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 January 1892 

It might be conjectured that there was probably a fair number of hangovers in Glasgow on the morning of New Year’s Day, Friday, 1st January 1892. At the forefront of those so afflicted was a twenty-four year-old Lakota named Charging Thunder. To make matters worse, he awoke in a prison cell, to the prospect of an appearance in the Eastern Police Court to answer for the assault which he had perpetrated on George C. Crager on the previous afternoon. The case was continued until Monday morning, owing to the fact that Mr Crager was still nursing a sore head of his own, although in this instance it is unlikely that alcohol was the immediate cause. At the hearing on Monday, 4th, Charging Thunder was remanded in custody and his case was remitted to the Sheriff Court.

On a brighter note, also on Monday, 4th January 1892, John Shangrau, the mixed-blood Lakota interpreter who had been present at Wounded Knee, was married in Glasgow to Miss Lillie Orr, the daughter of a Liverpool ship’s captain.

When Charging Thunder’s case came before the Sheriff on Tuesday, 12th January, Charging Thunder pled guilty through an interpreter, who was probably either Shangrau or else Crager himself; there is but one other possibility, Philip Romero. In mitigation, Charging Thunder claimed that his lemonade had been ‘mistakenly’ spiked with whisky! He was however unable to identify the pub in which he had been drinking. The Sheriff sentenced him to thirty days imprisonment in Glasgow’s notorious Barlinnie prison.

Several Glasgow newspapers carried accounts of the hearing on the following day, Wednesday, 13th January 1892. Quite remarkably, Charging Thunder was not the only American Indian whose brush with the law was reported on that day. Running Wolf, from Mexican Joe’s show, had also fallen foul of the authorities and his hearing, on a charge of assault, also received press attention.

The now semi-derelict building in Tobago Street which housed both the Eastern Division Police Office and the Eastern Police Court. Charging Thunder endured an uncomfortable weekend here over New Year 1892.

On Friday, 15th January, Buffalo Bill unveiled what were billed as Stupendous Additional Attractions at a special matinee to an audience of invited guests. These would form an integral part of the entertainment during the final weeks of the Glasgow stand. An advert in The Bailie for Wednesday, January 27th 1892 read:

From Stanley’s Darkest Africa, in conjunction with the American Indian, for the first time in the World’s History; also LOCKHART’S HERD of BURMESE ELEPHANTS, the most perfectly Trained Animals of their kind. Cowboys will Ride Wild Texas Steers. Sabre Exercise by Detachment of English Lancers.

The innovations unveiled to the Glasgow public represent an important stage in the overall evolution of the show. Cody’s entourage had hitherto been a Wild West outfit pure and simple but as ever cultural interaction was a two-way process and from this point onwards new elements were gradually brought in.

The name given to this modified version of the show was A New Era in History and it is presumed that a programme insert was published. However, no such specimen has ever thus far been been brought to my attention.

For the Indians, the Africans, and the elephants, however, this strange new world must have seemed like the latest phases of a surreal nightmare.

‘Another Glimpse at the Wild West’. The line drawing (left) is taken from the Evening Times, 25th January 1892.

The show’s structure had been under review for some months but the immediate purpose behind these changes was to camouflage Cody’s departure. Much has been made of the truly awful Glasgow winter weather, exacerbated by a national epidemic of influenza, which had got the better of him, as factors in his unusual decision to leave the show running in his absence. However, the truth of the matter appears to be that the Colonel was now preoccupied with the preparations for the Chigago World’s Fair, which lay just over a year in the future.

Colonel Cody sailed from Liverpool, on board the Umbria, on Saturday, 30th January 1892, arriving at New York on Monday, 8th February. Fellow passengers were Sherman Canfield and actress Viola Clemmons. Significantly, the manifest listed the Colonel and Viola as consecutive entries and gave her last place of residence as Glasgow.

Next - February 1892

Glasgow, 1891-92

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in Scotland