20.07.17: A print on demand edition of Black Elk, Mexican Joe & Buffalo Bill: The Real Story is now available.
06.02.17: A new publication, Mexican Joe Vol. II - The Running Wolf Years is OUT NOW and is published as the English Westerners' Society Brand Book for Winter 2016. It is written by 'Tom F. Cunningham, who probably knows more about the checkered career of "Mexican Joe" Shelley than anyone in the world.' (Joe Jackson, Black Elk - The Life of an American Visionary, p. 567)
10.01.17: Remembering Colonel William F. Cody, frontiersman and showman, still known the world over as 'Buffalo Bill', died in Denver, Colorado, 10th January 1917.Buffalo Bill, by Rosa Bonheur
Regular visitors to this site will be familiar with the name of Black Elk, one of only two Indians who left an authentic account of their time with Buffalo Bill's Wild West. It will also be recalled that Black Elk was accidently left behind in Salford, England, on 4th May 1888, with three Lakota companions, and spent about a year touring with Mexican Joe before finally making his escape and returning home to Pine Ridge Reservation.
What promises to be the definitive account of his extraordinary life story - Black Elk - The Life of an American Visionary by Joe Jackson - has now been published and is available from:
SNBBA wishes Joe every good fortune for an enterprise which holds every promise of a brilliant success.
21.11.16: Attention is drawn to an engaging new publication - Remembering Nelson Victor Carter VC by Michelle Pollard and the pupils of Langney Primary School. It celebrates the life and times of a local hero who died in action during World War I in 1916 and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery. The relevance for present purposes is that one page describes the visit of Buffalo Bill's Wild West & Congress of Rough Riders of the World to Eastbourne on Wednesday, 19th August 1903. The following page explores the distinct possibility that Nelson, who by 1909 had acquired a tattoo of Buffalo Bill on his back left forearm, saw the show that day.
Copies are available from Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org
21.11.16: A further potentially illuminating publication is scheduled for 31st May 2017 - Lakota Performers in Europe: Their Culture and the Artifacts They Left Behind by Steve Friesen, telling the story a party of Lakota who spent several months at the Belgian International Exposition of 1935.
11.11.16: Announcing a new page - the fraudulent ‘memoirs' of the man calling himself Chief William Red Fox are scrutinised and consigned to the historical dustbin already containing our old friends Montana Bill and Frank T. Hopkins, who also bought into the Cody legend for their own ends and claimed to have served as performers and interpreters.
09.11.16: Attention is drawn to the excellent Men with Custer site, ‘The Voice of British Custeriana', which includes meticulously researched and detailed biographical information on the various British-born men who were serving with Custer on his fateful day, 25th June 1876.
09.11.16: After months of preparation, Mexican Joe Volume II - The Running Wolf Years, researched and written by Tom F. Cunningham, is finally ready for the printer and will shortly appear as the English Westerners' Society Brand Book Volume 50, No. 1 (Winter 2016).
05.10.16: A feature on Buffalo Bill's Scottish adventures, for STV's The People's History Show, produced in consultation with SNBBA, was broadcast on Tuesday, 4th October.
07.07.16: Our partner site, The Diamond's Ace - Scotland and the Native Americans, has been very considerably expanded. With the addition of several key stories, including those of Prince Henry St Clair, Earl of Orkney, (alleged) 14th century sojourner in Nova Scotia; the Belhelvie Eskimo; the touring party of Iroquois who put the Lacrosse in Lacrosse Terrace, Glasgow; and ecowarrior Grey Owl's visits to Scotland in the 1930s, the site is now very much closer to the original Diamond's Ace concept and a new version of the book will hopefully come to fruition - eventually!
24.05.16: Recalling the first ever news item on this page, regarding the smiling cowboy captured by the Barry Camp Photographer of Carnoustie, further similar images have come to light.
The rig-out is in each case more or less identical so it must either be some kind of uniform or else the more likely interpretation is that the the garments - and the horse - were props belonging to the photographer. The horse in the photograph above is suggestive of horsemanship without the human subject having to ride or even mount it. These amusing photographs were presumably supplied for a fee, with picture postcards to send to friends and relations available for an additional sum.
The costume does not bear any direct comparison with those of Buffalo Bill's cowboys, photographs of whom are displayed elsewhere on this page.
The (then recent?) visits of Buffalo Bill's Wild West to the area no doubt at least helped to generate the wave of enthusiasm which created the market for such a service but it is not now thought likely that these images have any more direct connection to Buffalo Bill.
Many thanks to Barry Camp researcher Colin McLeod for his ‘answer on a postcard' and I will be delighted to hear from anyone who can shed any further light.
24.05.16: Attention is drawn to recent publications written by Tom F. Cunningham. A review of Hidalgo, the movie and the book, appeared in The Tally Sheet, The English Westerners' Society, Spring 2016, Volume 62 Number 2. Seven Days in Days in Glasgow with Buffalo Bill, 1904, in two parts, appeared in Points West, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Fall / Winter 2015 and Spring 2016.
08.12.15: It has recently been discovered that a rumour was current in Perth, Scotland, from around the period 1893 until 1904, that Buffalo Bill's grandfather had lived and was buried in the city. This may be as good an opportunity as any to highlight the work of The International Cody Family Association, a genealogical and historical organisation.
07.12.15: Though not relating directly to Buffalo Bill's visits to Scotland or even Great Britain, visitors to the site might care to view a collection of picture postcards relating to the stand in Genoa, Italy, in 1906.
29.10.15: A series of at least three contemporary picture postcards was published by Valentines, based on photographs taken over the course of Buffalo Bill's visit to Dundee from 18th - 20th August 1904. These are elusive and generally hard to come by but the above example has now been acquired for the Archive.
29.10.15: Attention is drawn to the new Hidalgo page. Meanwhile, anyone interested in the truth behind the movie of that name might care to note that the History Channel documentary (2004) is now available on YouTube.
The SNBBA reserves its own views on the subject, leaving others to draw their own conclusions, but should anyone find a shred of independent evidence to corroborate Frank Hopkins's extraordinary assertions, particularly concerning the three decades he claims to have spent as a performer with Buffalo Bill's Wild West, please do be sure to set us straight!
16.09.15: The Scottish National Buffalo Bill Archive extends its congratulations and admiration to writer and musician Bobby Bridger upon the launch of his new web site, highlighting his highly impressive back catalogue of musical recordings.
Bobby is probably best known for his epic CD trilogy, A Ballad of the West, featuring insightful material on Buffalo Bill and Black Elk.
11.09.15: An interview with Tom F. Cunningham on Buffalo Bill's Scottish sojourns will appear in the October 2015 edition of Cowboys & Indians.
08.09.15: A photograph of Buffalo Bill's advancemen, in Ayr on the last Sunday of August 1904, has come to light in the Harrison H. Gunning Scrapbook, in the collections of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
The accompanying image is the best presently available but to see a high resolution copy of the same, just follow the link and scroll down the thumbnails to MS6.3678.092.00.
03.08.15: The above picture postcard, released in France to promote the 1905 tour, has come to light. It is based on a photograph taken in Dundee in August 1904. The banner, however, has been drawn in and the tents which are clearly visible in the background of the photograph have been airbrushed out.
21.07.15: Congratulations to Irakli Makharadze on the publication of his book, Georgian Trick Riders in American Wild West Shows, 1890s - 1920s. It is the eagerly awaited definitive treatise on the long-neglected experiences of the author's compatriots who, from 1892 onwards, were recruited into Buffalo Bill's and other Wild West shows.
Just as Buffalo Bill consistently misrepresented the tribal identities of his Indian performers, the riders, who were paraded as ‘Cossacks' and proved such a hit with audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, were without doubt the biggest deception of all. They were ethnic Georgians, and as Irakli demonstrates, their bitter resentment of this deliberate manipulation of the facts relating to their national identity is a matter of record.
A troupe of Georgians featured in Buffalo Bill's Wild West & Congress of Rough Riders of the World which toured Great Britain, including twenty-nine Scottish venues, in the summer of 1904. I am indebted to Irakli for the information that they were fifteen in number and were led by David Kadjaia.
They had to overcome the initial hostility of audiences the length and breadth of the country, ironically because as ‘Russians' they were perceived as the aggressors in the Russo-Japanese war, then in progress. This reticence quickly evaporated, however, as spectators everywhere were quickly won over by their unrivalled horsemanship.
Too many writers and 'researchers' on Buffalo Bill have been content to repackage and peddle the prevailing myths and deceptions. Irakli Makharadze - who has for once and for all set the record straight on a travesty of the facts which has been permitted to run unchallenged for too long - is a rare and honourable exception.
14.05.15: A new publication, Black Elk, Buffalo Bill & Mexican Joe - The Real Story is OUT NOW and appeared as the English Westerners' Society Brand Book for Spring 2015.
11.02.15: An article by Tom F. Cunningham, Henry Irving & the Knight of the Plains, describing Irving's friendship with Buffalo Bill, appears in First Knight - Journal of The Irving Society, Vol. 19 No. 1, February 2015.
01.10.14: The SNBBA's commitment to the cause of Union continues with the publication of the itineraries for the 1902-03 and 1904 tours of Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World. The dates and venues for the 1891-92 theatrical tour of Miss Viola Clemmons's White Lily Company are also now available.
08.09.14: Here's the latest on the photographs taken in 1904 by S. W. Pritchard in Dundee which recently made their way home to the McManus with a shove in the right direction from the SNBBA.
18.08.14: Announcement -
The original concept behind this archive - that of an exclusively, or more or less exclusively, Scottish perspective - has with the passage of years been progressively abandoned in favour of the bigger picture, Buffalo Bill's visits to Great Britain generally. Whilst the emphasis remains firmly upon retrieving as much as possible of the record relating to the Scottish venues, it is not always possible to draw a definite dividing line and it is intended progressively to publish more materials which will hopefully be of material assistance to fellow researchers in other parts of the United Kingdom.
Attention is specifically drawn to the left-hand menu, which has now been made interchangable to meet this fresh challenge.
Just as Buffalo Bill's Wild West metamorphosed into Buffalo Bill's Wild West & Congress of Rough Riders of the World, it is now inevitable that the future of this site is as the British National Buffalo Bill Archive.
14.08.14: New pages - listing the Indians known to have participated in the 1887-88 English season and the 1892 London summer season.
Genealogical enquiries welcome.
07.08.14: The SNBBA assisted in the making of the BBC2 documentary, The Secret History of Our Streets, featuring Duke Street, Glasgow, and broadcast on Friday, 1st August 2014.
14.04.14: Two of the photographs recently exposed for auction sale by Cowan's have been acquired by Leisure and Culture Dundee, with the help of the Scottish Government's National Fund for Acquisitions. One of these photographs depicts Buffalo Bill standing in front of his tent during the visit to Dundee in August 1904 and the subjects of the other are Iron Tail and Sam Lone Bear on horseback. It is proposed to place the photographs on public display as part of the A Silvered Light exhibition in The McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery and Museum, probably during the late summer of 2014.
28.01.14: Check out the ArthurLloyd.co.uk Music Hall and Theatre History Website for a fresh (though not entirely accurate) perspective on Mexican Joe and an attractive contemporary artist's impression of the East End Industrial Exhibition buildings.
16.01.14: New pages - listing the Indians known to have participated in the 1891-92 & 1904 seasons.
Genealogical enquiries welcome.
On the evidence of Cowan's auction catalogue, the photograph on which this postcard, issued in France in 1905, is based was taken in Scotland the previous season.
22.12.13: More photographs from the Scottish leg of Buffalo Bill's 1904 tour have come to light, including one of the Colonel standing outside his tent on the occasion of his one and only visit to Dundee, taken by S. W. Pritchard, Lochee. These powerful images are part of a collection due for auction sale on 31st January 2014:
14.06.13: Announcing the publication of People of the Horse Nation - Plains Indians in Early Picture Postcards by Richard Green, Foreword and design by Alan Hughes, Spellicans Press, Oxford, 2013.
Available directly from email@example.com
Or alteratively from eBay
Further details are available from the Ephemera Society
At least six of the Indians depicted - Kicking Bear, Short Bull, No Neck, Iron Tail, Samuel Lone Bear and Kills Enemy are known to have come to Scotland with Buffalo Bill.
RICHARD GREEN has a long-standing interest in Native American peoples. He is the author of A Warrior I Have Been – Plains Indian Cultures in Transition, as well as numerous articles on diverse aspects of Native American art and culture. He lives in the West Midlands.
ALAN HUGHES is an artist and graphic designer, currently living in Oxford. His interest in Native American cultures goes back many years.
Over a prolonged period, their heyday being the early decades of the twentieth century, picture postcards with exotic and colourful themes were mass-produced by the million. They served as a tangible souvenir of people and places seen, unfamiliar to the eventual recipient of the card except in colourful tales of far-off lands.
America's indigenous people provided a popular theme for such picture postcards, and the images of Plains Indians that feature in this book represent just some of the many thousands portraying Native American subjects from across the North American continent. Here, in these pages, we see the Native empire halters and their descendents who, rather than being subjugated peoples, are the proud survivors of a brutal contest to control the centre of the North American continent. They are portraits of formidable, dignified adversaries; veterans of the Sioux Wars and other conflicts; survivors of the massacres of Sand Creek and Wounded Knee – people of the Horse Nation.
14.06.13: This postcard recently surfaced on eBay and was immediately snapped up on behalf of SNBBA. It is in postally unused condition and has a divided back.
The reverse bears the inscription:
The Barry Camp Photographer, Erdington Studio, 22, Dundee Street, Carnoustie
There is no other caption which would enable us to date the image or identify the subject but the most immediately obvious explanation is that the photograph on which the card is based was taken in the course of Buffalo Bill's 1904 tour, either in Dundee or Arbroath.
Answers on a postcard, please...