I am excited to share the Jordan B. Cottle scrapbook with the world. It is full of amazing images and stories of the many peoples and facets that made up the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World. Any fan of William F. Cody or Buffalo Bill’s Wild West will have so much fun looking through the 500+ images.
The Jordan B. Cottle Scrapbook (MS6.4075.00) is a treasure trove of information, yet the pages are so yellowed and brittle with age that it cannot be handled. When simply turning a page you can hear the page crack and break. The black leather album is starting to rot and flake with every movement. This is normally a object only the most serious of researchers would ever see, but thanks to digitization efforts at the McCracken Research Library, now every one can see the content.
Jordan B. Cottle
Jordan B. Cottle, born in 1872, traveled with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and performed as a cowboy, off and on, between 1898 – 1907. After his career as a cowboy ended, Cottle moved to Chicago and became the President of the Central Hyde Park Bank. Cottle kept in contact even years later and saved mementos of his friends from the wild west, including several letters from William F. Cody addressed to Cottle at the bank. Jordan B. Cottle documented the different wild west acts from all over the world as only someone on the inside could do.
Cowboys, Mexican Vaqueros & Gauchos
The Cowboys, Vaqueros, and Gauchos hailed from different regions in the Americas. They all performed roping and trick riding feats, each in slightly different ways and in costumes representing their diverse cultures. Within the Wild West there was personnel movement between the acts. The Esquivel brothers, Joe and Tony, were simultaneously cast as Mexican vaqueros, Western cowboys and South American Gauchos.* Some like Vicente Oropeza were well known for their lead roles and were periodically in the newspapers with updates of their life after leaving the wild west.
Luka Chkhartishvili and a group of men from Georgia performed as a group of Cossacks, known for their great skill as trick riders. Even though this group came from the Guria region in Georgia they were called Russian Cossacks, because Georgia was a part of the Russian Empire at the time. They wore traditional Georgian robes called Chokhas and often carried a saber and dagger in their belts. The saddles the Cossacks used looked very different from the western or English saddles which were familiar to most audiences at the time. In the library we have a fascinating book, Riders of the Wild West: Georgian Trick Riders in the American Wild West Shows which sheds light on the identities of individual Georgian trick riders and their experiences with the wild west shows.
Jordan Cottle Scrapbook is a wonderful piece of history full of amazing images and stories. Hope you enjoy!
* Louis Warren, Buffalo Bill’s America: William Cody and the Wild West Show (Vintage Books: New York, 2005), 402.