The Three Wonders
The Three Wonders (Sunday Mercury April 6, 1873)
Texas Jack, Buffalo Bill, and Ned Buntline
Romantic and Thrilling Incidents
The Men as They Have Been and the Men as They Are
Everything About Them
Etc. Etc. Etc.
Anything or anybody in New York that is genuine, or who really is what he or she professes to be, is so rare as to become a “sensation;” a “curiosity.” Viewed in this light, New York at present is favored with three real curiosities, three genuine sensations, in the persons of three of the most noted “Border Men,” “Western Men,” “Scalp-Hunters,” buffalo-killers, scouts, and anti-Indian warriors which this Continent has ever produced, viz., Ned Buntline, Texas Jack, and Buffalo Bill.
The career of each member of this notorious trio has been more interesting than any novel could possibly be, because full of that “truth” which is so confessedly stranger than “fiction.”
And like all true heroes, whether in America, Europe, Asia, Africa, or Oceanica, these notorious hunters and scalpers are more quiet in their manners and more unassuming in their department than nine-tenths of the dry goods clerks who have all their lives traveled only from shop counters to their boarding-houses and back. Texas Jack especially is “as docile as a boy and as amiable as a girl,” so his chum “Buffalo Bill” says, and so anybody who forms his personal acquaintance will be led to believe.
TEXAS JACK’S WAY OF FORGETTING
Although he always carries a six-barreled pistol, loaded every barrel, in his pocket, “keeps a dark-knife handy,” has his room at the Metropolitan full of shotguns, and generally travels “ready for anything that may turn up,” he is the last man to provoke in a quarrel, and will bear more “chaff” than nine out of ten—but he has “Injun blood” in his veins, and never forgets or forgives an intentional insult or positive injury.
On one occasion, some five years ago, in Texas, a man attempted to bully him in a bar-room, and bandied words with insultingly. Jack took no notice of his jibes at the time, and people thought the matter had “blown over.” About seven months afterwards the two met again in another bar-room in another State. Jack thereupon stepped up to the man who had goaded him nearly a year before, and asked him to take a drink. The man complied; as they were drinking, Jack said in his characteristic way to the other: “See here, the last time we met you blew your tongue out on me. Now, I give you fair notice I am going to blow out something besides cheek. So take care of yourself, d—n you,” and thus putting his adversary on guard, and giving him time to prepare for his defense, Jack drew his revolver and fired at his insulter, who escaped with his life this time. But “Texas Jack” ultimately wiped out the insult in the life-blood of the man who uttered it, in “a fair fight” two years afterwards in the Indian Territory.
The same spirit differently applied, led Texas Jack to befriend, several times at the hazard of his life, an Indian who had once done him some slight service, and to make “Texas Jack” your friend once is to make a friend forever.
TEXAS JACK IN LOVE
Texas Jack has always been a ladies man, in his way—as the Western phrase goes, “a lucky dog with the women.” He has incurred the enmity at sundry times of diverse red skins for his flirtations with their dusky squaws, while amongst the Mexican beauties he has been somewhat of a Lothario.
Once at a fandango he was introduced by a bosom friend, or a man whom he took to be so, to a senorita with whom he danced incessantly that evening. This marked attention and the marked favor with which they were received, excited very unexpectedly the ire of the very man who introduced him, and while dancing with the lady Jack was stabbed in the shoulder from behind. The wound was serious, but Jack finally recovered, and never knew his assailant till some time afterward, when his former “bosom friend,” who had by this time become his open enemy, avowed the act, and endeavored to repeat it, whereupon Texas Jack “shot him in his tricks.”
During Jack’s captivity for several months among the Indians a squaw became passionately attached to him, much to the chagrin of her Indian suitor, and it is currently reported that Jack’s ultimate escape was facilitated by the aid of the love-sick Indian, who wished, at all hazards, to get rid of his too handsome rival.
JACK OFF DUTY
Jack is really one of the finest-looking “boys” on the West or out of it. He is excellent company; can perform all manner of -sleight-of-hand tricks, knows all that is to be known about a pack of cards, and could make a point, if so disposed, against the Heathen Chinee himself; speaks Indian as fluently as a traveled woman does French, is a dead shot, never missed his mark but once, and then only because “somebody dirked him from behind;” is hearty and open-handed, and though free and easy in his manner, is not without a certain personal dignity. Off the stage he is addicted to big diamond pins, fancy neckties, and heavy jewelry, and loves fun next to fighting.
The Hon. Wm. F. Cody, alias "Buffalo Bill," whose home is "by the setting sun," but who lives just at present at Overton & Blair's, in Tenth Street, just opposite Stewart's, is somewhat more reserved in his deportment, and more "subdued" in his manner, than his friend and partner Texas Jack, but is equally amiable, and equally beloved by his intimates.
He is often to be found in his friend Jack's rooms, in the Metropolitan Hotel, where, lying at full length on a lounge, he delights in unburdening and unbecoming himself, and tells interesting stories of thrilling adventures and hair-breadth escapes. He is rather disinclined to talk about himself, but when "drawn out" skillfully, or when he finds an appreciative listener, he is eloquent. In the way of adventure stories, he has "gone through" enough to make a library of dime novels.
BUFFALO BILL'S FIRST FIGHT
His first experience with Indian fights occurred when he was fourteen years of age, when he was in the employ of Simpson & Poole, noted emigrant guards and cattle drivers. These men were conducting two trains of emigrant wagons across the plains, the trains being about fifteen miles apart. Suddenly, when half way between these two trains, Simpson, Poole, and young Cody were attacked by a huge party of Indians armed with bows and arrow, who rushed upon them from an ambush. The white men, however, were equal for the emergency, and killing three mules, and arranging their bodies in a triangle, sheltered themselves behind these mules as a breastwork, from which they discharged their rifles at the Indians with delay effect, each shot telling. The Indians fired away with their bows and arrows, but produced more effect on the dead mules than upon the brace enemies behind them. Finally, the Indians, with an air of savage satisfaction, made up their minds to surround the mules and the white men, and to "starve the latter out," but this little game was blocked by the approach of the second emigrant train, whose appearance in the due time scared the redskins away and saved Buffalo Bill and his companions.
Although, perhaps, the best shot living, Cody is averse to the use of firearms save as a matter of necessity, believing in moral as well as mere physical courage. Once upon a time, a noted Arkansas desperado named Bill Price was "raising hell" in a sutler's shop, armed to the teeth, when Buffalo Bill, without any weapons save those which nature gave him, by his looks and manner overawed the ruffian and produced in a moment by his mere appearance peace out of chaos.
THE SCOUTS AND THE ARISTOCRATS
Though Democrats of the most pronounced type, with "no airs about them," and caring little for civilization, both Texas Jack and Buffalo Bill have met, in their adventures, some of the most noted of European aristocrats. Cody became a great friend of the Duke Alexis in his sporting tour out West, and has been highly thought of in the royal family of St. Petersberg, from whom he has received medals of distinction. Texas Jack has lately received as a souvenir a magnificent shotgun from his friend, the Earl of Dunraven, while not a few of our native American magnates, New York journalists, brokers, railroad officials, generals, etc., etc., have conceived a warm friendship for "the scouts of the prairie."
Among the trophies and curiosities of Buffalo Bill is a bridle of human hair—the hair being taken from the scalp of hostile Indians killed by this renowned hunter. One of his "chums" for years has been J.B. Hickok, otherwise called "Wild Bill," and described by his friend Buffalo Bill as a "fellow with about the worst temper and the best heart." "Wild Bill" has been killed so often in the western papers that he's lately published a card, under own signature, acknowledging his own death, hoping that this last will prove satisfactory. Buffalo Bill is a married man, and is very happy in his domestic relations. His wife was a Miss Frederici and is a very quiet and most estimable lady. He has several children, one of them a bright, daring boy, his father's pet, and called Kit Carson Junior. Amid all his wanderings, Mr. Cody has always cherished a strong attachment for his home, and thinks nothing of riding a hundred miles "to get at it" as soon as possible.
HOME, SWEET HOME
Thus one Thursday evening, according to the local papers, the officers at Fort Randall were surprised to see the browned visaged countenance of "Buffalo Bill" enter the office with his customary salutation of "How!" They were surprised from the fact that his appearance was wholly unlooked for. Mr. Cody left the command about sixty-five miles distant on Monday evening, and succeeded in reaching the Fort. He says that the North Platte is booming high, and where he crossed, the current is very swift. A person possessing the ordinary amount of nerve would have hesitated in crossing such a deep turbulent stream; but Bill has taken so many chances during his career as a scout that he was not to be turned off. He was alone in the perilous undertaking. He stripped himself to the waist, and, taking the bridle rein of his animal in his mouth, he boldly struck out, and after a desperate effort succeeded in reaching the opposite shore. His friends tried to prevail upon his remaining in town over night, but his anxiety to see his family was too great, and after a short rest he pushed on the Fort, making a ride of eighty-five miles in one day.
NED BUNTLINE AS A BUSINESS MAN
As for Colonel E. Z. C. Judson, the famous Ned Buntline, he is so familiar to the world, and his adventures by sea and land and his former excesses and his recent reform and seal as a temperance lecturer are so well known, that the only thing that is really new to the public about this celebrated individual is that he has lately become a shrewd business man, and is making a great deal of money.
To him is due the conception and the carrying out of the present remarkable scheme, which as actors and as curiosities has united the three noted scalp-hunters in a paying combination.
The "Scouts of the Prairie," as his play is called, was composed in Chicago, between 1 AM in the morning and twenty minutes past 4 in the afternoon. It was rehearsed the Saturday and Sunday following and on Monday night, under the management of Mr. Nixon, who engineers the combination, the drama was produced to an overflowing house.
Texas Jack and Buffalo Bill receive $1,000 per week for their services, and the entire onus of the management falls upon Ned Buntline, who, in his blue coat and brass buttons, and gorgeous jewelry, takes the world and all its cares as easily as if he had been born a manager.
Really, the three men as they are in themselves individually, and as they appear in combination, are curiosities, human wonders, types of a phase of romance of which they are the most remarkable living exponents.