The Wild, Wild West

The wild and wooly American West has been fodder for stories, dime novels, comic books,

motion pictures, and television programs. Many fictionalized accounts exaggerate the violence

and lawlessness of the frontier. But there were some circumstances in which the truth was

every bit as fabulous as fiction, as in this account from Fort Robinson:

“The mail carrier brings news from Camp Sheridan of a horrible carnival of blood, in a low den

of iniquity near that place, in which two men were killed, two dangerously, perhaps fatally,

wounded, and several others bruised.

“Last Saturday night there was a large attendance of cowboys and soldiers in the place. Poor

whiskey and lively dancing soon caused bad blood. It began by a drunken Mexican brandishing

a revolver and threatening to shoot the bartender for swindling him. A dozen cowboys drew

revolvers simultaneously.

“A shot was fired, and one of them, Ed Collins, fell mortally wounded, having shot himself

while drawing his revolver. The dance was resumed twenty minutes after his body had been


“Jim Joyce and a desperado named Page soon got into a rough and tumble fight, however, over

the proprietorship of a girl known as Beaver Tooth Nell, and it ended by Page shooting Joyce

fatally. Sergeant Green of Company M, Fifth Cavalry, attempted to disarm Page, and received

a shot which necessitated the amputation of his leg. He will probably die.

“The soldiers at once retaliated by firing their revolvers into the Page crowd as they rushed out

on the prairie. The women, scantily dressed, here returned from the rooms to which they had

withdrawn, and ran screaming about the place, and the scene that followed baffles description.

“The melee ended in a rough and tumble fight between the cowboys and the soldiers, which

would have resulted in a terrible loss of life but for the timely arrival of the military from the


“One of the females had an eye knocked out during the melee, while two cowboys, whose

names are unknown, were badly wounded. The murderer Page is in the guard house, and the

soldiers threaten to lynch him.”

The unfortunate Sergeant Green died of his wounds about a month later. The fate of Page is

unknown, but it seems certain he came to a bad end.

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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.
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