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Buffalo Bill artifacts come homeTell North Platte what you think
Photo by Bulletin graphics
Courtesy Photo­Image
Layout of the massive Wild West Show.
Courtesy Photo­Image
A flyer from a Buffalo Bill farewell tour. (click on images to enlarge)
Courtesy Photo­Image
Complete listing of staff
Courtesy Photo­Image
The pocket-size 1899 tour book, packed with information.
Courtesy Photo­Image
Two pages of the 1899 tour book.
Courtesy Photo­Image
Young Irma Cody

Thanks to a handful of donors, dozens of artifacts that once belonged to Buffalo Bill Cody and his immediate family are now in North Platte. 

The collection includes maps, newspapers and booklets from the world famous Wild West Show, as well as photographs of Cody and family and china dishes. A mirror in the shape of a bison’s head that once belonged to Cody will now hang in his family mansion at the state historical park that bears his name. 

The items were purchased from the collection of Cody’s great-grandaughter Patsy Garlow at a recent auction in Cincinnati. Patsy Garlow is descended from Buffalo Bill’s daughter Irma, who grew up in North Platte, studied in New York City and married Fred Garlow. After they were married, the Garlows managed the Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyo.

Pictures in the collection represent Wild West Shows that were held in Italy, Vienna, Persia, France and England, in addition to many places throughout the U.S.

James and Rhonda Seacrest donated $5,000 for the cause. The Friends of Buffalo Bill group in North Platte pitched in more than $6,000, and six other donors contributed lesser amounts. 

In the end, nearly $16,000 worth of items were purchased for North Platte. Most will go to the Buffalo Bill State Historical Park for caretaking and hopefully, display. 

Lincoln County Historical Museum director Jim Griffin handled most of the bidding during the auction. 

One of the more telling items that Griffin purchased is a leather-bound pocket tour book of the Wild West Show from 1899, listing the acts and a description of the show of that year. The No. 9 act was a reenactment of the battle of San Juan Hill.

That reenactment would have been a timely, because Teddy Roosevelt’s famous charge up San Juan Hill occurred the year before, in 1898, Griffin said. 

The 1899 tour book also contains daily accounts of the show and a large, detailed foldout map of the route and the place each performance was held that year. The show took a route from the Great Lakes to the East Coast. 

Also purchased was a 4-page tabloid advertising flyer, packed with photos and information about the show. Another flyer contains a listing of the entire staff of the show -- dozens of people from Buffalo Bill himself to the boys who served coffee. 

Photos of Cody’s properties in North Platte at various stages of development were also purchased, as well as several photos of Cody’s daughter Irma, and much more. 

The other donors include the Golden Spike Tower, the Lincoln County Tourism Advisory Council, Brenda Grant, Bob and Rosie McFarland and Muriel Clark. 

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, which is in charge of the Buffalo Bill State Historical Park were most items will be kept, did not contribute, Griffin said.


This report was first published March 19 in the Bulletin's print edition.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 5/2/2014
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