Title: The "Wild West" In Bristol

Periodical: Western Daily Press

Date: September 28, 1891

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THE "WILD WEST" IN BRISTOL.


In the early morning of Sunday the personalty and luggage of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show began to arrive in Bristol. Saturday had been a busy day with them in Cardiff, for they had given the usual two entertainments. It had also been a prosperous day, 37,000 people having visited the show grounds in that town. There was wisdom in timing the arrivals at that late, or more strictly speaking early, hour, for but few Bristolians were abroad, and the difficulty of conveying the Wild West people, animals, and "goods and chattels" through crowded thoroughfares was not experienced. Even at that time, however, onlookers were not wanting, for a small crowd collected and escorted the procession—which, by the way, was fully a mile in length—along the line of route to Gloucester Road. The first special train arrived at about two o'clock in the morning, with Colonel Cody (otherwise Buffalo Bill), 20 cattle trucks, five vans, and three passenger coaches. Special train No. 2 reached the joint station an hour later, with twelve railway wagons laden with baggage, and 16 vans appertaining to the troupe. At 5.30 a third special steamed into the station, with 17 coaches of people; while some forty minutes later the fourth and last special train appeared on the scene with seven Wild West vans, and eight or nine railway wagons of loose luggage. As quickly as possible the army of men, already mentioned in the Press as engaged in the work, got the goods unloaded from the railway trucks, and transferred to the road trucks which were in waiting for the baggage. Three or four unforeseen breakdowns, by reason of the weight of the freightage and the nature of the ground to be negotiated, delayed the ultimate arrival at the show site in Gloucester Road for several hours. The simple announcement that it took eight or ten horses to draw each wagon conveys some idea of the weight of the goods. Everything was safely deposited at nine o'clock, which fact speaks volumes for the energy of the men who had the cartage under their control.

A spectator described the procession from the station to Gloucester Road as a fine sight. As before remarked, it was fully a mile in length, and consisted of drays, cowboys on horseback, 'buses full of other members of the troupe, and last, but by no means least in number, a herd of buffaloes. The Indians and cowboys, when passing through a thoroughfare, ride on horseback in a hollow square around the buffaloes, to prevent them from making a playful dash for pastures new. One of the troupe, who knows something about these same buffaloes, observed that although they were now becoming extinct in the far West, because they were hunted out of existence, the 20 buffaloes in the possession of Buffalo Bill retain all their natural wildness of temperament, and therefore a hollow square of cowboys, when traversing the public streets, is a necessity to preserve an orderly march.

 

Colonel Cody came to Bristol a day earlier than he had intended, at the express desire of Mr Henry Irving, who wished to greet once again a man for whom, it would seem, he has conceived a real friendship and respect. The "Wild Westers" speak very kindly of our great actor. From him, when they first appeared in England, they received many a friendly overture, which, warm-hearted people as they undoubtedly are, they are not likely to forget. And so when the Colonel heard that Mr Irving had been sojourning among the people of Bristol he made a special effort to meet him. The stage hero was to leave by a Sunday morning train, and the hero of the prairies, accompanied by "No Neck" (head chief and chief of police), "Short Bull" (a high priest among his people), "Lone Bull," and "John Burke No Neck" (an Indian boy of six winters)—they count their ages by winters among the American Indians—went again to Temple Mead Railway Station; they all shook hands and wished each other good luck.

Some thousands of people visited the neighbourhood of Gloucester Road yesterday. They crowded around the entrance gates so persistently, and in such large numbers, that vehicles had a difficulty in passing along the road. Even the Cheltenham Road, within a mile of the show ground, was congested with traffic, for it seemed that everybody who wished to take a morning, afternoon, or evening stroll walked in the direction of the Wild West Show. They were not permitted to get a nearer view of the scene of action than that which could be obtained from the roadway; but they could see something of the preparations for the morrow's entertainment, including the tops of the fantastic tents of the American Indians.

Representatives of the Press were admitted within the grounds, and they were surprised to note the transformation which had taken place in a few hours.

At nine o'clock the show had arrived by conveyance, and now, at three o'clock, the ground was all alive with the activity of men putting the final touches to the grand-stand and seats for 15,000 spectators. Tents and Indian wigwams abounded on every hand; picturesque American warriors, undistinguishable to the uninitiated eye from women, flitted in and out among the tents; buffaloes fed at their ease within an enclosure; 30 wild horses freely kicked about in a tent, in company with the four splendid mules who are to draw the historical stage-coach; and over 200 riding horses and cowboy saddle-horses occupied another tent. Our representative entered the cooking caravan, wherein there were sundry savoury smells of toothsome meat in course of preparation for the hungry, noting the fact that cooked tomatoes seemed to be a very favourite relish of the denizens of the "Wild West" camp. The square arena, some 175 yards in length by about 75 yards in breadth, was visited, and the capital arrangement of the seats and lighting power mentally noted. Before leaving, the representative of the Press, under the wing of Mr G. C. Crager, the Sioux interpreter, who rejoices in a knowledge of fourteen distinct languages, penetrated into the privacy of an Indian wigwam, where he shook hands with two tawny braves—a third lay sleeping on a mattress—and hobnobbed as well as he was able, while labouring under the disadvantages of being unfamiliar with the language of the native of the prairie and knowing nothing of his manners and customs. The four squaws who travel with the troupe were sleeping the sleep of the just, for the previous day's work and the fatigue of travelling from the last pitching-place had tired them. This was a disappointment, as a sight of the partners of the joys and sorrows of the copper-coloured warriors was needed to complete the picture.

Doubtless the approaches to the show ground for the next week, which is the period of the proposed stay of Buffalo Bill and his followers in Bristol, will be the scene of constant life and activity.

Title: The "Wild West" In Bristol

Periodical: Western Daily Press

Source: McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West , MS6.3772.026.01 (Crager Scrapbook)

Date: September 28, 1891

Topic: European Tours

Keywords: American bison American Indians Cowboys England Horse processions Horsemen and horsewomen Horses Indian women Indians of North America--Social life and customs Language and languages Mules Railroad cars Railroad travel Sioux Nation Tents Tipis Wagons Wigwams Wild horses

People: Irving, Henry, Sir, 1838-1905 Short Bull, -1915

Places: Bristol (England) Cardiff (Wales)

Sponsor: This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Geraldine W. & Robert J. Dellenback Foundation.

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