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Seth Bullock's Cowboy Brigade  
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On page one, we tell how we are pleased to join with Richard and Deborah Wadsack of Cowboys & Images, Carl Steiger, and others who are searching for information about the cowboys in Captain Seth Bullock's 1905 Cowboy Brigade who took part in Teddy Roosevelt's inauguration. See page one, with information about them inviting your biographical information about the the cowboys, historical articles, and more.

In response to that feature, Francie Ganje of the Heritage of the American West show told us that she lives in a house once owned by Jack Hale, one of the cowboys:

The description of the house in a commemorative calendar states:

Jack Hale was a bullwhacker, rancher, racing entrepreneur and a politician...and by a narrow squeak, almost the son-in-law of Lakota Chief Spotted Tail. He rode with Seth Bullock's Cowboy Brigade along with friends such as the silent western film star, Tom Mix. He is among the first inductees to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. He and his wife Anna (Kost) acquired the home in 1903.

Francie Ganje led us to a March, 1970 article about Jack Hale in Golden West magazine. In seeking a copy of that magazine, we contacted Larry J. Walker of Magazine House, and he led us to an article in the February, 1965 issue of Old West magazine, "When Bullock's Cowboys Hoorahed the Potomac," by South Dakota writer Joe Koller. That article, reproduced below, includes three additional photos of the Cowboy Brigade.

The article and photos are reproduced with the kind permission of Bob Boze Bell, editor and publisher of the popular True West magazine from True West Publishing. True West Publishing acquired True West, Old West, and Frontier Times in 1999.

This is the photograph from Cowboys & Images that prompted these features about the Cowboy Brigade:

image © Cowboys & Images, www.cowboysandimages.net
Find the image and more information here at Cowboys & Images

This photograph of the cowboys, without hats, appears in the 1965 Old West article:

© True West magazine; reproduction without permission prohibited; used with permission of Old West and True West magazines


"When Bullock's Cowboys Hoorahed the Potomac"
from the February, 1965 issue of Old West magazine

True West magazine

"New York Awes the Ranchmen"
a 1905 news article

Additional Links


On page one:

 About the photograph
List of names

1926 South Dakota newspaper article about a reunion of the riders
March 1905 article by Seth Bullock after the inauguration parade
March 1905 article about a cowboy event after the parade
April 1905 article about "side lights" of the inauguration

and more....

Photos of the Cowboy Brigade were also featured in our Picture the West feature.

"When Bullock's Cowboys Hoorahed the Potomac"

February, 1965
Old West magazine
by Joe Koller


At the Teddy Roosevelt inauguration, March 4, 1905, the capital's cosmopolitan society met some men of the West—the Bullock Cowboys.

After four days of train travel, they grave a demonstrations of what western freedom was all about. The Washingtonians gaped at the big-hatted men who broke into loud guffaws, hitched horses to lamp posts, and swaggered as they stomped into bars for shots of whiskey. Liquor seemed to lubricate their imagination. Young ladies, who prudently ignored their friendly, "Howdy, Miss," were likely to be snared by a flying loop.

The roping wizardry of the cowboys did not go unnoticed. A porter fleeing from a whooping rider felt the rope tighten around his midriff. A guffaw, and a flip of rope to slacken the loop permitted the man to free himself. Up the block a hack driver's horse was stripped of harness so a cowboy could give a demonstration of bareback riding on the street. "Powder River!  Whoopee!" in high pitched voices, was heard in the saloons.

Congressmen from home states slapped the boys on the back and paid for drinks. They enjoyed western horseplay. Weren't the cowboys the President's guests? Weren't such antics associated with the life Roosevelt had experienced in Dakota? But a frowning Parade Committee grew increasingly worried. What might happen when these Westerners took over Pennsylvania Avenue?

In the early 1900s, all honor was accorded the knight of the range. America's new hero had been glamorized by the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, Owen Wister's popular novel, The Virginian, and the Rough Riders of the Spanish-American War. Teddy Roosevelt had organized the Rough Riders, and had been their commander in Cuba. Seth Bullock, of South Dakota, had been one of his captains.

The friendship of Seth Bullock and President Roosevelt started back in the early Eighties when Dakota's twin states were one big Territory. Bullock, a lawman in the Black Hills, was holding a horse thief in the jail at Deadwood who was wanted by the sheriff of Billings County. The deputy whom the sheriff send down to pick up the prisoner was a young man in fringed buckskins, spectacles, and had a blunt manner of speech. He introduced himself as Theodore Roosevelt, a Badlands rancher, serving the cause of law and order. Thus started an association between them—each from a different world—that lasted a lifetime. Roosevelt and Bullock visited, went on hunting trips, and soldiered together.

To emphasize T.R.'s ranching experience, the parade organizers invited Captain Bullock to bring a company western horsemen to Washington to ride in the inauguration parade.

© True West magazine; reproduction without permission prohibited; used with permission of Old West and True West magazines

Tall central figure, front row, is Captain Seth Bullock of Deadwood, S.D. The young fellow, front row, third from right, is Tom Mix, later to become a famous  movie star.

Seth Bullock, then United States Marshal in South Dakota, signup up recruits for the trip. Each many had to pay his own expenses, furnish a horse, equipment and outfit. Sixty-two men and a boy of twelve were registered for the trip. Of that company, only three are known to be alive today. These three are: Stanley Bullock, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Captain Bullock's son; W.F. Matthews, Sundance, Wyoming; and Henry Roberts of Spearfish, South Dakota.

© True West magazine; reproduction without permission prohibited;
sed with permission of Old West and True West magazines

Above: W.F. Mathews of Sundance, Wyoming, one of the three known living members of Bullock's Cowboys, a delegation of Westerners who brought the cow country of the rangelands to Washington, C.D. to complement the inauguration of President Teddy Roosevelt.

The Bullock Cowboys acted as honor guard when Teddy Roosevelt stepped from their midst to be sworn in as the twenty-sixth President of the United States.

The press and the public of that period referred to the cowboys as "Rough Riders." Mr. Mathews said that so far as he knew, Captain Bullock was the only man in the company who had been a member of the Rough Riders regiment. These riders were men from Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Montana, and Oklahoma. They were cowboys, ranchers, and stockmen.

Each man's equipment included his horse, saddle, lariat, bridle, and cowboy outfit including spurs, six-shooter and a well-filled cartridge belt.

Bullock imposed Army routine. There would be formations when he commanded, followed by periods of liberty when the men were on their own. Decorum was stressed.

Horses were assembled at Edgemont, South Dakota, a junction point on the railroad, and shipped in two cars from that point, accompanied by two men. In Washington the mounts were stalled in National Guard armory barns a week ahead of the company's departure.

The "Cowboys" were mostly unacquainted when they gathered for the take off, and were of different occupations. "I," said Mr. Mathews, "was riding for the Three V. Bob McAdams was ranching for himself. Stan Bullock was ramrodding the SB horse spread for his father."

Among the old-time riders who had quit the range when the homesteaders took over was Dan P. (Kid) Roberts, former VVV hand who was in the saloon business. Dan, and his son, Henry, signed up for the trip.

"We were full of anticipation," Mr. Mathews recalled. "Some of the boys joined us along the route. I remember the young fellow from Oklahoma who joined up at Omaha. He was from the 101—name was Tom Mix."

The cowboys had a chair car to themselves, and knowing it was a four-day's journey, they made themselves at home. A lady passenger who looked into the car gave a reporter on the Omaha Daily News this description: "Bags and saddles were piled everywhere. Gun belts hung from racks. Ash cans and bottles littered the floor. Four poker games were going on in the car. Blue smoke hung over each group. Boots stuck out in the aisle. Stockinged feet poked above the backs of seats. Big hats covered the faces of some men as they took naps. One ruffian had rammed his boot through a window so he could spit tobacco juice outside the car; he could not hit the cans on the floor."

The lady stated that during on lunch stop she had seen the men pile out to buy liquor, newspapers, smoking tobacco and food. One fellow limbered up by spinning a lariat rope on the station platform.

The behavior of the Westerners became more incongruous to the public the further east they got. Washington was a new, strange setting.

"Some of the boys got a little lopsided at time," Mr. Mathews observed, "but we didn't forget that we were Westerners. A Westerner was a man among men and a gentleman among ladies. Bullock reminded us of it. He was not going to embarrass his old Colonel or the inaugural officials."

© True West magazine; reproduction without permission prohibited; used with permission of Old West and True West magazines

Part of the Bullock Company saddled up to ride into the capitol's business district to look the town over and to exercise their mounts. They were out for a little fun after four days on the train.

Before the parade every man and horse stood inspection. Security agents, looking on, allowed the riders to carry pistols in holsters as a part of their costume, but the guns had to remain unloaded.

"We rode eight abreast in parade, " Mr. Matthews said. "Bullock rode up front. Each line of riders had an acting lieutenant by its side. I was one of them. Before we left Washington, the President gave me and the other acting 'louies' an honorary commission in the United States Cavalry."

The horses put on their own show. Broncs used to prairie silence, clean air and the smell of cattle got jittery at the clamor and confusion of the throng. They rolled their eyes, snorted, and pranced in rebellious mood. This spirited action presented their riders in a dramatic light. The people were thrilled. Their cheers rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue to the official reviewing stand.

President Roosevelt rose and clapped his hands in approval. "That's bully! That's excellent, Captain Bullock!" he shouted.

After the company passed the reviewing stand, the Bullock delegation posed for pictures. Later they met Roosevelt on the White House grounds and the President shook hands with every man.

The cowboys had chipped in to buy a fancy pony with saddle and cowboy trappings and this gift was presented to the President's son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

One night during their four-days' stay in Washington, Bullock and the cowboys were served a buffet luncheon at the White House with the President and Mrs. Roosevelt and the family as their hosts.

Then the horses were sold and the party moved to New York. Again reporters trailed after them. The delegation made a sight-seeing tour of the city, visited shows and cafes on Broadway, and enjoyed every minute of the excursion.

© True West magazine; reproduction without permission prohibited; used with permission of Old West and True West magazines

The Men of the West took a motor-bus tour of New York City after four days in Washington, D.C.

Back home the company scattered. In 1926 the Black Hills Roundup at Belle Fourche, South Dakota, sponsored a reunion of the Bullock Rough Riders at their July3-4-5 annual rodeo. This was twenty years after the trip to Washington, and sixteen of the sixty-three Cowboys, including Captain Bullock, had died. Among those who sent regrets was Tom Mix of Hollywood, the ace star of silent western films.

Now with sixty years behind them, the last of this gallant band of horsemen are riding down the trail into history.

© True West magazine; reproduction without permission prohibited; used with permission of Old West and True West magazines


© True West magazine; reproduction without permission prohibited; used with permission of Old West and True West magazines

The article and photos above are reproduced with the kind permission of Bob Boze Bell, editor and publisher of the popular True West magazine of True West Publishing, which acquired True West, Old West, and Frontier Times in 1999.

True West "relates our history back to the present day, to show readers the important role our heritage plays in keeping the spirit of the West alive during our everyday travels and adventures out West."


Carl Steiger shared this March 10, 1905 news article (his copy was from the Pawtucket, Rhode Island Times:


Seth Bullock's Crowd Hits the Metropolis, and When Wonder Ceases the Fun Begins.

NEW YORK, March 10—Twenty-one careful men, with solemn visages and guns packed out of site, crossed the Pennsylvania Railroad ferry yesterday afternoon. They never had seen New York before. The North River panorama, especially prepared for all such, appealed to them as largely as possible.

"A leetle high 'n Chicago" said Madison Ballantyne of Lead City, S.D. All persons on the ferryboat sank back satisfied at the compliment.

There were the cowmen of Wyoming and South Dakota, who had come East for the inauguration of their old pal and were now bound for the city of their dreams, the place of which they had seen pictures, the town of which tenderfeet had made strange remarks. Now they saw all the tall buildings and the hurrying fleet and there were a bit "skeered," not having liquored since Washington, D.C.

"My God," said Shock Hall of Spearfish, "where do all the people come from." And the rest let it go at that. They wandered through the crowded ferry streets to Broadway and under the leadership of the Hon. William J. McLaughlin of Spearfish, sought transportation northward. They all got on a surface car. The native New Yorkers sized them up rapidly.

"Just plain Americans," they said, "with queer hats." The hats were queer. They were all of felt and wide brimmed. Some were black, some gray, some tan, but all had bands peculiar to the owner. Some bands were gold, some leather, some in the national colors. The hats and the bands were the only distinctive badges of the West, except in the case of one of the party, who wore his riding boots. The whole party jammed into the car in the most conservative fashion.

"It was like going through a stampede o' wild cattle," said Ed Bowman of Meeteetse (that's where Thomspon-Seton found his queer bears) "I never got into such a crush in my life."

However, they arrived in safety at Fourteenth street and strolled toward the Union Square Hotel.

They were made quite at home for Devil Dan Roberts and his son Henry who hail from Belle Fourche, S.D. had been there over night and had prepared their reception.

Strangely enough, Ed Cessna of Deadwood sallied to the liquor emporium. When he dug down to pay for a round of plain water with something on the side, there was a revelation to easterners. Ed had nothing but hundreds and two and a half. Of the quarter eagles he carried 20 small and shining. When the bartender, making change gave him a one dollar bill, he laughed coarsely.

"When we get one of these in my place in Deadwood," he said, "we throw it in the postage stamp drawer. It would never do to mix it with the bank roll."

"Ah, we had a great time in Washington," remarked Mac Quest (that's two names). "Oh, I admit riding the wild bronco up Pennsylvania avenue, but, outside of that it was great. It there to be a horse show here next month? Some one told me there was and that I was wanted. I won't ride in any circus, but if it's a show for the instruction of the human race I am willing to stay around here. Union square looks pretty fine! How is it uptown?"

"Nothing but water for me," said the lion, Bill McLaughlin. "I'm the shepherd of this flock and I've got to see that they get home safely from the joys of Broadway. We'll be here until about Sunday noon and then it's back home for us. We've certainly had a wonderful time all along the route."

"Rather a gay experience for an old dignified citizen like me, " said Albie Holmes of Deadwood, "but I guess I'll manage to last it through. Boys will be boys." Mr. Holmes sports the only whisker in the party.

Henry Roberts, the son of Devil Dan, a square jawed Dakotan is the youngster of the party. He is 14 years old and was attending high school when he heard of the eastern expedition. He took two horses on the journey. By the way, all the horses brought to Washington were sold there. Harry left Deadwood on Feb 27 and reached Washington two days before the inauguration. He and James Driscoll of Spearfish and Bill Minnock of Texas had a great time along Pennsylvania avenue roping [...] on March 5. The next day they prepared for the parade, but did not swing into line until 4pm.

[Some of the text and numbers in the article were illegible, and there may be errors in the above transcription.]

Find other historical articles on page 1.


  • True West magazine "relates our history back to the present day."

  • Magazine House specializes in nonfiction western history magazines.

  • Cowboys & Images offers a poster with a 1905 photo of the Cowboy Brigade.

  • Carl Steiger maintains a "virtual cemetery" for members of the Cowboy Brigade here at Findagrave.com.

  • HistoryNet.com includes an article by Robert K. DeArment on the Cowboy Brigade, here.

  • The YesterYear Once More blog includes information about the Cowboy Brigade with photos, articles, and more here.



On page one:

About the photograph
List of names

1926 South Dakota newspaper article about a reunion of the riders
March 1905 article by Seth Bullock after the inauguration parade
March 1905 article about a cowboy event after the parade
April 1905 article about "side lights" of the inauguration






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