Thursday, 31 August 2023 18:33

Buck Taylor, King of the Cowboys

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We have a guest blogger for this latest post. HSMC Board member and volunteer, George Detwiler, writes about Buck Taylor, King of the Cowboys:

One of the more colorful characters associated with the history of Betzwood and the  Shannonville/Audubon area was William Levi "Buck" Taylor. Buck was born on November 15, 1857 in Texas. His grandfather was one of those killed at the Alamo. Buck was orphaned at a young age when his father died fighting in the Civil War and his mother died shortly thereafter. He and his brother, Bax, became cowhands while still in their teens, running herds of cattle throughout the West where he was regarded as the best bronco buster in the country. Buck eventually signed on to Buffalo Bill Cody's Ranch in Nebraska.


Photo Credit: Source -Buffalo Bill Online Archive MS6 William F. Cody Collection Rights- McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West

I also learned Buck and Bax's sister, Mary, was also quite the cowhand. She mixed right in there with Buck, Bax, and the other cowboys and was considered an excellent rider, roper, and cattle handler. Sort of the Calamity Jane type.

When Buffalo Bill Cody formed his Wild West Show, Buck was asked to join. His tall size led him to be cast as General Custer in their reenactments of the Battle of Little Bighorn, also sometimes referred to as "Custer's Last Stand." Several dime novels were written with him as the main character. His fame became so great at the time he was known as "The King of the Cowboys."

Buck Taylor March 18 1953 TH

Times Herald, March 18, 1953, HSMC Microfilm Collection

In the 1890s, middle aged and retired from "show business," Buck settled in the East and was made Superintendent of the Betzwood Stock Farm in Betzwood, PA. This was a phenomenally successful horse breeding farm owned and run by wealthy beer brewer John Betz. 

After Betz' death, Taylor manged Stephens farm on Port Kennedy Road. He lived in the house that was used as the headquarters of Gen. Vernaum, commander of the Rhode Island troops, during the Valley Forge encampment during the Revolutionary War. Buck died on April 28, 1924. He is buried in the cemetery behind the Valley Forge Chapel.      

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