Photo by Library of Congress
Buffalo Bill and Grand Duke Alexis pose for a photo before starting the hunt.
One was the nation’s best-known Indian fighter and the other was one of the world’s most famous members of royalty. Joining one of the greatest figures of America’s civil war and a western hero of dime novels, they all met in Nebraska for a winter vacation.
The 1872 meeting of Lt. Col. George Custer, Grand Duke Alexis of Russia, Gen. Phil Sheridan and “Buffalo Bill” Cody was a world-famous event.
Yet few people know today of the dignitaries’ tour through the frontier town of Omaha and their world-famous hunt in western Nebraska.
Nebraska author Jeff Barnes will reacquaint attendees at a North Platte Public Library’s brown bag luncheon on Thursday, April 25 with the state’s past.
Barnes will speak about “Custer in Nebraska: The Royal Buffalo Hunt of 1872,” a lunch-and-learn presentation that begins at noon. The presentation is sponsored by Humanities Nebraska and is free to the public.
Seating is limited, so reservations need to be made by calling the library at 535-8036 by April 24. Attendees may bring their own lunch. Coffee, tea and water will be provided.
“It was a very exciting and pivotal time,” Barnes said. “Omaha was the fastest-growing city on the frontier, while the great buffalo herds of the plains were disappearing and the Indian tribes forced to reservations."
Using newspaper accounts with photographs and images of the period, Barnes describes the Omaha tour, the cross-Nebraska trip on the Union Pacific railroad to North Platte, the well-publicized buffalo hunt in southwest Nebraska -- perhaps the most-famous big game hunt ever.
Th Grand Duke's visit to Nebraska is featured in Barnes’s book, The Great Plains Guide to Custer, the first comprehensive travel guide to Custer’s activity and related sites on the Great Plains.
In compiling the guide, Barnes traveled through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana. He used historic images wherever possible – some familiar to "Custerphiles" and some in print for the first time – along with contemporary photographs by the author.
Barnes is a former newspaper reporter and editor who now writes freelance and lives in Omaha. He is a fifth-generation Nebraskan, a trustee of the Nebraska State Historical Society and a former chairman of the Nebraska Hall of Fame Commission. His first book, Forts of the Northern Plains, is now in its fourth printing with Stackpole Books.
Barnes is a frequently requested speaker with Humanities Nebraska and has presented for the Mountain-Plains Museum Association, the South Dakota State Historical Society Annual Conference, the Fort Robinson History Conference, and numerous state and national parks, museums and libraries.