York Surrenders to a Force of Two
This 1896 article in York’s Semi-Weekly Gazette piqued my interest. Quoting the article: “It is rarely that a city surrenders to a force of two. This, however, is what York did Wednesday. The ‘two’ were cowboys of a section of Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show wintering in Red Lion. They afforded entertainment to the populace, both old and young, rich and poor. They performed many good equestrian feats. They purchased two wild west saddles from Beard of 12 North George Street, the first ever sold in this city. They cost fifty dollars. While the saddles were being purchased their horses ran off but were soon recovered.”
Besides a section of Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show wintering in Red Lion during 1896, I discovered another connection of Pawnee Bill to York. The Prints and Photographs Division of The Library of Congress contained several Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show posters. Pawnee Bill’s show rivaled that of the better known Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Actually, Pawnee Bill started with Buffalo Bill’s first tour; coordinating the Pawnee Indians. William G. Lillie was an advocate and interpreter for the Pawnee people after they were relocated to Oklahoma; this earned him the name Pawnee Bill with the tribe. After five years touring with Bill Cody, Pawnee Bill started his own Wild West Show. May Lillie, a rider and sharpshooter in his show, was the wife of Pawnee Bill. Between tours, Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show usually wintered on farms in either Southern Pennsylvania or Northern Delaware.
The 1896 article, in York’s Semi-Weekly Gazette, established where a section of Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show wintered for at least one year; Red Lion in York County, PA. I decided to research William G. and May Lillie on Ancestry.com and discovered another York connection. Pawnee Bill and May Lillie utilized York photographers on occasions; possibly they were among the group wintering in Red Lion.
Swords Brothers (William H. & George A. Swords) operated photographic studios at several locations in York, PA, between 1877 and 1924. If you are reading this on the Ydr.com site, click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustrations in this post on the original YorkBlog site; since the ydr.com site will occasionally cut off important details in the cropping of illustrations.
Photos of just May Lillie are by Pentz & Swords (Bransby C. Pentz and William H. Swords) who operated photographic studios along the first block of West Market Street, York, PA, in 1886. May is wearing the same dress, as the one in the Swords Brothers photos; with the only difference, her sash is tied on the opposite side.
I suspect that these sets of photos were taken at nearly the same time. Sword’s Brothers likely were using up old stock of imprinted paper from the Pentz & Swords days. As such, I’d date these photos as circa 1887. In 1887, Pawnee Bill was 27-years old and May Lillie was 18-years old.
This poster advertises Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show. The poster is dated circa 1903, by The Prints and Photographs Division of The Library of Congress.
Link to a related post:Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts