I have said many times that I never know where my curiosity about Caddo will lead me.
This morning an item in the newspaper lead me to new discoveries and of course more questions about our little community’s past.
It began with this:
January 28, 1921
Have headquarters Here
Through P. H. Boxley, a deal was completed whereby W. M. Newton became the owner of 150 acres of the Everett Pitchlyn farm just west of town.
Mr. Newton is the owner of a large Wild West Show which is now wintering at Ada but hereafter he plans to have his headquarters at Caddo and will use this land as a wintering place. He plans to acquire other land as he can for the same purpose.
This show will start out soon on its regular circuit and will be here sometime in March.
Of course I had to find out more about Newton’s Wild West Show and a quick Google search led me to Billboard, a publication found on the Circus History website. In 1919 the “Honest Bill” and “Lucky Bill” Combined Shows had an eighty-foot big top tent and a couple of side show tents, eighteen acts, forty head of draft stock and twenty-two ponies. In 1920 the Newton’s acquired even more stock: “Honest Bill stopped over at W. P. Hall's, Lancaster, Mo., purchasing an elephant. He then left for Kansas City, visiting Mr. Horne, of the Horne Zoological Arena, and purchased a couple of elk. Mrs. Newton joined Honest Bill in Kansas City, and from there they went to the 101 Ranch, at Bliss, Ok., and Honest Bill purchased two buffaloes, two ostriches and Mr. Miller's favorite high school horse, Prince, the bridle-less wonder. While in Bliss Honest Bill purchased considerable show paraphernalia for Princess Wenona, who has retired from the show game and is now living on a ranch near Bliss.” From 1920-22 there are other news items about the show and their ups and downs. They also maintained a place in Ada and while wintering there in 1921 Blacky Williams, general agent for the show, was the manager of the Regal Café.
Of course I did a search for the word “Caddo” in the Billboard and was again surprised to find that in 1916 the winter home of the “Booger Red Wild West Show” is listed as Caddo, Oklahoma. For those of you who don’t know, Samuel Thomas Privett, one of the greatest rodeo stars that ever rode a bronc was known as Booger Red. He had a standing offer of $100 to anyone who brought him a horse he couldn’t ride, and he never had to pay it. He performed in the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, lived in Texas and Oklahoma, traveled with his show, and died in 1924 of Bright’s disease, a kidney disease that had killed his father when Booger was a teen.
Also stumbled upon the fact that Jess Newton, a member of the infamous Newton Boys gang, worked for Booger Red and traveled with the show for several years, beginning in 1907. The Newton Boys were part of the single biggest train robbery in U. S. History. In 1916, Jess’s brother Willis was a member of a Durant, Oklahoma gang that robbed a bank in Boswell, Oklahoma, taking about 10,000 dollars. There were eleven Newton children and only four were members of the gang. I plan to continue this line of research to find out if there was a connection between the wild west group and the bank robbing gang. Stay tuned for the rest of the story….
(No, I don’t know the identity of this young man.)