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Buffalo Bill was Not with the Party

Even though Texas Jack and Buffalo Bill were incredibly well-known by the time they joined Ned Buntline to launch the Scouts of the Prairie show, they weren't always immediately recognizable by their fans. Newspapers at the time rarely printed images, so even when they saw notices that The Scouts were coming to their town, theater patrons sometimes didn't know exactly what to expect when they finally saw their heroes. On several occasions, such as the one below, one of the famous frontiersmen missed a show and the crowd was unaware until the end that they hadn't seen who they expected to see. As Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack toured the country over the next several years, they posed for portraits that were sold at shows and traded and collected by fans of their dime novel stories and plays alike. Soon, everyone recognized the famous buffalo hunter Buffalo Bill and the famous cowboy Texas Jack. From the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Intelligencer Journal May 28, 1873.

The Scouts—Fulton Hall was packed last night be those curious to see Ned Buntline's sensational play of the Prairie Scouts with the author, himself, in a leading role, and Buffalo Bill and Texas Jack as his chief supporters. Of the farce of "Jenny Lind of the LAst," we do not intend to speak, except to say that it was remarkable for broad and vulgar humor. "The Great Realistic Drama," as the "Scouts of the Prairie" is termed, so far as its sensational character is concerned, is sufficiently blook-and-thunderish to satisfy the most morbidly craving taste in that line; but it is almost totally devoid of plot, of current or under-current, which are so essential to retained interest in melo-dramatic representations.

There were several passages designed to be impressively sentimental and pathetic, but they were of the coarser kind, and not spun out with the finished touch of a master hand. The only moral posted was reformatory lesson successfully given by "Carle Durg," (Ned Buntline,) to "Phelim O'Laugherty," a rollicking, drunken Irishman, who reforms, becomes a man and joins the Scouts in their warfare upon the Indians.

The side scenes, or rather by-play, in which the usual songs and dances were given, were somewhat refreshing, after the din of breech-loaders and revolvers in the mimic Indian slaughter, (and the Scouts certainly know how to handle them,) but all else was common-place and monotonous.

Buffalo Bill was not with the party, having been detained by the illness of his wife. This was not known until after the curtain finally dropped, and the announcement was made. Of Course, everybody wanted to see the Hon. W. F. Cody, but as Texas Jack was on hand, they gulped down their disappointment as best they could.

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