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Winter 1993
Vera Mowry Roberts
CUNY Graduate School
Managing Editor
Edwin Wilson
Assistant Editor
James Masters
CASTA Copyright 1993
Number 1
Walter J. Meserve
The Journal of American Drama and Theatre (ISSN 1 044-937X) is
published three times a year, in the Winter, Spring, and Fall. Sub-
scriptions are $12.00 for each calendar year. Foreign subscriptions
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Stephen Archer
University of Missouri
Ruby Cohn
University of California,
Editorial Board
Margaret Wilkerson
University of California,
Don B. Wilmeth
Brown University
Bruce A. McConachie
College of William and Mary
From the Editors
In this issue of JADT we publish a series of essays from the
late nineteenth century that will enhance our understanding of popu-
lar culture entertainment in America. It will not be our policy to
repeat this kind of publication, but in this instance we felt that we
should take advantage of an opportunity to bring this largely
unpublished material to your attention.
Vera Mowry Roberts Walter J. Meserve
Winter 1993
Nate Salsbury
Edited and Introduced
Roger Hall
Number 1
Manuscripts should be prepared In conformity with The Chicago
Manual of Style, 13th eel, and should be submitted in duplicate with
an appropriately stamped, self-addressed envelope. Please allow
three to four months for a response. Our distinguished Editorial
Board will constitute the jury of selection. Address editorial Inquiries
and manuscript submissions to the Editors, Journal of American
Drama and Theatre, Ph.D. Program in Theatre, CUNY Graduate
Center, 33 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036.
CAST A Publications are supported by generous grants from the
Lucille Lortel Chair in Theatre and the Sidney E. Cohn Chair in
Theatre Studies in the Ph.D. Program in Theatre at the City University
of New York.
This publication of .. Reminiscences" of Nate Salsbury is authorized by
the Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and
Manuscript Ubrary, Yale University.
Nate Salsbury gained the greatest part of his wealth and
recognition as vice president, manager, and partner In William F.
"Buffalo Bill" Cody's Wild West show. The Wild West was a
phenomenon in the annals of American entertainment, for, along with
the dime novels of Ned Buntline and Prentiss Ingraham, it created a
popular hero the likes of whom may never be seen again. Cody was
a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic. He was probably seen live
and in person by more people than any other entertainer.
In light of the personal fame Cody achieved, a comment by
Richard J. Walsh, one of the chroniclers of the "Buffalo Bill" legend, is
significant: "It might reasonably be maintained that, although Cody
was held up before all the world as the archetype of American man-
hood, it was Nate Salsbury who fitted more closely the world's idea
of a typical American of his period--versatile, inventive, hustling,
devoted to his business, courageous in adversity and shrewd in
Salsbury's career does, In fact, reflect a multitude of talents.
Salsbury was born in 1846. After overcoming a difficult childhood as
an orphan and battling his way through the Civil War, Salsbury
became an actor and worked with several of the finest regional com-
panies and most highly regarded performers of his day.
Eventually, he launched his own comic troupe, Salsbury's
Troubadours, which over a dozen years from 1875 to 1887 proved to
be wildly successful in developing clever, crowd-pleasing small musi-
cals. Their most popular piece was The Brook, which Cecil Smith
called "the germinal cell out of which American musical comedy
ultimately grew.3
Even before he retired from the Troubadours, Salsbury signed
on in partnership with Cody in 1883 and began managing the Wild
West in the summers while he continued the Troubadours in the
winters. In 1887 Salsbury left the Troubadours to devote full time to
the Wild West and to its upcoming trip to England. Years of
extraordinary success for the Wild West followed, but in the mid
1890s Salsbury's health failed. Although he remained an active force
until his death in 1902, he was forced to relinquish more and more
control of the daily operations of the show.
The account of Nate Salsbury's early life reads like the
scenario for a Charles Dickens' novel. First his father died, and then,
after his mother remarried, she died, leaving Nate in the care of his
grandfather. Eventually he went to live with his stepfather, who had
remarried Nate's mother's sister; his aunt was then his stepmother.
Nate complained of abuse at his stepfather's hand and ran away
back to his grandfather, with whom he stayed until the outbreak of
the Civil War.4
He joined first as the drummer boy, and then later re-enlisted
as a soldier. Salsbury fought in Missouri and in decisive battles at
Nashville and Chickamauga. According to his Aunt Clara, to whom
he wrote regularly, he was seriously wounded and almost lost a hand
In a battle. Clara also wrote that Salsbury spent some months in the
notorious Andersonville prison, although the claim seems unlikely. s
After he was mustered out in 1865 Salsbury tried business
school, but In 1866 he turned to the stage and made his performing
debut in a play produced by the Temperance Dramatic Association.
Over the next year Salsbury--sometimes using the stage name LeRoy
Montague--acted and stage-managed at the Aurora Theatre in
Aurora, Illinois; joined a theatre company in Grand Rapids, Michigan,
for twelve dollars per week; and worked with the Young Men's Hall
Company in Detroit. 6
In September 1867 Salsbury secured a position with John
McDonough's Black Crook company, which carried him east to
Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston. He spent part of 1868 around
Boston with the Howard Athenaeum Company, and his career
moved forward when he enlisted for the 1868-69 season in the estab-
lished company of John T. Ford's Holliday Street Theatre .in
Baltimore. A year later he was back in Boston, hired by R. M. Field
for the popular Boston Museum company at a salary in the range of
fifteen dollars each week. Salsbury stayed four seasons at the
Museum, working with excellent actors and actresses such as Annie
Clarke, Frank Murdoch, Ada Gilman, and the comic genius William
While in Boston Salsbury undertook numerous concurrent
activities, especially for the summers. In 1870 he organized the
"Boston Theatrical Company," using Museum players, and the group
performed in nearby towns. He also served as business manager for
Helen Western, sister of the more famous Lucille, and later managed
a production for comic Stuart Robson.
For the 1873-74 season Salsbury moved to Chicago and
joined the powerful Hooley's Theatre Company, which included
James O'Neill, Henry S. Murdoch, Mrs. Fred Williams, Clara Maeder,
and, as low comedian, William H. Crane. Salsbury was recruited as
the heavy and eccentric character actor at thirty dollars for an eight-
performance week. He played Tybalt to O'Neill's Romeo and
Antonio to O'Neill's Shylock, with William Crane as Gobbo. 8
Salsbury was not completely content with the roles that he
was assigned at Hooley's, and when part of the Hooley's company
departed for a California tour in 1875, Salsbury, who was left behind,
Nate Salsbury in 1871. From the collection of
James F. Durnell; provided by Professor Hall.
decided to start his own troupe for the summer. Salsbury had tried
his hand at playwriting while he was in Boston, writing an imitative
melodrama called On the Trail; or, Money and Misery. 9 Now he put
together a much different concoction, a loosely knit series of songs,
skits, and dances, which he aptly dubbed Patchwork. Thus
Salsbury's Troubadours were born.
The Troubadours began as an admitted Imitation of the British
Vokes Family, whose light-hearted pieces were popular In English
musical halls and had Impressed American audiences, Including
Salsbury, during a two-year tour in the early 1870s. Playing
Patchwork, plus a few conventional short farces, Salsbury's five-
member troupe managed to catch on during the summer and moved
into a fall season. Patchwork, much indebted to the Vokes' piece
The Belles of the Kitchen, remained the Troubadours' staple for over
a year.
0 Then, in September 1876, the Troubadours opened The
Brook, the show that propelled them to the pinnacle of the American
popular entertainment field. Salsbury, recalling a picnic he had
attended at which the meal had been spoiled, used that incident as
the springboard for the show.
The Brook, generally recognized as
one of the earliest and most influential musical comedies, played
over fifteen hundred performances in the United States, Great Britain,
and Australia, and its influence was pervasive. The Brook ignited a
fad for small-scale, loosely-plotted, spirited musical fare, and groups
modelled on the Troubadours with offerings similar to The Brook
proliferated. Imitators included the Froliques of Nat C. Goodwin and
Eliza Weathersby in Hobbies; Willie Edouin's Sparks in Dreams; or,
Fun in a Photograph Gallery; William Mesteyer's Tourists in A
Pullman Palace Car; and. many others.12
The Troubadours, meanwhile, remained amazingly stable.
Through most of their years the troupe consisted of just five perform-
ers. Three of the five original performers--Salsbury, comedienne Nel-
lie McHenry, and her husband, John Webster--remained with the
company throughout its existence, as did musical director Frank
Maeder. Two other positions changed with some regularity. A vari-
ety of women played the ingenue role, Including Rachel Samuels,
who married Salsbury in 1887. Similarly, the part of the handsome
young man was undertaken by several actors, although John Gour-
ley filled the position for four seasons while The Brook was at the
height of its popularity.
The Troubadours played The Brook for five years until 1881, at
which time Salsbury hired Bronson Howard, one of America's lead-
ing playwrights, to provide them with new material. Then, while other
groups were imitating the Troubadours, the Troubadours opened a
vehicle that provided a significantly different direction for the troupe.
Howard's play initiated a shift for the Troubadours toward a more
structured farce form based on Integrated plot incidents and fuller
characterizations. The new play, generally called Greenroom Fun,
continued the success story of the Troubadours, and it was featured
for two seasons. Greenroom Fun was eventually replaced by
Edward E. Kidder's Three of a Kind, which continued the group's
movement toward more structured farce comedy. With Three of a
Kind, which the group played for three years, and Greenroom Fun,
The Wm. Bourne &. Son Piano The Best. 666 Washin"lon Street. Boston .
. -- .
MONDAY, FEB. 28, '81
P.B.OPBI.J:TOB AlfD K.AB.A.QEB .............. ,., _,, , . .. ................................ )lB. JOBlf 8'1"ET80H. -
Sa.tu.rda.y Ha.t:i'nee a:o.d E'Ve:n:l:o.g, Feb. 26, Sl.
Mr. StettOD a11nua n.ce1 lthpllunretbe tlrt a t t lnce their retuf11. rrom Europe, 11t tl!.t h:rorlre
Lat est aat G;eatest Sncccss,
4 Lo"e Story,
Playbill for The Brook, the Troubadours most famous piece.
From the collection of Professor Hall.


the Troubadours showed the way for the farce comedy style of
Charles Hoyt and John J. McNally. In fact, a line could be traced
from the Troubadours to such twentieth-century farceurs as George
S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.13
By 1883 Salsbury's attention was shifting to new interests. In
the fall he signed a contract that made him a partner, vice president,
and manager of suffalo BiW Cody's Wild West show.
that outdoor spectacle played primarily during the summer months in
its first years, Salsbury for four years operated the Troubadours dur-
Ing the regular theatrical season and ran the Wild West in the sum-
mers. Cody had managed the Wild West show for one disastrous
season with Dr. W. F. Carver before he and Salsbury reached an
agreement. Salsbury provided the show with order, thorough
management, and theatrical know-how. In the winter of 1886-87, for
example, Salsbury arranged for the show to play indoors at Madison
Square a r d e ~ thus effectively making it a year-round attraction. He
also hired the best backstage theatrical talent of his day: Steele
MacKaye provided a script and adapted the show for indoor perform-
ance; Matt Morgan exercised his artistry in painting the huge scenes;
and technical wizard Nelse Waldron devised stage machinery,
including a two-hundred horsepower wind machine to produce a
prairie storm.15
MacKaye prepared a scenario for the Wild West, which he
called The Drama of Civilization. His idea was to present the forest
primeval in the first scene, with, for instance, Indians peacefully hunt-
Ing elk, and then to illustrate the civilizing force of the development of
the frontier. One section of the Garden was raised 20 feet to accom-
modate Matt Morgan's vast scenic backdrops of mountains and
prairies. One scene included a cyclone blowing down the Dead-
wood mining camp in the Black Hills. That scene used three five-foot
in diameter, steam-driven ventilator fans to blow dried leaves across
the stage and create the cyclone effect. Another popular scene pre-
sented custer's Massacre, and after the battle scene Cody
appeared under a legend that read -roo Late! clearly implying that if
only Cody had been there, Custer would have been victorious.
A twentieth-century perspective might regret that the natives
were not left peacefully hunting the elk, but the late nineteenth
century had little doubt about the positive value of America's
manifest destiny or its drive to civilize the frontier. MacKaye's
drama used and confirmed that belief.
In developing and marketing the Wild West, Salsbury also put
his canny theatrical instincts to use. He insisted on careful rehearsal
untU every element of each scene was perfected.
6 He stressed the
educational aspects of the show and aimed it at families. He realized
that by producing an excellent show, he could play longer runs with
fewer moves. Salsbury believed in bringing the show to where the
people were, and he followed that belief splendidly in taking the Wild
West to London for Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887, to Paris for the
Exposition Universale in 1889, to Chicago for the Columbian Exposi-
tion in 1893, and to Buffalo for the Pan-American Exposition in 1901.
He reorganized the events of the show to begin with diminutive Annie
Oakley shooting handguns with small charges, which accustomed
the audience to the noise with the most innocent-looking performer.
Only after that did the display build to the more spectacular scenes
of the Pony Express Ride, the Deadwood Stage Holdup, and an
Indian Attack on a Settler's Cabin. He interspersed racing, riding,
and shooting exhibitions among the major attractions to provide flow
and build for the show. The biographer of Annie Oakley, citing
Salsbury's shrewdness, showmanship, and managerial acumen,
stated categorically, rhere would have been no successful tours
without the brains of Nate Salsbury.17
The WUd West flourished under Salsbury's management and
enjoyed twenty years of success unique in the annals of American
show business. Europeans and Americans, young and old, kings
and commoners alike paid homage to the Wild West. Salsbury
exercised control of virtually every aspect of the show until 1894
when he was apparently severely injured in a fall from a horse. He
continued to oversee the operation, but he apparently never fully
recuperated. Salsbury was frequently Ill, sometimes needing a
wheelchair, from then until his death in 1902.
8 Although Cody,
beset with debts from bad investments, continued to ride out into the
ring and entertain audiences almost right up to the time of his death
in 1917, the glory .days of the 1890s were long past, and two of the
major works on the Wild West exhibition date the decline of the show
from the time of Salsbury's death.19
Salsbury undertook one other major project while he was in
charge of the Wild West. In 1895 he produced Black America, billed
as A Gigantic Exposition of Negro Life and Character:20 With a cast
that ranged from three hundred to five hundred black performers, the
show was intended to be for American black culture what the Wild
West was for frontier life. Although the project received critical praise
and editorial commendation, it did not duplicate the success of the
Wild West and closed before a projected European tour.
Salsbury kept many scrapbooks, letters, and papers, and one
of his daughters, Rebecca Salsbury James, donated most of them to
various libraries. At the New York Public Ubrary she deposited three
of Salsbury's scrapbooks of newspaper clippings going back to
about 1870 and covering the Salsbury Troubadours; a scrapbook of
clippings from actress Rachel Samuels, Salsbury's wife and a mem-
ber of Salsbury's Troubadours; the manuscript of Salsbury's original
musical play The Sanguinary Chasm; and several copies of
Salsbury's .. Reminiscences .. (see below). At the Western Collection
of the Denver, Colorado, Public Ubrary she left two large scrapbooks
of clippings and other items related to the Wild West show as well as
a large number of photographs and stereopticon views.
Mrs. James left numerous items to the Western Collection at
Yale University, Including Salsbury's personal scrapbook, which con-
tains memorabilia and letters from such notables as Bram Stoker
(author of Dracula), Henry Irving, William H. Crane, and the photog-
rapher Napoleon Sarony. Also included are various Salsbury letters;
the articles of incorporation for the Wild West show; Salsbury's war
records, including orders and discharge papers; a manuscript of
Salsbury's original melodrama On the Trail; or, Money and Misery;
photographs of Salsbury and Rachel Samuels; and numerous other
items. Yale also holds photocopies of 34 "Reminiscences, as
Salsbury's daughter refers to them, written by Salsbury about his
life--his boyhood, his experiences in the Civil War, his days with the
Troubadours, and his years with Cody and the Wild West. These
Reminiscences make up the bulk of the material published in this
issue of the Journal of American Drama and Theatre.
The Reminiscences are roughly typed.
In some places
they contain notes in the margins written by Salsbury, but they are
filled with numerous errors of grammar and spelling. Clearly,
Salsbury wanted to write down this information, but he did not have
the opportunity to go back over the papers and refine them. In one
instance he left blanks for the day and month of a recollection,
obviously intending to go back later and fill in the proper time. In
other places he left blanks for the name of a valley near Chattanooga
and for the name of a restaurant in Brooklyn. The papers were
obviously written near the end of Salsbury's life. One is written in
direct response to an incident of June, 1900. Another refers to
events of August 1900, and one "Reminiscence refers to William
McKinley's assassination in September 1901. That is the last specific
event mentioned in the "Reminiscences. Salsbury died in December
One of the sections--that dealing with the Shah of Persia--has
two versions, which are similar, but distinctly different. There is no
apparent reason for this. Salsbury's daughter made a second set of
typed transcriptions of the "Reminiscences, .. the purpose of which
seems to have been to clean up the grammar, spelling, and general
appearance of the documents. However, many small changes in
wording were made inadvertently, and occasionally lines, sentences,
and even short paragraphs were omitted. As a result, Mrs. James'
edited versions do not conform entirely to Salsbury's originals.
In the version that appears here, I have corrected some of
Salsbury's spelling and typographical errors, but I have tried to retain
the words exactly as Salsbury wrote them. I have clarified punctua-
tion, but I have retained most of the punctuation that was character-
istic of Salsbury and the time, such as an abundant use of commas.
In series of quotations, I have separated the lines. I retained almost
all of Salsbury's use of capital letters to emphasize certain words. I
retained his use of old-fashioned words and variant spellings-such
as ,.staid, "frith, ,.recognise,,. potatoe, and ,.Pittsburg -in order to
give the sense of the time he wrote. I also retained Salsbury's
inconsistencies: Sometimes he would capitalize a word, sometimes
not; sometimes he would break a compound word, sometimes not. I
have tried to place the "Reminiscences,. in general chronological
order based on the main focus of each section. In one part, for
instance, Salsbury refers to a dinner with Dion Boucicault, which
occurred In 1888; but the dinner in turn recalls a Civil War event,
which Is the real focus of the section. In looking at all the sections, it
is important for the reader to keep in mind that these are drafts that
Salsbury did not have the opportunity to sharpen for publication.
Why Salsbury wrote the "Reminiscences,. is not clear.
Salsbury at one point disclaims any interest in publishing the
material. After one of his particularly derogatory comments about
Cody, Salsbury states that he wants to record the information so that
his friends and relatives will have ammunition to use against Cody if,
after Salsbury's death, Cody criticizes Salsbury. as Salsbury
obviously expects. That may well have been one of the reasons, or a
primary reason. or even the only reason for that particular "Reminis-
cence,,. but other sections suggest that Salsbury wrote at least some
of the pieces with publication in mind.
Frequently throughout the papers Salsbury makes references
to other readers, as though he expects a wider reading audience. ,.If
anybody questions it ... ,. he writes at one point, and any of the dead-
heads who may read this . . ... he writes at another. In another place
he refers to his vignettes as article[s], which is a newspaper term.
Some of the theatrical journals at the turn of the century were run-
ning series of stories reflecting on the theatrical heritage. Judging
from the length of the individual sections, Salsbury may have
imagined some of them appearing in such retrospective columns.
However. except for excerpts that have been quoted in occasional
books and journals, only three of the Reminiscences .. have ever
been published.22
Besides the content of the words themselves, a variety of mes-
sages poke through these ninety-year-old writings. Perhaps most
striking is Salsbury's intense dislike--at times it almost seems like
hatred--of Buffalo Bill,. Cody. A tin Jesus on horseback, he calls
him. "A partnership with W. F. Cody certainly is a picnic, as it is
viewed in Hell, he writes. Salsbury certainly believed that it was his
work that had propelled Cody to glory. Three times in the writings
Salsbury refers to his being responsible for landing Cody ,.at the foot
of the Throne of England." Perhaps the writings reflect jealousy on
the part of Salsbury, who, through a 20-year association with Cody,
seemed perfectly content to take a backstage role and allow Cody
the attention of the center of the ring.
Salsbury's disenchantment, however, goes deeper than that,
for it is not just Cody he takes to task. He bitterty criticizes--probably
with some justification--the parasites and the hangers-on such as
Pony Bob Haslam and Cody's Personal Representative, W. 0 .
Snyder. Salsbury also lashes out at such long-time associates of the
Wild West as press agent extraordinaire John Burke and treasurer
Jule Keen. Conversely, nowhere In the papers is there evidence of
strong, lasting, and positive relationships. That absence seems at
odds with Salsbury's life, for he-worked productively with the same
people over many years. Nellie McHenry, John Webster, and musi-
cal director Frank Maeder were with Salsbury throughout the twelve-
year run of the Troubadours, and he spent twenty years with Burke
and Keen and Cody. Perhaps Salsbury's physical disabilities in his
last years soured his recollections, for if his feelings about his associ-
ates were as negative as he expresses, one can't help but wonder
why he didn't remove himself from the operation much sooner.
Perhaps there was something about Salsbury's own difficult
childhood that prevented him from forming or from reflecting on
close relationships. His half-sister, Harriet Fuller, wrote to Salsbury,
commiserating with him that his ooyhood and youth have been so
destitute of love. She alluded to the fact that Salsbury had told her
his heart is full of bitterness.
3 Whatever the cause, Salsbury
seemed driven by a desire to succeed. In 1891, just after the birth of
his twin daughters, he revealed the depth of his feeling in a letter to
his wife:
What a miserable, unsettled, unsatisfactory life am I com-
pelled to lead. . . . I am consumed by a desire to place you
and my children beyond the reach of poverty. It is my only
plea for your forbearance. . . . I want to make a home for
you, and I want to make a fortune for them. . . . I dread that
the miseries of my childhood may come to them. I will rest
uneasy in. my grave If poverty should come to them. 24
At that time the Wild West was the toast of London and Paris, yet
Salsbury reflected little joy at the success. Still, Salsbury apparently
had a stable marriage with Rachel Samuels. The Reminiscences
mention that she accompanied him to Paris, and his comments and
letters to her are affectionate.
Interestingly, Salsbury, who by all accounts might have been
regarded as something of a workaholic himself, professes amaze-
ment at James Bailey's enormous capacity for work and his unswerv-
ing devotion to his business. In that section Salsbury implies that he
himself enjoys a share of social pleasure and amusement. Moreover,
he proclaims that he has always taken pleasure from the enjoyment
of others.
Moments of respect and admiration even for Cody, Burke, and
Keen are also apparent in Salsbury's comments. He credits Burke's
skills as a press agent. He shares a laugh with him In a rainy boat in
Barcelona, and he notes that when Burke "let his hair down at Wind-
sor, the afternoon was bound to be a success ... Although Salsbury
lambastes Cody's managerial skills, he gives him credit for putting
the show back together again in New Orleans after a boat accident
and for enduring the monsoon winter that followed. He laughs with
Cody over a plug hat and the treatment of the French mayor by the
Shah of Persia. Perhaps the most enlightening sentence regarding
their relationship is the short one about Cody that states, "There were
two of him to me. Anyone who has lived with an alcoholic for twenty
years--and the evidence of Cody's binges certainly supports that
label--might have a more intimate understanding of Salsbury's
ambivalent feelings toward Cody.
Despite the absence of reference to long term friendships in
Salsbury's Reminiscences, several positive characterizations ring
out. As a thorough manager might, Salsbury displays a high regard
for individuals who perform their duties well and fairly. He praises a
judge in Xenia, Ohio, who gives justice and friendship to a stranger
from out of town. He writes charitably of the French contractor who
makes amends for his terrible error through his industrious hard
work. When he meets a police official in Dresden, Germany, who
refuses to accept special favors, he jokingly suggests that the Millen-
nium of Revelations has arrived.
As that last line indicates, Salsbury's wry sense of humor often
emerges through his writing. He joins the Union army eelieving that
it was my duty to crush the rebellion at the outset ... but it took me
five years to do it... He goes into acting because he concluded that
the Stage was a soft snap and it took twenty years of hard work to
convince me that I had made a mistake in that regard. In the early
days of his acting career he is "a fugitive from responsible companies
... in the small towns of Illinois. The Troubadours play an Opera
House '1or one consecutive night... Finally, he "retired from the stage
in 1887, and was surprised to find out that nobody noticed it.
Although Salsbury claims that "What I did not learn in [his dis-
trict school] would fill volumes, his writings reveal a thoughtful man
who is comfortable with words. He employs appropriate military
terms such as "vidette and "enfilade, and frequently enlivens his
observations with colorful choices such as blatherskite, "almoner,"
and "pestiferous."
Salsbury's language and his attitudes reflect the language and
the prejudices of his time. He uses the terms colored," "black,"
"negro," "darkey, and "coon .. in referring to black men. He uses the
first three terms when he is being merely descriptive, but seems to
use .. old Darkey" as if to convey a particular theatrical image, and he
uses coon only when trying to establish a comedic attitude. Later,
when he produced Black America, he used the term Afro-American
Exhibition. Regarding another ethnic group, Salsbury recalls doing
a wild Irishman using bits he gleaned from variety shows, and he
reinforces another stereotype when he writes of his boat to Bar-
celona covered with tilth that can only accumulate where the Latin
race are masters of the soil. The comments seem to reflect
Salsbury's society rather than merely Salsbury himself, for his
strongest denunciations are clearly aimed at individuals and their
behavior rather than at groups of people. In fact, in his account of
McKinley's assassination he praises the courage of one young Irish-
man, and everything that is known about Salsbury's work with the
Indians in the Wild West and with the blacks in his Black America
indicates that he dealt with people fairly and as individuals and was
more concerned with their performing their duties than with their
Salsbury's reputation as a manager who stayed on top of
events is only enhanced through his papers. He takes firm control of
putting the show together. He pays careful attention to contracts in
Paris, in London, and in Australia as well as when establishing a busi-
ness relationship with James A. Bailey. He travels ahead to see to
proper arrangements in Paris and Barcelona. In a self-effacing man-
ner, he decries his own ability to do much about external circum-
stances, but his account of a near fiasco in Paris demonstrates just
the opposite. There and elsewhere he deals immediately and force-
fully with problems such as the refusal of a license to parade In New
York City. Important events, such as the visits to Windsor and the
Vatican, receive special consideration from Salsbury.
Although Salsbury's .. Reminiscences cover a wide range of
experiences. there is so much that Is not there that readers might
wish they CQuld know why Salsbury elected to write about certain
items and not others. Salsbury's aunt indicates that he was once a
prisoner at Andersonville, and Salsbury mentions that he was a
prisoner once, and yet he does not mention Andersonville among
his war accounts. The Troubadours were an exceptionally popular
group, registering success not only in America but also in Great
Britain and Australia. Yet the four accounts of the Troubadours all
focus on apparently minor incidents from the troupe's formative
years. Although the accounts of the Wild West are certainly fuller by
comparison than those of the Troubadour days. even here there is
no mention of the famous Columbian Exposition in 1893 in Chicago
or the first indoor season at Madison Square Garden in the winter of
1886-87. Nor is there mention of performers or other featured
players whose presence one would expect to encounter such as
Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, or Johnny Baker.
Still, one can hardly read Salsbury's accounts without gaining
new appreciation for the significance of the Wild West. Wherever in
the wor1d something important was occurring, the Wild West seemed
t o be there, from Victoria's Jubilee in London to the Exposition
Universale in Paris to the assassination at the Pan-American Exposi-
tion in Buffalo. The Wild West seemed to be not just a part of the
past history of the frontier, but rather a part of the ongoing history of
its time.
Yet another element that courses through the lines of
Salsbury's writings is the politics of the day. At one point Salsbury
writes that we were not representing a political idea in the Wild
West." Yet the show itself and its message were intricately tied to
politics, and politics rears its head in many of Salsbury's recollec-
tions. There was the politics of a newspaper dispute in Boston.
There was the politics of appeasing the Dutch heritage in New York.
The Wild West made a political statement about America when it
went to Europe. Salsbury comments on-the egalitarian statement of
the production when he refers to the Shah seeing "republicans" and
when he writes of the Duke of Teck's comments on an after dinner
discussion of American politics. The very existence of the Wild West
expressed political statements about "manifest destiny, "civilization,
and the relative positions of the dominant culture and the native cul-
One last element that emerges from these pages is the
panorama of society with which Salsbury and the Wild West came
into contact. Kings and queens live in Salsbury's pages, but so too
do iron workers and deadheads. In these "Reminiscences" Popes
and stable boys coexist. Generals and privates and cowboys and
Indians all come together through Salsbury's kaleidoscopic view of
life and entertainment In the late nineteenth century.
* * * * *
1. Personal Brag
1. Leg Bail
1. On the Missouri
2. An Order That Didn't Go
3. An Episode of Chickamauga
4. Horace Porter
5. An Evening with Boucicault
6. In Front at Nashville
7. Burying the Hatchet
1. The Wrong coon
2. Xenia
3. A Texas Bandwagon
4. A Night in Joplin
1. The Origin of the Wild West Show
2. Long Hair and a Plug Hat
3. A Dilemma
4. American Exhibition
5. Duke of Teck
6. Un Mauvais Quart D'heure
7. Nate Salsbury and the Shah
8. Advance Agent
9. Bridge Across the Frith of Forth
1 0. At the Vatican
11. Our Chesterfield
12. Visit of the Wild West to Windsor
13. Contract with Bailey
14. Cody, Manager
15. Secret Service
16. Cody's Personal Representatives
17. Major General Burke
18. At Police Headquarters
19. The Pan-American Exposition
20. Deadheads
21 . Is Marriage a Failure?
Went Into the army as a drummer boy with the 15th Illinois
Infantry under command of Col. Thos. J. Turner of Freeport, Illinois.
Served with that regiment during the campaign of 1861 in the State of
Missouri. Remained with that regiment a year, when I refused to
carry a drum any longer, and was sent home by the Colonel as being
too young to carry a gun. On the 17th of August 1863 I reenlisted in
the 89th Illinois Regiment of infantry, (Chicago Board of Trade Regt)
and served in that regiment until the close of the Atlanta Campaign.
Participated in all the battles in which my regiment took part
untU after the battle of Nashville, when I was transferred to the 59th
Illinois infantry, by reason of the discharge of all the veterans of the
89th Reg't whose term of service had expired. When the 4th Corps
was sent to Texas the 59th Illinoi s was included in that service.
Served with that regiment until the surrender of all Confederate
troops and was discharged by reason of services no longer
Was a prisoner once, and was wounded as often as my health
required. On being mustered out returned to my home In Ottawa, Ill.
Spent a few months in a Commercial College at Aurora, Ill. My funds
being low, cast about for means to replenish, concluded the Stage
was a soft snap and it took twenty years of hard work to convince me
that I had made a mistake in that regard. My first engagement as an
actor was with a Stock Company, in the city of Grand Rapids, of
which Alice Oates was the principal attraction. Remained with that
company until convinced that there was no Immediate probability of
filling my purse. Went to Detroit and joined the Company at Young
Mens Hall. Same pecuniary result. Returned to Chicago and was a
fugitive from responsible companies for several months in the small
towns of Illinois; Then joined John McDonough's Black Crook Com-
pany In Philadelphia. Got my salary for some time. Followed the for-
tunes of several small companies for two years, and then secured a
position with John T. Ford in Baltimore. Was a member of the Hol-
liday St. Theater Co. for two seasons. Graduated to the Boston
Museum, and remained there four years, (happy ones). From
Boston to Chicago as the Leading Heavy Man of Hooley's Theater
for two seasons. Then organized Salsbury's Troubadours, and with
them appeared before every English Speaking Public in the world.
Retired from the Stage in 1887, and was surprised to find out that
nobody noticed it.
Everybody on my Step-father's farm worked. Not in propor-
tion to the years and strength, but according to the example of the
Master. He was a big strong fellow with a great capacity for hard
work, and he could not understand why his standard should not be
the rule for everybody to go by. He was a dyspeptic brute, and the
best part of his breath was devoted to snarling at the world at large,
and me in particular. I came under his domination when I was twelve
years old, having been for the preceding two years In my Grand-
father's care. When my Grandfather said good bye to me, he
admonished me to be obedient, and honest, but at the same time
told me that I should not submit to abuse from anybody. He said if I
was obedient and honest, nothing more could be expected of me,
and when anyone should demand more of me I should refuse, and
that if ever my Step- father put a hand on me that was undeserved, I
should "Give him Leg Bail.". I treasured his words and went to my
new home with a heavy heart, for I felt that I was leaving all the kind-
ness I ever knew behind me. I took some comfort in the reflection
that my half sister Harriet would be my companion, though she was
much younger than I was. In due course of time I landed on the
farm, in the Northern part of Jo Daviess County, Ill. I was allowed to
go to my bed in the attic at an early hour on the day of my arrival, but
was warned that I would be called early, and that I must put on my
old clothes for the work that I would be set at in the morning. As I
had but one suit, I left off the coat and shoes when I went down to
breakfast at five o'clock. To be brief I went to the field and was set a
task that many a man would have thought enough for his wages.
The Summer passed, the Winter came and still no let up to the
hard drive of the Demon work. When the snow came I was sent to
the district school which, fortunately was very near the farm. What I
did not learn in that institution would fill volumes. The Spring came
again, and was a blessed relief to milking cows, and sawing wood
with below zero weather ALL the time on that exposed, bleak prairie.
Planting over, come harvest, pass harvest to corn husking, and
potatoe digging and thrashing. The last day of my bondage began
as usual with a hoe in my hands digging potatoes, and piling them.
Anybody who has ever dug potatoes, in the latter part of September
knows what a back-breaking job it is, to dig, dig, for hours, and then
root the tubers out of the moist earth with your bare hands, until they
are so stiff and cold that they lose all feeling, and one must whip
them around the shoulders to bring the blood back to them. I had
worked the best part of the forenoon, and feeling ready to drop with
hunger and fatigue, I sat down on a potatoe hill to rest a moment.
This action was indiscreet, for my Nemesis was in the next field with
the men, thrashing wheat. Spying me at rest, he concluded that it
was time to brush up my memory of his injunction that he expected
me to do a urrLE SOMETHING" that day. Coming over to where I
sat he expostulated with me for wasting his valuable time, and when I
told him that I was cold and hungry he suggested that it would be
well to warm me up a little and to that end he pulled a giant
Pigweed that had gone to seed, and was as hard as a Hazel Nut
bush and with it began a tattoo on my legs, that nearly brought the
blood every lick. This went on until Dave West, one of his men could
stand it no longer, and came running over to us. sy God Fuller" said
he 1f you hit that boy again I'll break your d---d neck.
How dare you interfere in my family matters? said Fuller.
~ hell with you and your family, don't you hit that boy again.
Fuller saw that he was in a position to exercise some discre-
tion, so he flung down the Pigweed, and ordering me to go to work
again, growled that he would settle with me later on. Dave West
went back to the Thrasher, and putting on his coat left the service of
that Illinois farmer forever. Ruminating on the prospect of what was
to come to me as my share [of his) revenge, I picked up the hoe and
worked along until I came to the end of the row that ended at a corn
field, and then the injunction of my Grandfather came to me with
catapult force, and I resolved to give farm life Leg Bail, dodging into
the corn I ran between the rows as fast as my tired legs would admit
of sail, until I came to the house.
With the remark that I wanted to get a tool in the attic, I passed
up stairs, tied my SUNDAY coat and trowsers, and shoes into a
bundle, and by the aid of a clothes line lowered them to the ground
at the back of the house. Picking up a chisel from the tool box in the
attic I went down stairs, and as I passed out of the door gave my
sister the wink to follow me. She quickly joined me behind the house
and then I told her that I was going away. She burst into tears, and
clung to me, and begged me not to go, but I was resolved, and after
kissing her goodbye I tore myself away, and in this life I have never
seen her again, nor have I ever seen any of my Step Father's family,
and never expect to, for if there is a hell he is there, while the
whereabouts of his children does not interest me in the smallest
I trotted across the prairie ten miles that day to the town of
Warren where I had an uncle residing, with whom I staid a few weeks
and then made my way back to my grandfather's house at Freeport,
where I lived until the outbreak of the Rebellion. Believing that it was
my duty to crush the rebellion at the outset, I joined the 15th Ill. Vol.
lnf'ty, Col. Thos. J. Turner, and proceeded to crush the rebellion, but
it took me five years to do it. I will reserve discussion of the ways
and means that I employed to reach the desired end.
When the 15th Ill. Vol. Infantry were ordered to the front, we
took the railroad to Alton, where we were camped for one night In the
old State Prison yard, thus fulfilling the prediction made by a worthy
relative of mine when I was a boy, that I would land inside a prison
some day. However our stay there was so short, that my esteemed
relative could have derived little satisfaction from the knowledge that
her prediction had been fulfilled, for the next morning we were
hustled aboard the steamer David Tatum, at that time one of the
largest, and most popular steamboats on the river. We learned after
the gang plank had been pulled In that we were bound for Jefferson-
ville, the Capital of Missouri, and that there we might expect to see
immediate service, as Price and Van Dorn were making oucks and
orakes of all efforts to keep them out of Northern Missouri.25
We were in high spirits, as all new soldiers are, on the way to
their first battle field, and the individual feats of arms that were per-
formed in the imagination of each man aboard that boat would fill
more pages in description than could be crowded inside the confines
of a library.
Suddenly a change came over the spirit of our dreams, for
the cry of man overboard sent a shock through the living mass on
that boat that no after experience in a soldier's life could ever equal.
It happened that a man in Company a attempted to draw
some water from the river in imitation of the sailors, whom he had
been watching slushing down the deck. Taking a bucket from its
rack, he dropped it overboard directly in front of where he was stand-
ing, after taking a wrap of the rope around his hand.
Of course the bucket filled, and the rapid movement of the
boat added to the natural force of the stream jerked him overboard
like a flash. This happened when the boat had gone about a mile
Into the Missouri from its junction with the Mississippi, where the cur-
rent was at least ten miles an hour. In explanation it should be said
that the proper way to draw water under such circumstances, is to
hold the rope firmly in the right hand, without wrapping it about the
hand. Then taking a firm hold with the left hand of some anchorage
aboard, the bucket should be thrown ahead of the current, and as it
fills and comes abreast of the drawer, he should give it a quick pull to
the surface and letting go the hold with the left hand by a quick
motion slide the hand as far down the rope as possible, and then
land the bucket on the deck. The thing is extremely simple to one
accustomed to it, but our raw country boy had never seen anything
of the kind before, and of course his ignorance was his undoing. But
he made a stout fight for his life, for all encumbered as he was with
his Knapsack and belts he managed to get rid of them, and his clo-
thing down to his undershirt. This we could all see very plainly as the
boat had reversed her engines, and was backing down to him as fast
as possible.
Strong swimmer as he was, it was apparent that If he was not
rescued before he reached the junction of the rivers he would be
drawn down by the undertow which, created as it was by the junction
of two such mighty water courses was terrific in its power.
Our Colonel was the first to realize this danger, and jumping
on the wheel house he cried, Five Hundred Dollars to the boat's
crew that saves him.
All this time the deck hands had been busy lowering a boat
Into which six big oarsmen jumped, and just as the boat was cast off
Jim Courtright, Sergeant of H Company jumped Into the bow of the
boat, with the cry, Get to him, boys, and he comes back with us.
Courtright was the biggest man In the regiment, and a Titan In
strength, and the whole regiment cheered when they saw him jump
into the boat.
All this time the swimmer was getting nearer the danger line,
and we were a swaying mob of excited men, who wanted to do
something, while we knew we were powerless to do anything. Away
shot the boat like a thing of life, for added to her six strong oars was
the rush of the tide that carried her at railroad speed. Closer and
closer she drew, and we could see Courtright stand up and take off
his coat and bare his big right arm for the supreme moment when he
would measure his strength against the demon of the river. .
Nearer, and nearer to the smiling swimmer went the boat, and
at last only a few feet divided a human soul and death. Courtright
lying with half his huge length over the bow of the boat, gripping the
gunwale with his left hand for a purchase cried to the swimmer,
-rread water, knowing that if the swimmer did this he could grab an
arm that he would naturally extend over his head, but his instruction
was misunderstood, for just as he swept the water with his hand in
the effort to get hold of his man, the swimmer stopped swimming,
and at that second of time the undertow caught his feet, and In the
twinkling of an eye (he] was swept to eternity.
A groan of despair went up from the thousand men that
watched the tragedy, and I do not believe the memory of that scene
was ever blotted from the minds of those who witnessed it, nor do I
ever remember any battle scene that seemed to me so utterly hor-
rible as the loss of that man's life In the muddy waters of the Mis-
When my regiment was In camp at Rolla, Missouri, just before
we were started in the chase after Price and Van Dorn through
South-Western Missouri, our Colonel bethought himself that he
would correct the reprehensible habit of swearing that was as usual,
and always will be in evidence when soldiers are banded together.
To this end he issued an order rehearsing certain penalties that
would be inflicted for the use of profane language by any member of
the regiment. I do not remember the exact terms of the order, but It
said among other things that, .. Any Non-Commissioned Officer who
heard a private swear and did not report him would be reduced to
the ranks, while any private convicted of the offence was to be fined
a certain part of his monthly pay.
There was a momentary consternation in the ranks when the
order was read at Roll Call, and an excited discussion of the
extraordinary proceeding on the part of the Colonel as soon as the
companies were dismissed to their quarters.
This discussion went on all day, but a few courageous spirits
formed themselves into a committee to work some plan to make the
order so obnoxious that it would have to be repealed. By nightfall
they had concocted a plan that was as daring as it was original. The
word was passed that the petty tyranny must be fought tooth and
nail, and a Round Robin called every man to sustain the Committee.
In answer to the call, about one half the regiment gathered around
the Colonel's tent after Taps were sounded, and began swearing by
companies, and battalion, in the most ornamental and picturesque
style known to soldiers. The plan was a complete success, and
forever killed any further attempts to curtail our privileges, for if
swearing is not a privilege with a soldier then nothing Is.
It was a bitter pill for the Colonel to swallow, especially as it
made him the laughing stock of the whole brigade.
There were many instances in the early stages of the war, of
like attempts of Volunteer officers to enforce their peculiar individual
views of the discipline of their regiments, and in every case it was a
failure, because the Volunteer Soldier of '61 was as a rule Intelligent
enough to know how far he was bound to obey, and how much he
was obligated to accept from those in authority. It did not take the
Officers long to find out that anything outside the Army Regulations
was not to be grafted on the control of our citizen soldiery in the field.
Spanish criticism would have said that we had lax discipline in
our armies, because the soldier did not crack his heels together and
salute every petty officer that he happened to meet off duty. But
Spanish critics would have found that the discipline of war found full
action on the field of battle or in emergency. That a man can assume
the position of a soldier, does not prove that he is one.
On the morning of the 19th of September 1863, our long
march over Sand Mountain was ended, by our descent Into the ---
valley,26 where we were assigned our place in the line of fire, but
before we were swung into the line of battle, we were allowed a few
hours rest at a place called Crawfish Springs. I often wonder if any
man who served In my regiment during that campaign, will ever
forget Crawfish Springs? As it happened the 89th was halted with
the right of the regiment within a few feet of the source, and when the
order [to] stack arms was given and obeyed, every man in that regi-
ment began to pull off his clothes for a swim in the clear water that
flowed from the spring and made one of the most beautiful small
streams I have ever seen. I can only liken it to the Colorado River In
Texas. Officers and men alike vied with each other in getting into the
water first.
In less time than my halting pen can tell it, the stream was
. filled to its banks by the tired, hot and dusty men. But they had no
thought of what sort of a temperature they were exchanging for the
pleasure of a bath, for as every man struck the water, he let out an
unearthly yell, and scrambled back on the bank there to roll on the
grass, and shout and cut up more monkey shines, than a schoolboy.
It was very funny to see several hundred naked men cavorting
about, but the onlookers at a distance did not know that they were
gazing at a lot of men who had jumped into water that was ice cold,
as it flowed away to the sea from one of the most lovely Springs in
Ah, that happy experience was soon to be followed by the
death of many of the men who, that morning did not appear to have
a care in the world, and for the time being forgot the grim errand that
had brought them so many miles to deliver.
A thousand times I have recalled that scene, and have often
wished that I could re-visit that place which will endure as a landmark
in my memory of those stirring days.
To the traveler in that sweet valley, I offer advice, to be sure of
one hour's pleasure by visiting Crawfish Springs.
At the battle of Chickamauga, 2
I received a scratch across
the right breast, that while it did not have any serious result, made a
lot of trouble for the doctor. While the wound was superficial it bled
very freely, and in a few minutes I looked as if I had been working In a
slaughter house, or had been swimming in a pool of red paint. The
long hot march of the morning, and the subsequent long hours under
fire had tired me considerably, and after the wound had been
dressed, I looked about as pale and woe begone as If I had been
badly hurt.
While the doctor was swabbing the dirt and particles of my
shirt out of the wound, a young officer rode up, and asked who I was.
My sunky, Jack Leggate, who had assisted to bring me back to the
hospital tent, answered the question, giving the officer my name,
regiment, and company. By his manner he must have given the
officer the Idea, that I was a Goner, for as he rode away, I opened
my eyes, and looking after him, saw that he was shaking his head in
a sympathetic sort of a way. But I was back in the company the next
morning, a little sore to be sure, but happier than I could be at the
hospital tent where all kinds of misery is piled up in accompaniment
to your own, if you are on the casualty list.
Like many of the incidents of a soldier's life, this one had
ceased to be of special import to my mind, and I had gradually
forgotten it, In the rush of daily life, when it was recalled to my recol-
lection In a most graphic, and striking way.
During the month of January, in the year 1884 the
Troubadours played an engagement in Philadelphia. Arriving there
Sunday morning, we went to the Continental Hotel, which at that time
was the general rendezvous for professional people. I went to the
office to register the company, and just as I signed my name at the
bottom of the list, a gentleman at my elbow said, Well, what are you
doing here?
Supposing from the familiar tone in which the question was
asked, that it was some acquaintance, I paid no particular attention
to the question beyond saying only making myself responsible for
some grub for the next week. I reached to get my key which the
clerk had flung upon the counter.
-ves?" said the voice at my elbow. well, you have no busi-
ness to be here, for you are dead.
oh, am I? said I looking up in curiosity to see who my
questioner was. well, if I have no business to be here, and I am
dead, will you tell me where you got the Information? For while I
admit thafl am in Philadelphia, I refuse to admit that I am Corpus
delicti, until I know who you are who accuses me of being out of
"That Is all very wen, said the other, but you were killed at
Chickamauga, on the last day of the fight, and you belonged to o
Company, of the 89th Ill. Volunteers. You certainly cannot deny this,
continued he.
Completely dumbfounded, and startled by this unexpected
reminder of an event that had happened over twenty-four years
before, and above all by the accuracy of the statement, I shouted, 1
deny every thing, but I am guilty, now who the devil are you?
1 am Horace Porter, 28 said he, and I was staff officer to Gen.
Rosecrans, 29 and saw you laid out under a tree, and you certainly
could not have the impudence to live, after the knock out you got
that day.
To make an interesting incident short, it suffices to say, that
explanations followed, but It seemed incredible, that Gen. Porter
could be the man that rode away from the shade of that tree, shaking
his head, as if counting me among those who would never report for
duty again. During my stay In Philadelphia, the General and I sat
down to lunch one day and through the smoke of a good cigar he
told me that he had carried that scene on the field of Chickamauga in
his mind's vision for many days after he rode away from where I was
lying. The whole surroundings of the spot, the distant roar of the
battle which was still on, the name of my regiment and company, my
own name of Nathan, which Is not a common one, and Salsbury
which is even less frequently met with: all these things had served to
fix the picture In his mind, and when he attended the theatre one
night in New York where we were playing, the sight of my face, and
my name on the programme, had awakened the dormant memories
of twenty odd years, and they had carried him back to the shade of
the old oak tree, under which I was being swabbed off by the doctor,
and he determined to take the first chance to prove the strength of
his memory. For my part, I cannot recall any such a feat of memory
in all my experience, and I suppose, that it Is from the fact that
nothing ever escapes his mind or memory, that Gen'l. Porter is now
Minister to France, for the man who never forgets, generally com-
mands what he desires in this world, and common humanity is glad
enough to accord him the measure of his ambition.
One evening in the month of December 1888, I attended, by
invitation of the Saturday Night Club, a supper given in honor of Dian
Boucicault. It was an evening of surprises. Mr. Clark Bell30 who was
at the head of the table, and who had extended the courtesies of the
Club to Mr. Boucicault, was surprised at the very late appearance of
the guest of the evening, who on entering the room, cooly Informed
the waiting company that he had entirely forgotten the invitation, and
should have gone to bed in blissful forgetfulness of the event, if his
valet had not reminded him that he had a supper on somewhere.
Such rudeness on the part of the most distinguished Dramatist
of the decade was a surprise to the gentlemen who had assembled
to do him honor, and among whom were Gen'l W. T. Sherman,
Colonel A. G. Ingersoll, and others who were prominent In the social
life of New York City. 31
The reader can imagine how difficult it was for Mr. Bell to
restore the harmony of the occasion after this statement had sent a
frosty wave over the cordiality that accompanies, or should
accompany, the discussion of the menu.
However, by the time the cigars had been set afire, the Inci-
dent had lost its depressing effect, and everybody had rallied to Mr.
Bell's assistance and good humor was restored.
The company being composed of men selected for their
prominence in their various professions, it can be Imagined how
pleasantly our various excuses for being alive were discussed, as
each man was called upon to account for his predilection for, and
entrance upon his chosen career, and to answer such pertinent
questions regarding his vocation, as anyone present chose to ask.
It was in this connection that I sprung a surprise on General
Sherman. While he was responding to the toast of "The Army,
someone asked him, 'What class of men made the best soldiers dur-
ing the Civil War?
The General said he would reply by relating an Incident of the
Georgia Campaign, that would illustrate his opinion better than it
could be done in any other way.
ouring the Atlanta Campaign, we were brought up with a
round tum, in one of our flanking movements, by General Johnston3
making a stand at Pine Top, one of the natural barriers that so much
assisted him to dispute our right of way to the heart of the Con-
federacy. After making such a disposition of my troops as was
necessary to protect the right of the line, I started with a few mem-
bers of my Staff, to prospect the ground on our right and front, for
the operation of the morrow.
'We had proceeded about half a mile to our right and front
when we came to a small clearing, which gave us a commanding
view of the country for miles around. But the place also gave the
Confederates a commanding view of our party, for they proceeded to
remind us of their presence, by sending a solid shot from a battery
they had posted on the top of the mountain in our immediate front,
so uncomfortably near us, as to suggest absence of body being bet-
ter than presence of mind, and we ingloriously bolted back into the
sheltering wood behind us.
passing to the right and rear a short distance we came upon
Goodspeed's Battery A, 1st Ohio Artillery. This battery was attached
to the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, of the 4th Army Corps. This Brigade
was known as the Iron Brigade of the Army of the Cumberland, and
the title was no misnomer.
Asking for Captain Goodspeed,33 one of the batterymen
informed me that he had taken a section of the battery, and was
posting it about a hundred yards ahead of the reserve line, where he
could enfilade34 the Confederate position if they should make an
attack. Dismounting, I plunged through the underbrush, and found
Goodspeed in the act of sighting one of his guns at a group of
officers on Pine Top, near the battery that had made us hunt cover a
few minutes before. 'Well Captain,' said I, 'do you think you can stir
up that hornet's nest over there?'
Patting the gun he had sighted, he replied 'General, just
watch Old Betsey make those fellows hump.'
At command 'Fire' Old Betsey answered the lanyard, and sent
the missile on Its flight that ended the earthly career of Bishop Polk, 35
who was among the group of officers on the distant mountain.
Without knowing the fateful result of the shot, I complimented 'Old
Betsey,' and saluting the intrepid Goodspeed, I made my way back
to my escort. I found them all dismounted near the headquarters of
the Eighty-Ninth Illinois Infantry.
Passing along the line, I was continually greeted by the famil-
iar, but affectionate greeting of 'Hello, Uncle Billy' from the tired
soldiers, who had marched nine miles that morning under the broil-
ing sun. As we neared the right of the regiment my attention was
arrested by a boyish voice spouting imperfectly Hamlet's Soliloquy, a
short distance ahead of us, then changing into a rollicking negro
melody accompanied by the shouts of laughter that made the welkin
ring again. A strange sight met our eyes.
standing on the top of the decayed stump of a cedar tree,
was a young fellow, who could not have been more than sixteen or
seventeen years old, in full uniform, except for an old plug hat, that
had once been white, that was cocked on the side of his head, after
the exaggerated style of the funny men of the minstrel stage, that lent
color to the vociferous accents of his vocal efforts. Between the
verses of his song he danced a jig to the delight of the lookers on.
vou may think, gentlemen, that this was not so strange a
sight after all, but It would have seemed so to you, If you had been
there and realized as I did, that this was an Incident in the life of a
regiment that had been under fire from the 4th day of May to that
14th day of June.
At this point, Col. Ingersoll interrupted the General by saying:
"That must have been a very funny song, General. Do you remember
the name of it?"
"No" said Sherman, "I wish I could."
At this time I took a hand in the narrative by saying "General
Sherman, I can tell you the name of the song."
"You?" said he, "what nonsense. How could you know any-
thing about it?"
"Just the same, said I, "I can name it, and to prove it I will sing
you a verse of the song. Whereupon I sang a verse of "Oh, Susan-
As I finished the verse, the General, flushed with excitement,
shouted "Why that is the song sure enough. How came you to know
"Simply enough, General," I answered. "I was the kid who was
singing the song to the boys."
For a moment there was a dead silence, and then the General
reached across the table, grasped my hand, and said, "That was the
class of man that made the best soldier." Of course I blushed bec-
omingly, but as I was not responsible for the General's accidental
presence while I was ridding myself of an excess of exuberant vitality
twenty-four years before, I did not apologise.
But I surprised the General just the same.
While the Army of the Cumberland was defending the City of
Nashville and getting into condition to attack the Confederate forces
under Hood, 36 the Winter set in, and for that latitude was a very
severe one, as all the men of the Cumber1and Army will remember.
Our line of battle was deployed from the Tennessee River on the right
of the town to the river on our extreme left. My regiment was the
right of the line of the 4th Corps, and we rested on the HUisboro tum-
pike joining A. J. Smith's 16th Corps on the left of that command.
The picket line of our regiment was located about three hun-
dred yards in advance of the breastworks we had thrown up, and ran
for the most part through a grove of large trees. It was the custom of
our Brigade commander to throw out a line of vidette pickets after
This outer line of pickets was about one hundred yards in
advance of the regular I ine, and the old red house was the post
immediately in front of our company line when we were on detail.
There was an old and thickly grown Osage Orange hedge In which
we had cut a hole, that a man was obliged to pass through before he
could reach the vidette line.
The whole country around Nashville at that time was Ice
bound, covered with a snow and sleet, so that a .. Four hour Trlcl(3
was no joke to the man who had to take his chance on the vidette
line. It fell to my lot to stand a Mfricl<' with my sunkY' who as my file
leader, fell into the detail. Luckily the night was dark, and we had no
difficulty In reaching the red house which was at the further side of
the open field in our front. It was ten o'Clock when we relieved the
poor devil who had been on Post for six hours, because the corporal
of the guard had forgotten him. As we silently crawled up to him, he
whispered, Got any whiskey?
Nope, said Leg gate.
Hen, said he.
-vep: said I. In giving us his instructions he said that If we
were real good boys, and would keep still a little while, we would be
able to hear some Rebs talking on the other side of the house. He
further informed us that the gentlemen on the other side of the house
knew we were there, and perhaps it would be just as well for us not
to put our noses around the corner, as he was sure the gentlemen
were watching a chance to fill somebody with cartridges if they got a
chance. With this parting injunction he crawled away, and left us to
the toughest seven hours of guard duty I ever did while in the serv-
ice. Being in such close proximity to our foes we were obliged to
keep quiet, and with no chance to move about and by a little exercise
keep our blood in circulation, we soon began to feel frosty. Leggate,
who was always a dare devil sort of a fellow. and did not know the
meaning of the word fear, suggested that he would get into one of
the windows of the house, and see if the owners of it had left any
grub In their flight. I tried to dissuade him, but he was obstinate, and
carefully raising a window he disappeared inside the house. I was in
a most uncomfortable state of mind, for if any one of a thousand con-
tingencies had arisen, he was in a bad fix, in first of all leaving his
post, while on duty, and duty of a most important character, and
more because I would be alone if there should be a curiosity on the
part of the gentlemen on the other side of the house to investigate
the property on my side of the house, and I could not be at both
comers of the house to meet and entertain the gentlemen. It seemed
an hour that Leggate was out of sight, but in reality about ten
minutes, when he appeared at the window, and handed me a panful
of something, and whispered, sorghum.
Again he vanished, and in a moment or two dropped a ham,
and a sack of corn meal from the window, and said in a low voice,
oo we eat Christmas, or do we starve?
I begged him to come out, saying, rhls will last us for a
"Hold your breath a minute," said he, and away he went again.
Reappearing he handed me a string of dried squash, a small hatchet,
an old bridle, and a rocking chair cushion.
He then dropped out of the window himself, and said, "A true
patriot never loots In time of war, he only takes what he needs for his
personal comfort." He then told me that he had found afl the stuff up
in the garret under an old straw tick38 and that through a hole In the
roof he had had a good view of the "Rebs" line of works.
"Well ," said I, "what do you want with a bridle, and a rocking
chair cushion If you are the virtuous patriot you pretend to be?"
"Oh, he rejoined, "I will make shoe soles of the blinds on the
bridle, and use the cushion for a pillow, and if this is not ysing the
spoUs of war to good purpose, advise me.
The hours passed on, and when it was time for our relief to
come we were about frozen, but no relief. It was getting to be no
joke, for if we waited until daylight we could not be relieved at afl, for
any such attempt would be met with the death of the man who tried
it, for the whole field back to our reserve was in plain view of the main
line of the confederate works, and a man would be shot to pieces
who attempted to run the gauntlet. When five o'Clock came, we
were in a fever of impatience, and worry. As the gray dawn began to
steal up from the horizon, we resolved that to stay another minute
meant the whole day, and we knew that we would be frozen to death
if we were compelled to stay there all day, for we would not dare to
build a fire, for If we did the house would be knocked about our ears
by the artillery on the confederate line. So we loaded ourselves with
our spoils of war, and started down the hill at breakneck speed. The
crunching of the snow under our feet gave the alarm to the men on
the other side of the house and they ran out into the open and
emptied their guns at us, while the main line of pickets alarmed at the
first shot, opened up their contribution to our discomfort, and we
were accompanied across the whole distance to the hedge fence by
a hail of bullets that made our blood warm up faster than three hun-
dred degrees in the shade could have done.
As we reached the hedge, Leggate who was ahead slightly,
went into the hole and stuck there, with his load of grub, while I who
carried the pan of sorghum tried to vault the hedge, and stuck on top
of it.
The sorghum spilled all over me, and trickled down on Leg-
gate's head, while the bullets from the Johnny Rebs" cut the hedge
all around us. This story would probably never have been written, if
some of the boys at our reserve had not come to our rescue, and
pulled me off the hedge, and Leggate through the hole.
Our skirmish line at Nashville followed an irregular line In our
regimental front, and finally emerged from a grove of well grown
trees into an open space, in the center of which there had been dug
a rifle pit to shield the men that were to stand guard duty In this
exposed spot. This rifle pit was dug deeper than the usual kind, and
was furnished with a Head Log of green pine about nine inches in
diameter. 39 I am thus explicit about dimensions, as it was my luck to
do several "Tricks behind that head log, and I remember that I men-
tally quarrelled with the judgment that did not order that headlog to
be two feet in diameter at least, for that particular rifle pit was the
mark for all the sharpshooters in Hood's army while the siege lasted.
One Sunday morning my company was ordered to the
skirmish line for its turn of picket duty. It was a cold, raw day, and
the ground was covered with a thin coating of sleet and ice, that
made the prospect of twenty-four hours on duty rather a depressing
prospect, even to men who were Inured to that sort of thing.
However, in those days we had little time for fault finding, and we did
not care what kind of grub we got so long as it was filling, so we
made the best of it. We had two men In our company who were
irreconcilable enemies from some trifling cause. One was a Fren-
chman named Babin, the other a Swede named Nelson. As luck
would have it these two men were detailed to the rifle pit In the open,
and when they realized it, they glared at each other, and in their
respective tongues anathematized their eyes and limbs. The only
way that men could get down to the rifle pit without being a target for
the Rebs, was to lie down and crawl about a hundred feet from the
edge of the clearing before they could roll into the pit and then sit
upright. Once in the pit .. they were safe from anything but artillery
fire, and could replenish the fire that was always kept burning In the
daytime In the bottom of the .. Pit, and otherwise proceed to make
themselves as comfortable as circumstances would permit.
Those of us who had not been detailed stacked our arms at
"The Reserve from which we could plainly see the occupants of the
skirmish line from one side of the open space to the other. Knowing
that a feud was on between Babin and Nelson, we watched them to
see how they would get along together. Each man took his seat at
the extreme end of the trench from each other, and humped them-
selves into a human ball to keep warm, for neither would reach out
his hand to get wood to replenish the fire so intense was their hatred
of doing anything that would seem consonant with the desires of the
other. At last we grew weary of watching them, and disposed our-
selves as comfortably as we could to await our turn for duty on the
line. We had been on the Reserve about an hour, when several
staff officers rode up to the .. Reserve and began talking with the
Officer of the Guard. We surmised that this meant an immediate
advance of our skirmish line, but after they rode away, our Ueutenant
told us, that a battery of A. J. Smith's command was going to shell
the woods in our front, and that we were not to move away from the
Reserve, which was a little to the right of the line of fire that the bat-
tery was going to work on.
Pretty soon the guns opened, and the shells went crashing
through the branches of the trees over our heads while they were
getting the range. About ten shots had been fired when a shell from
a gun that had been too much depressed came tearing through the
underbrush, about twenty feet from where we were lying, and landed
plump in the middle of the pit which sheltered the sons of France
and Sweden, and then exploded with terrific force, demolishing the
pit" completely, and throwing the occupants into space and landing
them several feet away.
Of course we thought they were both killed, but to our sur-
prise, in a few minutes Babin raised his head cautiously and looking
around let go a yell that might have been heard In Heaven, and then
ducked his head and lay quietly. He's gone; said someone.
At that Nelson sat up, and looking around in a dazed sort of
way began to feel of himself to find if he was all there. Satisfied that
there was nothing missing of any value to himself, he laid down
again. Somebody said, "I guess he's got his dose. Suddenly they
both sat up, and without a word got on their feet, advanced to each
other, shook hands, and laid down again.
The whole thing from where we were watching them was too
funny for expression, knowing as we did how cordially they hated
each other, but it proved the sentiment, rhat one touch of nature
makes the whole world kin.
The Troubadours stopped at Bloomington, Ill., for one night,
when the organization was about a month old.40 I am sure nobody
in Bloomington remembers it at this late distance of time, but I do,
chiefly for an incident that will always seem to me as funny as any-
thing that ever happened to me. We were booked at Schroeder's
Opera House for one consecutive night. Nobody who ever travelled
the Illinois Circuit in those days will ever forget the genial proprietor
of that home of the Drama. The doctor was really a kindhearted
man, but if you did not let him feel that you thought his Opera House
the finest that you had ever seen, then the doctor had no use for you,
but once intimate to him that he was a man to be envied, and you
could command him. The net result of praising the theatre in my
case, was an Invitation to partake of some weak sour wine, In the
beer saloon under the Opera House, and the tender of a small loan
to assist In getting to the next town. I need hardly say that both
Invitations were thankfully accepted, and that repayment of the latter
was the first act In my career as a manager when the tide turned, and
prosperity looked In upon us.
But In talking of the doctor, I am slipping away from my story
of The Wrong eoon.
I had noticed during the morning rehearsal, that the Janitor of
the theatre was a colored man, but paid no attention to him beyond
that fact. When the doors were opened for the evening performance,
it was my custom to take the tickets, during the time that Maeder was
playing the first overture.41 At that time it was the style for men to
wear very high collars, and very wide cuffs, so that sitting down out-
side the swinging doors that separated the Parquet from the lobby,
and peeping between the cracks of the doors, one could see a very
wide pair of cuffs, and a very high collar, which entirely filled the per-
While indulging In this pastime, and reflecting on the fact that
so far, just Twenty-six Dollars had found their way into the box office,
I was roused from my reverie, by a negro with a 25 cent ticket push-
ing his way into the parquet. I stopped him, by gently refusing the
ticket, and telling him that he should present it at the gallery door
where it belonged. He demurred, and said, 1 done give up a quatah,
for dis tickit an I'm gwine in here:
Not in here said I, but up stairs: Then followed quite an
argument, about the injustice of the white man, to the poor
downtrodden colored man, who had to work for his living, and then
was denied the benefits of his labor. Finally the fellow lumbered off
down to the street, which was reached by a flight of stairs leading
from the landing in front of the parquet doors to the sidewalk. I
turned again to my consideration of the 26 Dollar receipts, and
Maeder's cuffs. After a lapse of a few minutes, my colored friend
came up the stairs, and repeated the scene of a few moments
before. This time the argument on my part was quite heated, and it
ended by his again returning to the sidewalk, and addressing the
passers-by on the injustice of the white man generally, and De
show-actors In particular. This action on his part did not go far to
reconcile me to the 26 Dollar house or the prospects of the morrow.
When he again essayed to put himself In a parquet chair, I
rose in my might, and told him, -rhat if he did not go up stairs, or go
down stairs, and go one way or the other, and make a stay of it, I
would probably do something that he would consider the maximum
of wrong, that the white man could inflict on the downtrodden negro.
He went down stairs again, vowing that there was no such thing as
justice in this world when a man is once down, and I turned to catch
the last notes of the overture. A pause of a few minutes duration was
followed by the projection of a black hand over my shoulder, to part
the doors into the parquet. Not stopping to see what manner of
man, was attached to the hand, I "Swung my trusty right mawley" into
the air at about the height that a head should be. My aim was per-
fect, for I saw something that was all black go heels over head down
the stairs, and strike the sidewalk with "A dull and sickening thud." I
ran to the top of the stairs, and saw something black set itself
upright, and with a roar of distress exclaim, 'What In Hell's de matter
with you? I'm DE JANITOR."
When I could stop laughing, I went down, and fixed up my
mistake with a cigar and the expenditure of a quarter, which at that
time was a serious outlay, but It taught me the value of Davy Crock-
ett's motto. 42
I have been in Shroeder's Opera House many times since
then, but the memory of the 26 Dollar house, and "Wrong Coon"
gave me more pleasure than the luck which later on had turned
people away from the doors of the theatre, when the "Troubs were
so successful in the town, that Bloomington could not be left out of
the route.
Among the towns that the "Salsbury Troubadours" played dur-
ing the first Summer they were on the road was Xenia, Ohio. 43 I am
reminded of this at this writing by putting the town into the Wild West
route for the summer. This town of Xenia will always live in my
memory as the one that furnished the most unique experience of any
in which I ever did business.
We were billed to appear in due time at the Town Hall, in
Patchwork" and a farce. We arrived on the date, and put up at one
of the most modest hotels the town boasted of, and that was modest
enough as far as the beds and bill of fare went, and my ability to
meet the bill of particulars when presented. As soon as I had
registered the Company, I went to the Han to see if there was any-
thing in the way of scenery that we could use, and was agreeably
disappointed to find the place very well supplied, and [a] comfortable
auditorium, which as a rule was an indication of enterprise and
patronage by the public which could think of its own comfort and the
actor's necessities. I got everything in readiness, and then went to
the hotel, feeling that we were in for a good evening's receipts. Alas
Salsbury's Troubadours: Salsbury, John Webster, and Nellie McHenry.
From the collection of James F. Durnell; provided by Professor Hall.
for human hopes, never were appearances more deceptive. We
went to the "Hall" and got ready for the performance at the regular
hour, and I opened the doors, raised the Box Office window and
waited for customers. They never came. In fact, he or she never
came. For not a single person darkened the door or passed the door
of the "B Hall" except the Janitor and ourselves. And I believe this is
a record, for I have never heard of any other showman having
exactly the same experience, and the nearest to it that I ever heard
of, was on another occasion, when the "Troubadours" played a
Matinee at Daly's Theatre to $11.50. If any other professional alive
can equal this record I would like to crack a bottle with him, and will
pay for it gladly.
"Hope deferred maketh the heart s i ~ and at length it dawned
upon me that we would not be likely to gather in the shekels desired
to meet the daily expense, and when the busy hour of nine o'clock
arrived, I sadly intimated to the Janitor that his services would not be
needed any longer than it would take the Company to get out of their
Stage toggery and get out of the "Hall." This they finally did, and then
wended their lonely way homeward to the hotel, wondering what was
in store for us all, and if we had finally reached the end of our string?
On reaching the hotel I met a gentleman who introduced him-
self as a constable, and who presented me with an attachment
against the baggage of the company on behalf of the local bill poster.
It seems that he had a scout out on the other side of the street from
the "Hall" to report our prospects of doing business, and the scout
had naturally so alarmed him that he became alarmed at the pros-
pect he had for getting his money, and true to the bill posting instinct
he promptly got hold of a Judge who issued the attachment against
us, because it was feared that we would bolt the town in the night.
Of course I was furious, because the bill had never been presented
to me at all, and I knew my creditor had overreached himself in his
anxiety to get the $16.00 owing him. I accompanied the Constable to
the Court House followed by the male part of the Company, who
were In a funk at the appearance of things. I found that the Bill
poster had sufficient local influence to have Court convene to try the
case, as the next day was Sunday and Court would not sit. I walked
to the rail that separated justice and its victims, and respectfully
awaited the pleasure of the Judge, who after looking me over care-
fully said to the Constable, "Well what's the Case?"
The Constable replied, "Mr. ----against these Show people."
The Judge read the documentary evidence of our crime, and then
said to me, "Are you the manager of this show?"
I bowed affirmatively.
'Whose signature is this?" said he, handing me the Bill of Par-
ticulars, which he had taken from the officer.
"That is the signature of Chas. J. Crouse, my Agent, said I.
Ah, so you acknowledge this bill to be genuine?"
"Yes sir," said I, "absolutely so."
"Then why haven't you paid it?" said he.
"Because it has never been presented to me for payment,
said I.
looking at the Billposter he said "Is this true?" said the Judge.
"Yes sir," stammered the confused fool of a fellow.
ease dismissed with costs for the defendant, who has a good
case of damage for libel if he chooses to push it.
aear the Court! The Constable waved us all out of the door,
and we fUed out. I was the last to reach the door, and just as I was
going to close It the Judge's voice arrested me. Er-r-r, Mr. Salsbury,
one moment If you please. I stopped, expecting something to spoil
my triumph, but the Judge said, close the door please, and
Salsbury, I have ad-----d fine watermelon in my private room, and if
you say so we will cut it in honor of your victory.
I was surprised beyond expression for a moment but when the
thing dawned on me fully I doubled up with laughter and it was
several minutes before I could accept his offer, which I finally did,
and to crown the feast properly, the Judge sent across the street to
the hotel for a small bottle, and we gorged for two hours on
watermelon, wine and good fellowship. I then returned to the hotel
where all the company were anxiously awaiting me, for fear that my
detention by the Judge augured something direful to our future.
Giving the boys a broad wink to reassure them, I walked up to the Bill
Poster, who stood abashed with his bill in his hand, and asked him
loftily if [he] Had a bill against me?.. Of course he handed it to me,
and of course I gave him the money, and when he had receipted it, I
said to him, .. Now my pretty Gazelle, I am going to punch the head
off of you, .. and I made a grab for him, but he dodged me and flew
out of the door faster than any real gazelle on Africa's Sunny Plain
could do.
But I have never forgotten the watermelon that I ate with the
Judge or the novel experience of getting exact justice in a country
town, where the Showman has a small chance of getting anything
that belongs to him, once he falls foul of a local interest of any kind.
The Troubadours were booked to open the new Opera House
at Brenham, Texas, and on the date mentioned in the contract we
arrived In town with bright anticipation of an overflowing house that
night in honor of the event. Opera Houses were not built as rapidly
those days as in the last decade, and to open one was considered a
great opportunity. Determined that the night should be one to be
long remembered In the annals of the town, I set my wits to work to
plan something that would add special eclat to the occasion, and
insure the presence of a big audience. After a gigantic mental effort,
I decided that a FUNNY PARADE was the thing to set the town a-
talking, and make it leave its supper to be at the theatre on time. I
imparted the plan to Webster and Maeder and they rose to the hook
like a hungry trout. 44 Indeed Maeder went so far in his admiration as
to compliment the genius that was always devising something new,
and to predict a great future for a man who was always ready with an
expedient prospectus for instant use. After having approved me as
much as my modesty would permit, Maeder started for the Theatre
to get the Stage Wardrobe, which by my direction he was to send to
the Livery Stable, where I intended to fit out the "Parade. Oliver
Wren was at that time a member of the Company,
and when I
approached him with a proposal that he join the horsemen that were
to dazzle the eyes of Brenham, he balked, and said "That he thought
he would sit on the fence and see the procession go by, if I did not
Somewhat piqued that he did not see how much he was
honored by my invitation, I said "Oh never mind, we only want horse-
men and walked away cock sure that he would feel the pangs of
envy when he heard the welcoming shout of the multitude that would
greet our appearance on the streets.
I hied me to the Livery Stable with Webster, and bargained for
three GOOD saddle horses, and a driving horse. The driving horse I
put into an old depot wagon shafts, while inside the wagon I placed
an old Darkey to drive and ring a large Auction Bell to attract atten-
tion to the legends I had painted on white cotton cloth banners which
I attached to each side of the wagon.
These legends ran:
To drive dull care away
Visiting the Opera House to-night
and Joining In the merry laughter
The wardrobe boxes arrived, and the horses saddled, Webster,
Maeder, and the originator of the scheme got inside the most fantas-
tic costumes that our wardrobe could furnish, or fancy devise.
By this time it had reached the ears of the public that some-
thing unusual was going to happen, and crowds began to gather on
both sides of the main street, near the livery stable. This being
reported to us confirmed Maeder in his opinion that I was the
greatest man that had struck Texas for many a day, and I was the
subject of various complimentary remarks by both my partners
which space and modesty will not permit me to repeat here.
Up to this time I did not know that Webster had never been on
a horse's back, and that Maeder hardly knew which end of the horse
to set his face. A few hasty instructions from an old Cavalry man like
me did not take many minutes, and I gave the word to sally forth.
The doors were thrown open, and taking the lead I dashed out before
the admiring crowd. Taking no heed of the progress of my partners
in crime, I followed the sAND WAGoN that had preceded us some
distance. Putting my horse to a gallop I soon overtook the eoon
Orchestra, and as I had rather a spirited plug of a bronco under me,
I showed up pretty well to the mob, though in his prancing from side
to side of the street I heard such occasional remarks as well I'm
0-----D, where in h--1 did that come from etc. When we had gone
about a dozen blocks, I suddenly realized, on looking around, that
the Parade had a gap in it beginning where my horse's tail ended to
leeward. The BAND WAGON and its inventor were alone.
Ordering the wagon to halt and wait for further orders, I
wheeled my column to the rear, to look up the rest of the forces.
They were nowhere to be seen, but I found a great crowd of
people who greeted my return with shouts of laughter, and
occasional pistol shots in the air that seemed to be the only way to
relieve their pent up merriment. Threading my way through the jeer-
ing mob of boys and cow punchers to the stable I yelled an inquiry
for the whereabouts of Webster and Maeder. The door of the stable
cautiously opened an inch or two, and Webster's voice cried, Here I
am ...
'What the devil are you doing there .. said I, .. How did you get
back there?"
-rhe horse brought me back, .. he answered, and I could not
stop him.
-where is Maeder? I asked.
o----d If I -knoW' said Webster, .. He went down a side street
somewhere, for Heaven's sake go and find him or he will be killed ...
open the door- said I, so I can get in there a minute. The
door was opened, and I dashed in, and jumping off, I peeled off the
toggery I had on, and jumping back into the saddle started to find
Maeder. Nobody knew me now, as we had worn masks when we
began -rhe Parade," so I rode unnoticed. Brenham at that time was
a small town, and it did not take me long to traverse most of the
streets in my search for Maeder. Finally I ran him down about a
quarter of a mile outside the Corporation, on the roadside, in a patch
of Hazel Nut bushes, that his horse was quietly browsing on, while
his rider sat there the picture of helplessness, and the great delight of
a couple of women who were leaning from a window about a block
away who were watching him, and wondering what manner of man
had come to Brenham. 'Where have you been? said I.
oh, 'round several places that I never saw before said he.
-why didn't you follow me? I yelled.
Horse objected" said he.
'Why didn't you give him the spur?"
"I did" said he, "and when I got down off the horn of the saddle
I concluded I would not try that again.
"Well, fall off now, and take off those togs, roll 'em up and
scoot for the hotel, while I take that horse back to the stable. He
scooted accordingly, as he afterwards told me through all the back
alleys he could find. I took his horse back to the stable to find that
Webster had climbed over the back fence of the Livery stable yard
and had also "scooted" for the hotel.
All at once it occurred to me, that the Band Wagon was wait-
Ing orders, and I hired a boy to go down the street and tell the aged
"Coon" to come in out of the wet, which was coming down in a fine
rainstorm that had started. This ended the PARADE, but a thousand
funny Incidents must remain untold because they cannot be con-
densed into the limits of a short recital like this.
You ask what effect this affair had on the business. I sadly
reply, the worst possible, for NOBODY came to see the Show, save
the few who had reserved their seats before our arrival.
However the second night we had our revenge, for the merits
of "Patchwork" had been discussed overnight, and we could not hold
the people who wanted to see it the second and last night that "The
Troubadours" ever played in Brenham.
The Manager of the Opera House asked me, in that tone
which indicates hopeless regret, and pity when our engagement was
over. "Salsbury, why did you do That?"
I replied that "The human mind was as Inscrutable as the stars,
and while THAT had failed of its object, he should bear in mind, that
even the plan of Salvation for a Mohammedan could not but fail from
an Orthodox standpoint."
In the early days of the "Troubadours" we did our share of
"Barnstorming and once upon a time we found ourselves in Joplin,
Missouri, which at that time was just beginning to be an Important
lead mining town.
The plays for that evening were "The Brook" preceded by "A
Cup of Tea: Both of these were so far above the heads of our
audience that I have since wondered why we were not arrested for
getting money under false pretences.
I think the receipts that evening must have aggregated Sixty
dollars or less. I am sure they were not more than that sum. There
may have been two hundred men and boys, and about four women
in that audience. In the first mentioned part of our audience I did not
see one boiled shirt, or an entirely clean face.
I realized when we had garnered all the receipts that were
likely to come to our treasury, that we had made a frightful mistake in
the selection of the bill for the evening, and that "PatchworJ( would
have stood a better show of being understood than the beautHul little
play called "A Cup of Tea." But I proceeded to debase this play by
going on for the Maid Servant, and making it a Wild Irishman looking
for a fight. Of course I tore that argument of the whole play Into tat-
ters, and did everything I could to make them laugh, as I knew that
was what they wanted to do If anything. I unloaded every Irish wit-
ticism I could remember, drew on my memory for all the specialties
that I had ever seen in the Variety Halls, and in fact made a monkey
of myself to save the situation. But I DID NOT save it, for they never
cracked a smile. Everybody on the stage was speechless with ill
concealed enjoyment of my antics, and when the curtain fell, Web-
ster and Ne1Jie46 fairly had convulsions and chaffed me unmercHully
on my failure to please even the small boys in front.
In those days I very often used to sing "The Old Sexton" as a
Song and Dance between the pieces, In communities where they
liked that sort of thing.
It occurred to me that I would save the day
with the Old Sexton, and I sent word down to Maeder that I would do
the song between the acts. I have always made up in Black tights,
shoes, hat, gloves, in fact everything black. But this time I conceived
a brilliant idea.
I would give it to them in blue. To this end, I hauled out a blue
pair of tights, shoes, jacket, hat with blue feather, and made my face
blue to match.
I gave the signal, the curtain went up, and I sallied out from the
Right first entrance, on Maeder's astonished vision. Expecting to see
me in black, he was so entranced by my blue aspect, that he forgot
to start the symphony of the song, and falling into a gale of laughter,
he yelled, "I can't play it, I can't find the key, where did you get it?"
In short, he could not play the accompaniment for laughing,
and walking down to the footlights with great dignity, I said, "Well
then I will go to [a] City where there are competent piano pounders,
and walked off the stage, and I have never sung "The Old Sexton in
Joplin yet.
I have often wondered what that audience must have thought
of that performance. Where I came from, what I was trying to do,
and what it was all about anyway.
But our laughter was turned to worry before the performance
was over, for in "The Brook," Nellie sprained her ankle and was inca-
pable of acting for several weeks afterward. It was a sad wind up of
our fun, but I have never had any desire to revisit the scene of that
evening's exploits, although other ventures of mine have been sue-
cessful in that town since It has grown to be a center of intelligence
and wealth.
In the year 1876 the Salsbury Troubadours made a trip to
Australia. We sailed from San Francisco, under the management of
Titus and Locke, but as Titus and Locke did not have money enough
to guarantee the rent of the Theatre In Sydney, which was to be our
first engagement in the Colonies, I made short work of their contract
with .me, when I got to Sydney, and went on my own resources.
After a year of success in the Antipodes, we returned home by the
steamer we went out In, The City of Sydney. On board of her was an
agent of Cooper & Bailey's Circus, a man well known in the profes-
sion, named J. B. Gaylord. I am thus precise in naming him, so that
he can authenticate this statement if anybody questions it. Mr.
Gaylord resides in Independence, Iowa.
One day, on deck, Mr. Gaylord and I were talking over the
experiences we both had had, in the Colonies, among others, the
pleasure we had mutually enjoyed at the Melbourne races that year.
During the conversation, I remarked that, .. While the riding of the
Australian Jockeys was to be admired from a professional stand-
point, I did not think they were any better riders than jockeys of any
other nation. We had quite a heated argument over the question,
and Gaylord expressed himself as believing that Australians could
give cards and spades to any riders In the world. This rubbed my
patriotism a bit, and I ventured the opinion that our Cowboy and
Mexican riders could beat the civilized, or uncivilized world in all that
the term horsemanship implies.
We argued this question until the gong sounded for supper,
but the subject stuck In my mind even after I had gone to bed that
night, and the train of thought thus engendered grew upon me, until
it naturally turned into professional channels, and I began to con-
struct a show in my mind that would embody the whole subject of
horsemanship, and before I went to sleep I had mapped out in my
mind a show, that would be constituted of elements that had never
been employed In concerted effort in the history of show business.
Of course I knew that various Circus managers had tried to
reproduce the riding of the plains, in made up professional circus
riders, but I knew they had never had the real thing.
Some years passed, but I had never lost sight of my plan to
originate my show and put it on the road. Finally the thing took the
form of resolve, and I began to look up the elements of the show. I
decided that such an entertainment, must have a well known Figure
Head to attract attention, and thus help to quickly solve the problem
of advertising a new idea. After a careful consideration of the plan
and scope of the show, I resolved to get W. F. Cody as my central
figure. To this end I waited a favorable opportunity to confide the
scheme to him, and in 1882 while we were both playing an engage-
ment in Brooklyn, or perhaps he was in New York, I made an
appointment with him to meet me at the restaurant that adjoined
Haverty's Theater, where the Troubadours were playing that week.48
This restaurant was called -------. Cody kept the appointment.
As he was about at the end of his profit string on the stage, 49 I
dare say he was pleased at the chance to try something else, for he
grew very enthusiastic over the plan as I unfolded it to him, and was
sure that the thing would be a great success. It was arranged at that
lunch, that I would go to Europe the following summer, and look the
ground over with a view to taking the show to a country where all its
elements would be absolutely novel. I was quite well aware, that the
Dime Novel had found its way to England, especially, and wherever
the Dime Novel had gone, Cody had gone along, for Ned Buntline
had so firmly written Cody Into contemporary history of the Great
Plains, that he had made a hero on paper at first hand. so While on
this subject, I want to note what I consider a most remarkable fact.
The man who today is known In the uttermost parts of the earth as a
showman, would never have been a showman at all, if Ned Bunt-
line, had not made him notorious, and he had dripped from the point
of Buntllne's pen as a hero. Buntline was looking for somebody to
make a hero of, and first tried to boost Major Frank North51 Into that
position, but the Major being a real hero, would not listen to that sort
of thing, but said, It you want a man to fill that bill, he Is over there
under that wagon. Buntline went over to the wagon and woke up
the man, he made famous as Buffalo Bill. Between Story and the
Stage, Cody became a very popular man, with a certain class of the
public, and was notorious enough for my purpose. As agreed upon I
went to Europe the following summer, and looked the ground over. I
came to the conclusion, that it would take a lot of money to do the
thing right and told Cody that we must be well provided with money,
when we made the plunge, and that so far as I was concerned, I did
not feel rich enough to undertake my share of the expense, and that I
would have to wait another year before I could go into the scheme in
proper shape. To this Cody did not demur, but said that he was in
about the same fix as myself. So far we had arrived at a perfect
understanding that we were to share and share alike in the venture.
So far so good.
But, Cody must have agreed to drop the matter for another
year with a strong mental reservation, for I was astonished In the
spring of 1883 to get a telegram, (which I now have in my posses-
sion) asking me if I wanted to go Into the show, for this country IF
DOCTOR CARVER DID NOT object. Of course I was dumbfounded,
and replied that I did not want to have anything to do with Doctor
Carver, who was a fakir in the show business, and as Cody once
expressed it 'Went West on a piano stool. 52
Events proved that Cody did not walt for our plan to go to
Europe to ripen, but no sooner had my Ideas, than he began to
negotiate with Carver, who had a reputation as a marksman, to go in
with him, and was kind enough, when they had laid all their plans, to
let me in as a partner. Of course I turned them down, and they went
on the road, and made a ghastly failure. Their failure was so pro-
nounced, that they separated at the end of the season, each blaming
the other for the failure. I was playing an engagement in Chicago,
while they were there, and Cody came to see me, and said -rhat if I
did not take hold of the show he was going to quit the whole thing.
He said he was through with Carver, and that he would not go
through such another summer for a Hundred Thousand Dollars. As I
had seen their show, and knew that they had not developed my ideas
in putting it together at all. I felt that there was still a lot of money in it,
if properly constructed. At the end of their term in Chicago, they
divided the assets of their firm, and I took hold of the show under a
partnership contract between Cody and myself, which was drawn by
John P. Altgeld, who at that time was my legal adviser, when I
needed one. 53 What followed the signing of that contract is a history
of the Wild West Show, and is too long to recite here, for to write it
fully means to employ the confines of a volume. I should never have
put this relation of the origin of the Wild West Show on paper. if there
had not been in all the years that have passed, a most determined
effort on the part of John Burke, 54 and the other hero worshippers
who have hung onto Cody's coattails for their sustenance, to make
Cody the originator of the show, for in doing so, they can edge in
their own feeble claims to being an integral part of the success of the
show. The men I speak of were all participants in the failure that fol-
lowed the first venture by Cody and were retained by me in the
management of the show by the request of Cody, who lives in the
worship of those who bleed him.
Mind you I do not wish to detract from any merit these gent-
lemen have shown in their employment, for taking Burke as an
instantaneous picture he is the limit, in his peculiar position, of
almoner general to the newspaper men of the world. Burke has
more personal friends than any man I ever knew, and I suppose I
ought to be glad that he has made the most of these friends at my
share of the expense. But as I know that Burke never included me in
his list of friends, because he was never my friend, I don't see why I
should rejoice in his enviable position. I am not decrying Burke's
ability as an exploiter of the Wild West. I do not believe there is
Nate Salsbury. From a program
For Buffalo Bill's Wild West.
another man in the world who could have covered as much space in
the newspapers of the day as John Burke has done, and I do not
believe there is another man in the world in his position, that would
have had the gall to exploit himself at the expense of the show as
much as John Burke.
Burke, and Keen, 55 and the rest of the Codyites who have fol-
lowed the show from the day I took hold of it, have never forgiven me
for taking the reins of management out of their hands, where they
had been placed by Cody & Carver. They have always resented my
presence with the show, because it unseated their hero in the busl-
ness saddle of the show which needed somebody that could ride it.
WhRe they have followed their duties in a perfunctory way, they have
never lost a chance to belittle me with their idol, who has colored his
conduct towards me with their paint, so far as he dared to do.
Mr. Keen is honest, and able in his department, but that lets
him out. He is absolutely nothing else to make him of value to any
I mention these two men, because they have been prominent
In the affairs of the show; the small fry don't count over much in this
summing up.
I know that there will be a wor1d of protest, to these lines, but
that the Wild West Show was an invention of my own entirely, is
proven by the letters in Cody's own hand, which I have preserved, as
indeed I have preserved every scrap of writing he has ever signed
and addressed to me. It is lovely to be thus fortified against protesta-
tions and abuse.that would surely follow, if proof did not exist of what
I have stated. So let the gentlemen, who have been connected with
the Wild West Show take second thought before they rush into print,
for I have several trunks full of correspondence, in which all of them
are sure to find themselves mixed, if it comes to a show down.
The first season that I had anything to do with Cody in [a]
business way was begun in St. Louis. I hurried the close of the
'Troubadour" Season so that I could be on hand for the organization
of the Wild West in the style that I had mapped out for it in my mind
after seeing the dreadful fiasco of the first year under Cody and Car-
ver. To this end I had been prodding Cody all the Winter to get the
stuff to St. Louis, which we had fixed on as the place to begin our
season. I sent Sheible5
a week in advance to take charge until I got
there. He had no sooner arrived in St. Louis, than he began to
telegraph me to get there quick, and that my presence was very
necessary. He was too diplomatic to say what was the urgent need
of my presence, so I went to the end of my Troubadour Season
which came in Grand Rapids, and hastened to St. Louis.
FUled with the importance of my new venture I arrived there In
a very nervous state of mind, for I realized that I was to begin a new
experience in the management of a new kind of men, than I had been
accustomed to handle. One can imagine my perturbation on going
out to the grounds where the Wild West forces had been put in camp
by Cody, to find him boiling drunk, in company with a man called
White Beaver by those people who like to exalt any long haired man
to a pinnacle of heroism. As a matter of fact White Beaver was a
man who had practiced medicine in Wisconsin among the Win-
nebago Indians and they had called him White Beaver. His name
was D. Frank Powell at one time an Army Surgeon of ability, who for
some freak of mind got disgusted with civilization and went among
the Indians and lived with them for a time and practiced his profes-
sion. At some period of this experience he met Cody at some fron-
tier place and they became fast friends, and called themselves foster
brothers, especially when they were on a drunk together. White
Beaver however was a man of real ability, and was elected Mayor of
La Crosse several terms. He had two brothers who were also long
haired men, and they traded on his reputation so much that he finally
cut his hair, and of late years I have seen but little of him. 58
But to return to Cody. He greeted me with drunken
enthusiasm, and proceeded to gush over me in the most approved
style. I was so disgusted with the situation that I seriously thought of
giving it up, and letting the whole thing go to pot. If I had done so, I
would not have had as much money as I made out of the Show after-
wards, but I would have had infinite peace of mind, which I have
never had since, so far as my interest in the show was concerned, for
I have aJways realized the slender hold I have had on a man that
would not scruple to throw me out at a moment's notice if he dared.
The next morning after arrival I went out to the grounds
determined to take hold with a firm grip, and try to get order out of
the chaos that Cody had wrought in throwing a lot of material, and
people together and then left the whole business to shift for itself
while he was filling his hide with Race Track whisky. I found him sur-
rounded by a lot of harpies called .. Old Timers .. who were getting as
drunk as he at his expense, but I could not help laughing till my sides
ached at the funny appearance he made as he leaned against the
bar. He had taken a plug hat59 from someone in the crowd, and
jammed it on his head, and as his hair was long and thick in those
days, a more ridiculous figure could not be imagined than he cut with
his arms round White Beaver while they rehearsed the exploits of the
frontier to the gaping gang of bloodsuckers that surrounded them.
I let him stay where he was and proceeded to the work In hand.
Fortunately the men who made up the company were of better
clay than our hero, and I found no difficulty In getting what I wanted
out of them in the way of obedience to orders, and in a few days I
was in a position to call a rehearsal. Of course I was furious with
Cody for his breach of faith with me, but events proved that it was
lucky, for as he was not in a condition to understand anything that I
wanted the company to do, I was able to have everything my own
way, and formulated the programme to suit myself. This first
programme under my direction Is the programme of today, except
that the introduction of new features from year to year has altered the
sequence of the numbers from time to time. But the original model
stands today practically as I fixed it up on the old Race Track In St.
Louis in 1884.
Cody's drunk lasted for about four weeks, until we got to
Pittsburg where he got so sick that he was knocked out and had to
go to bed.
I had expostulated and threatened him at various times about
his insulting our audiences by his beastly condition, and he had writ-
ten me several letters of contrite promises to do better. One of these
letters I have kept to this day as an evidence of that early experience
with a man that I finally brought to the foot of the English Throne, and
made him the Lion of the hour all over Europe. so His European
Drunk began at the end of the Paris season, and lasted fourteen
months, and I have seen him In many stages of Intoxication, but
never has he been so funny as the day his flowing locks fell from
under the plug hat onto the greasy buckskin shirt he wore.
Many people may imagine I am inspired by a spirit of malice in
writing these things. Not at all. I am only giving those who are dear
to me a club to pound him with if he ever attempts to blacken me in
support of his overweening vanity that leads him to think he is a Tin
Jesus on horseback. Make no mistake in thinking I have not said
these things to him in person, or that he does not know how
thoroughly I despise his character and habits, to say nothing of his
morals and sense of honor.
Fortunately I have preserved copies of some of my latter day
letters to him, that will prove my bearing towards him for many years.
There was a time when I would have taken his word in a mere
money transaction without a moment's hesitation, and the best proof
of that fact is that I have loaned him over a Hundred Thousand Dol-
lars at a time without a scrap of paper between us. But a Wild Wolf
will show his teeth, and it remained for him to do me up at the last for
more than half of the above sum. Our books will show this last state-
ment to be true beyond the question of a doubt.
His sister wrote a book called "The Last of the Great Scouts,
and if she will only Insure the verity of her title page, she will be doing
humanity a service. 51 A man may be a Great Scout, and ad--d
rascal at the same time. Speaking of great scouts and frontier things
In general, reminds me that as a private soldier during the Civil War, I
smelled more powder in one afternoon at Chickamauga, than all the
Great Scouts that America has ever produced ever did in a lifetime.
At the close of our regular season in 1884, we concluded that
we would try the experiment of running all Winter, arguing that if we
only paid expenses until the Spring opening time we would be
making money at the expense of a little harder work. As I was
obliged to be with The Troubadours that Winter season, I made the
necessary plans for the itinerary of the show going south after I was
obliged to leave it.
The only mistake made In those plans was my acceptance of
the services of Pony Bob as an Advance Agent for the Show.6
pony Bob was at one time a Pony Express rider, and at all times a
sort of vassal to Cody, at whose urgent solicitation I agreed to let
sob go ahead and select grounds to play on, at the stands I gave
him as the Route. sob had as little judgment in such matters as
any man I have ever met with in my whole life, and while he was per-
fectly devoted to the service he undertook, he had not the slightest
fitness for the work in hand. He blundered along in a haphazard kind
of a way until he reached New Orleans, which was our objective
point for the Winter. But he was sharp enough to send back the
rosiest kind of reports on the condition of the country through which
the route was laid, as well as to convince Cody that he was a Crack-
a-jack of an agent by his voluminous reports of his operations for our
benefit. While I had misgivings that he was not giving us facts, I was
bound to accept his statements, since they satisfied Cody that he
knew an Agent when he saw one. In due course of time the Show
started on Its Southern tour, and I went on the way of The
Troubadours. In the few days following I was convinced that all of
Pony Bob's work would have to be undone by a real Agent, and to
that end I sent another man ahead, who while pressed for time, got
the route into playable form, and the Show went on its way down the
river from Cincinnati, where we had chartered a Steamboat for the
trip with a view of stopping at available points and giving perform-
ances to pay the expenses of the trip. We did not hope to make any
money on the river, and we did not, though I think pony Bob was
the largest contributing agent to that result. With more or less adven-
tures and hard work the Show got well down the river beyond Baton
Rouge, when Cody thought It wise to leave it and go direct to New
Orleans by rail to see if the grounds which we had hired were ready
for our reception. He left the Show on Sunday, and the next day was
In New Orleans, while I arrived in Denver on the same day, and
opened at the Tabor Opera House for a week's engagement. The
first stack Eye of the day Cody received when he jumped into a
hack and rode out to the ground, for when he arrived there, the first
man he saw there was coming out of the grounds in a BOAT. The
fact was, the rain of the preceding four days had made a lake of the
grounds, and they were utterty untenable. Cody hustled all day, and
finally made an arrangement to occupy the Metarie Race Track as
long as he wanted to, and he went to his hotel pretty well satisfied
with his day's work. Then he received a Very perfect slack Eye in
the form of a telegram, which he transmitted to me, just as I was
going on the Stage for a Comic Song in -rhe Brook. The symphony
of the song was being played by the Orchestra, and I was working up
my artistic soul to the side splitting point of effect on my audience
when a tap on my shoulder interrupted the flow of soul, and brought
me back to earth. Turning around impatiently, but before I could
speak, a boy thrust a telegram Into my hand.
I hastily tore it open and read, ouTFIT AT THE BOTTOM OF
I have been called an emergency man in my time, but this
time I came near losing the title forever. Rushing to the speaking
tube I yelled to the Conductor, Play that symphony again and play it
a little harder while I think a minute. Rummaging around in my gray
matter I found an expression that I felt would fit the case, and not
keep my audience waiting too long, and so I turned the telegram
emergency man Cody now came to the front, and organized the
Show from elements that fortunately were to be found in the South-
West, and he DID open on the advertised date.
You may ask, 'Where was the dilemma?
I answer, that If I had known what was to follow, I should have
made my telegram read, close up until Spring, and thus would
have taken the favorable horn of the dilemma for our Interest,
because it rained for over fifty days after the opening, and caused us
a great loss of money and gave Cody the hardest tussle of his
career, which could have been avoided if Jupiter Pluvious had not
conspired with the Mississippi River to ruin us. Pluck is always a
desirable quantity in a Showman, but it would be still more valuable If
he could also be clairvoyant, especially in New Orleans in the Winter
The immediate cause of all our trouble was the lack of
foresight in hiring the boat. She was a -rub of the Tubbiest descrip-
tion, but our talented sob was more familiar with the merits of a
bronco than he was with those of boats in general, and this one in
When our -.ub reached a place called Rodney she collided
with a boat coming up the river, and was so badly damaged that her
captain ran her ashore, where she was patched up, and she then set
out again on her journey. She moved out Into the stream, and went
down in thirty feet of water in four minutes. The particulars of saving
some of the Stock and all of the people would fill too many pages to
be interesting in this connection, and perhaps it had better be left for
another part of the history of the Wild West in the South.63
The American Exhibition In London was inaugurated in May
1887. It was the conception of John Robinson Whitley, a man of
most undoubted ability as an organizer, and a man of equally
unscrupulous abUity as a financier. He came to America in the Sum-
mer of 1886 to get prominent Americans interested in the scheme, so
that he would have an excuse for calling his exhibition American. He
was endorsed by a good many nice people on the other side, includ-
ing a number of Noblemen who are always anxious to pose In public
affairs. He got his endorsers in this country, and went back to
England to finance the affair. He started this end of his exhibition
with the energy that characterized all his movements, and after get-
ting into what he supposed was a safe position, he began to adver-
tise for his exhibits. Coming to America again on this account, he
happened one day to be in Philadelphia when the Wild West was
exhibiting there, and was at once struck with the novelty and strength
of the show. He wrote me afterwards to know if I would entertain an
offer for London. I replied that I would and he then directed his
Attorneys, Seward, DaCosta and Guthrie to arrange the terms of a
contract with us. The correspondence led to the signing of a con-
tract with Whitley. About this time there was a hitch in the pro-
ceedings, because some of the Americans who had lent him the
prestige of their names concluded that they would draw out of the
affair. I began to hedge, and to that end wrote to Gen'l Goshorn of
Cincinnati to know if he still endorsed the scheme as Whitley's
advertising matter affirmed.64 He replied that his name was being
used without his consent, and that if I had any dealings with Whitley I
had better look him over carefully. On this hint I wrote Mr. Guthrie
with whom I had had all my correspondence, that I would not go to
England unless the terms were modified to meet the risk that seemed
to be very great if we took stock In Whitley. The upshot of the matter
came to a modification of the terms so that even if Whitley failed, we
would be in a position to go on without him. The results justified my
action, for we had not been In London a week before it was patent to
all [that] the Wild West was drawing all the money that came to the
Exhibition, which was humorously described by the London papers
as an exhibit of Dental Surgery by distinguished Americans.

. .. .

- . .
=--- >:,"''"::::-.:;-:
"The Triumph of the West"
Cartoon from Ute magazine {15 December 1887).
The Wild West bounded Into popular favor from the start,
because it was recognized as something entirely novel, and
entertaining. Her Majesty Queen Victoria emerged from her retire-
ment of l'll8ny years to visit the Wild West, and of course that alone
was enough to secure the attendance of every person In London
who desired to be 1t. -65
When It was announced that The Queen was going to attend
the Wild West Show all London was agog, and the newspaper men
were wild to be In the affair, but as the Royal Command excluded
them as well as the public It was Impossible to allow them to be pre-
sent. They took It as a matter of course though they were greatly dis-
appointed, but a certain Socialist declared he would not leave the
premises, which he had entered by way of the Main Exhibition. I
reasoned with him a few minutes, appealed to his sense of courtesy
to his Queen, but he was unmoved, until I directed one of my can-
vassmen to throw him over the fence if he did not move. This had
the desired effect and he retired, declaring that he would array the
whole middle class of London's population against the show. I told
him that I did not desire to abate one particle of his right to array
anybody that he could array against the show, but that it was my
opinion that if he made such a statement to the Middle Class of
London's citizens as he had made to me, they would probably drown
him in the Thames river, and that for once in his life he would get a
thorough bath. The mere mention of water was enough to send him
away, swearing that I was no gentleman to suggest such a weapon.
The success of the London Season was of the phenomenal
kind that brings cheer to the heart of the Showman. In our case It
was especially gratifying, because we had been warned of the doom
that awaited us, by those who had been there before and FAILED.
Our patrons that Summer amounted, in round numbers, to Two Mil-
. lions and a half of people, among whom we counted on one special
afternoon performance Three Hundred of the blood Royal of Europe,
Including five Kings. 56 To me it was a special triumph, for I had ful-
filled my promise made to Cody, one night on the train from Montreal
to Toronto, that I would land him At the foot of the Throne of
England. Of course, he forgot the promise and took the Kudos, but
that is another story, as Kipling would say.
It is a pleasure to record the universal kindness extended to
the whole outfit, from the meanest indian to the management by all
classes of the British public. It was the real beginning of the mar-
velous success that has followed the Wild West ever since. Of
course that success had to be backed up by the hardest kind of
work, but that was the kind of capital that we were long on in those
days. It is a fact, that for the two years we were in Europe we never
missed but one performance that was advertised, and we would not
have missed that one, If it had not been for the stupidity of a Railroad
Official In Strasburg, Germany.
In 1887 Simon Cameron celebrated his ninetieth birthday by
making the tour of Europe. 68 Cody and I thought it would be a
graceful thing to give the venerable statesman an American dinner,
and to this end we invited him to set a day when he could be with us.
This he did, and we were further honored by the presence of our own
Chauncy [Depew), Larry Jerome, John Hoey, and Gen'l John New. 69
Our caterer had ransacked London from Cheapslde to Earl's
Court, for the constituents of the menu, that would make the dinner
American, even to the flavor corn bread. As a relief from the everlast-
Ing course dinner, I had directed him to serve En Familia. He did so
with a vengeance. The corn pone was cooked in the ashes, the soup
in a sheet Iron pall, the beans In a Boston bean pot, the ribs of beef
whole, and brown. And the whole served AT ONCE. To the Yankees
who had been feeding on English commons for some time the dinner
was a cyclonic success, but to the Duke of Teck it was a wilderness
of food, with no guide to put him through it. Mr. Cameron was the
youngest man at the table, and started the fun of the afternoon by
accusing Mr. Depew of aspiring to the Presidency. This was the cue
for Jerome and Gen'l. New to open their batteries, and then followed
two hours of the most brilliant political discussion that I ever listened
to, or ever expect to hear.70
Larry Jerome was soaked with the tailings of the political mill
of New York City, and when he locked horns with Chauncy, the fur
filled the air, and every man at the table became helpless from
laughter. It was a battle of intellectual giants, improving the
opportunity to talk without the forbidding presence of a newspaper
man, who would repeat the harmless chaff of the occasion, as the
real sentiments of the men who talked, and so register a "Scoop" for
his paper.
When it was all over, and most of our friends had departed, I
took the Duke through the camp, at his desire.
We walked along for some minutes, In perfect silence, which the
Duke broke In upon in this wise: "Mr. Salsbury, do you have many
such occasions In your country, as we have enjoyed this afternoon?"
"Certainly sir, said I. "We have them every day, and usually a
bit happier than it has"
"And have you many such brilliant after dinner men, as your
guests of today?"
'Why, my dear sir, said I, our friends today we hardly con-
sider as first chop at the game.
God bless me said the Duke, 1 don't wonder, that as a
nation, you have got on a bit.
I went to Paris in the year of 1889 to prepare for the advent of
the Wild West In May. We had a contract with an American syndicate
to furnish the grounds and certain other things for a share of the
gross receipts. It was stipulated in the Contract that I was to give my
personal attention to the preparations, and to that end I took several
of the Wild West Employees along to carry out my plans. I decided
to build a Grand Stand like the one we had in London, as that kind of
construction seemed to offer the fewest opportunities for French
officialdom to get at us in the way of tips for permits and so following
to the end of a long chapter a sub Contract was made with a French
Contractor to furnish the railroad iron for the superstructure of the
Grand Stand, and he set to work vigorously to get rid of his share of
the responsibility.
The French ironworkers are the best in Europe, and our man
was no exception in his class. He was alert, and could get more
work out of his men than any other man I met in Europe, but he
would go down town a little too often. On an afternoon just five
weeks from our opening date, I was standing in the arena discussing
certain modifications of various plans, when somebody at the
farthest end of the Grand Stand from where we were looking on,
gave a shout of warning, and in less than the time that it takes me to
write two lines of this narrative the whole superstructure, already
about two thirds erected, lay as flat on the ground as it ever did in its
mineral state. It seemed on inquiry that a workman let go of some-
thing that overbalanced the weight of something else, and that
started the slump of the whole structure. This result would not have
been had, If the Contractor had been on the ground, and had
ordered the bracing of the structure as he [had] been wont to do as
its erection progressed. Luckily nobody was hurt, though one or two
of the three hundred men employed had narrow escapes from death.
My Engineer with whom I was talking at the time nearly fainted
when he saw the destruction of nearly three months work, and the
utter destruction of hundreds of tons of material. When he could
recover himself he turned to me and said, well Governor what in the
name of Heaven will we do?
After a moment's hard thinking I replied "Why, build a Grand
Stand of course, we can not use this one so far as I can get the drift
of things.
I called the foreman of the works, and asked him where his
master was. cherche Ia femme72 he replied and sat down on a pile
of planks and began to weep. I could not decide whether he was.
weeping for his master's morals, or his prospective loss of money.
Get him here Inside an hour" said I, and sat down to walt for
Luckily one of the several scouts that were sent out caught
him on the chong Eliza as Bill Nye used to call that thoroughfare
and briefly told him the story of his undoing. 73 He arrived more dead
than alive and elicited my profound pity for his condition, for as he
was heavily penalized, it meant the loss of nearly his entire fortune If
the contract was not carried out on his part.
oue Faire said he.74
Hell and repeat said Lew Parker who stood a few steps
I turned to Parker and said in my most austere tone which by
the way never seemed to have much effect on Parker, "Mr. Parker
you forget that the Wild West is an educational establishment, and
you are giving a false idea of our curriculum when you [use]
profanity as a spur to Incentive. Turning to the cringing contractor I
said "Get another hundred men and work all your force double shifts.
As fast as you straighten Iron, ra.erect, and be sure you have men
enough to finish one half the work within ten days, or I will take
advantage of my rights under the contract and finish the work
myself. He was glad to have another chance, and he proved to be
an emergency man, or a desperate one, for he did without sleep that
night, and many a night In the following two weeks.
When I got away from the grounds and started home for the
day I will confess that I felt the need of a bracer. The reflection that
the show was advertised for the 9th of May, the knowledge that the
ship was engaged for the passage of the company, the fact that all
our bridges were burned behind us, and that we were committed
without recourse to a season in Paris, whether we had a Grand Stand
or not were elements of the situation that made me wonder if it Is
advisable to encourage young men to go into the Show Business.
When I got home and told my wife what had happened, she
looked for moments as if she would make a good running mate for
the Contractor. But I pounded myself on the breast and told her not
to worry, that she was married to an Intellectual giant who would
sweep failure and opposition from his path like feathers. She braced
up and concluded not to worry me by showing anxiety as she had
done and has done a thousand times since, when I seemed to be
over my depth.
Uke the measuring worm of our boyhood's experience on the
farm, we all managed to make both ends meet in our progress, and
the opening of the show was not delayed an hour beyond the adver-
tised date. The Contractor lost about fifty per cent of his profit for the
job by going down town that sunny afternoon, but he was happy that
I did not close down on him, and I was happy that he did not lose
more, for he worked like a demon to repair his mistake, and as that is
not a characteristic of Frenchmen in my experience generally, it
pleased me to know that my firmness had saved us both from being
parties to a failure.
I will always make It a point however, to advise all young
managers to keep an eye on the unfinished end of any job, that
affects their contracts with the public.
During the exhibition of 1889, the Wild West was beautifully
situated in the Suburb of Neuilly, just outside the fortifications of the
Porte MaUiot. Among the many Royal guests that Paris entertained
that summer was the Shah of Persia. Naturally he was given a free
hand in seeking pleasure, and the Municipality of Paris made every
effort to entertain her visitor, and, among other amusements planned
for the Shah, was a visit to the Wild West.
A day was set for his visit, and I had everybody In his best bib
and tucker to impress the Royal Despot, being quite sure that he had
not the slightest idea regarding the republicans he was to see for the
first time in his life. Hearing of the intended function, the Mayor of
Neuilly came to me in a very perturbed state of mind for fear he
would not get his share of the "Kudos" that might come to him if he
were not mentioned in connection with the appearance of the Shah
In his bailiwick, and with much solicitude asked, that as the Chief
Magistrate of the Commune he be allowed to receive the Shah and
extend the Freedom of his jurisdiction to him.
Of course I readily assented, for the Mayor was a good fellow
and had shown us many favors while we had been there. And
besides I had run up against despots before, even in my own dear
native land, and I was not eager to bow and scrape to another one,
as I had often done in search of a license for a Sideshow. Overjoyed
at my complaisance as he called it, he said that he would be
delighted to present Cody and myself to the Shah, as equally
honored guests of the Commune with himself. As a republican I was
inclined to "Pass," but as a "Showman" I saw something for Major
Burke to talk about to innocent newspaper men, and so I let interest
outweigh preference, and bowed my thanks, and accepted in French
that I rather think, made the Mayor wish he had not been so press-
Ing. However, the day arrived, and as I have said before, the com-
pany was arrayed In its best togs and waiting.
Cody got into his regimentals, otherwise buckskins, I pushed
myself into a spike tailed coat, and soon the Mayor appeared. He
was a thing of beauty. Covered with decorations, spattered with
medals, and, resplendent In the uniform of a Major General of the
French Army, he was calculated to make the most extravagant pic-
ture of Solomon look like a soiled deuce in a new pack. At last the
blare of trumpets announced the approach of the escort of the Shah.
The doors were flung open on a signal from me, the escort of cavalry
came in at a gallop, followed by the Equerries of the President of the
Republic, who preceded the State Carriage, in which was seated the
most unimpressive man I ever saw. The Postilions stopped their
horses, the doors of the Carriage were flung open, the Shah
descended to the ground AND he was met by the Mayor who
add res sed him thus: votre Majesta, je suis Ia Maire d'Neuilly. J'ai
l'honneur de vous presenter le Colonel-1---r76 With an impatient
gesture his Despotness swept the Mayor aside, and stalked into the
Grand Stand with as much disdain as he would display if ordering a
Persian gentleman to be drawn and quartered. To this day Cot W. F.
Cody (Buffalo Bill) and Nate Salsbury have never been presented to
the Shah of Persia. And the Mayor---! Talk about Mt. Vesuvius doing
a bit of erupting! Chagrinned, hot with anger, boiling with Insulted
municipal majesty, he turned to me and growled: s-a-c-r-r-e c'est
un hultre sans tetern Of course Cody and I were convulsed, but we
managed to restrain ourselves until the Mayor, strutting and fuming
strode away taking off decorations as he walked, and stuffing them
Into his coat tail pocket. Cody went to the stables to start the per-
formance, while I followed the Royal party into the Grand Stand to
see if the orders I had given for the proper care of our visitor were
carried out. I have seen some funny things happen in my time, but I
cannot recall anything that made me wish I was clever enough to
describe in words so much as the various occurrences of that day.
Above all other funny things was the bearing of the Despot. Imagine
Stuart Robson playing the King in Hamlet, in a travesty of that play
and you have a fair idea of the strutting entity whose head was orna-
mented by a blazing diamond, and whose body was carried on a pair
of legs that resembled exactly, the legs and motion of an
automaton. 78
One of the cowboys sidled up to me when the Despot left the
grounds and said, 1s that a King?
I nodded affirmatively.
Hell, said he, he looks like a new horse wrangler on an old
I had sent Burke to Barcelona to make the preliminary
arrangements for the Wild West to visit that city, and as usual was
compelled to go there myself to decide several matters that really did
not need deciding as the controlling circumstances superseded any-
thing that I could do. At any rate, I responded to Burke's call and
leaving Paris went to Marseilles where certain business called me en
route. From there I took a boat to Barcelona. Or rather, I took a tub
that was greasy outside and in with the filth that can only accumulate
where the Latin race are masters of the soil. The deck of the boat
was crowded with coops of live poultry so that there was no room to
walk at all, even slopping over into the deck staterooms with their
malodorous presence. After a night of misery I arrived at the port of
Barcelona and heard the rattle of the anchor chain (as the boat
swung to her mooring) with more pleasure than I ever listened to a
sonata in C minor, or Asia Minor or anywhere else.
Burke was on hand to take me ashore in one of the small
boats that are the only means of going ashore In that harbor. It had
begun to rain at an earfy hour that morning, and about the time I was
shunted into the lighter, down a slippery plank, it was coming down
In torrents soaking me to the skin, and making large rents in my
usually sweet temper.
As the boat neared the shore at a snail's pace, Burke suddenly
jumped to his feet, and taking off his hat he fiXed his enraptured gaze
on the monument of Columbus that stands at the foot of the Prado
on the harbor front.
In spite of the uncomfortable surroundings I could not help
laughing at the droll figure he cut, with his long hair trailing down his
back and a miniature ocean streaming over his upturned face and
following the creases of his sucker" to the bottom of the boat.
After a few minutes of this pantomime, I yelled at him a ques-
tion as to why he was making such a blankety blank ass of himself.
With the fine scorn inherited from a race of Irish kings curling his
upper lip he said:
1s it possible that you see nothing to pay homage to in that
beautiful counterpart of your best friend in this country?
My best friend? said I. 1 see a fine statue of Columbus,
nothing more.
Nothing more? he shouted. Nothing more? Damn this
utilitarian age of money grubbers. Oh, man without a soul, you
should go down on your knees in adoration of the man that statue
1n the devil's name, why?" said I.
why, Why, Why? Because he was been your ADVANCE
Happening to be in Edinburgh with Lee Bapty, who was at that
time the Director-General of the Edinburgh Exhibition, I was invited
by him to go to the christening of the bridge across the Frith of Forth,
which at that time was considered the greatest example of English
mechanical skill to be seen in Great Britain. 80 When I arrived at the
railroad station, I found a great crowd of people, and a special train,
which was reserved for the use of the Lord Provost of Edinburgh and
his official family. All hands were soon aboard and a short run to the
Forth was only a question of a few minutes duration, in which interim
I was presented to the Lord Provost, and many of the people aboard
the train.
I found the Lord Provost a most agreeable sort of a man. He
seemed to me to be overpowered with the importance of the occa-
sion, and that he would be glad when it was all over. I could not but
contrast his modesty with the loud-voiced, Importance that would
have been shown by many of my countrymen if placed in a like posi-
tion, as par example, a constituent of Croker8
would have shown if
called upon to preside at the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, or any
other affair where he could make Tammany Hall paramount to any-
thing else.
The ceremony of opening the bridge to the public use was
very short and impressive, and was another proof to my mind that
the British public takes itself very seriously, when dealing with itself.
As the gates were swung open, at a word from the Lord
Provost, the crowd set up a shout, and a procession of all the offi-
cials followed the band across the bridge. Being a guest of honor I
went along, just for the satisfaction of being able to say that I was the
only American who partook of the pleasure of that occasion, and the
first American to cross the bridge.
I advise every American to include a pilgrimage to the Bridge,
if visiting Edinburgh.
While In Rome, the Wild West was Invited to visit the Vatican,
and the d ~ set apart for it was the Anniversary of the Pope's
About 90 per cent of the Company was in its best bib and
tucker when I arrived at the ground that morning, and I had the
heads of department get out their full strength, so that when we
started for the Vatican we had every man and woman in the outfit in
line, except the Camp Guards and one Indian who did not feel very
well, so his comrades left him covered by a blanket apparently
For a week before this day, John Burke, who is a devout
Catholic, had worked on the Indians to impress them with the solem-
nity of the occasion we were about to assist in celebrating. He
impressed them with the idea that they were going to see the Repre-
sentative of God on Earth, and to those of them who had been under
Catholic Instruction at the Reservation, the coming event was one of
great interest.
Arriving at the Vatican we were escorted to the Court Yard that
opens from the Sistine Chapel, and were finally bidden to enter the
Chapel Itself. Once Inside we found all the Diplomatic Corps
assembled, while the places reserved for the ladies were crowded
with the hundreds of Catholic who were in Rome at that time for this
very celebration. It was one of the most impressive human
ceremonies that I have ever witnessed, as the Pope, borne on his
Sed ilia came down between the Wild West lines on his way to the
Papal Throne, whereon he seated himself. We had massed the Wild
West Company in open order along the corridor, in full war paint, and
all the striking costumes that could be mustered for show and
realism. It was a curious sight to watch the expressions on the faces
of the people from the Frontier of America, as they gazed in awe
struck wonder at the magnificence displayed on all sides, and
marked the exhibition of respect shown to His Holiness as, borne
aloft, he waved his blessing to the worshipping throng. As he passed
the spot where Cody and myself were standing he looked intently at
Cody, who towered a head and shoulders above everyone else, and
who looked a picture in his dress coat and long hair. The combina-
tion seems incongruous, but he is the only man that I have ever
known who could wear it without exciting laughter. As Cody bowed
his head reverently His Holiness spread his hands in token of his
blessing, and the good Catholics around us looked with envy at
Cody during the balance of the ceremonies.
When His Holiness took his place on the Throne, the Sistine
Choir began to Intone the beautiful music that was continued at inter-
vals all the time the High Mass was being celebrated. I had heard a
great deal of sacred music in my life, but I never imagined anything
so magnificently inspiring as that wonderful rendition of the Mass that
morning. Any attempt to describe the effect of this music, would
be like trying to imitate Niagara with a hand pump and a roadside
At the conclusion of the ceremonies, His Holiness was again
seated in his Sed ilia and passed out of the Chapel, through the ranks
of the Wild West, followed by all the Cardinals and attendants of the
Papal Court. I had passed a nervous half hour, for fear some of the
Indians, not appreciating the sanctity of the Vatican, would utter an
approving war whoop before the ceremonies were ended, in token of
his approval of the whole affair. But fortunately Burke had schooled
them In the conduct they must bear to the proceedings, but of this I
knew nothing when I went Into the Chapel. It would have seemed
most Irreverent if my fear had been realized, but as a matter of fact,
would not have been so, because the war whoop Is the natural
expression of Indian approval or defiance, and would have been
uttered in as much reverence as the lowest prostration made by any
of the faithful present.
Taking my cue from the Master of Ceremonies, I motioned the
WUd West to withdraw from the Chapel to the Court Yard, where they
were regaled by a sight of the Vatican Guards drawn up for inspec-
tion. Indians rarely express their amusement at anything by laughter,
but when they caught sight of the variegated colors that make up the
uniforms of the Swiss guards their faces took on a broad grin, which
deepened into guttural shouts of laughter when told that the men
who wore the uniforms were sold lers In the pay of His Holiness.
They could not imagine anything clad In such outre costume to be a
When told of the vast entourage of the Vatican they were
incredulous that so many people could be housed up in one place,
and wanted to go exploring on their own account, and when
restrained, they said they did not think much of God's Representative
if his house was too good for anybody to go into. They compared
the hospitality of their tepees with the etiquette of the Papal Court, to
the advantage of the Savage.
On returning to camp we were shocked to find that the solitary
Indian who was left In camp had died of heart disease in our
absence, if he had not died before we started, for none of his tent-
mates remembered to have spoken to him for some time before we
left camp. The death of this man had a peculiar effect on the Indians'
mind, for they immediately called a Council among themselves, and
sending for Burke demanded to know why the Representative of God
had not protected their comrade while they were away from him, and
if he had so much power on earth, why he had not exerted himself to
shield their comrade from death In their absence. As Burke could
not make an explanation that satisfied them, his former efforts to
impress the Indians with a sense of Papal Power went to waste, for
the catastrophe was followed by the usual mourning, and the
expressed opinion, that God should send another man to represent
him if he expected the Indians to believe anything that the Mis-
sionaries might tell them In the future. Burke labored to destroy the
unfortunate result of his labors, but they stuck to the primary facts,
and would not be convinced, that all he had told them beforehand
was a bit of a humbug to say the least.
I shall always consider myself very fortunate to have partici-
pated in the events of that day, for it was a splendid lesson in experi-
ence that I wish my children some day to have if possible. Not that I
am a Catholic at all, but because it brings them to the shrine where
mUiions of their fellow creatures worship, and teaches a moral lesson
that fits any creed.
We had a young man with us during the season in Germany,
who was made a member of the company at the request of his
father. The young fellow had been brought up in a family of position
and refinement, his father at one time holding a position as a Bureau
Chief in the Government at Washington, but the boy thought that to
be a real Wild West attraction, he should begin his career by thrash-
ing a few cowboys, just to show that he could be a sad man from
Bitter Creek with any of them. He made the usual mistake that all
men do who look for trouble, for he got it in several styles from the
real cowboy contingent of the show. He then turned his attention to
the -renderfoot .. members of the company. Here again he met with
failure, for the first man he tackled in trying to get His size was a
doorkeeper who had been especially engaged for his ability to take
care of the rough element of the public which is always in evidence
around the door of a show of any kind. A few more experiences of
this kind rather sobered the young fellow up, and when I thought he
had been property thumped into working shape to hold a position, I
put him on the Staff as a Day Watchman at the front gate. His hours
of duty to begin with, I had marked for those when he would not be
brought into contact with the public at large. His first day of duty in
this capacity came in Dresden. On the day before, the King of
Saxony had visited the Wild West, and after the performance was
over he expressed a wish that he might be allowed to come out to
the grounds the next morning to inspect our horses as he is a great
lover of the horse.
Of course he had only to express the wish to have it granted,
for we were always very glad to extend this courtesy to anybody of
importance wherever we went. It was not only a great advertisement,
but It was a proof to the general public that we were open to expert
Inspection, thus emphasizing our claims to genuineness in the make
up of the Show. I was doubly glad to grant the request of the King,
as he had shown me many courtesies in permitting the use of his
name in the negotiation of our grounds etc. etc.
Late that evening I told the Night Watchman, that I expected a
gentleman to visit the stables at seven o'clock the next morning, and
that If I was not there to receive him, he, that Day Watchman was to
show the gentleman every courtesy. Of course I expected to be on
hand as was my custom in such cases, but I was providing for any
contingency which might arise, for Managers are never sure of their
time, except on salary day. For some reason which has slipped my
mind, I did not arrive until about half past seven, but I enquired from
our recruit H a gentleman had enquired for me. He replied, cert
there's an old Geezer down there at the stables, that looks like a
Maverick. I was goln' to turn him out, but he said 'Nixey de boss
wants to see me.
oo you know who it was you wanted to 'Turn out'?" I asked.
"No said he, but he looks like a sheepherder from Burr Oak.
"Well, my young Chesterfield said I, "that is the King of
Saxony you were so polite to.
"Hully Gee, was dat his nibs? Why didn't he wear his brand
when he cum Into de correll? My old dad said I never would git into
good society, but when I get back to Newark and tell him I had a chin
wid a King, he'lllet go all holds and leave me all his munny.
I concluded from this experience, that I could not risk the care
of any other stray King who might visit us during the season, to the
tender mercies of our apprentice, so I put him at one of the
entrances to the Grand Stand where the cheap priced tickets were
taken up. He filled this position with varying success, until one day in
Manchester, England. Just after the doors were opened to the public
one afternoon, he was approached by a tall, elderly, stately gentle-
man, who inquired of him in the soft, measured accents of the cul-
tured English gentleman, if he and the two ladies who accompanied
him would be allowed to see the Indian Camp.
'Why cert says Hopeful, oat's part of de racket.
oh thank you very much. Are you quite sure there wUI be no
objection to our going there before the performance begins?
'Well sufferin' --wot t'ell--dere ain't anybody got any anker tied
to you is dey? Duck yer nut and go over de odder side uv de Grand
Stan, and yer'll find more injuns dan ud patch h--1 a mile.
He was talking to the Bishop of Manchester.
I then gave him a JOB in the stables.
I wrote to his father that his boy was doing nicely, but
that I thought he was better adapted to the Banking than the Show
On the --th day of ___ 83 I received a notification, from the
Queen's Equerry, that her majesty would be highly honored If the
Wild West Managers could make it convenient to let their Cossack
riders come to Windsor, and show their wonderful proficiency on
This polite request was construed, as it always is in England,
to be a mild sort of command. At any rate common custom has so
construed it, and to get such a command for any public entertain-
ment, or private business of any kind, is to consider the enterprise on
Easy Street from that time on. To be the bootrnaker to Her Majesty Is
to be the boss bootmaker of them all, or at least it would be so, if Her
Majesty would confine her boots to one shop, but with a fine sense of
justice the patronage of the Royal Household is spread over as much
territory as It is possible to find excuse for. However, I did not start
out to discuss the ethics of Royal patronage, but to describe an
event, so I will Return to my muttons, as they say across the chan-
nel from Dover.
As the Cossacks only consumed about twelve minutes in their
performance, I concluded, that no matter how startling it would be, it
would hardly compensate for all the trouble of getting them down to
Windsor, so I determined to take the whole outfit, and do something
worthy the occasion. To this end I engaged a train of cars, and
loaded enough of our outfit, to give a representative performance,
leaving enough members of the company in London to satisfy the
public, which was easily done, when it was explained to the
afternoon audience that Col. Cody had gone to Windsor by Royal
I preceded the company by one train, and repairing to the
Castle, found Col. McNeill, the Equerry for the day, awaiting my com-
ing. He told me that I had carte blanche to use any part of the
grounds that would best suit our purposes. I selected the Lawn
Tennis ground on the East side of the Castle, and at once the ser-
vants of the Household began to environ the Lawn with sheep fold
fences. These fences are movable, and readily adjusted themselves
to the purpose, which was to create a complete oval, inside of which
we were to work. At the lower end of the lawn, a large tent was
erected, in which was spread a splendid luncheon, for the company
when it should arrive. On the battlements of the castle wall were
placed the canvas pavilion for the Queen, and her immediate
household. A carpet was spread over the rough stones, and a num-
ber of comfortable chairs were placed upon it. In due course, the
train bearing Cody and the rest arrived, and was escorted to the
castle grounds, and after the company had lunched, and otherwise
refreshed themselves, I sent word to the Gentleman-in-waiting, that
we awaited Her Majesty's pleasure. The Queen indicated her desire
to have the performance begin at once, and so her Pony Carriage
was driven around to the State apartments, and from there to the
pavilion on the summit of the wall. The walls of the castle at that
point are not less than fifteen feet wide. Her Majesty alighted from
the carriage with difficulty, and was assisted by her Scotch Gillies to
her chair in the pavilion.
Major Burke let his hair down, and then we knew the afternoon
was bound to be a success, for whenever the Major let his hair down
the wortd stood In awe. Her Majesty requested that someone con-
nected with the Wild West should be with her to explain anything that
she might not understand, and I nobly threw myself into the breach,
and was shown with much ceremony to the pavilion. Don't suppose
for an Instant that I look back on that experience with any but feel-
Ings of respect, and admiration, for the methodical conduct of the
whole affair. While there was much ceremony, there was also much
courtesy shown to us. As I entered the pavilion, I removed my hat,
as any gentleman would do in the presence of ladies in an enclosed
place. After I was introduced to the Queen, I gave the signal to begin
the performance, and took my place beside the Queen's chair, as
Scout, Guide, and Interpreter for the occasion. Noticing that I was
standing, and uncovered, Her Majesty said, Mr. Salsbury, please put
on your hat, as I feel a strong draft here, and please take a chair.
-vour Majesty, said I, 1 am very comfortable.
eut I would be more comfortable, H you would take a chair.
All this is very commonplace I know, and I would not record it
here, except that it struck me at that time as being very thoughtful on
the part of a woman, who is not obliged to consider anything when
she is in the pursuit of pleasure. Being an American, I followed the
etiquette of such an occasion, by addressing the Queen as Madame,
after the first acknowledgment of her Imperial title. An Englishman
would have been required to address the Queen constantly as
Our performance lasted the better part of an hour and a
quarter, and during that time, the Queen evinced the utmost Interest
In all she saw, and plied me with questions innumerable, regarding
the people In the Show. And withal, she displayed a nice discrimina-
tion In her inquiries, that were all of a sensible, information seeking
sort. As for instance: While Cody was shooting glass balls, she
turned to me and said, Mr. Salsbury, what arm is Col. Cody using?
He is using the Winchester Rifle, Madame, I responded, an
American firearm.
Ah, said she, a very effective weapon, and in very effective
At a point in the performance, when the Cossacks were doing
their horseback work, Prince Battenberg, who was standing In the
back of the pavilion, said to the Queen in German, Mamma, do you
think they are really Cossacks?
Before the Queen had time to reply, I said to him: 1 beg to
assure you sir, that everything and everybody you see In this
entertainment, Is exactly what we represent it or them to be.
Her Majesty turned to the Prince and said, prince, I think we
had better speak English for the rest of the afternoon.
Princess Beatrice who was sitting beside the Queen, was
much amused at her husband's discomfiture, and smilingly said to
him, Mton} Cheri, Vous avez recu' votre premier[e} lecon
Americaine. 84
I Immediately replied, oh, Madame, J'espere non. At this
there was a general laugh, that I wish Burke could have heard, for he
could have used the incident in his own way in his description of the
When the show was over, the Queen requested that Cody
should be presented to her, and after thanking me for assisting her to
enjoy the Wild West, she arose and was escorted to her carriage by
her everpresent body guard of Gillies. I sent for Cody who came In
his Buckskins, and was presented to the Queen, just before she
started on her afternoon drive around the grounds of the castle. Her
Majesty was very gracious to Cody, and complimented him very
highly for the delightful afternoon she had enjoyed, and wished him
good luck for the future.
Cody and I were then invited to the Equerry's apartments,
where we were urged to partake of a lunch. We compromised by
another act of self sacrifice on my part, for as Cody did not drink any-
thing that Summer, I did duty for both of us, in a glass of wine. The
whole thing was delightfully informal, and wound up, by our each
being presented with a memento of the occasion In the Queen's
name. Cody was given a beautiful watch charm, and I was compli-
mented with a scarf pin, set in diamonds, and bearing the Royal
Monogram. 85
Our experience that afternoon proved to me, that the higher
you ascend the social scale in England, the more delightful do you
find the surroundings. During the whole afternoon there was an utter
absence of what a Montana lady would call Lugs.
Of course there was ceremony, but it was of the purely per-
functory kind, that goes with all Court proceedings In England, or for
that matter all monarchies.
At the close of our season at Ambrose Park I was stricken
down with the trouble that made me an Invalid for years. My plan for
the coming season was to go on the road with a plant the same as
we used in Europe and Great Britain. Bailey learned of this intention,
and sent Louis Cooke to see me, to try and make a connection with
us. 86 Cooke Is a good talker, and the cleverest man that Bailey ever
had in his employ, and as I knew this very well, I was prepared to
take anything he had to say with due caution. But I soon found out
that Cooke was quite well aware that he was being considered, and
he began in a more direct fashion to make his proposal, to the effect
that he was commissioned by Mr. Bailey to ask if we would consider
a proposition from him to join issue with us in putting the show on
the road. In view of my bad health, I looked upon the opportunity as
a good one to share the trouble and worry of getting a plant together
with somebody else, and so I told him to come back with his
proposition In writing, and that I would consult with Cody and give
him a quick answer.
He did this, and after some alterations in his terms, we agreed
to an arrangement that would put Mr. Bailey in the position of Local
Manager in each town. That Is to say, he was to provide transporta-
tion, plant, local and various expenses for a share of the receipts.
What that share was is Immaterial, but his connection with the Wild
West was the exact one of being a speculator in the results on the
road. He never in any sense was a proprietor of any part of the Wild
West assets or trade mark. I found Mr. Bailey to be a man of great
business capacity, which was fortified by his judgment of the men he
surrounded himself with. The most of them were able, and agreeable
men to associate with, but some of them most closely his confidants
were men of the time serving disposition that are never respected or
liked by their fellows.
He had a brother-in-law that was the limit of caddish sub-
serviency to him, and who was at the same time a most able
lieutenant to carry out his wishes and policy. This fellow I could
never abide, and was the subject of the only serious disagreement I
ever had with Bailey. Cody was always at daggers drawn with the
brother-in-law, and used to make my life a burden by complaining of
his difficulties with him, instead of punching his head as I advised him
to do many a time. But Cody preferred to growl at me, than to act
like a man on his own behalf.
Bailey's capacity for work is enormous, or at least it seems so
to me, for I never heard of his devoting any time to anything but
work. He has told me himself, that he cared for nothing but to make
a success of his business at any cost. I never heard of his taking any
sort of social pleasure. I do not believe he ever attended a theatre, or
any other form of amusement for the sake of the amusement. But he
is successful, and I suppose that stands for everything in this
utilitarian age. For my own part I have always taken pleasure from
the enjoyment of others, and hope that this faculty will live In my
heart as long as my heart lives.
When the Wild West played its annual engagement in Boston
in 1900, it encountered very great opposition In the Bunker Hill
holidays. There were a lot of Battle Ships thrown open to the public
and what with Innumerable other attractions, it was necessary to
make a strong fight for patronage. The opposition of two circuses
that had played the town just before us, had developed in a hot local
fight, and the manager of one of the circuses, had a working Interest
with us. But he unfortunately had a row with the newspapers in
Boston before we got there, and Burke had a hard job before him to
mollify the Editors, and get us the usual notices. To help the matter
along he, Burke, decided that he would put a few cuts Into the
papers, to satisfy the business offices of the various sheets, and
accordingly did so. I knew nothing of all this, until I got a letter from
Cody saying that both Fellows8
and Burke were coming to him for
money for Extra advertising and that the Bailey and Cole manager
had cut our advertising down one third. This of course gave me the
Impression that Burke was going out of his way to pay for advertising
that should be done by Bailey and Cole according to the terms of our
contract with them, and that moreover he was doing it at a great
expense and without permission. It made me very angry, and I at
once wrote him a sharp letter, and gave him a pretty severe jacket-
ling for spending funds without authority from me or Cody. I sent
Cody a copy of the letter, and at the same time told him that I would
find out all about the matter. Today I got a letter from Burke explain-
ing, that he had talked the matter over with Cody before he spent the
money, which amounted to the huge sum of about Forty Dollars.
At this writing I am so hot at Cody for such a puerUe piece of
childishness, that I would like to see him broke. The whole thing has
taken a lot of correspondence all round, has annoyed me like the
devil (Cody's first object I believe) and has made the Wild West
Management look like eight cents. If there is a bigger d----d fool on
top of earth than the man who makes an ass of himself just to annoy
somebody else, I would like to take a peep at him.
Burke's action was just what I should have approved if I had
been on the spot, which Cody should have approved if he had had
the intelligence to understand the situation as Burke tried to explain it
to him. A partnership with W. F. Cody certainly is a picnic, as It Is
viewed In Hell. It would not be so bad, if he had the common
Intelligence of a child, or If he could remember from one day to
another the experience he has already passed through. If he could
do this he would save his friends a lot of time in Apologislng for his
BLUNT WESTERN WAYS, that as a matter of fact are the common
heritage of all cowpunchers, and scouts, guides and interpreters. I
have heard so much of the manly behavior of the WESTERN man
since I have been mixed up with him, that I might believe In it, if I did
not have Cody for a partner, but all the newspaper men have
declared he is a type of man to be emulated, and until I get from
under the glamour of newspaper opinion, I suppose I shall continue
to think that there are a lot of Nature's Noblemen, that I have not dis-
covered yet In my employ. Of course I have paid for a lot of the pub-
lished opinions, but it has been going on so long, that I am half con-
vinced myself, and if John Burke could have his way, I would be a
complete convert, that he has been idolizing a hero any time these
past thirty years. Poor Old John he still hugs his delusion, but per-
haps it Is for the salary, and I am doing him an injustice.
When I write my famous book, which I intend dubbing, six-
teen Years in Hell With Buffalo Bill, I must not forget to grace its
pages with a short description of the malice that a small minded man
can evince when he attacks a gentleman, to square himself In his
own opinion, for abusing a confidence.
Cody makes a virtue of keeping sober most of the time during
the Summer Season, and when he does so for the entire season, he
looks on himself as a paragon of virtue, and self abnegation. I don't
know but I should admit that plea to go undisputed, for when the
fever gets into his brain, he forgets honor, reputation, friend and
obligation, In his mad eagerness to fill his hide with rot gut of any
kind. He becomes so utterly lost to all sense of decency, and
shame, that he will break his plighted word, and sully his most
solemn obligation.
When he sobers up a little, he is so conceited as to imagine he
has had a perfect right to get drunk, no matter at what cost to his
associates In business, and takes it for granted that he is so great a
hero man that all the world excuses him because he Is an old
Timer, " who saved America from going back to the wilderness
Columbus found it.
As an instance of the workings of his mind, while it is poisoned
by the memory of his shortcoming, he sought to justify himself after a
drunk in Chicago, in which he claimed the company of General
Miles88 and other distinguished men, by replying to my good natured
chaff about it, by asking who "MY SPY WAS IN THE WILD WEST."
The poor drunken fool forgot that he was surrounded by four hun-
dred people who marvelled at the injustice of a management, that
could fine them heavily, for the same offense he was so often guilty
of, when he set such a shining example.
My reply to the insult is on record, and I would reproduce it
here except that It is such a scorching collation of facts, that my nar-
ration of them might seem overdrawn to the average reader.
This drunk in question began on the 30th of August 1900, to
be exact. There was some excuse for it, for he was at a banquet of
old soldiers, and of course they fought their battles over again, and
when they came to a place that was wet they took a drink as all foot-
sore and weary soldiers will do. While his lapse was inexcusable
from any business point of view, I took a good natured view of it, for
no particular harm was done, for it only took him five days to sober
up, when as a rule he would keep at it until he fell so sick that he
could not move, or as he used to put it, "His liver flopped," and then
would come the strain of getting his head reduced. That is, his cor-
poreal head, not his head that had what little grey matter he pos-
sessed. With the venom of an angry dog, he growled out his dirty
insinuation, and got the reply most becoming the situation.
For years he had a lick spittle named W. 0 . Snyder in his serv-
ice, and he knew he was just what I have called him, and yet his
singular fatuity prompted him to keep the cur around him, until he
robbed him so openly that he finally dropped on him.
I have in my possession a letter that Cody wrote to me, the
first six weeks that we were together as partners. It was written
because I had informed him, that the show would stop where it was if
he did not sober up from the drunk that had lasted since days before
the first performance had been given. In this letter he asks pardon,
and pledges his word that he would straighten himself out and attend
to his work. Did he sober up? Not a bit of It, for he kept drunk until
his "Liver flopped .. In Pittsburg days after. 89 It can be imagined what I
went through during that time, when I found that I had allied myself to
a drunken beast, that did not scruple to imperil all my little savings to
satisfy his slavish appetite. One can imagine what I have endured all
these years, while building up a trade mark, that has carried him to
the foot of the English Throne, and made him the associate of some-
thing better than his sodden cowboy brain could ever appreciate.
Imagine a man being Invited as a special guest of the American Min-
ister in Rome, to accept the invitation with a drunken leer, and when
he followed another Invitation to the house of the British Minister,
went there in company of the woman who at that time was his travell-
Ing companion, and so full that he could hardly get Into his car-
riage.90 On arrival at Lord Dufferin's house, and being shown into
the Drawing Room, he remarked to his concubine that 'We can beat
this in Nebrasky at a fifty cent admission shakedown."9
And this the
gentleman that ladies and gentlemen have delighted to honor. Bah!
All great men have their personal representatives, and why
should not the Hero of the Plains have one, or two, or any number
that might suit his August Mightiness.
The first man to represent Col. Cody by authority was W. 0.
Snyder. W. 0. Snyder was as fine a specimen of a Time Server as I
ever met. He began his service in the Wild West by watching a hole
in the fence, In St. Louis. At that time he had all the attributes of a
man looking for a job. Applying to Mr. Sheible one day, he was given
his board to watch the fence to keep the small boys out of the
grounds. Mr. Snyder had been taught the rule that to make an
Impression on an employer one must seem to take a heartfelt interest
In his business. This rule Mr. Snyder knew how to apply with skill
and discretion. For he did it so well that he was promoted In a few
days to the position of doorkeeper, and put on the regular salary list
where he proved of real value for a time. But the dog that was in him
began to bark after a while and betrayed his whereabouts, for after
some years he began to be careless, and dissipated. So much so,
that Sheible had to knock the rum out of him on several occasions.
In time he got so unbearable, that I told Sheible to discharge him, but
Sheible pleaded that he thought he could get him to behave himself,
and I did not enforce the order. During our Paris season, Snyder fell
into the proud position of hero to some lady of his acquaintance,
who thought so well of him that she persuaded him to leave the com-
pany, which he did without a moment's warning beyond saying with
Inflated pride that he was going to quit because he was independent
of any D---d Wild West outfit. As usually happens the lady grew tired
of the idol which was the poorest kind of mud in its makeup, and he
lost his job there, as who would think otherwise if they knew that it
was his custom to dress himself for a ball, that is, in his spike tailed
coat, cover his natural odor with patchouli, and then call upon his
friends. Usually these excursions were made in the forenoon to
show his contempt for conventionality. Finally, he drifted back to
America, where he stayed until we returned home with the Show.
To my amazement he reported at headquarters one day,
saying that the Colonel had told him he could go to work again. I
was charitable enough to suppose that Cody had not given the mat-
ter any serious thought and as I did not want to humiliate him before
the rest of the employees I stood the needle, and put him to work In
his old place. About this time he began to be closeted with Cody
very often, and I felt that he was pursuing his true vocation of a tale
bearer and tale manufacturer, and that his principal labor was
directed against Sheible, who had been his friend from the start. He
managed to thoroughly poison Cody against Sheible, and from that
time to the day of Sheible's death Cody never lost an opportunity to
humiliate, and abuse Sheible. I have always felt that this treatment
had much to do with Sheible's final illness from needless exposure to
all the hard conditions of travel to keep Cody from jumping on him
for fancied neglect of his duties. For mind you, this Hero of the
Plains abused every man in our employ who ever showed that he did
not regard the Hero as the head and front of the Showman's
Universe. As every man In the outfit knew just his position in that
universe, about every man in the outfit came in for his share of
abuse, except those that were cute enough to flatter him by filling
his mind with conviction that he was a little the biggest thing that ever
left Nebraska. No other man in the outfit could hold a candle to the
doughty Snyder at this game, and it was not long before he had so
completely wormed himself into first place, that he was a nuisance at
the front door. However at the close of the season, Cody took him
out to the Big Horn Basin, where he could have him all to himself,
and [he] was duly grateful for perhaps the first time for anything that
Cody had ever done up to that time.
Mr. W. 0. Snyder got in his work in great shape out there, and
knowing that he was out of my books forever, he concluded that he
would serve his purposes better by staying where he could control a
part of his patron's business. Working to this end, he finally was
enabled to print his card bearing the legend Personal representative
of Col. W. F. Cody. In due time he got his Power of Attorney from
Cody, and he got into the saddle of his high horse quickly. I was
regaled from time to time by reports of what he was doing in the
Colonel's name. These reports came through reliable sources, and I
waited patiently for the explosion that I knew would follow when
Cody dropped on the scoundrel.
Meantime Snyder had gotten a Ranch under his control, and
all the tools to work it with--live stock, wagons, etc., etc. And he had
them in his name. He finally did something that aroused Cody's ire,
and the Explosion came, and at the time I am writing this Cody is
suing him to recover his property, and incidentally calling him all the
names in the vocabulary. In the meantime I am wondering how
Cody will ever get back a moiety of the money that Snyder has cost
him in a thousand different ways that a clever rascal can Invent.
Imagine a man being put in charge of large business interests In a
small community, who would go into a town like Red Lodge, [Mont.],
and take a bath in a hotel in which he ordered several bottles of
Champagne poured. This was a current story out there, and was
given to me as a fact.
I am not writing this for publication, but I want to put on record
the fact that all the brutal things that Cody is capable of are well
known to me, and that he has never covered one of his tracks that I
could not find If I took the trouble to do so. I want this record to
stand, so that when he starts in to malign me as he will do, my
friends will have my answer, if I am not here to give it to him per-
The world may say 'Why did you continue your connection
with a man whom you professed to despise? My answer Is simple.
There were two of him to me. One the true Cody as he has always
been from his birth, and the other was a commercial proposition that
I discovered when I Invented the Wild West, and picked him out for
the Figure Head.
Mind you, I am not trying to depreciate his physical courage at
all. I have no doubt that he filled his position of Bull Whacker and
Express Rider, perfectly, and a man to do that must have physical
hardihood, and courage of a certain kind. But there were others.
And there are others, and there will be others, and if any of the three
classes had had the good fortune to be good looking, tall, dashing,
and the subject of romantic tale telling for a decade, there would
have been some other commercial propositions that could have
been developed.
That there are others, Jet me cite Pawnee Bill. Pawnee Bill was
a dirty interpreter for the Pawnees in the Wild West, but he got so
lazy that we had to fire him. He conceived the idea that he was a
Scout Guide, and Interpreter, and acting on that conviction, he put a
small Wild West Show together, and tempted fortune, on the strength
of the success and reputation of the Buffalo Bill Show. To the dis-
credit of American Manhood, he was able to find American printers
who would back him by taking an interest in his show for the printing
they would furnish, and he managed to crawl along from year to
year, until he has built up a very good business for himself, and Is
Incidentally the man whom Cody hates most on earth if I except Doc-
tor Carver, who at one time dared to dispute the palm for long hair
with Cody. I don't know but I am next In his dislike, for I have never
done anything that did not benefit him since I have been connected
with him. I landed him at the foot of the English Throne. I invented
every feature of the Wild West Show that has had any drawing
power. I have stood the financial burden of the Show from the start.
And in many other ways I have been his ONLY friend on earth, for his
own relatives love him only to rob him.
When It was decided that we would have Canadian soldiers as
an attraction, I sent Burke to Canada to pick them up from the return-
ing Strathcona Horse and the Mounted Rifles. These regiments had
just returned from the South African Campaign and I knew that we
could get a lot of newspaper work about them while the African busi-
ness was hot. 92
When Burke bid me good-bye to go on his mission, I saw that
he was full of the cause, BECAUSE he knew that it would lighten his
work in getting the Wild West written up, but I gave him the usual
caution not to make the journey any more expensive than he could
help. With a knowing wag of his head, he said "Trust me. Of course
I could do nothing else, and so I preceded to trust him as I had done
a myriad times before. Alas for the trust, alas for the faith of poor
weak humanity in its fellows. He began to eat up the checks I sent
him so rapidly that I was forced to tell him that he was costing more
on his errand than it was costing to get men from the uttermost parts
of Europe and Asia. But he was equal to my protest and came back
with a detailed account of the difficulties he had encountered and bid
me be of good cheer, and that patience would be rewarded, for the
men he was bringing would be a great attraction for our engagement
at the Pan-American Exhibition. As our season contemplated many
weeks duration outside the Exposition, I could only hope that he
meant to include them in his estimate of their value and continued
sending checks. I have no means of knowing exactly, but I am sure
that in the furtherance of his mission Burke must have treated every
man in Canada, and if he skipped any, I would be glad to fill the
omission even at this late day, for I never wanted an obligation of the
Wild West to remain unfilled. At last he announced that he forestalled
the Canadian Government who was enlisting returned soldiers to be
mounted police in South Africa and was offering unheard of
advantages to induce enlistment.
Full of pride at his success I responded to his request for
another check, and waited his coming with the men.
About this time he was also wiring Cody that he was the real
thing in securing attractions, and at length he told him that he could
be expected on a certain day. I had also had due notice of this
important date, and was waiting with what patience I could for his
arrival. WhUe we were in that state of suspense, Cody called me up
on the telephone and said that Major General Burke had wired him
that he would arrive on the following morning, and that he expected
a great reception. I told Cody I would attend to it, and at once
ordered a baggage wagon to be at the depot and get the baggage.
What the result of this attention on my part was, I will probably make
the subject of another article.
Just before the opening of our season at the Madison Square
Garden in 1901, I sent one of the Agents of the Wild West, Coyle by
name, down to Police Headquarters to get the permit to make our
usual parade of the WUd West on the streets the day before we were
to begin, which was March 1st. Mr. Coyle to my astonishment came
back and reported that the Police Commissioner, Murphy by name, 93
had refused to grant the order BECAUSE we had advertised that
Canadian Soldiers who [had] taken part in the South African War
would be a part of the parade. Up to this time I supposed I had met
every possible objection that a policeman could think of In his right
to make us trouble, under the guise of DUTY. But this was a new
one, that required immediate attention. Accordingly, Cody, Cooke,
Coyle, and the writer went to Headquarters on appointment to
protest against the arbitrary ruling he had made.
It was clear that his action was to create popularity for himself
among the henchmen of Tammany Hall, and the Pro-Boers in New
We were shown into the presence of the Czar of New York
[I.e., Murphy's office] and to our interrogatories he replied that he
had made the ruling because he was satisfied that there was a strong
sentiment against the presence of British Soldiers in the streets of
New York In their capacity as soldiers who had participated In the
attempt to conquer the South African Republic. I asked him if he was
aware that we had engaged a detachment of Boers and that they
would parade on equal terms with the Englishmen and Canadians?
He said he knew all about it, but that did not change his opinion.
After a lot of palaver Cody said he would not consent [to] cut
the Boers out of the parade to satisfy any prejudice there might be
against them, and that he would not be a part to any attempt to insult
the English people who had been good friends to us during the
Spanish-American War, and that rather than do such a thing we
would not make the parade at all, but would of course be obliged to
tell the public why we did not follow our usual custom in making the
parade. At this Mr. Czar began to prick up his ears a bit, and after a
few chips from me, and a few more from Cody that we had
rehearsed before we went down, he turned abruptly to his desk and
said that the permit would be issued. I think the shot I fired at him
rhat we were not representing a political idea in the Wild West
rather upset his preconceived idea that he would make a ten strike at
our expense, and advance his political fortunes accordingly. I fancy
he saw visions of the newspapers taking up the quarrel for us, and
demanding to know why the doors of this republic should be closed
to any class of men or any race of men, who were at peace with us,
and who sought the benefits of either a long or short residence here.
It was the weakest bluff I ever knew a man to make who was in a
position to make all kinds of an ass of himself.
While the Seance was going on, Devery, the discredited for-
mer Chief of Police was sitting at his elbow, and I could tell by his
expression that he saw that Murphy had put his record at our dis-
posal, and he seemed to be relieved when Murphy said the permit
would be allowed. 94 There is no city in all the world that stands as
much despotism as New York, and no other city in the Universe
would permit Itself to be bossed by men who get their education on
the streets, and carry the methods of a gutter snipe into the offices
they disgrace. I saw more low foreheads in that one short visit to
Police Headquarters than I ever saw among the same number of
Indians. I now understand why Dick Croker has held his power so
long. It is because his machine obeys his hand, and he is smart
enough to keep It well oiled.
But, if his henchman Murphy had not dropped on himself in
time, I would have made Wantage so hot for Croker that he would
have had to leave England, 95 for I would have given the London
Times the excuse it is always looking for to get a whack at American
Institutions. You may say that such action would be Un-American.
On the contrary, It would have been my duty to show the English
people as far as any action of mine could that the action of an Irish
Chief of Police should not be considered the public opinion of the
American public. Of course it is well grounded in the English mind
that New York is the Capital of the Irish Republic, and It would have
been a patriotic duty for me to give them any evidence I could that
they had been mis-led by the Yellow Journals of this polyglot town.
About ten minutes after the shot was fired that caused the
death of President McKinley, my wife and I arrived at the gates of the
Exposition proposing to spend the afternoon there. Just as we
passed in, an elderly woman came out and excitedly said Don't go
in, for they are going to close all the gates because the President has
been shot. 96 I did not take the announcement seriously, and
pushed my way Into the grounds. Being just a bit under the weather
my wife Insisted that I should take one of the Roller Chairs that were
the best means of transit through the grounds. Directing the
Chairman to take us to the Music Hall where the tragedy had taken
place we started to find out if the report were a true one. Alas, It was
too true, as we soon found out by the excited crowd that had
gathered about the doors of the Music Hall and all over the great
Esplanade that debouched from it. Just as we had gotten a few
yards past the Hall a carriage drove up to the door into the midst of
the crowd, and the word was passed that they were going to take the
Assassin away. In an instant the Crowd was turned into a maddened
mob that surrounded the carriage and cried out for the blood of the
man who had cast a nation In tears. The Guards and Detectives
brought him out of the door and fairly hurled him into the carriage,
and gave the word to the driver to ga on, after two of the Detectives
had jumped on the Box with the driver and two guards were hustled
into the carriage with the prisoner. The tumult rose into a roar of hate
and revenge as the Driver began to whip his team. A thousand
hands reached out to hold the horses, but the mob did not have a
quick witted leader, who would have cut the reins if he had followed
my train of thought, and thus rendered the guards powerless to take
him away, and then the force of a trial would have been saved and a
wholesome lesson taught the disciples of Anarchy. Many people
believe that his trial by jury would be a more potent lesson to the Law
abiding community than the quick retribution of Lamp Post
ornamentation or rather desecration. I differ with them. No moral
lesson can reach the dirty mind of an anarchical bastard who defies
God, and fears nothing but a corporeal trouncing of some kind. The
bravest of their kind could not show a tithe of the courage of the little
Irishman who took his life in his hands when he stood up on that car-
riage, wrapped the lines around his left hand, and plied the whip on
that Sixteen hand pair of horses that dashed across the slippery
Esplanade where a stumble meant injury if not death of the whole
outfit in, and on the carriage.
While I am writing this the Funeral Train of the dead Nobleman
is wending its way to his last resting place in Canton [Ohio). The car
that bears his body is open to the sight of all the eyes that may press
forward for a glimpse of his remains, but is not more transparent than
the scroll on which is written the story of his political career, which
defies the scrutiny of scandal, or the malicious tongues that are ever
ready to blacken the sanctity of private life.
I believe the time has come to arouse the conscience of the
Nation, to a condition in public affairs that will surely prove the
downfall of this Republic if it is not corrected.
There is but one way to root out the license of FREE SPEECH
as it is called by men who want to have the privilege of abusing pub-
lic men for the sake of their own pockets. Muzzle the whole pander-
ing crew that appeal to the ignorant and the unthinking. Weave a
Drag Net that will pull them out of the slime in which they wallow.
Weight the Net until it digs down to the clean clay that covers the
solid rock on which our fathers builded our Constitution. Let none
escape. Do it in this generation, do it so that it will grip in its enmesh-
ing folds the Yellow Dog Journalists who preach anarchy without the
courage to practice it.
Either exterminate them, or put them somewhere where they
cannot get away from each other, and let them die of their own
poison to escape the punishment they deserve.
In God's name don't let Joe Pulitzer escape, as he did by
deserting from the Army in the War of the Rebellion. Be sure and get
Altgeld and Hearst. Couple them up with the Renegade Irishman
Larry Godkin and John Swinton. Give John Most and Bryan a cell
together, and let Most show him how to crucify a blatherskite with
another. Set up a Cross of Gold outside Bryan's reach, and let him
kill himself trying to get it. 97
Emma Goldman, Carrie Nation, Mrs. Parsons might start a
Boarding House, and continue to clean the Anarchists' slops, and
feed them on the doctrines that control female furies.98 To hell with
the bunch of them!
Shut the door of Emigration to the world, until we have
cleaned house a little.
It is a hard matter to define the term deadhead in its various
ramifications. It is generally considered that a man who gets into a
show without paying money for his entrance is a deadhead. This is
not so, for many people earn the right to enter by reason of some
service they have rendered to the manager and the quid pro quo is
evened up only when the performance is over. But it is singular how
many people there are in this world who attach no commercial value
to the space occupied by the seats at an entertainment of any kind.
They think that a showman gets a lot of money, somehow, and
because he gets a lot of money, somehow he does not earn it as
other people do in other walks of life.
He is looked upon as a soft mark for everybody and especially
the particular person who wants to be entertained without money
and without price. Once a deadhead always a deadhead is the rule,
and it applies as perfectly as the rule that once a Bucker always a
bucker. A confirmed deadhead will descend to any abasement of
personal pride and self respect to get inside of a show without
paying for his entrance.
Dear Sir:
I am a clerk in a feather store, and as I understand that
you have some ostriches in your show, I would like to have
two tickets for tomorrow night, as it is my evening off.
The above is not an exaggeration of a form of request that is
as familiar to me as my own signature.
Just before beginning this screed, I answered the following
note which I repeat verbatim.
N. Salisbury, [sic) Esq.,
Ridgewood & Putnam Aves.
Brooklyn, N. Y.
Dear Sir:
Will you kindly send me five tickets to your show (Wild
West) and greatly oblige,
Respectfully yours,
Courtes Hubbs
131 Livingston St.
Brooklyn, N. Y.
Mr. Hubbs Is attached to the Bureau of Buildings, Department
of Education, of the City of New York, and of course he makes this
the virtue of his demand. Could anything be more Insulting to the
intelligence of a manager, than to suppose he could be played for a
sucker by such a fool as the man who wrote this letter.
I have sent this letter to his superior officer, who is more than
likely the sort of a man who makes the same kind of demands, and
wUI regard it and my indignation as a good joke on a showman. For
mind you a Showman who Invests thousands of dollars, and exerts
all his inventive skill to give the public a decent entertainment Is not
rated as being In the social swim with the gentlemen who are in the
Department of Education, but rather as a poor devil who might have
been something in the world If he had not gone astray in early youth,
and put himself out of the pale of that genteel society which depends
on public pap for sustenance.
The Department of Education of the City of New York is not
the only department of the Government that feels itself compelled to
enjoy Itself at the manager's expense. Whenever a Manager is
brought in contact with official life in America he must submit to the
pestiferous chronic deadhead, or find himself hampered in every
possible way by the Harpies who control his fortune.
In many towns in this country a manager cannot get a license
to exhibit unless he gives passes to all the City Government officials.
And this is often a City Ordinance made to fit the case. And yet the
public care so little for these things in this country they let this abuse
go on from year to year, and consider that official deadheadism Is a
perquisite of office that fairty belongs to the man they elect to treat all
men with impartiality and justice.
And yet any of these men would be highly Indignant if they
were accused of sponging their amusements, as indignant as if they
were accused of stealing a loaf of bread.
Nate Salsbury, Esq.,
Dear Sir:
I would like to have some tickets to see your show at
the Madison Square Garden this evening. I am the Mayor of
Spodunk, Oregon, and if you ever bring your show to my
town I will recommend it to my friends,
Yours etc.
I challenge any showman who reads this, to say he has not
had the companion letter to the above many a time In his career.
Would any of the deadheads who may read this, dare to go to
his grocer, or butcher and ask him for a pound of meat or bread?
Not on his life, and yet he does not hesitate to sacrifice his dignity to
the extent of begging a total stranger to give him something without
paying for it.
I believe I can change the form of any State Government on
earth with a pass for two, if I can get at the right man to give it to.
I know that I have had a fixed law under a Military Despotism
set aside for the time being, for admitting a certain number of
soldiers for nothing. This leads me to believe that I could have had
the law wiped off the books entirely if I could have got at the right
I do not believe that I have entered the confines of a hotel in
the past thirty years, that I have not been asked for passes from the
office to top floor if my room happened to be there, which it often has
Waiter, clerks, bootblacks, chambermaids, and proprietors
usually vie with each other as to who shall get In his work first.
The Waiter has a claim because he brings you a good steak,
the clerk because he gives you a good room, the bootblack because
he gives you a patent leather shine, the Chambermaid because she
gives you an extra blanket, and the proprietor because he allows you
to stay In his hotel, and thereby get a lot of prestige for yourself. The
price you pay for all these accommodations has nothing to do with
the case, you are a showman, and you are expected to do as all
showmen must do, or get as little as possible for your money. They
do these things better In Europe, because all kinds of business over
there are given equal protection under the law, and a City Father
cannot rob you because you do not give him something for nothing.
The Chief of Police in Dresden said to me on my personal
application for police protection that it would be furnished promptly.
When I asked him what It would cost me, he turned as red as a
turkey cock and said, 'What do you mean, sir?
-why, said I, 1 am accustomed to pay extra for police pro-
"You have a license to perform In this city, have you not?
"Yes, sir, I replied.
-very well, said he, that covers all you are expected to pay
the city, and you pay nothing more to anybody. If you do I will arrest
you if I find it out! I will protect you, and at the same time sir, I will
protect our citizens!
When his apparent Indignation had subsided, I said, well,
Chief, can I offer you some tickets for yourself and family?
No, sir, said he. It I came to your show in my official capa-
city, I shall have no time to look at the performance, and if I come as
a spectator I will buy my seats like any of the rest of your patrons.
It took me some time to realize what I was up against, but
when It dawned upon me fully, I thought I could see a faint streak of
the Millennium morning creeping up out of the blackness that I had
been wandering In for so many years.
Once a deadhead always a deadhead, and always a subject of
contempt In the eyes of the Showman who submits to the robbery.
This question went the rounds of the Dally Press of America,
and there could hardly be a social function of any kind, that this
question did not fall under discussion. I remember very well one
occasion, when I was a guest, at a little dinner given to Col. Ingersoll,
that the question was made the toast of the evening, and every guest
had to make a response of some kind to the toast.
There was a number of clever men present, and as all of them
had known for some days that an expression of opinion would be
called for, each man had made a studied effort to be either entertain-
ing, or profound, or wise, or in some way to add to the "General joy
of the whole table."
Col. Ingersoll as the honored guest of the evening, was not
called upon to mix in the fray, until every other man at the table had
exhausted the subject to his own satisfaction.
At last the great agnostic was called to his feet. Every man at
the table squared himself to enjoy a hearty laugh, which we were all
sure would follow the Col's remarks. A more surprised lot of diners
never listened to the greatest sermon in a few words that was ever
preached from a text.
"Gentlemen," said he, "I have listened tonight to a wealth of
sentiment and wit, that would proselyte any man to either side of this
question, if he could listen to one side only, but if you ask me if mar-
riage is a failure, I tell you to ask that father and that mother who
have knelt at the bedside whereon lay the dead body of their first
born, if marriage is a failure, and you will get an answer that sophistry
cannot confound nor skeptic reply to. Marriage Is not, has not, nor
ever will be a failure while this brave old earth is the heritage of
Cody probably was seen in person by more people than
any other figure in history until the late twentieth century. Recent
sports heroes--such as Pete Rose, Hank Aaron, or Carlton Fisk--with
long careers, long seasons, and large stadiums have eclipsed Cody,
but it is unlikely that any entertainer will present live performances
before as many spectators, especially now with the prevalence of
electronic media.
2Richard J. Walsh with Milton S. Salsbury, The Making of
Buffalo Bill (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1928), 329.
3Cecil Smith, Musical Comedy in America (New York:
Theatre Arts Books, 1950), 56-57.
Accounts of Salsbury's early career are numerous. They
exist in clippings in a Nate Salsbury scrapbook at the Billy Rose
Theatre Collection, Performing Arts Research Center, New York Pub-
lic Library at Lincoln Center (MWEZ n.c. 18504). That personal
scrapbook of Salsbury's, given to the library by his daughter,
Rebecca Salsbury James, will be referred to as BRTC scrapbook
18504. Other accounts are printed in the Wild West programs and in
Salsbury's "Reminiscences." In addition, several letters among the
Salsbury papers in the Collection of American Uterature, Beinecke
Rare Book and Manuscript Ubrary, Yale University, support specific
elements In the ear1y Salsbury biography.
5The statement is in an undated letter at Yale University from
Clara Salsbury to Salsbury's son, Nathan Salsbury, detailing parts of
Nathan's life and quoting from letters Salsbury sent to her. Cody
also claims that Salsbury was captured and sent to Andersonville
prison for seven months until he was exchanged (Stoty of the Wild
West and Camp-fire Chats, n.p., 1988) and Walsh and Milton
Salsbury repeat the claim In The Making of Buffalo Bill, but provide
no source (p. 220-21.) Despite those assertions, It Is doubtful that
Salsbury was at Andersonville. In her letter, Clara says Salsbury
wrote to her in May 1863, and that he was shortly thereafter captured
and sent to Andersonville. In the "Reminiscences" Salsbury writes of
his participation at Chickamauga in September 1863, at Kennesaw
Mountain in May and June 1864, and at Nashville in December 1864.
After the battle of Nashville, by his own account, Salsbury was trans-
ferred to the 59th Illinois Infantry and then sent to Texas, where he
was mustered out. The only possible times for incarceration were
prior to May 1863; May-September 1863; or September 1863-May
1864. Andersonville did not receive prisoners until February 1864,
which eliminates the first two possibilities. It seems unlikely that
Salsbury would have been exchanged if he had been captured dur-
ing the September 1863-May 1864 period, for prisoner exchanges
were effectively suspended during that time. Although Salsbury does
say he was a prisoner once, nowhere does he claim to have been
incarcerated at Andersonville.
6A large, personal scrapbook of Nate Salsbury's at the Billy
Rose Theatre Collection, Performing Arts Research Center, New York
Public Library at Lincoln Center (MWEZ n.c. 1 0329), hereafter cited
as BRTC scrapbook 10329, contains programs, advertisements, and
other materials from Salsbury's early career, often with Salsbury's
notes in the margins. A program for the 1866 production of The
Golden Farmer with Salsbury as Jimmy Twitcher Is noted In
Salsbury's hand as his first performance. Salsbury's salary at Grand
Rapids is stated in Buffalo Bill by Rupert Croft-Cooke and W.S.
Meadmore (london: Sidgwick and Jackson, Umited, 1952), 177-78.
Salsbury requests a salary of $15 per week from R.M. Field,
the managing director of The Boston Museum, in a 1 June 18691et-
ter, which is in The Boston Museum Collection of the Theatre Collec-
t ion at Harvard University, but there is no confirmation of exactly
what his starting salary was. Croft-Cooke and Meadmore in Buffalo
Bill (p. 177-78) say that Salsbury made $28 per week at The Boston
Museum, but they do not specify a year. Salsbury in his own
"Reminiscences recalls two years at the Holliday Street Theatre, but
the clippings in his scrapbooks suggest only one (BRTC scrapbooks
10329 and 18504).
8Cilppings in BRTC scrapbooks 18504 and 10329 identify
Salsbury's activities in New England and in Chicago. His contract
with Hooley's is in a personal scrapbook of Salsbury's at Yale.
Another contract in the same scrapbook gives his salary for the next
season at $35 per week.
9MS of the play in Salsbury papers, Collection of American
Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale
U niversitlc.
Numerous reviews, clippings, and stories of the early
Troubadour years exist in scrapbook BRTC 10329 as well as in
another Salsbury scrapbook (MWEZ n.c. 8752) and a scrapbook of
Rachel Samuels', Salsbury's wife and a member of the Troubadours
(MWEZ n.c. 8753), all in the Billy Rose Theatre Collection, Performing
Arts Research Center, New York Public Library at Lincoln Center.
Salsbury's first contract for the. Troubadours and his listing of their
route for the first season are in his personal scrapbook at Yale.
11This account is from an undated article by W.F. Storey In
The Times (Chicago) in BRTC scrapbook 18504. Neither Patchwork
nor The Brook Is extant, but The Sanguinary Chasm, a musical com-
edy written by Salsbury, exists in manuscript in the Billy Rose Theatre
Collection, Performing Arts Research Center, New York Public
Ubrary at Uncoln Center.
12See David Ewen, The Complete Book of the American
Musical Theatre (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1958), 350
and The Story of America's Musical Theatre (Philadelphia: Chilton
Company, 1961), 6. Also Cecil Smith, p. 56-7. For a detailed analy-
sis of The Brook and its significance, see my The Brook: America's
Germinal Musical? Educational Theatre Journal, October 1975, Vol.
27 No. 3, 323-29.
13For a detailed analysis of the Troubadours's shift to a more
structured farce form, see my Nate Salsbury and His Troubadours:
Popular American Farce and Musical Comedy, 1875-1887 (Ph.D. dis-
sertation, The Ohio State University, 1974), 119-140.
14Capt. Adam Bogardus, one of America's most highly
regarded pigeon and exhibition shooters, also signed on as a partner
in the Wild West, but little is known of Bogardus's involvement or of
the reasons for his departure after one season. For more about the
exhibition shooting of Bogardus, see my ,.Captain Adam Bogardus:
Shooting and the Stage in Nineteenth-Century America, The Journal
of American Culture, Fall1982, Vol. V No.3, 46-49.
15Walsh and Salsbury, Making of Buffalo Bill, p. 262.
16Henry Blackman Sell and Victor Waybright, Buffalo Bill and
the Wild West (New York: Oxford Press, 1955), 148. Also see Nate
Salsbury's Black America as told by Harry Tarleton, of Taos, N.M., to
Rebecca Salsbury James,. in the Salsbury papers at Yale. Tarleton
said of Salsbury: He was a very particular man in the way acts
should be shown, clean cut and every act finished.
Courtney Riley Cooper, Annie Oakley: Woman at Arms
(London: Duffield & Company, n.d.), 117.
8Concrete evidence as to the nature of Salsbury's Ulness
does not exist. Agnes Wright Spring, writing In Colorado Magazine,
Va. 32 No. 3, July 1955, says that Salsbury was ,hrown from a horse
at the World's Fair In Chicago in 1893" (p. 204). At the time Ms.
Spring was working with Salsbury's daughter, Rebecca Salsbury
James, and probably received that Information from her. Salsbury's
grandson, also Nate Salsbury, related In a telephone conversation
that he recalled his mother saying that Salsbury had been injured in a
fall from a horse and was never the same after that. Salsbury's only
comment in his Reminiscences about the beginning of his problems
says, "At the close of our season at Ambrose Park I was stricken
down with the trouble that made me an invalid for years. That
places the onset of his health problems in 1894 at the conclusion of
their season In Brooklyn. Still, the nature of the Injuries or problems
from which Salsbury suffered is not known.
19Dexter Fellows and Andrew A. Freeman, This Way to the
Big Show (New York: Halcyon House, 1936), 148, and Croft-Cooke
and Meadmore, Buffalo Bill, p. 208.
20Posters from the Erie Litho. Co., Rosskam Collection of
Theatre Posters, McDowell Archives, F. 1436, Lawrence and Lee
Theatre Collection, The Ohio State University. For a fuller examina-
tion of Black America, see my slack America: .Nate Salsbury's
'Afro-American Exhibition, Educational Theatre Journal, March
19n, Vcl. 29 No.1, 49-60.
211n her listing of the material in the Reminiscences: Mrs.
James Includes two other items. One, The Regular and the
Volunteer, is a poem or perhaps a song either written by or per-
formed by Salsbury. The second Item is an account of Salsbury's
Black America as told to Mrs. James by Harry Tar1eton. Neither of
these Items is really a part of Salsbury's Reminiscences.
22Jhree of the Reminiscences were used in an article by
Agnes Wright Spring in Colorado Magazine, July 1955, Vol. 32 No. 3.
She quoted extensively from "The Origin of the Wild West, "The Wild
West at Windsor, and "At the Vatican, but she edited the accounts
and omitted sections. Richard Walsh and Milton Salsbury made
extensive use of the Reminiscences in The Making of Buffalo Bill.
3a January 1870 letter from Harriet to Salsbury. In the col-
lection of letters at Yale.
2 ~ December 1891, from Salsbury to Rachel Samuels. In
the calection of letters at Yale.
25Ster1ing Price, a Mexican War general and former governor
of Missouri, switched from being a conditional unionist to com-
mander of the pro-Southern militia in Missouri. Earl Van Dorn was a
Mexican War veteran from Mississippi whose plan to capture St.
Louis was scuttled by a disastrous defeat at the hands of an out-
numbered Union force at Pea Ridge on the Arkansas-Missouri border
in March 1862.
26Salsbury left a blank, intending to fill in the name of the val-
ley. However, according to James Ogden Ill, a historian for the
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the Crawfish
Springs area Is not usually described as being in a valley, although it
might be said to be in the valley of the West Chickamauga Creek,
which drains the region. Local residents describe Crawfish Springs
as being at the mouth of Mclemore's Cove, or Salsbury may have
been thinking of a nearby valley such as Lookout or Broomtown.
2719-20 September 1863 at Chickamauga Creek, south of
Chattanooga, Tenn. This was an important but costly Confederate
victory, and the bloodiest battle of the western theatre.
28Horace Porter (1837-1921) rose to the rank of Brigadier-
General on the staff of Ulysses S. Grant. He wrote a moving and
often-quoted, first-person account of Lee's surrender at Appomatox
Court House. He later served as Minister to France.
29William S. Rosecrans (1819-1898) commanded the Army of
the Cumberland, which operated primarily in Kentucky and Tennes-
see. He managed to dislodge the Confederates from Knoxville and
Chattanooga. He was replaced by George H. Thomas after the
Union defeat at Chickamauga, a defeat that left Rosecrans, accord-
ing to Abraham Lincoln's famous description, confused and
stunned, like a duck hit on the head.
aoclark Bell {1832-1918) was a prominent New York lawyer,
as well as editor and publisher of the Medico-Legal Journal.
31William Tecumseh Sherman {1820-1891) was the Union
general famous for his march through Georgia; for his statement,
war is hell; and for his refusal to run for president by declaring, 1
will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected. Robert
Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) was a colonel of the 11th Illinois Cavalry.
After the war he practiced law and gained notoriety as a spokesman
for agnosticism.
32Joseph E. Johnston (1807-1891) led the Confederate
defense of Atlanta.
33W.F. Goodspeed, Captain of the First Ohio Artillary.
34Deliver gunfire in a lengthwise direction.
35Episcopal Bishop Leonidas Polk, a Confederate hero for
his fighting in Kentucky, was killed by sniping gunfire that preceded
the battle of Kennesaw Mountain outside Atlanta in June 1864.
36After patient and methodical--and, to some critics,
ponderous--preparations, General George H. Thomas attacked and
defeated the forces of Confederate General John Bell Hood on 15
and 16 December 1864, outside Nashville. Less than a month after
the rout, on Friday, 13 January 1865, Hood resigned his command.
37 A four-hour sentry duty.
38A straw-filled mattress cover.
39A log placed at the top of the pit to protect the soldier's
40Summer 1875.
41 Frank C. Maedor was the musical director of the
Troubadours and one of its founding members. He was a brother of
Fred G. Maeder, the author of the first melodrama about Buffalo Bill,
Buffalo Bill: The King of the Border Men. In February 1887, when
Buffalo Bill's Wild West was Incorporated, Frank Maeder was one of
the fiVe stockholders.
42Be sure you're right, and then go ahead.
43fhe Troubadours played Ohio cities in mid and late August
John Webster was one of the original Troubadours and
performed with the group throughout its existence. He was married
to Nellie McHenry, another original member of the company.
450iiver Wren was a member of the company for only a short
time in the late summer and fall of 1875. This incident probably
occurred in October, when the Troubadours were in Texas.
6Nellle McHenry became a well-known comedienne
through her work with the Troubadours. After Salsbury's retirement,
she continued the troupe for several years, starring in, among other
pieces, A Night at the Circus: McHenry and her husband, John
Webster, were two of the original Troubadours and performed with
the troupe throughout its existence.
-rhe Old Sexton was a song by composer Henry Russell,
known for such sentimental pieces as -rhe Maniac and "Woodman,
Spare That Tree. The Old Sexton is a gravedigger, and his refrain
brags that he buries the bodies deep.
8fhe Troubadours played at the Park Theatre, Brooklyn, in
January 1882, while Cody was playing The Prairie Waif at Brooklyn's
Grand Opera House, followed by a week at The Windsor Theatre in
New York. Salsbury has the basics right but has confused two
Brooklyn theatres he played that year, for the Troubadours appeared
at Haverly's Theatre in Brooklyn In November 1882. Salsbury left a
blank for the name of the restaurant.
Cody had been playing "fairwell to the stage tours since
50Ned Buntline, whose real name was Edward Zane Carroll
Judson, wrote the original serial story, Buffalo Bill, the King of the
Border Men, which appeared in the New York Weekly beginning 23
December 1869. Fred G. Maeder dramatized the story, and J.B.
Studley played the leading role of Buffalo Bill in February 1872. On
25 March 1872, Buntline published a second serial for New York
Weekly featuring Buffalo Bill, Buffalo Bill's Last Shot; or, The Heart of
Spotted Tail. He followed that with a third serial, Buffalo Bill's Last
Victory; or, Dove Eye, the Lodge Queen, which began running on 8
July 1872. Buntline convinced Cody to appear In a play, and he
wrote Scouts of the Prairie for the purpose. The play probably is a
dramatized version of Buffalo Bill's Last Victory, since the lead
female Indian is called .. Dove Eye .. in both. It opened Monday 18
December 1872 at Nixon's Amphitheatre in Chicago. This launched
an 11-year stage career for Cody, who appeared in various
melodramas written for him until he retired from the stage In 1883 to
devote himself to the Wild West outdoor concept. Buntline played
only one season with Cody in Scouts of the Prairie before moving on
to other outlets. He wrote his fourth and last Buffalo Bill story, Buf-
falo Bill's First Trail; or, Will Cody, the Pony Express Rider, In 1885.
To some extent Salsbury exaggerates Buntline's contribution to
Cody's fame. Buntline wrote other stories about Western heroes,
such as John Burwell "Texas Jack" Omohundro, who did not gain the
recognition that Cody received.
Major Frank North was In charge of Indian scouts and in
1869 was a hero of the battle of Summit Springs, Colorado, an
assault on a band of Cheyenne who held two women captive. One
of the women was rescued, the other was slain. The scene was
dramatized in the Wild West show.
Doctor W.F. Carver was an exhibition marksman of some
renown, especially In endurance performances such as breaking
5,500 glass balls in 500 minutes. Carver practiced dentistry in
Nebraska and went on hunting outings with Cody, but he also owned
a residence in New Haven, Conn., and his connection with the fron-
tier was always suspect, as illustrated by Cody's .. piano stool com-
ment, suggesting that Carver was really just a displaced Easterner.
53John Peter Altgeld was known as a political reformer as
governor of Illinois in 1893-97. Although he was a Democrat, he
opposed fellow Democrat Grover Cleveland's decision to send fed-
eral troops to Chicago to end a postal strike. At one time Altgeld
served as Salsbury's lawyer, and it was he who drew up the original
contract of partnership for Cody, Salsbury, and Captain Adam H.
54Major John M ... Arizona John Burke-both the Major" and
the Arizona .. were inventions--was the indefatigable and loquacious
press agent for Buffalo Bill, who served Cody loyally for 34 years.
His official title was General Manager. In addition to the reams of
copy he wrote about Cody for the Wild West, he also wrote Buffalo
Bilr From Prairie to Palace (Chicago: Rand, McNally & Co., 1893).
55Jule Keen was treasurer of the Wild West. He had been a
member of the Buffalo Bill theatre combination, and his nickname,
"The Dutchman, came from playing the Dutch comic role of Hans In
The Prairie Waif, one of the plays in which Cody starred.
56Except for the reputation of "Buffalo Bill" Cody himself,
probably nothing about the Wild West show has brought about
greater debate than the question of who invented it. Carver, for
example, not only claimed that he was preparing a Wild West show
before Cody talked to him, but also that he financed the show. (See
Raymond W. Thorp's Spirit Gun of the West: The Story of Doc W.F.
Carver [Glendale, Calif.: A.H. Clark, 1957], 138.) Salsbury's claims
to have originated the idea have two substantial supports. For one,
his details ring true. Salsbury's Troubadours and Cody's combina-
tion were in Brooklyn at the same time in 1882, and Salsbury did go
to London in the summer of 1882. Second, Salsbury's hand clearly
shaped the production, and his concept of a show "to embody the
whole subject of horsemanship" is certainly reflected in the Wild
West, both in its early years and especially in the "Congress of Rough
Riders of the World," which was first used in advertising for the Wild
West in 1893--five years before Theodore Roosevelt and his First
Regiment of the United States Volunteer Cavalry acquired the label
for their unit in the Spanish-American War. Without question,
however, Cody was producing various frontier entertainments-such
as an 1872 display of frontier skills for a hunting party that included
the Grand Duke Alexis, son of Czar Alexander of Russia; and the
1882 Old Glory Blow Out of frontier events staged for the Fourth of
July at his home in North Platte, Nebraska--well before his venture
with Carver. Still, even excellent material without sound manage-
ment would stand little chance of success. Cody and Carver proved
that their first year. On the other hand, decent management would
work wonders with even mediocre material, as "Pawnee Bill" Ullie
proved over many years with his Wild West contingent. He managed
his productilon so effectively that eventually he even owned Buffalo
Bill's show. Regardless of who actually invented the idea of a frontier
exhibition, without Salsbury it is unlikely the Wild West would have
played at Madison Square Garden or that talents of the caliber of
Steele MacKaye, Nelse Waldron, or Matt Morgan would have been
employed. Without Salsbury it is unlikely that the Wild West would
have played London during Queen Victoria's Jubilee Celebration, or
Paris during the Exposition Universale, or Chicago during the Colum-
bian Exposition. Without Salsbury it is unlikely that the Wild West
would have had the polish and the theatrical finish that it obviously
Albert E. Sheible was one of the trusted employees of the
Wild West who served in various capacities as a manager and an
advance man. His official title was Business Representative.
ssoavld Franklin Powell combined medicine with show busi-
ness and exhibition shooting. He also convinced Cody to invest in a
succession of get-rich-quick schemes, such as a Mexican colony
project and White Beaver's Cough Cream.
59 A stiff, small-brimmed hat, like a derby or top hat.
60Cody wrote the letter to which Salsbury refers on Phillips
House stationary from Dayton, Ohio. The letter is In Salsbury's per-
sonal scrapbook at Yale, p. 142.
My Dear Salsbury
Your very sensable & truly rightful letter has just been read-
and it has been the means of showing me just where I stand, and I
solemnly promise you that after this you will never see me under the
influence of liquor. I may have to take two or three drinks to day to
brace up on [but] that will be all as long as we are partners. I
appreciate all you have done. Your judgement and business is good
and from this on I will do my work to the letter. This drinking surely
ends to day, and your pard will be himself, and be on deck all the
Yours always,
W.F. Cody
That Is, if he really is the LAST of them! The book was writ-
ten by Helen Cody Wetmore (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1899).
62Robert Pony Bob Haslam made one of the first runs of
the Pony Express in April 1860, and is also credited with the longest
Pony Exfress run.
3Sarah J. Blackstone in her Buckskins, Bullets, and Busi-
ness: A History of Buffalo Bill's Wild West (Westport, Conn.: Green-
wood Press, 1986) 16-17, disputes Salsbury's account, noting that
newspaper stories said the steamboat carrying the Wild West went
down in eight feet of water and that all passengers and animals
aboard were saved. Other important properties, however, might
have been lost, and some telegrams would almost certainly have
been exchanged. Whatever the actual case with the steamboat, the
torrential rains of the winter of 1884-85 in New Orleans are confirmed
by all accounts.
64AJfred T. Goshorn {1833-1902) was a prominent and civic-
minded Cincinnatian who, among other activities, served as the first
president of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team and the first director
of the Cincinnati Art Museum. The president of a paint manufactur-
ing company, Goshorn gained wide acclaim organizing Industrial
expositions. A member of the 137th Ohio infantry in the Civil War, his
title came from his position as Director-General of the Centennial
Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, for which work he was knighted
by Queen Victoria and decorated by several other nations.
65The Queen's attendance on 11 May created a stir because
after the death of her beloved Prince Albert she rarely ventured out to
a public entertainment, but the production was so large that it could
not be given in its entirety at Windsor.
66A second command performance occurred on 20 June for
royal guests of the Jubilee. The guest list for that event is
extraordinary. The kings of Denmark, Greece, Belgium, and Saxony
as well as the Prince of Wales rode with Cody in the Deadwood
stagecoach, occasioning Cody's remark that I've held four kings,
but four kings and the Prince of Wales makes a royal flush such as
no man ever held before. (William F. Cody, The Story of the Wild
West, [Chicago: 1888), 742-43; and Lew Parker, Odd People I Have
Met, (n.p., n.d.], 92.)
Francis, (1837-1900) Prince and Duke of Tack, was the
husband of Her Royal Highness Princess Mary of Cambridge, first
cousin to Queen Victoria.
68Simon Cameron (1799-1889) was Abraham Uncoln's Sec-
retary of War until he was replaced with Edwin M. Stanton in 1862.
He later served in the Senate and as Minister to Russia.
69Chauncey Mitchell Depew (1834-1928) was the president
and chairman of the board of the New York Central Railroad, and he
was also active in Republican politics. Lawrence R. Larry" Jerome
(1820-1888) was a well-known New York businessman and bon
vivant whose niece, the beautiful Jennie Jerome, became Winston
Churchill's mother. Irish immigrant John Hoey (1825-1892) made a
fortune as general manager of Adams Express Company. He
married the actress Josephine Shaw, who later played leading roles
at Lester Wallack's Theatre as Mrs. John Hoey. John C. New (d.
1906) owned the Indianapolis Journal and was the Consul General to
London during the administration of his lifelong friend, Benjamin Har-
0Simon Cameron was actually the eldest at the table by
over 20 years. Salsbury seems to be making the point that, although
the men were elderly, they were very sharp.
71A Bad Quarter-Hour"
72-Chasing the woman.
3Edgar Wilson em Nye (1850-1896) was a humorist known
for his comic histories. This reference was to the Champs Elysees.
What now?
75Lew Parker was a longtime associate of Cody's. He
worked with Cody's melodramas before the Wild West began, stage
managed the Wild West productions, and was even sent off to
procure acts for the show. His book Odd People I Have Met (pri-
vately published, n.p., n.d.) includes his experiences with Cody and
the Wild West.
76Your Majesty, I am the Mayor of Neuilly. I have the honor
of presenting to you Colonel . . . .
77oamn! He's an oyster without a head (I.e., a pompous
8Stuart Robson was a comic actor with whom Salsbury had
worked in his early days in Boston.
9Salsbury uses this variation of Firth, and he spells Edin-
burgh both with and without the "h.
aoAithough the Prince of Wales officiated at a dedication
ceremony for the railroad bridge over the Forth River on 4 March
1890, Salsbury was in Italy at that time (see At the Vatican). An ear-
lier ceremony, on Friday 24 January 1890, celebrated the opening of
the bridge to train traffic, and that may be the occasion of which
Salsbury writes.
Dick Croker (d. 1922) was the Tammany Hall boss from
1884 until1901.
82'fhe Pope was Leo XIII, and the event took place 3 March
83This was left blank by Salsbury. The performance Itself
was given at Windsor 25 June 1892.
"My Dear, you have received your first American lesson.
Together with Salsbury's response, "I hope not, the meaning seems
to be the Princess Implying "He taught you a lesson, and Salsbury,
handling the French as well as the German, saying, 1 hope I didn't
85The locket presented to Cody, with diamonds, garnet, and
bloodstone and bearing the insignia of the Order of the Garter is on
display at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming. It Is
inscribed, "Her Majesty Queen Victoria to Col. W.F. Cody. June 25th,
86James A. Bailey was born James Anthony McGuinness.
Orphaned, he ran away with a circus, and then teamed with P.T.
Barnum and eventually acquired the Forepaugh and Sells Brothers
Circus and Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.
87Aamboyant circus press agent Dexter Fellows got his start
as an assistant to John Burke with the Wild West from 1896 to 1900.
He recounts his experiences In This Way to the Big Show: The Life
of Dexter Fellows by Dexter W. Fellows and Andrew A. Freeman
(New York: Halcyon House, 1936).
88Nelson A. Miles fought in the Civil War and directed
campaigns against the Indians in the West, including the Sioux War,
which ended with the battle at Wounded Knee Creek, and the Nez
Perce War, which ended with Miles's capture of Chief Joseph. Miles
was quoted as saying, "The art of war among the white people is
called strategy or tactics; when practiced by the Indians it is called
89The letter to which Salsbury refers has been quoted ear1ier,
but the instances of Cody' s drinking are numerous, and in other let-
ters Cody reassures Salsbury about the problem. In a letter from
New Orleans dated 3/19/[85), Cody writes: .. Don't fear about my
getting off as I told you that I am to do my very best for another sea-
son. Yet next winter when the show Is laid up for the winter lm going
to get on a drunk that is a drunk. Just to change my luck I will paint
a few towns red hot but till then I am staunch and true With my
shoulder to the wheel. In Salsbury's personal scrapbook at Yale, p.
90Salsbury may be referring to Katherine Clemmons, an
actress Cody met in London whose career he financed for several
years. Cody and his wife Lulu were estranged, and he sued
unsuccessfully for divorce in 1905. Although rumors of Cody's affairs
were common--including liaisons with Olive Clemons in Chicago,
with Katherine Clemmons, and with Bessie Isbell, one of his press
agents--they were not substantiated in court cases. Salsbury, calling
the woman Cody's concubine and travelling companion,
obviously treats the affair as a given.
Frederick Temple {1826-1902), the fifth Baron Dufferin,
served as a statesman and diplomat, representing the Queen in
Canada, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Russia, India, Rome, and Paris. For
his distinguished service, he was elevated to Eart of Dufferin and then
made the first Marquess of Dufferin and Ava. The Marquess was also
the great grandson through his mother of playwright and member of
Parliament Richard Brinsley Sheridan.
92The South African War, also known as the Boer War, pitted
the Dutch inhabitants--or Boers--of the Orange Free State and the
South African Republic against the British and other foreigners who
had moved into the region in pursuit of gold. In the first Boer War-
fought in 1880-81--the Boers defeated the British. The second Boer
War began in 1899, and General Louis Botha surrendered to the
British in September 1900, although sporadic guerrilla warfare con-
tinued until 1902.
93Michael C. Murphy.
94Chlef of Police William S. Big BiW Devery, who was
involved with gambling interests In New York, was relieved of his
duties in February 1901, and Murphy was named Police Com-
missioner in a complicated shake-up. But one of Murphy's first acts
was to designate Devery as his first deputy, In effect reinforcing
Devery's influence.
95Robert James Loyd-Lindsay {1832-1901), the first Baron
Wantage, was one of the wealthiest land owners in Great Britain.
Croker lived abroad for lengthy periods of time, and he especially
enjoyed England, where his palatial residence, Wantage Manor, was
a part of Lord Wantages's Berkshire holdings. Croker was some-
times derisively referred to as "The Squire of Wantage.
96William McKinley was shot by anarchist Leon F. Czolgosz
at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., on 6 September
1901. He died on the 14th.
Joesph Pulitzer {1847-1911) was a Hungarian immigrant
who was recruited in Hamburg, Germany, to fight for the North in the
Civil War after being rejected for service in European armies because
of poor eyesight. His brief service in the War occasioned criticism
that he had deserted. After gaining citizenship, Pulitzer owned and
edited the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The World in New York. He
was known for sensational journalism and support for intervention in
Cuba, which eventuated in the Spanish-American War.
John Peter Altgeld (1847-1902), who had served as
Salsbury's lawyer in drawing up the original partnership for the Wild
West, was a political reformer as governor of Illinois in 1893-97.
William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) developed
sensationalistic journalism as editor and owner of the San Francisco
Examiner and the New York Journal. Influential in Democratic
politics, Hearst ran unsuccessfully for the offices of governor of New
York and mayor of New York City and for the Democratic presidential
nomination in 1904.
Edward Lawrence Godkin (1831-1902) was the Irish-born
founder and editor of The Nation (1865-1901) and the New York Eve-
ning Post. Godkin was a liberal reformer who campaigned against
the corrupt politicians of Tammany Hall.
John Swinton (1829-1901) defended the rights of immigrants
as editor of The (New York) Sun.
Johann Most (1846-1906), a German immigrant, played an
Instrumental role in building up the American anarchist movement.
William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) was the Democratic
nominee for president in 1896 and 1900, who, in his famous cross of
Gotd speech, opposed a gold-backed currency.
98Emma Goldman (1869-1940), a Russian immigrant, out-
spokenly supported anarchy, birth control, and women's rights. She
eventually was deported to Russia after her imprisonment for oppos-
ing the draft during Word War I.
Carry Amelia Moore Nation (1846-1911) led active efforts to
stop the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Lucy Parsons was the activist wife of Albert Parsons, one of
the eight men arrested for the Haymarket Riot in Chicago, in which
10 people were killed, Including eight policemen.
ROGER HALL Is a Professor of Theatre at James Madison University
In Harrisonburg, Virginia. Among his publications are articles In
Theatre Survey, Nineteenth-Century Theatre Research, Theatre
Journal, Theatre Studies, Dutch Quarterly Review, and The Journal
of American Culture. He Is the author of Writing Your First Play, a
playwriting text published by Focal Press. Most recently, he has con-
tributed entries to the forthcoming Cambridge Guide to American
Theatre, and currently Dr. Hall is studying the presentations of the
American frontier on the stage for a book-length work.

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