Monarch’s Sad Fate

The sad end of a retired member of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West was announced by the Omaha Daily Bee on December 5, 1906. However, the article, headlined “Death Warrant for Monarch,” referred not to a human, but to an animal. Monarch, “the finest specimen of buffalo ever in captivity,” was considered too dangerous for Riverview Park, his home since leaving the Wild West, and was soon to be slaughtered.

The Bee said: “Monarch was raised by Buffalo Bill and carried with him through all the countries of Europe, but he became unmanageable and as it took a large part of the gate receipts of the Wild West show to square away the depredations which were occasioned by this immense buffalo, Colonel Cody decided to sell him. He was sold to the city of Omaha for $300 and was placed in Riverview park. Here, under the restraint of captivity, he has grown worse and worse, until it is really dangerous to have him at the park, for at the approach of strangers he tears at the fence, which threatens to give way and let the brute at the children.”

The Bee reported that Wild West agent William McCune offered the city $350 for Monarch, $50 more than the original purchase price, and that the city had accepted. By December 13, however, Monarch had been purchased by William Buthorn, owner of the Heidelberg Cafe, who planned to slaughter the animal, and gave Omaha’s mayor, “Cowboy Jim” Dahlman, the dubious honor of shooting it. The Bee noted on December 13:

“The mayor did not fail. He planted himself some thirty feet from the animal, leveled his big rifle and fired. Monarch turned to look for a second at his slayer, then walked around in a circle just once, dropped to the ground and died within ten minutes without writhing. Mr. Buthorn will have the head mounted and placed in the Heidelberg and the meat he will sell.”

Monarch may have passed from the scene (except for his head displayed at the Heidelberg), but stories of his exploits during his Wild West days appeared in the press. The Bee said on December 5: “Colonel McCune tells of one of Monarch’s escapades in Europe. It was in Germany, and the big bull had got loose, and, rushing through a small general store, scattered the china and other things exhibited for sale. He went right through the store and was cornered in a lot at the rear, with no way of escape except to go back through the store. When the little German storekeeper was asked what the damage was he bobbed his head up from behind the counter, where he had dodged for safety, and shouted, ‘Nothing, nothing, if you will only take the brute away!'”

William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. NSHS RG3004.PH0-149 


This detail from a poster for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West depicts men on horseback and running buffalo. NSHS RG3004.PH190

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.