Blizzard find: 1906 poet-scout-cowboy

captain jack crawford teachers institute bedford pa 1906 postcard jm k
This 1906 mystery cowboy landed in my hands at a flea market this weekend. I was coping with time not riding a horse during our April blizzard. Buffalo Bill? Wild Bill Hickok? Close, but not.

If you blow up the name under the postcard’s picture, it says “J.W. Crawford”.

Captain Jack Crawford was an Army scout who rode 350 miles in six days from nearby Fort Laramie in Wyoming to deliver news of victory over the Sioux to eastern newspapers in 1876. People were hungry for good news a few months after the disaster of Custer’s Last Stand at the Little Bighorn. As a horse lover, I mention the story because Captain Jack may have killed at least two horses on the ride.

I don’t see this particular postcard image out in The Cloud with Captain Jack’s other memorabilia.

If you look closely, it comes from a December 18, 1906 “Teachers’ Institute” in Bedford, Pennsylvania. After his famous ride, Captain Jack hit the entertainment circuit and even helped Buffalo Bill with his Wild West Show, that is until Captain Jack shot himself in the groin and blamed it on Buffalo Bill’s drinking. People loved Captain Jack and he “lectured” at the December 1906 Teachers’ Institute.

The lecture course for the Teachers’ Institute of December 17-21 next promises entertainment. There is not a dry sentence in Capt., Jack Crawford’s lecture. There is not a dull statement in Frank Dixon’s oration. Crawford will be here on Tuesday evening and Dixon on Thursday evening.
The Bedford Gazette

The name “J.M. Karns” appears in handwriting next to Captain Jack’s portrait. The circa 1910 photo below includes John Karns, a young teacher-turned-farmer with his family. He was born 1881 in Bedford and made education a lifelong quest.

John M Karns and family circa 1910 -

Interesting to imagine the hands that touched this card and the miles it traveled. I think young John Karns attended that December 1906 Teachers’ Institute session in Bedford. I also think Captain Jack signed the postcard to John. Look at the similar J’s and the swirl underlines on the C in Crawford’s signature, per Wikipedia, as well as the K in Karns.

Captain Jack Crawford signature - wikipedia

captain jack crawford to jm karns signing (800x325)

Cool stuff for a day without a horse fix.

You might also enjoy ‘Gruesome end for Father of Fort Collins; historic farm revealed

More great photos of Captain Jack Crawford at the University of Iowa Digital Library.

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