Inside the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, and displayed in the Buffalo Bill Museum, is a large 9′ x 12′ map with red colored push pins, indicating all the places in America that Buffalo Bill traveled with his magnificent Wild West show.
Having grown up in New Mexico, I was especially interested to find out if he had ever taken his show there. Standing in front of the map, I saw red pushpins marking the towns in the Land of Enchantment where the Wild West happened for real and “on stage.” And looking closer, I found what I was hoping for…a red dot near the spot where I grew up.
With the assistance of Deb Adams, a researcher for the Papers of William F. Cody, the following newspaper articles and advertisements were located on the Chronicling America website:
Not only did I let out a gleeful “oh!” at seeing the name Clovis, but the misspelling of “October” put an extra-large smile on my face. Clovis New Mexico, located in the eastern part of the state—and where my sister now lives—is about 10 miles from the Texas border and 20 miles northeast of the town of Portales where my sister and I grew up and where my parents have called home for the past 50 plus years. I still hold on to the thought that surely one of my ancestors had the chance to attend a show of Buffalo Bill’s Original Wild West but his Clovis appearance isn’t looking too promising. My Mom’s grandparents, the Bloxham Barney and Annie Doshua Stafford family lived in Legansville, NM (now a ghost town) about 39 miles NE of Clovis in 1910, but had gone to Texas (GTT) by 1913. My Father’s grandparents, Dan W. and Moriah Belle Wood and family didn’t arrive in the Clovis/Portales area until sometime around 1930. But there are plenty of other places where Buffalo Bill took his Wild West and other ancestors of mine who were scattered throughout the United States, so a connection with Buffalo Bill and my family is still a possibility.
Nevertheless, here are the facts about the visit Buffalo Bill made in October of 1915 to Clovis, New Mexico, gleaned from the Clovis News:
100 years ago, on October 1, 1915, the Clovis News reported that this 3500-5000 people town in Eastern New Mexico was preparing to host the annual Curry County Fair which on the first day would also include the combined shows of Buffalo Bill’s Original Wild West and the Sells Floto Circus. Just one month earlier, the newspaper mentioned the fact that interest in the Fair had been “lagging.” But the addition of two world-renowned shows surely would reverse any lack of curiosity. During the same week, District Court would also be in session, so the town was readying themselves for an influx of interesting folks and a hum dinger of an educational celebration. After all Buffalo Bill was an educator, not just an entertainer.
In addition to Buffalo Bill’s and the Sells Floto’s magnificent 11 acres of tents and 3 trains of double-length railroad cars, preparations were being made to exhibit the Curry County’s prosperous year using the large evangelistic tent as well as the Seventh Day Adventist’s tent and the newly constructed Elks Auditorium.
The large advertisement/poster in the newspaper revealed there would be a free two mile street parade and the show itself would feature 650 people as well as “3-herds of elephants – 450 horses – 3 railroad trains – 11 acres of tents and 1001 Wonders” plus much more out-of-the-ordinary entertainment. Advertised as an educational endeavor as well, County schools were being closed. The Clovis News reasoned, “Every parent owes it to the children that they shall see a show endorsed by the presence of Buffalo Bill. He is a big part of the history of the wonderful West that is the republic’s most valuable future asset, in the way of agricultural, mineral and forestry resources. Col. Cody was a leader among the most prominent of the living pioneers of this mighty empire. His experiences read like bright and crisp romance. A child of today that is allowed to grow up without seeing Col. Cody will someday chide the person who is responsible for the oversight…”.
Here at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, in Cody, Wyoming, you will find out for yourself why the Clovis News encouraged every parent to introduce their children to the man responsible for taking the West to the World. How about you? Introduce your family to this fascinating man of the West. Check us out at centerofthewest.org.
Did Buffalo Bill Visit Your Town?
Maybe some of your ancestors had the opportunity to see and meet the Colonel himself at one of his Wild West shows. Click on “Did Buffalo Bill Visit Your Town” at the left for a document from our friends at the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave in Golden, Colorado.