Post by Diane Merkel on Jul 8, 2008 15:31:36 GMT -5
A website visitor would appreciate information about:
Paul Eagle Star who died in Sheffield [while with the Buffalo Bill Wild West show] and was buried at Brompton Cemetery. Apparently he was repatriated in the 1990s but we can't find anything about him .... only Long Wolf ....
George C. Crager - There has been a long standing family story that he was adopted by Chief Two Strike in 1878 ..... I have found only one reference to that .... of course there is nothing legal either!
Post by Phil Sheldon on Aug 5, 2008 12:45:49 GMT -5
I have some 1891 newspaper clippings that refer to GCC being the adopted son of Chief Two Strike. The Buffalo Bill Historical Society has in its archives GCC's personal scrap book that contains several references to this alleged relationship. You can order the microfilm of this scrapbook through your public library.
Regards Philip Sheldon Great Grandson of George C. Crager
The following information was obtained from the Cumberland County Historical Society concerning the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and Mr. Paul Eagle Star. He was a Sioux-Burle Indian from the Rosebud Agency in Dakota. He arrived at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in November of 1882. He was listed as a student when he donated $10.00 to the school on November 25, 1887. He gave a speech at a program in the Carlisle school chapel on July 26, 1889. He left the school about 1888 and returned to the Rosebud Agency, Dakota. He was working in the blacksmith shop on or by July 26, 1889. It does not appear that he took a Christian sir name since all references to him use the name Paul Eagle Star.
It was originally reported in the local newspapers he was killed in the Wounded Knee Massacre but I have found no information he was even there. In early 1891 he was recruited by the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show as a free man under contract, not as paroled prisoner or 'Hostile'. Mr. Paul Eagle Star died in the Sheffield Infirmary, Scotland, Monday August 24, 1891 as the result of injuries described as a double compound fracture to the leg and a broken ankle. The injury became infected with tetanus requiring leg amputation. The original injury occurred August 14, 1891 in the opening performance of Buffalo's Bill Wild West Show when his horse fell on him.
There are several newspaper accounts detailing this accident and of GCC being at his bedside during his last hours and later giving testimony during the coroners inquest that thanked the medical care givers for the efforts to save this young mans life.
Last Edit: Oct 30, 2008 15:05:34 GMT -5 by fillupe
Eagle Star died as a result of a riding accident in Sheffield (England, not Scotland); he had a compound dislocation of one of his ankles, though he'd also trapped his right shoulder under the horse. Unfortunately, tetanus set in while he was in the infirmary and even amputating his foot a week later couldn't save him. He was only 25. The rest of the show were in Nottignham by then, but Crager stayed with Eagle Star; supposedly, several members of the show, including Kicking Bear and Black Heart, attended an inquest in Sheffield the next day; another version of the story has only Crager attending. After the verdict of accidental death, the body was sent by rail, first to Nottingham so his colleagues could pay their respects, and then to London and in a black hearse to West Brompton cemetery where he was buried in the same plot (a common grave) as Surrounded, who had died in Manchester during the show's fist visit to the UK in 1887.
He is referred to a prisoner of war but he was actually hired at Pine Ridge, although he was Sicangu. His widow and child received $500 from the show plus $120 back pay; on top of this, Cody promised to pay her $25 a month as long as the show existed.
You're not Philip James who's writing a book on Eagle Star, are you? If so, have you got the picture of him wearing the police badge?
Last Edit: Oct 30, 2008 19:06:10 GMT -5 by grahamew
I'm not Philip James. I'm one of the Great Grandsons of George C. Crager. Yes I do have that photograph of Paul Eagle Star, it's a magnificent photograph. I also have two other photos of Eagle Star, the 2nd with him with his 1885 class at the Carlisle School (see replies 1,3 & 4), the 3rd photo was taken with a group of other Indian performers while with BBWWS. I don't have any conformation for the 3rd photo but the date is correct and it's credited to BBWWS.
Last Edit: Oct 30, 2008 22:19:45 GMT -5 by fillupe
Never since the Sheffield Infirmary was instituted has there been witnessed in its board room such a unique spectacle as was seen there yesterday, when in the presence of four Sioux Indian chiefs, the inquest on the body of Paul “Eagle Star” was held by Mr. Wightman. It will be remembered that the accident which caused the death of the deceased occurred a week ago last Friday while he was taking part in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at Owlerton, and that his death took place on Monday, amputation of the right leg having been performed on the previous Saturday. While he was an inmate of the Infirmary he was visited several times by Colonel Cody, and when the illness took a serious turn Mr. G. C. Crager, who has charge of the Indians, was sent to Sheffield with instructions to “spare no expense, secure the best care, and save his life.” After he arrived in Sheffield telegrams came at frequent intervals from Colonel Cody and Mr. Salsbury, inquiring for news of “Eagle Star’s” condition. On Monday morning it was apparent that the end was near, and he asked Mr. Crager, who was at his bedside, to give him his hand. Shaking it feebly he said “Jesus, Jesus,” and died. Mr. Crager then returned to Nottingham, and found the camp in a condition of gloomy depression at the news that had been received. The squaws and other Indians were walking among the wigwams chanting a requiem for their dead comrade. Colonel Cody, Major Burke, and many members of the company were also much affected.
At the inquest yesterday there were present, arrayed in their brightly coloured native garments and trinkets, Chief Kicking Bear, Chief Black Heart, Chief Lone Bull, and Bull Stands Behind. The last named is a cousin of the deceased, and as an indication that he was mourning for some one dead he wore round his head a band of white silk. He is a tall young man with a singularly graceful form, and upon his face is an expression of refinement and womanlike tenderness in strong contrast to the rugged and dogged virility displayed in the smeared countenances of the Indian chiefs who sat by his side. When he saw the dead body of his cousin Bull Stands Behind burst into tears, but was eventually consoled somewhat by one of the other chiefs, who told him with what exceeding kindness the deceased had been treated at the Infirmary. Throughout the inquiry the four Indians maintained their accustomed stolidity, the only time when they showed more than ordinary interest in the proceedings being when the members of the jury were sworn and kissed the testaments. Probably the ceremony puzzled them as much as some of their ceremonies puzzle the white people. They were accompanied by Major Burke, the general manager for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Company; Mr. William Laugan (sic), supply agent; Mr. George C. Crager, Sioux interpreter, who has charge of the Indians; and John Shangren, a native interpreter. Mr. B. Folsom, United States Consul, at Sheffield, also attended.
Mr. G. C. Crager identified the body, and said he had known the deceased about six months. The deceased, who was 25 years of age, was a Sioux Indian, and came from America with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He was a healthy man, and had been with the company about five months. He (witness) did not see the accident occur, but he saw the deceased immediately afterwards, and the latter was brought to the Infirmary within an hour afterwards. The accident happened while the deceased was riding a horse out of the arena. He had ridden the horse daily for a considerable time. The horse slid with all his four feet out, and then fell, and slid on its belly. The deceased’s right foot was under the horse’s belly, and his right ankle was dislocated. This was the explanation given by the deceased, who did not blame any one.
Mr. Hugh Rhodes, house surgeon at the Infirmary, said he was present when the deceased was admitted. He was suffering from a compound dislocation of the right ankle, which had been reduced when he came. He remained at the Infirmary, and it was decided to amputate the foot a week and a day after his admission. This course was taken because lock-jaw had set in. Up to that time he had improved, and it was thought he would recover. The amputation was well performed and with the deceased’s sanction, but the lock-jaw became worse, and he died on Monday.
Mr. Folsom, upon being asked whether he had any questions to put, replied that he had not, and remarked that at the time it happened the accident was not considered to be a serious one. He was satisfied the affair was purely an accident.
Mr. Crager stated that the treatment the deceased had received had been perfectly satisfactory. Wherever he went he would always think of the Sheffield Infirmary with feelings of intense gratefulness. The manner in which the surgeons, nurses, and all connected with the institution had cared for a stranger and a foreigner had so impressed him that his command of words entirely failed him in his efforts to give expressions to his feelings. The deceased was a favourite in the camp, and the news of his death had made Colonel Cody ill. The latter would have attended the inquest if he had been able.
The Coroner said that in Sheffield they were proud of the Infirmary, and he was pleased to hear its excellence had been appreciated.
Mr. Folsom replied that he was quite satisfied with the kindness displayed to the deceased at the Infirmary, and with the medical treatment he had received.
The jury, without hesitation, returned a verdict of “Accidental death.”
After the inquest, in a conversation with one of our representatives, Mr. Crager grew most enthusiastic in his acknowledgement of the treatment the deceased had received at the Infirmary, where, he said, he could not have received more attention had he been a king. The doctors and nurses spared no pains in ministering to his comfort, and thought nothing of leaving their beds in the middle of the night to grapple with any symptom that threatened him with suffering. He spoke of the generosity and courtesy with which he himself had been treated in Sheffield by all with whom he had come in contact. He had travelled in all sorts of countries, and had mixed with almost all grades of society, but in Sheffield he had received kindness which had quite taken him aback, and which he previously thought did not exist in this world. He intimated that a bust and pedestal of Colonel Cody in white marble and ebony was being made at Munich, and that Colonel Cody intended to present it to the staff at the Infirmary.
Immediately after the inquest the body was conveyed by Messrs. Tomlinson and Sons to the Midland Railway Station, the Indians and others connected with the show following in carriages. The funeral party was met by Mr. Wheen, the station master, and the coffin containing the body was taken from the hearse and placed in a van specially engaged for the purpose. The presence of the Indian chiefs on the platform excited much interest amongst the people at the station, but as it was not generally known they were going to be there, no crowding took place. All the members of the party took their seats in the train leaving at 11.35 for Nottingham, at which town all the other members of the show, including the proprietors, Colonel Cody and Mr. Salsbury, met the train at the station, with the cowboy band, which played appropriate music. The coffin was unscrewed, and each allowed to have a last look at their comrade. The body was then taken forward to West Brompton, London, by train, and buried in the Indian burying ground there.
Last Edit: Oct 31, 2008 21:30:57 GMT -5 by fillupe
An Indian Visit to Westminster Abbey and the Tombs of Great English Heroes – Characteristic Comments by the Ghost-Dancing “Messiah” of Last Winter’s War – The Small Survivor of Two Hundred Indians
Seven splendid specimens of the North American Indian stalked majestically into St. Paul’s Cathedral on Thursday. Each was gorgeous in paint and feathers, and was clad in brilliant-hued and picturesque attire. They were in sight but a few moments, as they arrived in closed carriages. Still they were in sight long enough to attract the attention of all who were passing at the time, and hundreds who would otherwise have passed by St. Paul’s on the other side followed the red man into the Cathedral. Of the crowd the Indians took no notice. The crowd had no eyes for anybody or anything else. The casual worshippers rose from their chairs and joined the throng that followed in the track of the dark-skinned visitors. It was a crowd that was simply bursting with curiosity. It stared as if staring were one of the fine arts. It might have taken a lesson in politeness from the “Savages,” as some were pleased to call Short Bull and his companions, for although nothing escaped the notice of the Indians, their entire attention was seemingly devoted to an inspection of the Cathedral and the magnificent monuments it contains.
There were really eight Indians in the party, though one was so small that in a crowd he easily escaped notice. This small Indian has a history. He is about six years of age. He is one of two Indian survivors of the battle of Wounded Knee. This battle was fought last Christmas Day between the Sioux and the United States troops. In less than 20 minutes nearly 250 souls were sent to their last account. Of this number 200 were Indians. The soldiers, maddened by the atrocities of some of their old foes, threw off all restraint and killed every Indian in sight. Many hours after the battle two papooses were found under a heap of slain. One of these was named Johnny Burke No Neck, his Godfathers being Major John M. Burke, General Manager of the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and No Neck, Chief of the Indian Police at Pine Ridge Agency, Dakota.
The Indians who visited St. Paul’s were members of Buffalo Bill’s party. They were under the charge of Major Burke, and were accompanied by Mr. G. C. Crager, the Sioux interpreter attached to the combination, and (accompanied?) by the writer and the HERALD artist. They had come by train from Croydon, where the Wild West struck its tents last night, to Victoria. Thence they were driven in closed carriages to the HERALD office in Fleet Street, where they said ‘How’ to the editor. In leaving the HERALD office they blocked traffic in Fleet Street for several minutes. Until they entered their carriages not a pedestrian would move from any position of vantage he had secured, and the drivers of vans and cabs were, for once, of one mind. They pulled up their horses and refused to move until warned for the third and last time by the police.
SOME SPLENDID SPECIMENS
Not a phase of the commotion created by them escaped the attention of the Indians, but their stolid countenances underwent no change. The rain fell as it generally does fall here, with placid steadiness. It fell upon the raven locks of the Indians and moistened the paint on their faces, but it failed to make an impression upon their serenity. They stood quietly until a way was made for them through the closely packed crowd, stepped leisurely into the carriages, sat in them without a change of position until a halt was made in front of the principal entrance to St. Paul’s, and then, the rain still falling heavily, stalked slowly up the steps and into the Cathedral. Kicking Bear was the first to enter. He was followed, in Indian file, by Short Bull, Lone Bull, No Neck, Coming Grunt, White Cloud, High Bear, and Johnny Burke No Neck. All wore blankets, scarlet, with borders of many colours. In the Cathedral, as in the streets, they towered above the crowd that hovered about them and watched their every movement. White Cloud, in his moccasins, stands 6ft. 4 in. Kicking Bear is only an inch shorter, and High Bear is 6 ft. 2 in. No Neck, though over 6 ft. high, looks much shorter, on account of the great breadth of his shoulders. His weight is 15 st., but his step is light as a panther’s.
IN ALL THEIR FINERY
The stalwart red men never looked more picturesque than as they strode noiselessly from one point of interest to another in the Cathedral. They were in full dress. Kicking Bear wore a magnificent head-dress of eagle feathers. After encircling his head it drooped gracefully almost to his feet. His forehead was painted a ghastly shade of yellow. Beneath his eyes was a broad band of dark red. His cheek-bones were painted of the same hue. Brushed back from the yellow painted forehead was his long, straight and shining black hair. It reached to his shoulders. A wide, thin lipped mouth wore a sneer oftener than not. His black eyes gleamed as they roved ceaselessly but slyly from face to face and one object of interest to another. When he smiled, which was seldom, the crowd stepped on itself in its eagerness to give him room. The impression seemed to be general that Kicking Bear’s nature had so much malignity in it that there was room for little else. I have no desire to do the gentleman an injury, but for raw ferocity of expression I never saw his equal. Around his shoulders was flung a blanket of scarlet squaw cloth. Big as it was, it was not long enough to reach the ground. It was not folded across his breast, so that the hair-pipe breastplate could be seen.
This is the remains of an old fashion. Before the bow and arrow were driven from the field by the rifle, it was customary to protect the breast. The breastplate of today is worn simply as an ornament. Kicking Bear’s leggings were also of scarlet squaw cloth, and heavily fringed. Scarlet was also the colour of the shirt that fitted his body tightly. Hanging from his hair, on a line with his ears, were two strings of brass beads. Strings of beads, some of brass, some of bone, and of many colours, were looped across his chest. On one wrist was a broad brass band, burnished so brightly that the wearer could see his copper-coloured face in it. His moccasins were of deer-skins, and were heavily beaded. While at the HERALD office Kicking Bear smoked continuously. He is very fond of cigarettes. He is also very fond of fresh meat, and eats four pounds a day. Kicking Bear was chief of the fighting element among the Sioux in last winter’s Indian war in Dakota.
AN INDIAN DIPLOMATIST.
An entirely different type of Indian is Short Bull. He was the leader of the ‘ghost-dancers,’ and high priest of the Messiah craze, he is the diplomatist in Buffalo Bill’s party of Indians. He has a face that instantly attracts attention. His features are small and clear cut. He has the high cheek-bones of the Sioux, but in a greatly modified form. His eyes are deeply set and flash like diamonds. His expression is wonderfully placid, the only feature that betrays feeling at all being the eye and even that being under perfect control. Short Bull conveys the impression that he is always laughing at you. Talk to him and he will listen, will give you, apparently, all his attention. But, watch him closely, and you will often catch a twinkle in his eye, as if he thought it all very amusing, though of course, he must not, from a sense of politeness (?). Describe to him one of the wonders of the world and his face will war the same bland expression that will clothe it when he is informed that dinner is ready. When Nelson’s tomb in St. Paul’s was shown to him and he was told that the upper part of it weighed three tons he said; ‘he have trouble get that off.’
He was dressed in more sober colours than Kicking Bear and his face was not painted. His hair was ‘done up’ in otter-skin. The long locks were divided into two plaits, and around each of these was wound otter-skin. Like all Indians who have a right to ‘do up’ their hair in this way, they are very particular that it should be done in a certain way and that no other fur but otter should be used.
In his right hand Short Bull carried a war club. When the interpreter found necessary to speak to the Indians in their own language he generally addressed himself to Short Bull. The latter did not put himself forward, but there appeared to be a general understanding that if information were to be given it should be given to Short Bull. No matter of what nature the information might be, trivial or important, amusing or impressive, the expression on Short Bull’s face was always the same.
THEY LISTENED BUT SAID NOTHING
It was a quiet party. While in the body of the cathedral the only Indian who spoke was Short Bull and he only did so to keep his companions informed on matters of especial interest. The comments of the crowd that followed the party were not always complimentary to their intelligence. One man, a well-dressed rather intelligent-looking man, after staring at (White) Cloud for about five minutes, begged, as a great favour, to be told of what race the Indians were and whence they came. He seemed quite surprised when he was told they were North American Indians. I have been sorry ever since I did not ask him what he thought they were. High Bear had three small spheres of dark-blue paint on his right cheek and a blue star on his left. A large percentage of the crowd was fascinated by these artistic efforts.
No Neck had many admirers. He carried his blanket over one shoulder, so that everybody could see the heavily-beaded jacket he wore. It looked uncommonly like a woman’s bodice. White Cloud carried a silver-headed acacia stick, like those usually worn by Piccadilly swells, and seemed proud of it. When the interpreter told Short Bull that there was a Saint Paul’s Cathedral before the white man visited the Indians’ country, the Indians looked at one another but said nothing. Kicking Bear’s eyes flashed when he was told that not many years ago a man had jumped from the “Whispering Gallery,” and had fallen a few feet from where the Indians stood. All heads were thrown back and all eyes turned towards the dome. There was a general grunt when a verger said that several men could stand in the hall that surmounted the dome. They stood for a long time in front of Wellington’s tomb. A few months ago these same Indians were at Waterloo. They walked slowly around the tomb, looking carefully at the recumbent figure, after being told that the great English chief who had won at Waterloo was buried there. Less than a year ago, some of these same Indians were engaged in the congenial task of killing whites.
IN THE CRYPT OF SAINT PAUL’S.
When the last of the band had stepped inside, the door that forms the entrance to the crypt was shut in the face of the crowd. Whether sixpences were or were not forthcoming, the crowd was compelled to wait until the gentle red men had finished their tour. They were anxious to see Nelson’s tomb. They understood that he was a great sea captain. It made no difference to them whether the occupant of the tomb was a naval or a military hero. If he was a “good fighter” he was satisfactory to them. The Indians looked at the floor; it was stone, at the roof; it was stone, at the great pillars and walls on which the Cathedral rested; they were stone, and of the most massive description.
“All is strong here,” exclaimed Johnny Burke No Neck.
Short Bull looked approvingly at him and said: “When they get them here they keep them.”
The other Indians grunted. They stopped in front of the tomb of Sir Christopher Wren.
‘Here lies the man who built this cathedral,’ said the interpreter.
Short Bull nodded with his eyes closed, and the others, except Kicking Bear, grunted.
‘He told how each stone should be placed,’ said the interpreter.
Short Bull began to count the stones, but soon gave up. ‘Too much’ said High Bear.
The Indians stood in front of Nelson’s tomb, which is exactly in the centre of the cathedral. When they had been told that he had been a great fighting man, they walked slowly around the tomb. It was then that Short Bull suggested the great admiral would experience considerable difficulty in removing the weight from his chest when he wanted to get up. They were intensely interested in Wellington’s funeral car. They listened closely to its history as given by the verger and translated into their own language by Mr. Crager. When told that it was made from cannons captured in battle by Wellington, they nodded their heads slowly, but looked at the car a trifle distrustfully until the verger struck it with a piece of iron. It rang clearly and sharply, and the red men were satisfied. Kicking Bear spent much of his time looking at the muskets with which the front of the car was decorated. They were picked up from the field of Waterloo. Finally, Kicking Bear gave a grunt of disapproval. ‘What’s the matter?’ asked Mr. Crager.
‘Guns no good,’ replied Kicking Bear, who was armed with a Winchester repeating rifle in the last war. ‘You think that you could whip soldiers armed with those guns?’ asked the interpreter. ‘Yes,’ growled Kicking Bear.
At the head of the stone steps leading from the crypt stood the verger on the return journey. Major Burke shook hands with him and said ‘good morning.’
Short Bull said “How.” Each Indian shook hands with the verger as he passed. To each of them the verger, whose nerves seemed to be a bit shaken, said “Good morning, sir.” Each Indian answered gravely, “How.”
AT WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
After a quick drive, the rain still falling, the Indians arrived at Westminster Abbey. They stood in the rain for several minutes looking at the front. Once inside they were lost in admiration. Their manner could not be called enthusiastic, in the ordinary sense, but showed plainly enough that they were greatly interested. They walked slowly, and sometimes the white men of the party were considerably in advance. All the ordinary visitors fell into line and wherever the Indians went the crowd followed. One of the crowd asked the HERALD artist the nationality of the ‘gentlemen in the rugs.’ The HERALD artist replied ‘Swedes,’ and at once became an object of suspicion and dislike to the seeker after information. Short Bull asked how old the building was, and scattered the information when told that it was ‘many hundreds of years old; nearly a thousand.’ The windows filled them with admiration, and they showed a disposition to stand for a time in front of every tomb. They had been told that all the dead chiefs of England were buried in the Abbey. They gave the most time to the inspection of a tablet that was upheld by two figures of Indians. They looked at the figures and then at each other. Short Bull had a twinkle in his eye as he looked from the figures to his companions. The marble figures were correct as far as habiliments go. One of them held a musket and the other a war club. These accessories were correctly represented. But the sculptor had evidently never seen an Indian, for the faces were not at all like those of the Indians, and the hair was in short ringlets. These discrepancies rather spoiled the effect. Short Bull smiled when I pointed to the war club grasped by one of the marble figures, and then pointed to his own.
WILLING TO STAY LONGER.
The Indians would gladly have remained in the Abbey for an hour or more, and they walked out of it very slowly, still looking about them, when told that it was necessary to hurry in order to catch a train for Croydon. They were due for the afternoon performance of the Wild West Show, which began at two o’clock. They are hostages intrusted (sic) to the care of Colonel Cody. They shook hands in quite a friendly fashion with the white men, who remained behind, and said, through the interpreter, that they had enjoyed their visit to St. Paul’s …Westminster Abbey and the HERALD office. They remembered the names of the places they had visited.
Colonel Cody gave his last performances at Croydon last evening. He will open at Glasgow in a week and remain there for nine weeks. He and his companions then sail for home. His Indians and cowboys will have much information to disseminate on their return. That their European experience has done much to civilise the Indians there cannot be a doubt. Neither can there be any doubt that the influence of the travellers on the stay-at-homes will be beneficial. The Indian is a close observer, and those who have travelled can hardly avoid knowing and telling those who have any doubt upon the subject that the white man has the power, if he cared to exercise it, of blotting the red man off the Continent of America.
Last Edit: Oct 31, 2008 21:08:55 GMT -5 by fillupe
“Buffalo Bill” and his mammoth and unique exhibition, “The Wild West,” have been in Portsmouth the whole of the week, encamped at North End, on the show ground recently occupied by the exhibition of the Royal Counties’ Agricultural Society. The visit has been a somewhat unfortunate one, not from any lack of attractiveness on the part of the show itself or from any lack of desire to witness it on the part of the inhabitants of Portsmouth and the neighbouring district, but simply on account of the state of the elements. Col. the Hon. W. F. Cody, who goes by the familiar and apt title of “Buffalo Bill,” has gathered around him a brilliant and able company, containing every essential to the success of an exhibition such as he gives except a clerk of the weather, and it is solely the absence of this potent gentleman – who cannot be secured at any price or he would be there- that has constituted a drawback to the entire prosperity of the visit. “If our experiences of the weather were all like those at Portsmouth,” remarked Colonel Cody to one of our reporters yesterday, “we should have to shut up and go home.” With the philosophy of an old campaigner, he regarded the matter as merely one phase of the fortunes of war, so to speak. And the universal and almost unparalleled success of the exhibition under ordinary conditions of weather justifies such equanimity.
A NOVEL PROGRAMME.
No more novel exhibition has ever been brought to Portsmouth than this Wild West, of which the last two performances will be given at North-End today, the camp being struck tonight for transference to Brighton, the next place of call. The exhibition has done a remarkable tour since it was originated by Colonel Cody in 1883. It has been carried all through the United States, it has been seen in the principal cities and towns on the Continent, it was the exhibition of the season in London during the Jubilee year, and it is now nearing the completion of a most successful tour through the English provinces. The “Wild West” will be quartered in Glasgow for the winter, and will then return to America, where it will be a fixture at Chicago during the continuance of the World’s Fair. The performance given daily is stirring and striking enough to arouse the interest of even the most blasé patrons. Cowboys, Indians, Mexicans, buckers, and buffaloes contribute to the programme, in which Buffalo Bill himself is an active participant.
HOW THE INDIANS LIVE.
It is the inner life of the motley company, however, with which we propose more particularly to deal, Cowboys and Indians, Americans, Englishmen, Irishmen, Frenchmen, Alsatians, and people of other nationalities, by whom Buffalo Bill is surrounded, have their several encampments on the show-ground. They pitch their tents on arrival in a fresh city or town, and there they live during the stay, each in the fashion peculiar to his own nationality or temperament. The Indian encampment is the one that most strikingly arrests the attention of visitors, and our reporter had the advantage of being piloted through it yesterday by Mr. G. C. Crager, who is the Sioux interpreter in charge of all the Indians attached to the exhibition. He took the reporter into the tent of “No Neck,” one of the Indian Chiefs, who was a leading Government scout in the last campaign at Pine Ridge, where the famous “Sitting Bull” met his death, and the chiefs and braves who had fought so courageously under him were compelled to give in their submission to the trained soldiers of the United States, who were sent out to quell their rebellion. “No Neck” was taking a siesta at one side of the tent when the visitor entered. Two braves were lying at full length in another part of the tent, conversing in their own dialect, and an industrious squaw, who was introduced as “No Neck’s” sister, looked up with unconcern at the reporter, and then resumed her work of beaded embroidery. “No Neck” is the chief of police of the Wild West, under the constitution which the Indians observe among themselves. Mr. Crager waxed eloquent in regard to the services of the chief in past years, declaring that he had done more useful work as an ally of the United Stats Government than any twenty Indian chiefs or braves. There are altogether twenty-four Indian warriors associated with Buffalo Bill, who are held as hostages by the United States Government, having been taken as prisoners of war at Pine Ridge. The privilege accorded to Col. Cody of taking these famous warriors on tour with him is a unique one, and was granted solely in consequence of the great services he has from time to time rendered his country as pioneer, scout, and military officer. The Indians are treated well. Indeed, Mr. Crager, although he has been associated with the exhibition for nearly a year, has not yet recovered from his surprise at seeing them treated with such unexampled consideration. “The Indians on our reservation,” he said to our reporter, are treated as dogs by the United States Government. Were the Indians to receive one-half of the rations and goods allotted to them it would be all right. But there is too much red tape to allow of their doing so. When they join the company, however, the treatment becomes too good. They are petted and courted and fed too well, and the trouble we have to contend with is in consequence of their too good treatment and overfeeding. There is no work for the men to do except in the arena during the performances. Even their tepees, or tents, are put up by the women. There is no place of interest in any town we visit that they are not taken to see, and neither pains nor expense are spared in this matter. Colonel Cody’s motive for doing this arises from the belief that travel is always the best educator of mankind. He wants to make them appreciate the fact that they are but a small body incapable of successfully opposing a civilised nation, and so he takes them everywhere, in order to demonstrate the greatness of the white man. They have been over the Portsmouth Dockyard, and were taken to the Gun Works at Birmingham, and a point is made of letting them visit all such places whenever the opportunity occurs.” “And has the experiment so far proved a success?” asked the reporter. “To a certain extent, yes. We find that the Indians who were the most aggressive during the campaign the most docile under Colonel Cody, and very anxious to learn the arts and industries of civilisation. The Colonel hopes by this means to wean them from their former hostile ways. Over 800 Indians have been connected with the Wild West during the past five years, and on their return to the reservations it has always been found that they have become pioneers of civilisation among their own people. Take the Pine Ridge Agency for instance. See the Indians who have been most successful in agriculture there. See who it is who follows the plough. It is the Indians who have been with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. See who are most advanced in education; whose children are sent to school. It is the Indians who have been with the Wild West Show.” Then Mr. Crager further dilated upon the splendid treatment of the braves under Col. Cody. They were each paid, he said, from £5 to £15 per month, besides which everything was found them, even to portable bathing vans, so that they did not put their hands in their pockets for a penny. When the white man wanted a bath, however, he had to go in the town and pay for it. The exceptional treatment of the Indian went so far as the provision of a carriage whenever he was sent into the town, whereas the other members of the Company, from Colonel Cody and Mr. Nate Salsbury downwards, were content to ride on a tramcar. If an Indian had a headache or a toothache medical assistance was at once provided for him, and he was not expected to take part in the performance. Whenever an Indian terminated his connection with the Wild West he was given a civilised outfit sufficient to last him for two years, and was sent back by the proprietors to his own land.
LEARNING THE INDIAN LANGUAGE.
Gleaning from Mr. Crager, that he was acquainted with no fewer than seven Indian dialects, several of which he is constantly speaking as interpreter between the Indians of different tribes who travel with the show and the white men, the reporter asked how a knowledge of all these dialects was acquired. “By living among the Indians,” said Mr. Crager; “I left home at the age of 13 years, and since that time I have been almost constantly in intimate association with the various tribes of North American Indians. One of the Sioux chiefs (‘Two Strikes’) adopted me as his child many years ago, and this helped me largely to a friendly association with the Indians generally.” It transpired that Mr. Crager could speak not only these seven dialects, but was familiar with the German, Spanish, and Italian languages, and had a smattering of French. He is obviously a born linguist, for all his acquisition of language has been apart from any systematic course of study.
HOBNOBBING WITH COWBOYS AND INDIANS.
With the friendly aid of Mr. Crager who is evidently a persona grata with the whole company, our reporter soon extended his acquaintance in some directions which were quite new to him. Passing from No Neck’s tepee to the dining tent, where all the members of the company take pot luck together every meal time, the chief of the cowboys, a stalwart, well-built young fellow, Frank Hamet by name, was first encountered. Hardly was the introduction to him over when an Indian brave sauntered up, exchanged a few words in his own dialect to the interpreter, and smilingly held out his hand in thoroughly English fashion to the visitor, whom Mr. Crager introduced, “Here comes the pet of the Indians”, said Mr. Crager a moment afterwards, and up came “Little Johnny Burke No Neck”, the sole survivor of the decisive battle of Wounded Knee, which resulted in the annihilation of Big Foot’s band and the submission of the rebellious Indians. The little fellow, who is supposed to be no more than six years old, had also caught the English knack of greeting and held out his hand with the sound very much resembling our “Hullos”. Going on to the dining tent, the reporter found there at dinner a mixed assortment of cowboys and Indians, who, seated in groups at long tables, were giving a good account of themselves over the soup and meat that were freely provided. Only “Kicking Bear”, the chief upon whom the mantle of authority worn by the late “Sitting Bull” has virtually descended, sat by himself in solitary state. Johnny Baker “the cowboy kid” who has astonished the world with his marvellous marksmanship, was one of the diners, and the reporter felt honoured by the invitation of Mr. Crager to take a seat at the same table with so distinguished a shot. He has an apt pupil in Mr. Crager’s boy, a young marksman of six summers, whose portrait, just received by his proud father, was passed from hand to hand. Everyone knew little Crager, who had just written from Birmingham, telling his father that he had become the possessor of a toy gun and pistol, and that he is “Cody, Daly, and Burke” all day long.
The meat sampled by the reporter was not found wanting. There were two kinds of soup and three kinds of meat on the table, and the visitor was informed that there was never any stint, for every member of the company could always have just as much as he wanted. The cooking is done on the camp ground by a chef, who is a character in his way. He is a great Shakespearean scholar, and possesses some fourteen different editions of the Bard of Avon’s works, which he recites by the yard over the preparation of his toothsome dishes.
TACKLING A BUCKER
Dinner over, the visitor traversed the rest of the show ground, and en route met a lot of cowboys dressing the wounded fetlock of one of the buckers. In order to get at the injury they had to haul one of the animal’s hind legs up by a rope, and render him powerless to do mischief by keeping it off the ground. These animals can never be tamed, having been spoilt in the attempt to break them in. They are never shod nor groomed, and nobody would care to approach them for such a purpose.
BUFFALO BILL’S TENT.
Colonel Cody was sitting at a writing table hard at work with his latest mail, when Mr. Crager took the reporter to see his tent. It is a cosily fitted little place, filled with interesting mementoes of the Colonel’s adventurous career. Prominent among these features are some splendid skins, a number of weapons of varied use, several framed military orders and despatches, addressed to Colonel Cody from time to time by commanders of the U.S. army, under whom he has served, and a fine collection of photographs of scenery and incidents, taken during the Pine Ridge expedition last year, as well as of groups reminiscent of the visit of the Wild West Company to various continental places. One of the most interesting of these pictures depicts the party on the field of Waterloo. From Pine Ridge to Waterloo! remarked Mr. Crager, pointing out that the portrait was taken on June 2nd this year.
A PARTING CHAT.
Having bade adieu to Col. Cody, the reporter had the welcome opportunity of a five minutes’ chat with his partner, Nate Salsbury, who is the life and soul of the purely business arrangements of the “Wild West.” As might have been expected, Mr. Salsbury showed by his conversation, which turned on English and American politics, that he is of a shrewd and practical nature. He is a good raconteur, and the reporter’s only regret as he took his leave of the heads of this remarkable combination was that he could not longer enjoy the advantages of their society.
I have a copy of Eagle Star's death certificate, various newspaper cuttings, and a copy of the records of Brompton Cemetery, London.
His remains were indeed repatriated in the 1990s but it was a low-key affair.
Eagle Star was one of five Indians buried in Brompton Cemetery. The others were Red Penny and Surrounded by the Enemy (both 1887) and Long Wolf and Star Ghost Dog (both 1892). The first two are the only ones still there.