1/25/2013 3:23:00 PM When THE Buffalo Bill came to Jackson
This historic photo shows the famed American showman Buffalo Bill Cody as he makes way through Jackson in a parade conducted prior to the local presentation of his famed Wild West show September 14, 1901. The exhibition drew a local crowd of an estimated 10,000 at the current site of Eddie Jones Park off Harding Avenue.
Famed frontiersman William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody glorified the old American West with a traveling show which played to huge crowds throughout America and Europe in the late 1800's and early 1900's and one of the many, many stops for his iconic show was in Jackson, Ohio September 14, 1901.
Jackson attorney and history buff William C. (Bill) Martin brought that memorable local entertainment experience alive for Jackson Rotarians at their weekly luncheon meeting Tuesday, January 22. Initially, Martin acquired an original photograph from a local client, then followed that up with his own research in local newspapers. The fruits of his labors took the form of a narrated slide show for the Rotarians.
"It was similar to the circus," Martin said of Cody's huge production. "He helped ignite romance in the old West, then later the movies picked up on it."
Cody became a national celebrity as a soldier, bison hunter, and Indian scout and further national fame in 1876 when he scalped a Cheyenne warrior known as Yellow Hair. He capitalized on his celebrity by organizing and producing a traveling show known as Buffalo Bill's Wild West. It was founded in 1883 and continued until 1913.
The show brought the old West alive through roping and riding demonstrations, and reenactments of dramatic events such an Indian attack and a stagecoach robbery. Also, there were appearances by such real-life celebrities as Sitting Bull and Annie Oakley as well as an impressive array of Indians, cowboys, and soldiers.
Buffalo Bill was a skilled publicist as well as a great showman and his show's one-day stop in Jackson was heralded by newspaper ads and handbills. If that promotion was not enough, the show's participants were featured in a huge parade once they arrived in town, which no doubt provoked even more attention and interest.
Tickets could be purchased in advance at Lewis Drug Store in downtown Jackson at a cost of 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children. Taking inflation into account, the cost would have been a little more than $13 for an adult ticket in 2012 money.
There were to be afternoon and evening shows on that Saturday in Jackson, but it was to be a one-day attraction. The location for the show was in the lot next to the B&O Depot, which today is the site of the city's Eddie Jones Park off Harding Avenue.
Reporting on the big spectacle, one of the local newspapers reported Jackson was "filled to overflowing" that day and a crowd estimated to be in excess of 10,000 attended the afternoon show in spite of the rainy weather. The attendance was well in excess of the county seat's total population.
However, fate and decorum intervened to eliminate Jackson's second show of the day. U.S. President William McKinley, who had been shot eight days before in Buffalo, New York, died as a result of his injuries early on the day of Buffalo Bill's visit to Jackson. When word was received of the President's death, Buffalo Bill decided to cancel Jackson's evening show.
The newspaper writer estimated at least 3,000 additional persons would have attended that evening show, which meant Buffalo Bill was the indeed the toast of the town.
Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
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Great story. We need more Jackson history stories in the paper.