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Monarch's Sad Fate

The sad end of a retired member of Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West was announced by the Omaha Daily Bee on December 5, 1906. However, the article, headlined "Death Warrant for Monarch," referred not to a human, but to an animal. Monarch, "the finest specimen of buffalo ever in captivity," was considered too dangerous for Riverview Park, his home since leaving the Wild West, and was soon to be slaughtered.

The Bee said: "Monarch was raised by Buffalo Bill and carried with him through all the countries of Europe, but he became unmanageable and as it took a large part of the gate receipts of the Wild West show to square away the depredations which were occasioned by this immense buffalo, Colonel Cody decided to sell him. He was sold to the city of Omaha for $300 and was placed in Riverview park. Here, under the restraint of captivity, he has grown worse and worse, until it is really dangerous to have him at the park, for at the approach of strangers he tears at the fence, which threatens to give way and let the brute at the children."

The Bee reported that Wild West agent William McCune offered the city $350 for Monarch, $50 more than the original purchase price, and that the city had accepted. By December 13, however, Monarch had been purchased by William Buthorn, owner of the Heidelberg Cafe, who planned to slaughter the animal, and gave Omaha's mayor, "Cowboy Jim" Dahlman, the dubious honor of shooting it. The Bee noted on December 13:

"The mayor did not fail. He planted himself some thirty feet from the animal, leveled his big rifle and fired. Monarch turned to look for a second at his slayer, then walked around in a circle just once, dropped to the ground and died within ten minutes without writhing. Mr. Buthorn will have the head mounted and placed in the Heidelberg and the meat he will sell."

Monarch may have passed from the scene (except for his head displayed at the Heidelberg), but stories of his exploits during his Wild West days appeared in the press. The Bee said on December 5: "Colonel McCune tells of one of Monarch's escapades in Europe. It was in Germany, and the big bull had got loose, and, rushing through a small general store, scattered the china and other things exhibited for sale. He went right through the store and was cornered in a lot at the rear, with no way of escape except to go back through the store. When the little German storekeeper was asked what the damage was he bobbed his head up from behind the counter, where he had dodged for safety, and shouted, 'Nothing, nothing, if you will only take the brute away!'"


 Buffalo Bill
William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody. NSHS RG3004.PH0-149


This detail from a poster for Buffalo Bill's Wild West depicts men on horseback and running buffalo. NSHS RG3004.PH190

 


 

 

(December 2012)

 

 

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