Pawnee Bill's Wild West

Pawnee Bill Wild West Show (1888)

Pawnee Bill’s Historical Wild West Indian Museum and Encampment Show

(1889-1906)

Pawnee Bill’s Wild West and Great Far East Show (1907-1908)

Two Bill’s Show (1909-1913, With Buffalo Bill)

 

above, advertisement printed in New York Clipper, circa 1903.

If this ad is to be believed, the sheer variety of acts this Wild West show might present in late-1890's and early-1900's was extraordinary.

Calling for the hiring of freaks, boomerang throwers, Turkish and minstrel musicians in their Museum Annex, this show offered a bit of sideshow, circus, comedy, ethnic exoticism, and LOTS of cowboys, indians and horses.

"Pawnee Bill's Indian Museum" bannerline at Benton, Illinois, October 26, 1903.

(photo taken from Pawnee Bill's Historic Wild West: A Photo Documentary of the 1900-1905 Show Tours
by Allen L. Farnum)

Gordon William Lillie (Pawnee Bill) was born February 14, 1860-- idolizing Buffalo Bill as he grew up.

In the 1870’s the young Lillie spent scores of hours at a nearby Pawnee Indian camp, learning their skills and language. Later they gave him the name Pawnee Bill.

In 1883 Buffalo Bill wrote to the Pawnee Agency asking for several Indians to travel with his newly organized Wild West Show. Pawnee Bill and six Pawnees joined Buffalo Bill’s show.

After five years on Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Lillie recruited backers, organizing his own Pawnee Bill Wild West Show in 1888. The show went broke after the first season. Re-organized the following year as Pawnee Bill’s Historical Wild West Indian Museum and Encampment Show, the show was successful, but on taking the show to Europe, Lillie went bankrupt again. Regrouping yet again, Lillie successfully toured Holland and the rest of Europe.

In 1907 he re-named his show Pawnee Bill’s Wild West and Great Far East Show about the same time Buffalo Bill’s show was having financial difficulty.

In 1908 Pawnee Bill purchased Buffalo Bill's show and offered him a partnership. They traveled together as the Two Bill’s Show until 1913, when the venture again went bankrupt once again. (See also Wild West)

~ Article adapted from www.pawneebillswildwestshow.com

This page last updated September 23, 2007.

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