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Cowboy Charley Of Mexican Joe's Co. ( R. J. Palmer)

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  • Cowboy Charley Of Mexican Joe's Co. ( R. J. Palmer)

    Roger located this in The Echo and posted it on another thread. I just want to include it here in the Suspect section.
    Hats off to Rajah !

    ************************************************** *********

    From Battersea is published a description of a man who was seen in Battersea Park road answering the description of the supposed Whitechapel murderer. This man is said to be known as "Colorado Charley," and was formerly attached to Mexican Joe's Company at the Albert Palace. His age is 28; height, 5ft 7in; complexion fresh; clean shaved; black suit, and black soft felt hat. Information is also wanted of a man named Dare, who had belonged to the same Company, and who was supposed to be in Paris, he not having been seen for the last two months. --Echo, 8 October 1888.

    Colorado Charley later contacted Scotland Yard in order to clear his name. No word on Dare. From the MEPO files we see that approximately the same week Scotland Yard was also investigating members of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Thus, not one, but two rodeo teams or western circus troupes were being question by the police in early October 1888. Cowboys anyone?

    Here is an apparently irrelevant factoid for the truly bored. William Shimmer, another former member of Mexican Joe's Company, was questioned in October 1890 about his relationship to a woman named Eliza Billingham, of George Yard, St. James, Norwich, who was found drowned in the river,having last been seen drinking in his company. Thetford & Watton Times. Saturday 18 October 1890 "Drowning Mystery at Norwich". Shimmer was said to have a face "pitted with smallpox." The drowning was dismissed as accidental and Shimmer was not charged. RP
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  • #2
    In 1887, William F. ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody brought his Wild West show to England for the first time. One of the Indians with the show, a young Oglala Lakota named Hehaka Sapa (Black Elk), was one of six performers, including four Indians, who were left behind in Salford, Greater Manchester, shortly before the show set sail for the United States on 6th May 1888, at the season’s end. Stranded, Black Elk and his companions made their way to London where they joined up with Mexican Joe, a rival Wild West showman, with whom they toured in the hope of raising their passage home.


    Ride, Vicky ????
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    • #3
      http://www.snbba.co.uk/f_news.html

      ******************************

      Mexican Joe Shelley





      Image Courtesy of Heritage Auctions
      Mexican Joe, otherwise ‘Colonel’ Joe Shelley, was a rival of Buffalo Bill’s whose publicity materials generally sought to create the impression that his Wild West show was actually better than Cody’s. Whether anyone who had enjoyed the opportunity to draw a comparison ever agreed with this optimistic self-assessment is not known.
      Objective accounts of Mexican Joe’s outfit routinely stress the fact that it was on a considerably smaller scale than Buffalo Bill’s.
      The name of Mexican Joe is most frequently encountered in connection with an often-repeated story, first recounted in the seminal autobiography, Black Elk Speaks.
      Black Elk was one of a party of Lakota Indian men who unwisely allowed themselves to become detached from the rest of Buffalo Bill’s entourage in Salford, just before the company departed for Hull, whence they set sail for the United States at the end of the 1887-88 season in England. In consequence, they found themselves stranded. The Indians resolved their predicament by travelling to London, where they hoped to raise the money for their fares home. There they found salvation in the improbable form of Mexican Joe and enlisted as performers.
      Don Russell, in relating this episode at p. 37 of The Wild West, refers to Mexican Joe’s outfit as ‘a show that left little other trace’ but, personally, I have to take that as a challenge.
      While the compilation of a comprehensive list of Mexican Joe’s engagements is likely to remain an unattainable goal, it is known that he first brought his show to Great Britain in August 1887, hot on the heels of Buffalo Bill, and was one a headlining attraction at the Liverpool Royal Jubilee Exhibition of that year. He continued to tour on a more or less continuous basis for the next seven years and undertook a tour of the European continent during the summer of 1888. Statements attributed to Black Elk indicate a return to Paris during the summer of 1889 but this cannot be reconciled with Mexican Joe’s known movements.
      Mexican Joe actually preceded Buffalo Bill to Scotland, with a season in Edinburgh during the spring of 1889. He is also known to have fulfilled an engagement in Glasgow immediately followed by an appearance at the time of the annual Fair holidays in Paisley during the summer of 1891. Unlike Buffalo Bill, Mexican Joe made it to Ireland, appearing in both Belfast and Dublin in the autumn and winter of 1892 - 1893. He also undertook a season on the Isle of Man during the summer of 1892. Surprisingly however, I have thus far been unable to identify any Welsh venues.
      Mexican Joe had a limited currency as a showman in North America, prior to spending the greater part of his career in Great Britain. There is no serious suggestion that he was actually Mexican; according to census information, as well as information given in press interviews, he was a native of Georgia, in the USA. He is sometimes conflated with Mexican Joe Barrera, one of Buffalo Bill’s performers but this is certainly incorrect. His claims concerning his alleged career on the frontier are transparent falsehoods, as, in the vast majority of cases, are his statements concerning the provenances and personal histories of his Indians.
      Mexican Joe’s Wild West again appeared in Glasgow, at the same time as Buffalo Bill, fulfilling an engagement at the New Olympia, on the New City Road, Cowcaddens, from 19th December 1891 until 27th February 1892.


      By this time, foreshadowing the general direction which would shortly be followed by Buffalo Bill, Mexican Joe’s show had ceased to be a Wild West pure and simple and assumed a number of extraneous elements. (See advert, from the Glasgow Evening News, 1st February 1892, supra.)
      On Tuesday, 12th January 1892, one of Mexican Joe’s Indians, Charles Jefferson, otherwise known as Running Wolf, was convicted in Glasgow’s Northern Police Court of having perpetrated an assault upon a female assistant in a shop on the New City Road, to the effusion of blood. This was just one of a number of occasions on which Jefferson was brought before the courts on charges involving petty assault. On each occasion, the precise motive for his violent outbursts was left unclear. Drink was clearly a significant factor.
      Fifteen days later, on Wednesday, 27th, Running Wolf’s wife presented him with a daughter, whose birth was registered in Glasgow under the name of Hasonega Olympia Jefferson.
      The child was promptly placed on public exhibition, and this fact was advertised in the local press. (See advert, supra.)
      Mexican Joe billed ‘Running Wolf’ and his family as Apaches but clear and irrefutable evidence exists that this tribal identification was fraudulent.
      Mexican Joe is known to have returned to Glasgow on at least one further occasion, in the spring of 1892, and apparently also in 1893 as well.
      Montana Bill stated in his manuscript that Mexican Joe continued to tour until overtaken by commercial failure at Barnsley, Yorkshire, during March 1894. While the precise circumstances have yet to be established, there is clear supporting evidence that Mexican Joe did indeed go bust at or around this time.
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      • #4
        Check this part out....whether this is 'Cowboy Charley' or not....its interesting.


        On Tuesday, 12th January 1892, one of Mexican Joe’s Indians, Charles Jefferson, otherwise known as Running Wolf, was convicted in Glasgow’s Northern Police Court of having perpetrated an assault upon a female assistant in a shop on the New City Road, to the effusion of blood. This was just one of a number of occasions on which Jefferson was brought before the courts on charges involving petty assault. On each occasion, the precise motive for his violent outbursts was left unclear. Drink was clearly a significant factor.
        Fifteen days later, on Wednesday, 27th, Running Wolf’s wife presented him with a daughter, whose birth was registered in Glasgow under the name of Hasonega Olympia Jefferson.
        The child was promptly placed on public exhibition, and this fact was advertised in the local press. (See advert, supra.)
        Mexican Joe billed ‘Running Wolf’ and his family as Apaches but clear and irrefutable evidence exists that this tribal identification was fraudulent.
        Mexican Joe is known to have returned to Glasgow on at least one further occasion, in the spring of 1892, and apparently also in 1893 as well.
        Montana Bill stated in his manuscript that Mexican Joe continued to tour until overtaken by commercial failure at Barnsley, Yorkshire, during March 1894. While the precise circumstances have yet to be established, there is clear supporting evidence that Mexican Joe did indeed go bust at or around this time.
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        • #5
          Howard -- You probably know this already, but in one of the editions of the A-Z it suggests that one of the Buffalo Bill cowboys questioned in Oct 1888 was Buck Taylor, who later went on to some fame in the U.S. A Texas historian (writing in Texas Monthly, if I recall) made an identical claim, though in neither case do I remember seeing any actual source for this suggestion. It's slightly odd that in both cases (Buffalo Bill, and Mexican Joe) there were two cowboys questioned. But then, I will have to go back and look at Swanson's report. October 19th, wasn't it? Did he state the American Exhibition or name Buffalo Bill by name? Is this a screw-up and it refers to the same investigation involving Mexican Joe's troupe??

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          • #6
            R.J.

            Off the top of my head, I think it was American wild west Exhibition.....but if you have the October 19th report in front of you, please check.
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            • #7
              Okay, Howard, I'm starting to smell a rat. I give you DSS:

              "Equiries have also been made as to the alleged presence in London of Greek Gipsies, but it was found that they had not been in London during the times of the previous murders.
              Three of the persons calling themselves Cowboys who belonged to the American Exhibition were traced & satisfactory accounted for themselves."
              --Donald S. Swanson.

              So, it was three, not two. Ripperologists have always stated that the cowboys at the America Exhibition were part of Buffalo Bill's troupe, but the Echo of the previous week states it was Mexican Joe's troupe.

              According to a biography of Black Elk (by Joe Jackson) the troupe in question could not have been Buffalo Bill (who had returned to the U.S.) but Mexican Joe, who "had returned to England shortly before the final killing, of Mary Jane Kelly, on November 9."

              So, it is starting to look like this might be an error that has been repeated in Ripper books for years, and it makes perfect sense that Swanson was having his men check out Mexican Joe and not Buffalo Bill. It also means we are missing one name. We have "Dare" and we have "Colorado," we don't have the third cowboy.

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              • #8
                You're right, Rajah....and it was American Exhibition....not American Wild West Exhibition ( page 135 of The Ultimate).

                I also noticed that about Buffalo Bill Cody's troupe a long time ago ( He split before the Autumn Of Terror)....but never did anything about it.

                It appears that who DSS is definitely referring to is 'Colonel' Joe Shelley....a.k.a. Mexican Joe.

                Good going dude. A little slice of Case history has just been changed
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                • #9
                  Well, How, I guess that exonerates Buck Taylor! I'm going to look around for 'Dare' and hope it wasn't his trade name.

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                  • #10
                    R.J.

                    Read that post about Charley Jefferson.
                    Might he be the third man ?
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                    • #11
                      Hi Howard. I like it. Jefferson and Shimmer are both possibilities, and both louts when they're drinking. They may deserve a little more attention. Interesting stuff, thanks.

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                      • #12
                        Howard, one more tidbit and then I'll stop overloading the thread. Echo again, this time October 12th. Colorado Charley comes forward.

                        "On Monday The Echo published descriptions of nine men, concerning whom the police were said to require information. One of these was a young fellow designated by his sobriquet of "Colorado Charley," who was formerly attached to the "Mexican Joe's" Company at the Albert Palace. He was aid to have been seen in the Battersea Park road, and to answer the description of a portrait of the supposed murderer. "Colorado Charley" called at our office today. A smart, well knit fellow, he was very indignant at the idea of any suspicion attaching to him. He stated that he had himself called at Scotland yard, that his explanation had been deemed satisfactory, and that they had made no effort to detain him.

                        "You can't do less than repeat this for me," said he. "It's an insinuation which hasn't the slightest justification" - and his sincere manner gave additional strength to his assertion."


                        Slight, but perhaps not particularly relevant, contradiction. Swanson states the men were traced; Charley states he come forward of his own volition. No news on his two compadres.

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                        • #13
                          I knew that a steady consumption of Mai Tai cocktails in Hawaii would sharpen Roger's research skills. Now we are seeing the results !!! Great job, Mr. Palmer.

                          Many years ago I contacted the Buffalo Bill Museum, and the staff was very helpful. I had asked them about some paperwork that might be stored at the museum. The paperwork concerned the George Yard investigator, Colonel Hughes-Hallett. The colonel had been involved in Buffalo Bill's show in London. As it turned out, there were formal letters sent by Mrs. Hughes-Hallett's to Buffalo Bill that were indeed preserved at the museum. I was sent a copy of those letters a long time ago.

                          I think I will contact the Buffalo Bill Museum once again now and tell them the good news. The new information discovered by Roger has turned the spotlight on Mexico Joe's cowboys and away from Buffalo Bill's boys.

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                          • #14
                            Very interesting. Thanks for posting.

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                            • #15
                              Howard - Eliza Billingham's inquest, 18 October 1890, is well worth reading. After a night in a pub she leaves with this William Shimmer bloke. The ex-cowboy in Mexican Joe's Company. The next thing anyone knows, she's found face down in the river, dead as a skunk. At the inquest the Shimmer guy is mentioned, and is yarded in. His explanation? He was so drunk that he blacked out and remembers nothing after stumbling out of the pub. That's the extent of his alibi, and with no clear sign of foul play, he's let off with a scolding. The jury finds for accidental drowning. Case closed. Meanwhile, your man Jefferson is another piece of work. Okay, back to the Mai Tai.

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