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Pawnee Bill Ranch

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The last place I have to talk about from my big trip (that ended 3 weeks ago) is Pawnee Bill's Ranch near Pawnee, Oklahoma. Pawnee Bill's real name was Gordon William Lillie.

Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show was a contemporary to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. They worked with each other, and even combined their shows in the last few years of the show's run from 1909 to 1913.



Wild West shows were similar to a traveling circus, with one difference. The people performing in the shows were real experts in riding and roping. The lived out in the real west and naturally did those skills. These were people performing their skills they learned in life before joining the show. The show had real cowboys and Indians, and later added different ethnic people performing their native skills from all over the world, like Chinese, Russian Cossacks, Arabs, and Boer Warriors. It was interesting to see all these people together performing in one show, when some of these ethnic groups were still at war with each other back home.

I previously wrote about an ancestor of mine, my great-great-grandfather, Valentine Bock, who lived near Ocala and Fort Meade, Florida. His son, Harry Bock, ran away from home around 16 years old. (Although long before V. Bock moved to Florida.) Harry joined Pawnee Bill's Wild West Show, and also worked a year with Buffalo Bill. Harry's sister Sarah Melinda Bock Everett was my great-grandmother. Below is a photo of Harry Bock. His show name of Buckskin Harry is written on the photo.



Harry Bock did a variety of things in the show, from building wagons to photographing the history of the show. He remained friends to Pawnee Bill his entire life, long after he quit showmanship and became a Baptist preacher. My family records say that few people in his congregation were aware of his former rough-and-tumble days in the wild west show. One year he even tried to have his own show, known as Buckskin Bill, but it went bankrupt after a year. I guess for wild west shows, you have to be named Bill? Below are the other Bills, Pawnee Bill and Buffalo Bill.



Legend says that my ancestor Harry Bock built Pawnee Bill's ranch house. Here are some different views of this nice stone building.





Behind the house is the modern museum telling about the Pawnee Bill show. I found out the OSU's mascot for the Cowboys was designed from a real performer in Pawnee Bill's show. Here are some other shots of the various displays.









Behind the museum in the barn, is a collection of wagons that were used in the wild west show. I have always wondered if Harry built any of these?







And on one wall is a wonderful mural that was painted on the side of a barn. It was uncovered in the 1980s when it found during a building demolition. Interesting thing about this painting that is all down by hand, is that it advertised an upcoming show that only lasted in town for one day!









Buckskin Harry had a tragic ending. His son was a sergeant in the Army who was killed in France in 1918, during WW1. I have the obituary. And Harry and his wife were killed in a tragic car accident while driving to their retirement home, around 1940.
Current Location:
Pawnee, Oklahoma
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