<< Previous  Next>>


1913 Buffalo Nickle Bull dies


Wichita Daily Times
Wichita Falls, Texas Jan 14 1913

New Herd of Bison of Interest to Scientists

WASHINGTON –Government scientists in Washington displayed real interest in a dispatch from1913 Bison History Winnipeg a few days ago, announcing that Harry V Radford, the American explorer had discovered more than 350 (? 850) wild buffalo in the Slave lake district of the Hudson Bay country.

The wild buffalo of the American plains are gone and nothing remains of them save a few museum and zoological park specimens.

Outside of the national zoological park in Washington, the Bronx Zoo, in New York; Yellowstone National park, and a few other collections of domesticated bison there are no known living specimens of the buffalo in this country, and the last wild herd in the United States is believed to have been exterminated. For many years reports have come out of the Hudson Bay country concerning the existence of a new and distinct species of buffalo, but only within the last ten years have scientists agreed that this species is a different variety from the American bison.

“We are very much interested in interest to Scientists Mr. Radford’s discovery,” said Dr. Richard Rathbun, assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, in charge of the United States national museum. “We know this explorer very well. The object of his expedition was to visit the home of the wood bison in the almost unknown region of northwestern Canada, west of the Slave river and north of the lower Peace river. This expedition started in 1909 and has included track surveys over many hundreds of and furnished Mr. Radford the opportunity of closely studying the wood bison in its haunts, and of making first recorded observations on this rare animal in life.

Eighteen specimens were seen by him during the first part of his exploration tour, and under a permit from the Canadian government one was killed by him. It weighed 2402 pounds, and both the skin and skeleton were preserved. The skin was presented by Mr. Radford to the Provincial museum at Edmonton, Alberta, while the skeleton was obtained by the National museum at Washington.

The skeleton and the skull are very fine specimens, and the skeleton is probably the only one of a wild buffalo in any museum. Our information was that Mr. Radford had not returned and that his expedition continued into the Slave lake country and beyond. The is the first word we have received from him since this specimen was obtained.


The Appeal, Minnesota, Jan 25 1913


The difference between these two animals is a subject of unusual interest to the sportsman naturalist. To trace the origin of the popular misconception that the two names are synonymous, a mistake to which even some of our best known sportsmen of today must plead guilty, we have to drive into the not always limpid depths of early mediaeval history. For the event which has probably more to do than any other with the promulgation of this error was that famous hunt given by Charlemage to the ambassadors of Haroun-al-Rashid in the dark Hercyian woods that surrounded his hunting lodge, Heristalium. According to the original account by the monk Eginhard of St. Gall, the aurochs were of such terror-instilling appearance to the men from the east that they could not even bear the sight of them, and fled from the emperor’s side. The latter, attacked by the fiercest of these two monsters, missed the vital spot, with the result that before brave Isambart could slay it the Emperor was slightly wounded in the thigh and had his nether garment torn into shreds. Rushing to his side, the assembled courtiers offered to diverse themselves of their own hose, but the emperor laughingly rejected their offers, declaring that he intended to show himself and his sorry plight to the fair Hildegard, who was a great huntress herself. Needless to say, this adventure proved a mediaeval “scoop” of the gaudiest kind, but in the course of unnumbered retellings the aurochs became a wisent, and was called the European bison, and since that time a perplexing confusion has reigned between these two animals. That the true aurochs, which became extinct three hundred years ago, was an entirely different animal from the bison, whose name, alas is also on the list of animals about to share the aurochs fate, is now a fact known to all scientific men. To the writer the poor old bisons pathetic fate appeals more particularly, for when shooting in the Rockies in the seventies of the last century he still saw them in herds of ten thousand. But as the men who can claim to have seen the same marvelous site will before long follow these lordly inhabitants of the wilds to the happy hunting grounds, the study of the past history of these two species has for some people unusual attractions. And not the least interesting phase of it is the collecting of pictures made at a time when both beast were still roaming over the “waste of the earth,” or had but recently disappeared.
Of the earliest of all pictures of what was probably meant to be the bison, and interesting article which recently appeared in an illustrated weekly, in which the roof pictures in the Altamira Cave were reproduced, gave one a capital idea. After a gap of untold centuries we reached the various pictorial records left to us by the chisels, gravers or brushes of the classic ages. Among those who have made important discoveries respecting the distribution of the aurochs, Professor Conrad Keller, the well-known Zürich zoologist, occupies a prominent place. His discoveries in the ruins of the ancient palace of King Minos in Crete of no fewer than sixteen horn-cores and one skull of what unquestionably was the original wild ox of Europe, or aurochs, showed that it lived there at one., And that the famous legend of the minotaur has a substratum of truth. From his pages we borrow an illustration of an important fresco in Knossos depicting an aurochs in the act of impaling a helpless looking victim, while a bold bullfighter is actually turning a somersault over the back of the beast, a third, possibly female, looker-on attempting to seize the bulls tail, this scene being probably enacted in an arena. It is possible that the Theseus story came from the slaughter of captives in such exhibitions. Several other pictures have been recently discovered which belong to the Minos period, i.e., between 2000 and 1500 B.C. Professor Keller’s highly instructive writings contain many other illustrations of Bos primifenius.
Skipping tens of centuries, we reached the Bestiaries, the most ancient of which originated in the period we touched at the outset when speaking of Charlemagne’s aurochs-hunt. These exceedingly primitive pictoral records do not add much to our information; “the choice hurts one, “ at Germans describe that state of uncertainty in regard to what the monastic artists men to represent by their crude attempts. Skipping a few more centuries, we at last reach, and the beginning of the fifteenth century, fairly intelligent accounts of the animals habitat, and are furnished with drawings presenting features sufficiently distinct to indicate, even to eyes accustomed to photographic accuracy, the identity of the animal that picture means to represent.
Very curious is the circumstance, to which, by the way, nobody has so far drawn attention, that none of the French sporting books of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, such as ”Roy Modus,“ “Gaston Phoebus,” “Gace de la Buigne” and “Fontaines-Guerin,” mentions either the aurochs or the bison by so much as a word. As the authors of these classics were great sportsmen and close observers, this would support the theory that both these animals had already become quite extinct in western Europe.
In the sixteenth century, when Europe, so far as art was concerned, had at last been aroused from its mediaeval stupor by the invention of printing, and an extraordinary demand had sprung up for pictorial matter illustrating recent explorations of new worlds and the various forms of the chase, there were produced quite a number of pictures of the aurochs by artists, very few of whom had ever set eyes upon a live wild specimen, though they have seen captive ones. The one artist of whom we positively no that he had before him at least a stuffed specimen was the Viennese engraver Augustine Hirschvogel (born in Nuremberg about 1503), who illustrated the famous travel book of Baron Herberstein, the authority most frequently quoted in connection with the aurochs, for he was absolutely the last intelligent observer who saw the beast in its wild state, and left pictorial records of his impressions. Herbertstein was gifted with prescient eyes, for he foresaw that the aurochs was doomed to speedy extinction. Hands on his several expeditions to the unknown interior of Russia as the ambassador, first of Emperor Maximilian in 1516-18, then on many different occasions as Charles V’s and Ferdinand’s emissary, he made notes about it, and, what was much more important, actually brought back with him some skins and skulls, which he had mounted in his house in Vienna, and from which Hirschvogel probably drew his celebrated picture of the aurochs. To differentiate he drew next to it a picture of a bison. As these two “portraits,” which have been published scores of times, will be familiar to all interested in this matter, we will merely quote the inscriptions placed by Herberstein over the two pictures, for it is a perfectly correct differentiation. The picture of the bison has the following: “I am a Bison, am called by the Poles of suber, by the Germans a Bisont or Damthier, and by the ignorant an aurochs.” Over the woodcut of the aurochs: “I am an Uras which is called by the Poles a Tur, by the Germans and Aurochs and until now by the ignorant a Bison.” The inscriptions in the various editions-Herbersteins the Flemish painter Stradanus, who lived and worked for over fifty years in Florence (from 1553 to 1605), produced a drawing of an aurochs engaged in a terrific struggle in an arena where he was matched against a lion, two wolves and a bear. This original drawing is not the least interesting of the twenty odd ancient pictures of the aurochs in the writer’s collection. In 1578 the Antwerp publisher Philip Galle published this and one hundred and three other sporting drawings by the Florentine master, and underneath each of the engravings, there is a Latin inscription. The one under the plate reproducing the drawing runs: “Some great lords are looking on at a spectacle in the air arena. A furious lion with ravening fang and claws tears some wild beasts. He lays the wolves low and defeats the “Taurus” in a struggle, while the bear cowers away in terror.” Whether the artist ever witnessed such a struggle in an arena cannot be ascertained; but it is quite possible, considering their great popularity during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The blast were caught in pitfalls and transported great distances. The likeness is not a bad one, and in the above collection of prints, there are three other pictures of aurochs, and a fifth depicting the lassoing of the bubalus on the island of Sardinia. A contemporary and countryman of Stradanus, One Hauns Bol, produced also an interesting engraving of an aurochs hunt which forms the second print of his attractive little set entitled, “Venationis, Piscationis, et Aucupiltypi,” published in 1582 by the same enterprising Antwerp publishers that gave the world the last-named collection. Beneath the aurochs picture we read in Latin elegiac couplets: “Thus with darts, swords and light arrows men everywhere drive the horned aurochs into pits.” A rather similar print was produced fourteen years after bmy the Nürnberg engraver, Johann Sibmacher, who etched nine other sporting plates. Then follow, and rapid secession, half a dozen “portraits” by Tempesta, the pupil of Stradanus, one of which prints we reproduced. It shows in what awe the gigantic wild bull was held, for it depicts a formidable-looking machine wherewith the bull could be attacked and brought down. Tempesta’s pictures need not be taken seriously, for his Roman “studio” was nothing but a workshop where apprentice hands turned out a vast mass of prints of little or no value in an enquiry of this sort. His English contemporary of the pen, Edward Topsell, in his illustrated natural history hodge-podge called the “Historie of Foure-Footed Beastea” (1607) only added to the existing confusion. “A Bison,” he says,” is a beast very strange as may appear by his figure prefixed which by many authors is taken for Uras, some for a Bugle or wild ox, others, for a Rangifer, and many for that beast Tarantus or Buffe.” And, to show that he really meant what he said, he affixes a picture of what is unmistakably a reindeer! Fortunately, however, he adds, as pictures of the bison and of the aurochs, replicas of them to prance by Hirschvogel out of Herberstein’s “Rerum Moscoviticarum Commentarii,” which, as we have already mentioned, are among the most correct representations published at a period when the aurochs still existed.
In England, belif that the aurochs was a bison-like creature continued throughout the eighteenth century. The picture taken from Samuel Clarke’s “Julius Caesar,” published in 1712, shows what extraordinary ignorance still prevailed, the animal with antlers like an inverted umbrella being a bison, or Bos germanus, and the beast in the center an aurochs. The graver of Holzab of Zürich, continues the misconception; indeed, goes one better, for the bison is here turned into an “American aurochs.” Of numerous other illustrations of our to beast, we have not the space to speak at length. One of the most characteristic of the latter type is the so-called Hamilton Smith picture of the aurochs. This is a painting, dating, it is believed, from the first quarter of the sixteenth century, discovered in Augsburg not quite a hundred years ago. This painting has mysteriously disappeared, but an accurate copy was made. For the first “modern” picture of the bison that appeared in England we have also to go to German sources, and, strangely enough, to the same city, for it was Augsburg’s most famous animal painter Ridinger (1697-1767), who drew the first lifelike picture. A countryman of his, one J.S.Muller, who lived many years in London, engraved in 1758, a fine set of plates representing wild animals after Ridinger’s drawings from nature. Among them is one of the bison, called by him the buffalo, and underneath is a lengthy and fairly correct description in English, which he also copied from Ridinger. But this and other isolated efforts have not entirely prevented the dissemination of the old mistake, for living authorities still tell us, quite seriously, that they have grassed aurochs.
American Aurochs, by HolzabHirschvogels BisonUras, Samuel Clarkes Julieus Ceasar 1712


The Indianapolis Star
Indianapolis, Indiana Feb 24, 1913

Indians of the West Find Reminders Dying Race in Busy Visit to New York.

 NEW YORK, Feb. 23.–Today was a busy day for the Indian chiefs who came out of the West to help President Taft break ground yesterday for the memorial on Staten Island to the red race. They started out early to see the town and sunset found them still at it.

At the Bronx zoo the party looked at every animal but none seemed to interest them quite so much as the buffalo, Old Chief Plenty Coups stood for fully half an hour in front of the pen of the biggest buffalo bull, but all attempts to get him to reveal his thoughts failed. They passed by the cages of the coyotes and the timber wolves without a second glance. Several muttered comments passed among them, apparently, of that any one should want to keep a coyote just to look at.

After inspecting the aquarium, where the crocodiles particularly attracted their attention, they visited the Statue of Liberty. The entire party will leave for Philadelphia tomorrow.


Arizona Republic
Phoenix, Arizona Jul 27, 1913

Lion Theater

 Lovers of the western dramas will have something to interest them tonight at the Lion in the picture called “The Indian’s Secret.” It is by the Bison people and the characters in it are the 101 Ranch people which means real cowboys and cowgirls and the Indians of the western country. These people come from Bliss, Oklahoma, and while wintering in California, they were hired by the Bison people for a series of pictures to be taken in the canyons of Santa Monico. “The Indian’s Secret”, is considered one of their best of the series and while the plot is similar to many of the Indian stories put out by motion picture companies, it is strong and the scenes are those of the beautiful canyons of southern California. “Pearl as a Clairvoyant,” a Crystal comedy and “Almost a Winner,” by the same people are two good pictures on the bill and “The Awakening of Papita,” a Nestor drama and “Man’s Calling” and American production complete the splendid show.


Fort Scott Daily Tribune and Fort Scott Daily Monitor 
Fort Scott, Kansas Sep 5, 1913

Rev. E. C. Lewis of Emporia has been working up a grand excursion and buffalo hunt to the west. It is proposed to go to Fort Dodge about the first of October ‘and spend several days shooting buffalo.


The Maui News, Sept. 13, 1913

The birth of 10 calves in the buffalo herd maintained by the government on the Wichita national forest in game refuge, near Lawton, Oklahoma, has been reported by the game warden in charge. The herd now contains a total of 48 head of full-blooded buffalo, or, more properly, bison, of which 27 are males and 21 females. All of the animals are in splendid condition.

In 1907 the American bison society donated to the federal government a nucleus herd of 15 animals which had been bred and reared in the New York zoological park. The animals were transported to the Wichita national forest which is also a game refuge and placed under the care of the Forest Service. They readily adapted themselves to their new habitat, but the area upon which they were placed was within the zone affected by the Texas fever tick and during the two or three years following their transfer only the constant care and watchfulness of the forest officers prevented the complete loss of the herd.
The animals were examined almost daily to determine whether they had become infested with Texas fever ticks and were placed in specially designed cages and sprayed with crude oil at intervals of from 15 to 30 days but, notwithstanding the extreme precautions which were adopted 3 of the animals died. Gradually, however, the enclosures in which the buffalo were confined were freed from fever ticks and there is a possibility that as the buffalo adapted themselves to their new environment they became more or less immune to the disease. No losses from Texas fever have occurred for several years, and the herd has almost quadrupled in numbers since it was established.
The fact that the herd has not increased more rapidly is due largely to the pre-preponderance of male calves. This characteristic of the buffalo is so pronounced in all of the herds now in captivity that a cow is considered twice as valuable as a bull.


Bisbee Daily Review
Bisbee Arizona Nov 30, 1913


Talk of sending coal to Newcastle, what is that compared to shipping a buffalo herd from New York to one of the Dakotas? There was a time, not longer than a middle-aged man’s youth, when these animals roamed the Dakota prairies by the tens of thousands.

The buffalo robe was the poor man’s fur. Then such a robe cost from $5 to $10; now a choice one is almost priceless. Then teamsters wore buffalo overcoats; now only a millionaire can afford one. Then the old Red River carts creaked on their way to the Twin Cities, a hundred or more in a string, all packed with these skins; now, probably, the only place they can be found in quantity is in the Hudson Bay company storeroom at Winnipeg.

But unlike some prizefighters, the buffalo is coming back. In 1870 large herds of bison still roamed the western plains. In 1883 there were said to be less than 1,000 in the United States, doomed to extinction. At the end of 1913 the city of New York will send fourteen buffalo to stock the Wind Cave National Park in Dakota!

The number of buffalo is supposed to be again increasing. Ten years ago there were 1,119 specimens in captivity, and it was estimated that there were 54 running wild in this country and 600 in Canada. Now the number is put above 2,000, not counting the half-breed “cattalo” with which Buffalo Jones and others have experimented.

There are about 50 in New York and smaller numbers in other eastern cities; and herds of from 50 to 100 in various western and Canadian reservations. In Europe besides specimens in public parks, small herds on the estates of the Duke of Bedford and C. J. Leyland attract as much attention as the Rothschild zebras.

The buffalo has a wide climate range, originally extending from Mexico far toward the Arctic circle. To check inbreeding and keep the herds in health it is necessary to exchange specimens from time to time. If this precaution is not neglected, buffalo are nearly as easy to raise as ordinary cattle, while, it is claimed that the cattalo is even more hardy that the Texas steer. Within the lifetime of men not old, the buffalo has beer “countless and inexhaustible,” then a doomed and dying race, and now again one abounding in vitality and increasing in number.


The Weekly Pioneer Times Mining Review
Deadwood, South Dakota Dec 4, 1913


There is now in transit from New York to Hot Springs, So. Dak., a herd of fourteen pure blood American ‘bison, presented by the New York Zoological society to The American Bison society, which in turn presents it to the government for the founding of a new national herd. About one year ago, Dr. Franklin W. Hooper, president of the Bison society, proposed to the national government that a new national bison herd should be started in the Black Hills, and offered that in case the government would set aside the Wind Cave National park as a range, and provide adequate fencing and maintenance, the Bison society would furnish a herd of not less than fifteen animals, as a gift. This offer was immediately accepted, and very soon thereafter the New York Zoological society offered to the Bison society a nucleus herd of fourteen animals toward the fulfillment of the obligation.

The Zoological society’s herd at the New York Zoological Park contained previous to this shipment forty-two animals. On Nov. 24th, fourteen of the finest animals, seven of each sex, and representing all ages, were selected and crated for shipment. The shipment left New York on the following day, over the New York Central railway, in charge of the American Express company. The animals fill two large express stock cars and are transported in passenger trains. The route is over the New York Central to Chicago and thence over the Chicago and Northwestern to Hot Springs. The shipment is accompanied by Chief Clerk H. R. Mitchell, of the Zoological Park; Frank Rush, warden of the Wichita National Bison Range, and Frederick M. Dille, warden of the Wind Cave National Park. It is expected to reach Hot Springs, So. Dak., about December 3. From that point, a haul of twelve miles by truck is necessary to bring the animals to the Wind Cave National Bison Range.

The New York Zoological Park bison herd has long been noted as the largest on public exhibition, and also one of the most prolific. It contains five different strains of bison blood, and all the members of the new national herd were born in New York. It was from this herd that, in 1907, the Zoological society, in cooperation with the national government, founded the Wichita National Bison Range and herd. The society furnished the entire nucleus herd of fifteen animals, which, upon their arrival in Oklahoma, were immediately placed in charge of Warden Rush. This venture was a hazardous one, because of the presence of the deadly Texas fever tick in the Wichita National Bison Range. Many predictions were made in Oklahoma that the fever ticks would kill all the buffaloes within one year; but by diligent and unremitting efforts, efforts, Warden Rush finally succeeded in eradicating the fever tick from the entire bison range of fourteen square miles with the loss of only two of the buffaloes. The herd has now increased to forty-eight head, and all of its members are in fine condition.

In 1909, The American Bison society, under the leadership of Dr. W. T. Hornaday brought about the establishment, in the Flathead Valley of Montana, what is known as the Montana National Bison Herd. The society raised $10,500 for the purchase of a nucleus herd, and presented forty-one animals to the government, all save three of which came from the Conrad Herd, at Kalispell. The Montana herd now contains ninety-six head, and is in extremely fine condition, without ever having been fed at the expense of the government. Beside the bison ranges in Oklahoma and Montana, and the one now being consummated in South Dakota, there are two other national ranges, one in the Yellowstone National Park, and the other on the Niobrara military reservation in Nebraska.


The Topeka Daily Capital 
Topeka, Kansas Dec 20, 1913

A 3-year-old buffalo cow the pick of the Rockefeller herd was brought to Topeka yesterday by Commissioner W. L Porter who went to the Rockefeller ranch near Belvidere Thursday to select the animal. The cow cost $300 and is a fine type of buffalo.