December 1891 

December proved to be a memorable month at the Wild West establishment for a variety of reasons. On Friday, 4th, a local restaurateur, Mr John C. Galloway, gave a complimentary dinner for the ‘braves’, at his famed city centre restaurant in West Nile Street.

On Saturday, 19th, George C. Crager, one of the show’s Lakota interpreters, embarked on a course which would have serious later repercussions, when he wrote to Mr Paton, curator of the Kelvingrove Museum, intimating that he held various artifacts which he wished to dispose of prior to returning to America. Among these items was the now famous ‘Glasgow’ ghost shirt.

This affair was to hit the headlines over a century years later, in the 1990s, when the shirt was made the subject of a repatriation application by the Cheyenne River Lakota. Although the truth of the matter will never now be precisely known, it is claimed that the shirt was one of a number of Indian artefacts stripped as souvenirs from dead or dying Indians on the field of Wounded Knee. The shirt itself was donated to the museum by Crager, while other items were sold.
The ‘Glasgow’ ghost shirt,

Courtesy of Glasgow Museums.

On Tuesday, 22nd, Colonel Cody attended a luncheon given in his honour by the 1390 Club, at the Grand Hotel, Charing Cross. After the meal, the company descended into the great hall, where the Cowboy Band played selected airs. Indians performed native dances and sang the hymn Nearer My God to Thee in Lakota.
The Grand Hotel, now demolished,
is the large building to the left of
the picture.
On Christmas Eve, Buffalo Bill played host to 8,000 Glasgow schoolchildren at a special matinee of the Wild West show.

By now, Cody had competition, for a rival showman named Mexican Joe had set up his own Wild West show at the New Olympia on the New City Road in Cowcaddens.

Events took a darker turn on Hogmanay, when an Indian named Charging Thunder got drunk in an East End pub and returned to the show while the afternoon performance was in progress. For reasons that have never been entirely clear, apparently not even to himself, Charging Thunder proceeded to assault George Crager by striking him over the head with a block of wood. The Indian was arrested, and taken to Tobago Street Police Station in the Calton.

A line drawing of the proceedings at the Galloway dinner appeared in the Glasgow Evening News, 7th December 1891. It depicts several of the key figures with the Wild West show. Among them are John Shangrau and George C. Crager, captioned as ‘The Interpreters’. Also present are Lone Bull, No Neck, Kicking Bear (standing), and Short Bull. Click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized drawing.

Next - January 1892


Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in Scotland