Title: Letter from William F. Cody to Clarence W. Rowley

Date: July 25, 1913

Author: Cody, William Frederick, 1846-1917

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2932 Lafayette St. [1]

Dear Clarence

The old show went out of business on the 22d— It nearly broke my heart. [3] And could have been avoided if Lillie had not been like a dog in the manger.

For three or four years the management has been bad And I am glad its all over. I am going off into the rockies for a little mental & bodly rest. Then Ill go at em— with my old time Vim, I am not down and out by a long jump.

Write me

Cody Wyo—

Yours

Col

 

2932 Lafayette St.
Denver, Colo.

Denver, Colo.
Jul 25
1913
5:30 PM

[stamp]postage stamp, red

U. S. Postage
2 cents 2

Clarence W. Rowley

Attorney at Law

638 Old South Bldg

Boston

Mass

 

The following newspaper article was included with this letter. The origin of this article is possibly the Denver Post, Denver, Colorado.

Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill Shows Stopped by Attachment

All Employes Are Provided For and Indians to Be Sent Back to Their Reservations.

The attachment Monday night in Denver of the Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill shows by the United States Printing and Lithograph company was a step taken as much in the interests of Buffalo Bill as it was in the interests of the printing and lithographic company, according to a statement made in Denver today by Adolph Marks of Chicago, general counsel of the United States Printing and Lithograph company at Cincinnati, Ohio.

"As general counsel for the United States Printing and Lithograph company," said Mr. Marks, "I can say that we have none but the friendliest feelings

Colonel Cody is an honest man. If it is possible for a man to be too honest, then Colonel Cody is that man. When Colonel Cody returned to America from his last great tour of Europe he paid voluntarily to the Bailey estate the sum of $390,000, although the estate had not the scratch of a pen upon which to claim that debt. But Cody knew that he owed the money and Cody paid it on his own volition. So, my company believes in Colonel Cody and, if Colonel Cody had his way, there would be no attachment on the show now. But Cody's hands have been tied, and they have been tied by the way in which he seems to have deeded over all his property to his present partner, Major Lillie--the 'Pawnee Bill' of this present show combination.

Terms of Contract for the Printing.

'Here are the facts in the case. In December the United States Printing and Lithograph company entered into a joint and several contract with Colonel Cody and Major Lillie for the printing of all their posters and lithographic matter and programs and date bills for the season of 1913. It was estimated that that printing would amount in the season to about $50,000. At that time my company held notes to the value of $16,000 from the Buffalo Bill-Pawnee Bill show which notes matured in April and May of this year and which notes, also, were indorsed by Major Lillie.

"Now, then, up to the beginning of July of this year my company had supplied to the Cody-Lillie show printing to the value of $40,000. Up to the beginning of July we had not received a cent on account of that printing. About July first my company instructed me to attach the show, which came to Chicago at that time. I prepared to attach but Major Lillie saw me and asked for time. Lillie agreed to send me $10,000 on account of the $60,000 if we would let the show go unattached and continue on for about two more weeks. This I agreed to do, although Lillie's notes for $16,000 on account of the printing for the previous season were then in default. We felt friendly to Colonel Cody and didn't want to embarrass him. After agreeing to that extension of time with Lillie we sent the show printing to the value of $12,000 and that brought the total indebtedness of the Cody-Lillie shows to the printing company--for this present season--to more than $16,000[.] And not one cent had been paid on that account. However, we did not attach in Chicago and the show went away from there on the tour that brought it to Denver last Sunday.

Says Lillie Had Not Paid One Dollar.

"Now, then, between leaving Chicago and reaching Denver we estimate that the receipts of the show were at least $30,000, and yet Lillie had not sent us a dollar on account of his indebtedness. Therefore, in view of that default of Lillie's, I instructed Charles H. Redmond and John T. Bottom, the attorneys who represent the United States Printing and Lithograph company in Denver, to take such measures as they thought necessary here to protect my company.

"I reached Denver myself Monday morning and had a conference with Colonel Cody and Major Lillie. Redmond and Bottom were present at that conference. Lillie admitted his default and asked that we do nothing until after another conference, which he asked for, on Tuesday--yesterday. But that delay we refused to agree to because it would have given Lillie the receipts for another day and evening. Therefore we attached the show and its cars and--by constructive possession--the tracks on which the cars owned and used by the show are now standing. Lillie has abandoned the men with the show and thrown them upon Denver, but I have arranged for their feeding and housing and I have also arranged for the return of the Indians with the show to their reservations. Meantime I want to say that Lillie has refused to meet us half way in any suggestion of compromise we have made. And Lillie has got Colonel Cody tied up by trust deeds in the meantime that Colonel Cody is in Lillie's hands.

Gives Situation Regarding the Matter.

"Here is the situation regarding that matter:

"We offered to agree to defer payment of our account for two years if Lillie would transfer to us the mortgages on the real estate he has secured from Colonel Cody. Lillie refused to do this. Lillie holds Cody's estate and Lillie seems to mean to keep it. Lillie holds from Colonel Cody a mortgage on the Cody ranch in North Platte, which is worth at least $100,000. Lillie holds from Cody a mortgage on the hotel owned by Cody in Cody, Wyoming. That hotel is worth $75,000. Colonel Cody is willing to transfer those securities to our company so that the show may be released to finish the season, but Lillie point blank refuses to make any such transfer, and our only recourse, therefore, was attachment.

Bonfils and Tammen Have Not Interfered.

"Now, then, let me say something concerning the connection of Messrs. F. G. Bonfils and H. H. Tammen, owners of the Sells-Floto circus, with the Buffalo Bill-Pawnee Bill shows. At the beginning of this season Mr. Bonfils and Mr. Tammen loaned to Colonel Cody and Major Lillie the sum of $20,000 with which to start the season. That loan is now overdue. But Mr. Bonfils and Mr. Tammen have made no attempt of any kind to embarrass Colonel Cody and his partner because of default on that loan, and they have not interfered in any way with the legal processes by which I was compelled to protect my company. They have been broad-minded and generous throughout. Now, however, and quite naturally, Messrs. Bonfils and Tammen are protecting their own interests, irrespective of anybody else.

"And I want to say finally that nothing would please me or my company more than to see Colonel Cody relieved of his embarrassments and on the road again with the show which he has spent his life in building up."

Note 1: The address on the stationery William F. Cody used to write this letter is that of his sister, May Cody Bradford Decker. Cody died at his sister's home in 1917. [back]

Note 2: Cody did not include the year in his dateline, but the postmark on the accompanying envelope establishes it as 1913. [back]

Note 3: Cody refers to the final closure of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Combined With Pawnee Bill's Great Far East in Denver on July 22, 1913. The local sheriff seized and sold the show's assets, ostensibly to satisfy debts owed to a printing company. Historians such as Don Russell and Louis Warren have written that the seizure was orchestrated by Denver Post co-owner and circus impresario Henry Heye Tammen in order to break up the partnership between William F. Cody and Gordon W. "Pawnee Bill" Lillie. Cody enclosed a newspaper clipping (apparently from the Denver Post) about the seizure with this letter. [back]

Title: Letter from William F. Cody to Clarence W. Rowley

Source: McCracken Research Library (MRL), MS6.0285.01-.03

Date: July 25, 1913

Author: Cody, William Frederick, 1846-1917

Topic: Empire

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