Title: Letter from William F. Cody to to John H. Tait

Date: August 25, 1913

Author: Cody, William Frederick, 1846-1917

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  Season 1914 :: Announcement :: 1914 Season

Buffalo Bill & Sells-Floto Circus
Two Gigantic Shows For Twenty Five Cents Admission

General Offices, The Sells-Floto Shows Co.
37 Symes Building, Denver Colo.
Winter Quarters, 26th Ave. and Hazel Court
North Denver

The Season 1914 opens in March. The Sells-Floto Circus will continue to give its regular performances—added to it will be Buffalo Bill (Col. W. F. Cody), who will personally direct and play in his "Wild West;" also new and spectacular scenic production arranged by Frederic Thompson, builder, producer, manager of New York Luna Park, New York Hippodrome, Exposition Midway Exhibits and famous theatricals. 450 people and 300 horses will take part. The mechanical and scenic effects will be so unusual that the circus world will be astounded.

The seating capacity will be 14,000, making it larger than the largest.

Performers and others desiring engagements for 1914, also those who have novelties to offer, are invited to write to
The Sells-Floto Shows Co.
Denver, Colorado

Dear John. [2]

Ill know day after tomorrow if the moving picture deal goes through as I am on the Committee to entertain g Mr. Lane, the Secretary of the Interior. All we want now is his permission for us to go on the Pine Ridge Agency to take the historical pictures. [3] While there we will take the Custer Battle, Summits Springs. Yellow Hand fight and dual &c &c. [4] If we do it. You sell your chicks & come to Denver— and go with me— I will have Baker, Compton Carlo & a lot of the old trustys— [5]

I will run on to Kansas City & Canada first to try & sell the mines. [6] Address. Denver Post.



Note 1: Although Cody did not include the year in his dateline, this letter can be reliably dated to 1913 based on the stationery used and the references to Cody's plans to shoot motion pictures on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, which occurred in the fall of 1913. [back]

Note 2: "John" is almost certainly John H. Tait. [back]

Note 3: Franklin Knight Lane (1864-1921) served as Secretary of the Interior under President Woodrow Wilson from 1913 to 1920. The Office of Indian Affairs, which administered federal Indian policy, was part of the Department of the Interior; thus, Lane had the power to grant William F. Cody access to Pine Ridge for his film project. [back]

Note 4: All three of the Indian fights Cody mentions here were often depicted in various forms during his career in show business, although Cody himself had been a participant in only two of them. The "Custer Battle" is the Battle of the Little Bighorn, in which Lt. Col. George A. Custer was killed along with five companies of the U.S. Seventh Cavalry on June 25, 1876. The Battle of Summit Springs, fought in northeastern Colorado on July 11, 1869, was the largest battle of Cody's career as a scout with the U.S. Fifth Cavalry. The "Yellow Hand" fight took place in northwestern Nebraska on July 17, 1876. In this small engagement, Cody killed and scalped a Cheyenne sub-chief whose name is more properly translated as Yellow Hair. The incident contributed to Cody's growing fame within months, as his stage troupe performed a play loosely based on the fight beginning with the 1876-77 theatrical season. On stage and in his 1879 autobiography, Cody portrayed his fight with Yellow Hand/Yellow Hair as a duel in which "Yellow Hand" personally challenged him to single combat. The most reliable third-party accounts of the fight indicate that while Cody did kill Yellow Hair, no challenge to single combat had been issued. [back]

Note 5: "Baker" is Johnny Baker. "Compton" is probably Silas "Cy" Compton (1875-1944), a former chief of cowboys for Buffalo Bill's Wild West. "Carlo" is probably Carlo (or Carlos) Miles, who had been listed as a "Mexican performer" in 1910-11 route books for Buffalo Bill's Wild West combined with Pawnee Bill's Great Far East. Contemporary newspaper accounts sometimes referred to Miles as an "Indian," perhaps due to his skin tone. Miles (or Myles) is believed to have appeared in Cody's film The Indian Wars. [back]

Note 6: Cody refers to his mining investments in Arizona, which were a considerable source of financial stress in the last years of his life. He was never able to sell these mines during his lifetime. [back]

Title: Letter from William F. Cody to to John H. Tait

Source: McCracken Research Library, MS231.1.06, John H. Tait Collection

Date: August 25, 1913

Author: Cody, William Frederick, 1846-1917

Topic: Buffalo Bill's Wyoming

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