger Buffalo Bill Cody, with his long brown locks that fell over his shoulders. It is not known when the name change decision was made, but since Forepaugh was demonstrably trying to imitate Buffalo Bill�s Wild West show, and Forepaugh and his lieutenants had a history of concocting frauds, it seems natural that the suggestion was made to Cowdery by his bosses. Throughout his show business career, Samuel F. Cody would alternately embrace and deny stories about being a direct blood relative of Buffalo Bill, but he never went back to the name Cowdery.
And so it was that while honing their acts at Forepaugh�s winter headquarters in March of 1888, Samuel F. Cody and Maud Maria Lee were introduced to one another. Maud was assigned to serve as Cody�s assistant during practice of his trick pistol shooting act. Her job was to hold glass balls�like those Bogardus had developed�in her fingers; and to dangle them from her mouth as she was suspended in the air, while Cody shot at them. The act required exceptional trust between the 16-year-old girl and the 21-year-old cowboy. Maud quickly fell in love with Cody; he may have fell in love with her, too, but affected such a guarded, laconic disposition that it was hard to tell.
In her training to be a circus rider, Maud would have been instructed in the science of falling. Acrobat riders risked severe injury because the landings following their jumps on horse�s rosined backs depended not on their own skill alone, but on the animal�s steady pace. Any shying or hesitation by the horse would cause a loss of footing by a rider standing on its back. During a performance, horses could be startled by any number of things: a crash of music from the band; the creaking of a pulley, a paper program falling into the ring, noises from the other animals, etc. Veteran circus riders, if they start to fall, immediately grab their knees and tuck their head down, forming their body into a tight ball, with muscles tensed. If they are aware enough, they will try to hit the ground with their shoulders. It is a difficult skill to learn�a person�s instinct when falling is to throw out their limbs to steady themselves.
Maud did not travel with the show after it opened its new season, most likely because she was too young and needed more training. Forepaugh�s six-month season for the year 1888 began with a week of performances in the circus�s winter home, Philadelphia, Pa. starting April 23. Maud did go visit the circus when it came through her hometown of Norristown on May 4th, but was chaperoned by a friend of her father�s, who was given strict instructions to return from the circus with Maud in tow.
The large cities on their route that year--Philadelphia, Boston, Pittsburgh�had week-long runs, but all the other cities they visited had one day engagements, with only Sunday as a day off from performing. There were two shows a day, in the afternoon at 1:00 PM and in the evening at 7:00 PM. Early each morning, the canvas men would erect the big tent and the seats while the performers rested in the cars of the circus trains. At about 10:00 AM in the morning, the performers and animals would parade from the railway to the tent-grounds, taking a route through the main street of the town they were visiting. The circus parade was often as memorable as the performances themselves.
Adam Forepaugh liked to use the parade and the show�s themed sketches to respond to accusations that circuses were frivolous, immoral, and corrupting. His solution was to use some sort of historical pretext to frame the acts. So, in addition to Cleopatra and Lalla Rookh, the circus included jousting medieval knights, mounted samurai, and chariots of the Roman hippodrome. A prize artifact that Forepaugh liked to show off during the circus parades was a dilapidated old wooden canoe, which he claimed was used by George Washington during the French and Indian War. Forepaugh made a point of mentioning to reporters that following his death, this icon of the nation�s first president would be donated to the United States government.
The parade was a great teaser for the animal acts. Some of the draught horses used to pull carts to the tent were also used in the show, and the elephants were walked through the streets, led by �Bolivar,� the huge pachyderm that Forepaugh had purchased to rival P. T. Barnum�s �Jumbo� Jumbo was taller, but Bolivar weighed 1000 pounds more. Other famed elephants were �Sullivan� the boxing elephant and �Picaninny� the clown elephant. In the show, elephants were also raced, made to dance, play music, and to make a pyramid atop one another. For the parade, Forepaugh had all the animal cages painted vermillion red to create a showy display.
The parade was also a direct source of income. Pickpockets worked the crowd. Some were unaffiliated camp followers, but Forepaugh had a reputation of working with some of them to get a share of their efforts. Frequently, circus parades were also followed by reports of articles being stolen from clotheslines in residential yards. Forepaugh�s ticket booths were also noted for short-changing their customers; and it was common knowledge that the side show games of chance were rigged. Although P.T. Barnum never did say �There�s a sucker born every minute,� that attribution was spread by Adam Forepaugh, who probably took the sentiment behind that quote to heart more than Barnum himself did.
Crimes and accidents occurred every circus season, and Forepaugh�s 1888 season was no exception. On June 13, in Springfield, Mass., canvas man Harry Taylor was working as an usher and punched an unruly drunk who wouldn�t move away from a reserved section. The man fell, broke his neck on the metal head of a tent stake, and died. Taylor, the son of the boss canvas man, fled the scene. On June 21 in Webster, Mass., three Indians were knocked from the top of a parade cart. One was killed and the other two seriously injured. On June 25 in Boston, Mass., Ogallala Sioux members of the show refused to occupy their assigned railcar after being told the same car had been used the year before by Apache tribesmen. Forepaugh himself has to quell the trouble by assuring them this was not the case.
On July 5 in Fall River, MA an elephant nearly killed his keeper after someone fed him a chaw of tobacco. Also, while a lion trainer was packing up a cage, his right arm from elbow to knuckle was mauled. On July 6 on the way to Newport, RI, a section of one of the circus trains derailed and overturned a car carrying horses. Two men were seriously injured; one horse was killed outright and three others needed to be destroyed because of their injuries. On Sept. 26 in Dubois, Pa., elephant trainer John Poggy was attacked while trying to get the elephant �Tip� out of his car. Poggy was struck by the elephant�s trunk, gored through the abdomen with its tusks, and trampled to death. Once again, blame was placed on local boys having fed the animal apples laced with tobacco and pepper. On Oct 1 in Pittsburgh, Pa., two canvas workers, one white and one black, were run over and killed while loading a train.
Samuel F. Cody finished the season with Forepaugh�s circus when it closed at Altoona, Pa. on Oct. 6. Adam Forepaugh returned to Philadelphia, preoccupied with his $10,000 wagers on incumbent Grover Cleveland to be reelected as president over Benjamin Harrison. A month later, Cleveland won the popular vote, but the Electoral College vote put Harrison into the White House; the news disgusted Forepaugh, who didn�t even like Cleveland, but thought him the best bet.
On Oct. 7, 1888, Cody went from Altoona straight to Reading, Pa. which must be taken as a measure of his sentiment�Maud Lee had been living there for several months working as a housecleaner at boarding houses. After an absence of five months, Samuel and Maud were happily reunited. Their joy was short lived. Three days after arriving in Reading, Samuel Franklin Cody was arrested and thrown in jail for assault and attempted rape of a ten-year-old schoolgirl.
* * *
On the morning after his arrest, Cody was given a hearing in the mayor of Reading�s private office, because it was feared that the large crowd of onlookers that had gathered as word of the sensational charge spread might intimidate the young girls involved. He gave his name as S. F. Cody, and his occupation as a sharpshooter most recently with Forepaugh�s circus, explaining that he was in Reading to make arrangements to join up with another Wild West show. He was wearing a corduroy suit, a blue flannel shirt with nickel trim and red glass stars on his collar. Around his neck he wore a red tie looped and pulled tight with a gold finger ring. He had a broad-brimmed gray wool hat with a leather band, decorated with silver stars, and had foot-long brown hair and a small light mustache.
Mary Resch, age 10, testified: �I came down Franklin Street about 8 o�clock in the morning. A man caught me by the foot with a hook tied to a rope that was thrown through a cellar hole as I passed a house above 5th Street. When he caught me pulled me down into the alley towards the cellar hole where he was. That is the man,� she said, pointing at Cody. �I was quite close to him. I was halfway down the underground alley steps when another man, who was dressed like a fireman, came to me and got me out. I had screamed loudly. The hook at my foot was unloosened when he (Cody) pulled me to him, but I don�t know how. When he heard the other man had come to help me, he (Cody) ran out the other way.�
The other girl, Gertie Tracy, was just 7 years old, and had been walking to school with Mary. She was asked what she had seen. She said she hadn�t seen any of the events take place, because she had been walking ahead of Mary. The mayor asked Mary if she had seen Cody before. She answered that she had seen him two days earlier on the street as she was leaving school. Mrs. Resch, Mary�s mother, claimed that Mary had told her that the man who had come to Mary�s assistance took the rope that Mary�s attacker had abandoned and told the girl that he would take it to the police in Philadelphia, where (he said) such articles were known to be used to trap little girls.
Cody was asked what he knew about these charges. �I was not at the house, alley, or cellar that this girl says I was. I did not get out of bed at my boarding house on 200 Franklin Street until after 10:00 AM yesterday. I would like to have my witnesses heard. I am innocent of this charge and would not stoop to anything like harming little girls. Last night when the officer took to see this girl, she said I was the man, but would not look me in the face; and the other girl knew nothing about me at all.�
The mayor decided that the legal process had to run its course. Cody was sent to the lockup, with a further hearing scheduled to determine if he could be released on bail. His court hearing would not occur until the second week of December, when the County Criminal Court would begin its new quarterly session. Cody reacted with obvious alarm: �If you lock me up for any length of time it will kill me! If I have to remain there, I�ll kill myself!�
As his lawyer followed him back to the jail, they both spoke with reporters. Cody�s attorney, J.H. Jacobs, said he was convinced of Cody�s innocence. �He comes from that section of the country where a crime of this kind means instant death by lynch law. Cody and his friends here have not the slightest idea why these charges are being made. They can conceive of no motive.�
Cody added, �What in the name of Heaven would I mean by trying to assault a little girl? Where is that man who is said to have released her? Why were her cries not heard at the police station just three doors down? Why did the man who helped her not report this dastardly outrage to the police; or bring the rope there? Why has he not come forward? I can prove my innocence, but I hate the charge, and I hate going to jail.�
* * *
The Berks County Criminal Court convened nearly two months after Cody�s arrest, on Monday Dec. 10, 1888. Cody had to sit in the courtroom several days until his case was called. He placed his broad-brimmed gray hat on the floor next to him. Everyone in court noted how a young admirer sat just behind where Cody was in the prisoner�s box, and showered her attentions on Cody. During the proceedings, while other cases were called and decided, Cody and the young lady exchanged glances and pleasant words. She would leave on breaks and go outside to get refreshments to bring back to Cody: oranges, candies, and a Pennsylvania Dutch specialty: cinnamon sugar pretzels. Reporters recognized her as having tried to secure Cody�s release ever since his arrest. The woman was Maud Lee, and she was determined to see Cody set free.
Cody�s case was called at 4:40 PM on Wednesday, Dec. 12. The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Schrader, outlined the charges and immediately called Mary Resch to the stand. She appeared in a dark brown suit, with a pink silk cape and a brown, fur-trimmed hood. She repeated her story in a straightforward manner. Gertie Tracy was not present to testify; she was at a funeral in Philadelphia. Schrader called no other prosecution witnesses.
Counselor Jacobs, a shrewd man, in his cross-examination of Mary Resch did not suggest that the whole incident was invented by the girl. Instead, in a fatherly tone, he did ask her to admit that it was possible that the missing man--the one dressed like a fireman--might have been the one that caught her with the rope and pulled her toward the cellar. He then addressed the judge with a list of actions that a reasonable rescuer would have taken on seeing a little girl in such a situation�none of which were done by the mystery man. Jacobs asked the court if the Commonwealth should go on with the case, if the only supporting testimony had already been heard. It was already obvious that her testimony raised too many doubts.
Schrader declined to resign the case. Jacobs then called his own witnesses, starting with Cody. Cody again swore that he nothing about the girl, and that he hadn�t left his room on the day in question until after 10:00 AM. Under cross-examination, Cody was asked about his skill with a lariat. He admitted to being an expert with a lasso�but a rope with a metal hook at the end was not a cowboy�s tool. Moreover, he pointed out that it would be impossible to throw a rope any distance through a cellar hole of the diameter that had been measured.
The managers of the house where Cody boarded, Mr. and Mrs. Mays, swore to the fact that Cody had not left the house that morning, and could not a have done so without being seen by them. William Bowers, a local store clerk, swore that he saw another stranger dressed as a cowboy walking around town on October 8th through the 11th, but was not Cody. Finally, Maud Lee took the stand, and swore positively that Cody didn�t leave his room until 10:20 AM. She was sure of the time because she had been waiting to do her job of sweeping out his room.
At that point, the prosecutor, Mr. Schrader, threw in the towel. He had a lengthy conference with Mr. and Mrs. Resch, and then addressed the judge: �While this is a very strange case, your honor, and while we believe the little girl was lassoed as she describes, yet we do not feel like pressing for the conviction of Cody, as he may not have been the man.� The judge then agreed, and told the jury they would be justified in finding a verdict of �not guilty.� Five minutes later, the jury delivered that verdict and Cody was acquitted and discharged.
Samuel F. Cody exited the courthouse with an expression of obvious relief. Clasping his arm and walking at his side was a triumphant, beaming Maud Lee. The reporters on the scene noted her jubilance as she waved to the crowd outside. She no doubt believed that she had helped save her lover from a horrible fate.
* * *
Though S. F. Cody and Maud Lee left the Reading Courthouse victorious, the preceding two months had erased their separate savings. The Wild West show job that Cody had hoped for in October had vanished, so he had to get the word out of his availability to circus and theatrical agents. By luck, a new play was scheduled to open at the New Standard Theater in Philadelphia in less than two weeks after Cody�s acquittal. It was a western melodrama that required a large cast of cowboys and Indians. It was called Deadwood Dick; or the Sunbeam of the Sierras, and its star was Annie Oakley. Samuel F. and Maud took a train to Philadelphia, and while he bunked with other cast members, Maud returned to her parents� home in nearby Norristown.
Deadwood Dick�s plot involved a white settler girl taken hostage and raised by Plains Indians, who teach her to use a gun. Annie�s own shooting demonstration in the drama might have been lost amid the more than two dozen violent deaths sprinkled through the acts. The play opened on Christmas Eve, 1888�and was soundly panned by critics as dreadful. �The plot is unreasonable and the dialogue is remarkable for its bombastic crudity,� said the Philadelphia Press the next day. Perhaps the critic had picked up on the fact that the leading man had left town the day before the opening, which necessitated hasty scene cuts and dialogue edits by the unprepared producers.
Maud Lee almost certainly would have gone to see her beau S. F. Cody trod the boards on the Philadelphia stage. Likely, she would have been equally impressed by Annie Oakley, who was the model for every female shooter in the country, like those that she had seen in Forepaugh�s circus. It is not impossible that Maud might have even met Annie Oakley, if Cody invited her backstage. If so, then the irony of that meeting would take a long time to mature. Sixteen years later, Maud and Annie would meet again under very different circumstances.
After a short stay in Philadelphia, the production went on tour in January of 1889, starting with smaller towns and cities in Southeastern Pennsylvania. It played to meager audiences wherever it went. In late January, while in Chambersburg, Pa., it came to a merciful end when the assistant manager, John Keenan, vanished with all the show�s receipts. The cast was stranded; most were owed their pay and could not even afford train tickets or lodging for the night. Annie Oakley and Frank Butler paid for their tickets and settled their lodging debts. Most of the cast, including Frank, Annie, and S. F. Cody, headed back to Philadelphia.
* * *
It is possible that S. F. Cody and Maud Lee tried to re-sign with Forepaugh in Philadelphia in February of 1889 following the Deadwood Dick debacle, but that he refused them. Forepaugh spared no feelings in eliminating troublesome members of his show. Before the 1889 season opened, Forepaugh sold the lion that had mauled his keeper the previous year to the Chicago Zoo. �Tip,� the elephant that gored to death his keeper, was magnanimously donated to the city of New York for their Central Park Zoo. �Bolivar�, the largest elephant in captivity, was literally eating too much of Forepaugh�s profits. Since Barnum�s Jumbo had died nearly four years earlier, Forepaugh didn�t think it worthwhile to continue to write off the expense of Bolivar�s appetite. With great fanfare, Bolivar was donated to the Philadelphia Zoo. If word of Cody�s rape trial had reached Forepaugh�and it likely did, since it was publicized in Philadelphia papers, including the mention of Forepaugh as his latest employer�Forepaugh would not have been pleased with that type of publicity.
However, it is more likely that Cody and Maud were already working on a more ambitious plan to develop their own headline act. The public already knew the names of the greatest sharpshooters in the country: Adam Bogardus, Doc Carver, Ira Paine, Annie Oakley, Lillian Smith, etc.; but they were all rifle or shotgun shots. Samuel Cody�s special talent was shooting .45 caliber revolvers--six-guns--which set him apart from the wing shooters. To bring Maud into the act as more than just a pretty assistant, he began to teach her trick shooting. Thanks to her father, Maud already had some experience with guns, and had a good eye and a steady hand.
In February of 1889, Annie Oakley and Frank Butler rejoined Buffalo Bill�s show�about to embark for France to be a feature of the Exposition Universelle de Paris�and after Lillian Smith�s contract was not renewed. Annie probably advised S. F. Cody and Maud to try to hook up with Pawnee Bill�s Wild West show, where she and Frank had spent their 1888 season. Sam and Maud were no doubt aware that Pawnee Bill Lillie had also taken a young Philadelphia girl to be his bride, and made her into the star sharpshooter of his show�May Lillie. But by December of 1888, Pawnee Bill had abandoned his show�including much of the cast, livestock, and paraphernalia�in Wichita, Kansas, and was willing to sell the whole outfit. Pawnee Bill�s stranded cowboys congregated around the Wichita Horse and Mule Market, a frequent gathering spot for men in search of jobs and conversation.
The proprietor of the Wichita Horse and Mule Market was soon tempted by the idea of entering show business, and with his wealthy friends as investors, he bought out the show from Pawnee Bill. He might be excused for the hasty manner in which he organized the revived Wild West show, for in the early months of 1889, he was also deciding whether or not he would lead a war against the United States government.
* * *
�Oklahoma Harry� Hill was, by 1889, a successful cattle rancher and horse trader. Back in 1877, Hill traveled to Fort Worth, Texas from Missouri as part of his horse trading business, and while there was infected by the rhetoric being published in broadsides by Charles C. Carpenter. Carpenter advocated a planned, mass invasion of the Unassigned Lands in Indian Territory. This encroachment was to take place on a scale that would make Federal resistance a non-issue. The Indian Territory had been set aside in 1828 as a dumping ground for relocation of Native American populations east of the Mississippi. Andrew Jackson�s Indian Removal Act of 1830 gave the President the authority to use the military to effect those evacuations. Some tribes did not resist; others, like the Cherokee, were forcibly marched; in the case of the Cherokee, the deadly march became known as the �Trail of Tears.�
A few decades later, the United States government used the aftermath of the Civil War as a pretext to renegotiate treaties with the tribes occupying the Indian Territory. These new treaties ceded right of way through the Territory to the railroads, and ownership of most of the western and central areas belonging to the Creeks and Seminoles reverted back to the Government. The central part of Oklahoma, a wide swath of arable land, was designated as public domain and was known as the �Unassigned Lands.� In the 1870s, public pressure for white settlement of those lands, fueled by voices like Charles C. Carpenter, began to build. Their legal argument was that the Homestead Act of 1862 already gave a citizen the right to claim a 160 acre lot in the Unassigned Lands; but there was countering pressure to keep the lands under U.S. government or tribal control. Both the federal government and the relocated Indian tribes leased Indian Territory rangeland to large-scale cattle companies, many of them operated by Texas concerns.
While Carpenter was more adept at propaganda than mobilization for this movement, its primary activist leader was Captain David L. Payne. Payne was a former Union private in the Civil War. In the late 1860s, he was elected to the Kansas legislature, but also served stints in the Kansas Cavalry, which was raised in response to attacks during the Indian wars, mainly raids by the Cheyenne. During these periods of enlistment he rose to the rank of Captain. When not in the legislature or on military duty, he lived as a hunter, guide, and scout; but never was successful at holding a steady job or retaining any land or wealth. In the late 1870s, he went to Washington, D.C. in hopes that his record as a loyal Democrat would gain him a position in the Federal government. However, during those years he was never favored with more responsibility than to be a Congressional messenger and errand boy. However, he did overhear the lobbying and floor arguments over the disposition of the Unassigned Lands.
Payne left Washington in 1879 with an empty wallet, but full of optimism that leading the settlement of Oklahoma was his destiny. Upon his arrival back in Kansas, he formed an organization of �boomers�, among them Harry Hill. Payne, with Harry Hill as his scout, led an invasion into Indian Territory in May of 1880, but were quickly arrested and then released back in Kansas. He tried two more invasions that year, but was again either evicted or stopped cold at the border between Kansas and Indian Territory. Payne�s last attempt to settle a colony took place in 1884, at a place called Rock Falls in the disputed Cherokee Strip section of Indian Territory. Payne was arrested there by the Army in August. The Federal government had grown frustrated with both Payne�s boomer invasions and with their ineffectual legal consequences, so it gave the arresting officers orders to discourage Payne in another way. Instead of being placed on a train to Fort Smith from Caldwell, Kansas�just 10 miles away from Rock Falls�Payne and several of his companions were forcibly marched 300 miles through the prairie wilderness in the worst heat of summer. Payne endured this ordeal, arrived at Fort Smith, and was hailed a hero to his boomer followers. But a few months later, he collapsed suddenly with heart failure, and the leadership of the boomer movement passed to others: William L. Couch, Pawnee Bill Lillie, �and Harry Hill.
Being a fairly successful businessman, Harry Hill was a more temperate voice among the boomer advocates; he had seen the sad consequences for the early would-be settlers of Oklahoma, and by the start of 1889 believed that the Federal government would soon acquiesce to the inevitable. While Couch lobbied tirelessly in Washington, the Wichita Board of Trade hired showman Pawnee Bill to lead the Oklahoma colonists. The Board of Trade could perhaps be excused for believing that Pawnee Bill�s national celebrity might draw attention to their cause, and overlooked the fact that show business producers usually deal with difficult situations with threats and bluster more than patience. As thousands of settler descended on the Oklahoma border in early 1889, the situation was indeed difficult.
Pawnee Bill felt that Congress wasn�t acting quickly enough to pass legislation to open up Oklahoma to settlement, and by February was threatening to invade without Federal approval. Couch telegraphed Harry Hill on Feb. 2 to request that he try to calm down Pawnee Bill�s rhetoric. On Feb. 7, Hill met Pawnee Bill on the border at Caldwell, Kansas, and told him to rein in the anxious boomers. In Washington, a bill was approved in the House of Representatives that opened the Unassigned Lands to settlement, but that bill now needed to be passed by the Senate.
On Feb. 25, newspapers reported that Harry Hill had commissioned a circus train to be built, and that it would be used to carry his Wild West show from Wichita to New York City on April 25th.
But in early March, the U.S. Senate voted down their Oklahoma measure. The growing masses of encamped settlers asked Harry Hill to help lead a defiant invasion. On March 10th, he tells the boomers at Caldwell and Hunnewell that he will join them, and that if the Army pursues them, they will cut fence wires and burn grassland to destroy the business of the cattle companies in Oklahoma. But Harry also sends a wire to newly inaugurated President Benjamin Harrison, urging him to declare the Unassigned Lands open to settlement.
On March 16, Harry Hill arrived in the boomer camp already set up within Indian Territory, near the border with Fort Smith, Arkansas. Soldiers rode out from the fort and forced them back across the border at bayonet point. A week later, President Harrison proclaimed the Unassigned Lands open, and that settlers could establish claims starting on April 22, 1889. The great Oklahoma Land Run of 1889 was on, and a war against the U.S. Army was averted; but Harry Hill had less than a month to put together a Wild West show and get it on the road. However, he did now have a theme for his show: it was to be called the �Oklahoma Historical Wild West Exhibition.�
* * *
As soon as Samuel Franklin Cody and Maud Maria Lee received the telegram from Harry Hill to come to Wichita, they made immediate marriage plans. On Apr. 9, 1889, they arrived at the Montgomery County Orphans� Court in Norristown, Pa., in the company of Maud�s parents, Joseph and Phoebe Lee. They took out a marriage license, and five minutes later were pronounced man and wife. S. F. was now 22; Maud had just turned 18. Maud�s father told the papers that the pair had got �kinder thick� since meeting a year earlier. The Philadelphia Inquirer pronounced the marriage a romantic sequel to December�s Reading trial. The new Mr. and Mrs. Cody then caught a train headed west.
Even as the Codys were on their way to Kansas, Harry Hill started to spread publicity linking his show�s celebrities with the Oklahoma Land Run. With or without their knowledge, Hill announced that several of his stars would take part in the April 22nd Land Run and claim their own 160-acre quarter sections: Adam Bogardus and sons (Bogardus now called Kansas his home); Texas ranger �Buckskin Roy�; the Show�s announcer, Captain Harry Horne; �Towanda Charley�, a cowboy from the Black Hills of Dakota; and �S. F. Cody Jr. and wife, the great pistol shots of the Pacific slope.� It was explained that all would file claims, and then return from the tour within six months in order to legally prove their claims. Hill�s press release stated:
�Mr. Cody is a cousin of W. F. Cody (Buffalo Bill), and a much finer shot. His wife is also an expert, and, should they succeed in getting a claim marked out, it would be a sorry day for the claim jumper that attempted to beat them out of their rights. One of Cody�s tricks is to throw into the air a 10 cent piece and then with a pistol ball mark it.�
Harry Hill was certainly in a position to make sure his stars made the best of this opportunity, if they so desired. He knew the Unassigned Lands as well as any white man living, and could tell them how to get to the best tracts�and some lots actually were the equal of the Promised Land that all the Oklahoma settlers sought: clear creeks with clay banks, large stands of trees, good soil, and abundant game and fish. Hill could tell them the best route to take, and how to ford the flooded rivers that existed that spring. He could give them the best horses to make the dash; and they were all experienced riders.
Tens of thousands of settlers gathered on the Oklahoma border on April 22�and �Sooners� had already entered the territory in advance of the official starting hour. Many were poor, and desperately counted on Oklahoma to be their salvation. Many were ill-equipped and unskilled as homesteaders, and even an unschooled eye could tell their efforts were doomed to fail. Some spent more of their fortunes getting to Oklahoma than the lots were worth�their money wasted on weak livestock, or lost to the gamblers, thieves, and con artists that swarmed into the settler camps. More than a few would strand themselves short of their goal after riding their mounts to exhaustion and death. One estimate said that there was an average of six claimants contesting each lot. All this said, it would have been hard for an observer not to get caught up with the feelings of hope and optimism, and the idyllic vision that Oklahoma represented. Samuel F. Cody had all the skills needed to be a successful homesteader on the Plains. For him, it would be a return to the landscape and way of life that he had mastered as a boy.
It isn�t known whether Samuel and Maud rode among the settler tent camps; or dashed off with the crowded teams of horse and wagon when the shots sounded at noon on the 22nd; or if they reached a lot that could have been their own personal Eden. What is known is that they never filed a claim, and that fate and ambition led them far from Oklahoma.
* * *
The Oklahoma Historical Wild West Show left Wichita for Emporia, Kansas on May 5, 1889 in its seven-car custom rail train. Included were 75 cowboys, vacqueros, sharpshooters, cowgirls and property hands; 50 Potawatomi Indians, 15 buffalo, and nearly hundred ponies, horses, mules, and steer. It stars, besides Bogardus and the Codys, included Captain Harry Horne, Yellowstone Vic Smith, Don Ze Anno, Malo, Buffalo Bessie, the �Wichita Kid,� California Frank, Texas Mac, Bronco Charlie, Buckskin Roy, and Texas Charley. To draw crowds, �Professor� T. F. Lanford made parachute leaps from a hot-air balloon�a dangerous daredevil stunt that over the next twenty years would become a staple of state fairs, amusement parks, and circuses.
As with circuses had done, the Wild West show arrived at new engagements with a parade. The parade was led by a band wagon drawn by six white mules. It was followed by two old stage wagons, the Indians in their traditional dress, the cowboys, vaqueros, Spanish lady riders, and settlers. The show opened with Captain Harry Horne introducing each of the stars. The first act was a shooting demonstration by Adam Bogardus and his sons. Also shooting was 13-year-old Harry Hill, Jr., the manager�s son. Then the cowboys, led by the masterful Yellowstone Vic, would race their horses and dip from their saddles to pick up a handkerchief from the ground; Samuel Cody might have joined them on occasion, since he was known for this trick back in his days in Montana. The cowboys would then try to stay upright on bucking broncos, galloping around the grandstand.
The Codys then did their pistol shooting, breaking dozens of glass balls tossed into the air, or held from each other�s hands or mouths. Harry Hill, Jr. made a reprise appearance, shooting a small glass plate held between Maud�s fingers�Maud obviously had a rapport with adolescent Harry Hill, and he undoubtedly treasured the confidence the pretty older girl showed in his aim. The Mexican equestriennes, led by Malo, raced cowgirls for the prize of a gold watch.
After these exhibitions, the show presented a series of historical scenes: the capture of wagonmaster Pat Hennessy by Cheyenne and Comanche Indians, who tie him to a wagon wheel and threaten him with burning, and his rescue and release by cowboys. [Based on an event from 1874 that still stirs controversy, in reality Hennessy and his group were massacred; some doubt whether Indians were to blame.] This was followed by a lighthearted sketch in which a father forces would-be Romeos to chase after his daughter on her fiery steed, with the winner to claim her hand. Then the Indians performed a wedding feast for their chief and a war dance; a horse thief was lynched; and a stagecoach (driven by Harry Hill) was held up by highwaymen. Finally, no show was complete without a depiction of the arrest, tortuous march, and imprisonment of Harry Hill�s old friend, poker companion, and "Father of Oklahoma", Captain David Payne.
From Emporia the Oklahoma Historical Wild West show headed to Kansas City, Missouri, where they competed for audience attention with Captain Paul Boyton�s Aquatic Exhibition. Next they headed as far north as Milwaukee, Wisconsin. By the end of May the show traveled south to Chicago, then on to major dates in Louisville, Ky., Cincinnati, Ohio, and Springfield, Ill. Harry Hill�s original ambitions were to take the show from the east coast to the west coast, but by Aug. 3 it limped back to Wichita after substantial losses and many missed dates caused by bad weather. Like all traveling shows, it suffered its share of mishaps, but no apparent fatalities.
After performances for his hometown audience, Harry Hill had to abandon plans to move the Wild West show on to California. His show business career ended where it had begun less than four months earlier. Samuel F. Cody and his bride Maud�s major billing was short-lived. As the months of 1889 wound down, they were again in search of a showcase for their act, and no doubt wondered whether they should have claimed their own piece of the Oklahoma history they had just spent months celebrating. The Codys must have questioned whether their ambitions to stardom were any more substantial than the �promised land� dreams of the boomers and sooners. The next decade would provide an answer.
Annie joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West in 1885.
Annie's memorable mirror shot, 1887
Adam Forepaugh, Circus Owner
The "Light of Asia," shipped from England to America.
A circus rider in training--scene from the interior of Forepaugh's winter headquaters in Philadelphia
Adam Forepaugh, Jr., commanding 30 horses.
Blondin's tight rope was secured to a 2 ft. wide wooden plank--but audiences didn't realize that until they saw it.
The popularity of Eclipse was duly noted by W. F. Carver.
Cowboy and cowgirl sports and pastimes
W. F. Carver shooting at target balls at full gallop
The spectacle scene of Lalla Rookh departing from Delhi
S. F. Cody, from a portrait in later years
Pawnee Bill Lillie and May Lillie
Captain David L. Payne
Boomers being evicted from the Unassigned Lands by the U. S. Army
U. S. Dept. of Interior mural of the Land Run of 1889
Yellowstone Vic Smith, one of the stars of Harry Hill's Wild West show, was a Montana frontiersman. No dime-novel cowboy, Smith's skills were legendary, and his stories blood-curdling.
Jerry Kuntz � 1997-2006 | All Rights Reserved | Contact