Kit Carson County, Colorado

COGenWeb Logo

Kit Carson County Pioneers:

Buffalo Bill Cody and Chalkley Beeson

In the fall of 1871, Buffalo Bill had a stroke of good luck. The Grand Duke Alexis was touring America. Government officials showed every consideration to the blond Russian youth of nineteen. Russia had been the best friend of the United States during the recent Civil War. The purchase of Alaska had cemented the friend ship. Now the Grand Duke traveled from ovation to ovation. He signified that he would like to hunt buffalo on the plains. Again General Sheridan was ordered to provide the entertainment. Again he employed Buffalo Bill and outfitted a wagon train from North Platte. Spotted Tail, a famous Sioux, and his village accompanied the expedition to give it color.

Only a few bison were killed, but the Grand Duke expressed his pleasure over the camping trip, especially the exhilaration of a mad ride in a stagecoach behind six fractious horses with Cody holding the lines. Back on the railroad, the royal party traveled down to Denver, a rapidly growing plains town which already prided itself on having outgrown pioneer rudeness. Ned Buntline read of the trip in the New York papers and set to work promoting a great debut for Buffalo Bill at the end of the excursion.

In the meantime, a formal ball was tendered the Grand Duke in Denver, and before the festive evening ended a telegram set all the merrymakers agog. Out on the plains, in Kit Carson County, (the hunt was probably in Cheyenne County, Colorado, south of the town of Kit Carson) Colorado, a herd of buffalo had been sighted. Little Phil Sheridan ordered cavalry horses loaded on the Grand Duke's train. He selected a detail to escort the royal Russian. One of the musicians at the ball, Chalkley Beeson, knew the plains where the game was reported to be, and went with the party. At daylight the train stopped in the hunting country. The horses were unloaded and saddled, and the huntsmen rode away. General Sheridan stayed behind. On foot with Challdey Beeson, he walked to the top of an elevation to watch the distant figures coursing across the flats. The bombardment sounded like a battle. Black spots on the plains showed where bison had fallen. Little bands of surviving animals galloped hither and yon into coulees. A wounded calf came straight toward the men as they stood on the swell above the special train. Dragging its hindquarters, the crippled animal seemed to have lost all fear of man. General Sheridan turned to Chalkley Beeson: "Catch that little fellow," he said. "I'll put him out of his misery." The fiddler ran toward the calf and caught its tail. Sheridan, a short man, panted up and shot it with his pistol.

Years later the fiddler became the leader of a well-known cowboy band. He liked to tell how he once sat in a group of raconteurs when Sheridan "sounded off" about his buffalo hunt with Grand Duke Alexis. Beeson remembered commenting: "I too was on that hunt." Sheridan had turned his balding head toward the musician. "I don't remember you," he said. "You should," the band leader replied. "I'm the man who held the buffalo by the tail while you killed it."

The Grand Duke's eight-day hunt ended. He presented Buffalo Bill with a Russian fur coat, jeweled cuff links and studs. Young Cody watched the royal train steam away to social receptions and ovations while he sank back into pioneer squalor.
When it reached Denver in January, 1872, Mr. Beacon had been engaged to play the violin at the grand ball to be given in the Duke's honor. He was then living at Kit Carson on the Union Pacific, having crossed the plains in 1868, and was chiefly engaged in runing a threshing outfit in that part of the county. He had been boasting of the Kit Carson neighborhood as a wonderful place for buffalo, and General Custer came to him while he was playing for the dance and engaged him as a guide for another royal hunt. Seventy-five cavalry horses, four six-mule teams and four ambulances were requisitioned from Fort Wallace, fifty miles from Kit Carson, and the Grand Duke's private train was run to the nearest point where it could connect with the mule-train. Finally he, his small army of followers, some regular soldiers from the fort, and the American officers of various grades, got in motion toward the scene of the hunt southeast of Carson and south of the Union Pacific and Sand Creek.

Originally from Salem, Ohio, Beeson was the seventh born child of Samuel and Martha Beeson. The family moved to Iowa, and at 19 Beeson left home, moving to Denver, Colorado. He worked, for a time, as a guide to buffalo hunters, with his clients including Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia, Phil Sheridan, and George Custer.

By the mid-1870s he was living in Dodge City, Kansas, becoming involved in many citizen organizations, and becoming wealthy in the cattle business. He married Ida Gause on July 17, 1876. He later, in 1878, became an owner of the Long Branch Saloon with partner William Harris, which led to his becoming associated with noted lawmen, outlaws, and gunmen of the time, to include Luke Short, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, James Masterson and Ed Masterson, Charlie Bassett and others. Under Beeson's leadership, the Long Branch Saloon boasted a 5-piece orchestra and Beeson also formed the Dodge City Cowboy Band which still exists today.

Beeson was sheriff for two terms, from 1892-'96, during which he helped defuse a confrontation by convincing a group of cowboys led by noted gunman Clay Allison to leave town. Pinkerton Detective Charlie Siringo, who at the time was a young cowboy, witnessed the event and later wrote an account of the event, discounting a claim later made by Wyatt Earp that he had "backed Allison down".

Beeson served for two terms as the Ford County sheriff, serving from 1892 to 1896. His most notable accomplishment while serving as sheriff was when he and Deputy US Marshal, Tom Hueston, killed Doolin Dalton gang member Oliver "Ol" Yantis, on November 30, 1892. Deputy Marshal Hueston was later killed during the Battle of Ingalls, a shootout between US Marshals and other members of the gang. Beeson was later twice elected to the State Legislature. He has been said to have been one of the most respected members of Dodge City during its wildest times.

Beeson represented Ford County in the Kansas State legislature four times: 1903, 1905, 1907, and a special session in 1908.[1] Beeson died on August 12, 1912. His wife, Ida, lived until June 15, 1928. Print Olive was a well-known cattleman of Texas and Colorado

This page is maintained by M.D. Monk.