Stenberg and Brown
Buffalo Bill, portrayed by Bruce Richman, was on hand to celebrate.
For Judy Herbst Brown, the $8,284 check she received Thursday was the culmination of years of work. Brown accepted the check from Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg at the Buffalo Bill State Historical Park.
Brown won’t keep the money. It goes to the Friends of Buffalo Bill, a group organized to promote the legacy of Buffalo Bill Cody.
For five years, Brown searched for a treasure she feared had been lost – a solid gold watch that the Prince of Wales gave to Buffalo Bill Cody in 1886.
Ever watchful, Brown discovered that the state treasurer had unclaimed property that belonged to the Friends of Buffalo Bill.
After 10 months, she was able to convince the treasurer’s office that she was one of the sole surviving members of the Friends group.
Stenberg said he personally delivered the check because it was sizeable and of an historical nature.
The money was from a certificate of deposit that was turned over to the state by Wells Fargo Bank, Stenberg said.
If the Friends wouldn't have legitimately claimed the money, it would have gone into the general funds of the Nebraska Game and Parks department instead of helping the Cody historical attraction in North Platte.
Brown said she would like to see a visitor's center built at the ranch, were artifacts could be displayed in a climate controlled area and the 120 year old manor and barn could be returned solely to their original state.
Brown has been drumming up interest in the Friends group. She said Thursday that 37 members are now signed up, including members of the Lincoln County Historical Society and the Corral of Westerners.
In talking to Stenberg, Brown noted that Cody was an innovative rancher as well as a showman.
In addition to directing the Wild West Show that traveled throughout the United States and Europe, Cody was one of the first cattlemen in the U.S. to raise polled Hereford cattle, which he kept at the ranch along with livestock from the Wild West Show.
Seven years after the Prince of Wales gave the solid gold watch to Cody, he had it engraved as a gift to his close friend Luke Healey, a fellow scout during the Old West days of Fort McPherson.
The watch has been in safekeeping at the Buffalo Bill Historical Park for many years, where it was known as the Healey watch, not the Prince of Wales watch.
Brown went to the ranch in June to look at the watch and identified it as the one that originally belonged to the Prince of Wales.
The Bulletin featured photos of the watch, along with two other gold watches that Cody gave away, on the front page in June.