Wild Bill Hickok, Geronimo, & that ‘Bad Man from Kansas’ called Ned Wynkoop

Wild Bill Hickok, Geronimo, & that ‘Bad Man from Kansas’ called Ned Wynkoop

Posted May 7, 2013

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2020
Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog


Image of Wild Bill Hickok in 1867 (Louis Kraft  personal collection)

Not quite the blog I thought I’d publish today (no big deal, for I’ve been shooting from the hip since I was five). An unexpected phone call changed today’s direction. The phone call dealt with gunfighters. Hell, if I have any say in my future I will someday play James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok on stage. I’m not holding my breath, but fingers are crossed. … hell, my fingers are always crossed. I know Wild Bill, and I’ve tried (apparently not forcefully enough) to play him in a stage production of Johnny D. Boggs’s great novel East of the Border, which deals with Hickok doing a season of theater with William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody in the East. Not to give the plot away, but when Wild Bill realizes that when he fires blanks too close to dead extras lying on the stage floor that the flame burns them. Bill thinks that it is a hoot to see dead men jump and scream out in pain. This is a part I could dig my teeth into.

Neither Johnny D. or my director, Tom Eubanks, have demonstrated much interest in me playing Mr. Hickok. I can’t figure out why, for this is type casting. (I guess that there’s a sadistic streak in me—No! I shouldn’t say that; bad advertising.) Another director/producer pitched me on doing a feature film (a la Twilight Zone) featuring a meeting/standoff/shootout between gangsters and gunfighters with me playing Wild Bill (and with me writing the script). This is a no brainer, for I’m Wild Bill.

LK is holding his breath? No. I never hold my breath, unless it is for a lady I want in my life.

I just enjoyed a cool phone call from a documentary film company, regarding a series of films dealing with gunmen. They actually came to me because of a peripheral gunman who eventually was hung for a murder, he may or may not have committed, named Tom Horn. He played a minor role in Lt. Charles Gatewood finding Geronimo, Naiche, and the remnants of the warring Apaches and getting them to surrender to the U.S. in 1886, which ended the last Apache war. I know Gatewood, and I know Geronimo. Alas, I don’t know Tom Horn, for he was a minor player in the dramatic end of the Apache wars.

You know my response. Sorry amigos, but this is a no go.

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This is Mr. Johnny D. Boggs, one of the best writers working today. However, after he reads the next line or two, he’ll belt on grabbing his trusted Peacemakers, plunking his favorite Stetson onto his head, and climbing into his favorite Mustang, and driving to California with blood in his eye, … and it won’t be for past mistakes by by pal Kraft. No sir, Mr. Boggs will be a headin’ to clear the air. I’m already boarding up Tujunga House. First, let me point out that Mr. Boggs is a deadly shot, in print or in person, and he has been gunning for me for at least the past year. ‘Course you can see by this nice portrait of him, that he has changed the look and feel of the gunmen we have come to know, love, and cherish. He has done it with not only color, but with design. … I can just picture the next costume design for the next feature dealing with Wild Bill, Billy the Kid, Wes Hardin, or the Sundance Kid. Not to push my luck too far, let me add that if you want to read not a good, but a great book of fiction that deals with those long gone days of yesteryear, those long gone days when a man was a man and a woman was a woman, you owe it to yourself to buy any Johnny Boggs’ books that you can get your hands on. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ve got my word on this. Mr. Boggs is one of our writing treasures.

I viewed a video advertising an upcoming series for the Military Channel, … impressive!! No overstatement. Great quality, focus of subject, and featuring Johnny Boggs, my good bud. Boggs is such a good friend, that when next I set foot in New Mexico I’m certain that we’ll stand each other off with fingers twitching inches above our Army Colts. I viewed the video advertising the upcoming series for the Military Channel, … impressive!! No overstatement. Great quality, focus on subject, and featuring and featuring Me. JDB, my good bud. Boggs is such a good friend, that when next I set foot in New Mexico I’m certain that we’ll stand each other off with fingers twitching inches above our Army Colts.

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LK art based upon a Johnny Boggs photo in 2008.

Mr. Boggs and I’ll saunter toward each other, lips tightening, broad-brimmed hats yanked low over our squinting eyes, breath thinning, and pulse racing. Payback time has arrived. Feet separate us, and there is no way either of us could draw, cock, fire, and miss. The time of reckoning will have arrived … But instead of yanking our irons and spitting death, … we’ll embrace each other. Two friends, glad to see each other again. Johnny smiles, as do I. “Good to see you,” he says. “And you, amigo,” I murmur. ‘Tis true. Two friends … together again. He smiles a second time, but there is an evil tint that clouds his smile. His grin widens, The color of his eyes darken; it is almost as if the sun has lost its sparkle. “Hell’s still a comin’,” he whispers. “Am lookin’ forward to it,” I drawl. Two friends—today, tomorrow, forever. …

Tom Horn … OUCH!!!!

Cool project for the Military Channel, one I’m in line with, but one I can’t buy into from what I’ve just heard from Jerry Holleran (a good conversation, and one that instantly caught my interest). But? There’s always that damned “but” … But, Jerry hinted that they found me via my new website/blog, hinted that he was aware of my writing dealing with Charles Gatewood, Geronimo, and the final Apache surrender to the U.S. Government. … That’s good! But why do they want me????? More important, what the hell are you—meaning me—complaining about Kraft?

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Geronimo in Texas, mere months after his standoff with the Prefect of Arisipe in Old Mexico. He is cool in his new boots, breechclout, coat, button shirt, and brimmed hat. He is also a concerned man—concern for his peoples’ future. This is a portait of a man facing his future and wondering if he had made the right choices. (artistic rendering © Louis Kraft 2013)

If they want a gunfight—I can deliver one (or two). But not one with Tom Horn, but rather with one with Geronimo (or Ned Wynkoop). That’s right, Geronimo (with Gatewood backing him) as the old warrior/mystic confronted the Prefect of Arispe, Jesus Aguirre. Geronimo had become the most hated man in two countries (the U.S. and Mexico). Aguirre burned to eliminate the Apaches (read: murder them), while Geronimo lived to protect the remnants of his loved ones. Geronimo gripped his Colt. According to Gatewood, his eyes turned red; an ungodly mix with yellow. Aguirre gripped his revolver, sweat dripping down his temples. Tense seconds passed. In a flash someone would die. …

I know where my money would have been placed.

Aguirre let go of his gun; there would be no death on that day.

Ned Wynkoop fought for Indian rights. This turned him from being “a badman from Kansas who wore buckskin britches and carried a revolver and Bowie knife in his belt” to perhaps the most hated white man in Colorado Territory. Before daring to stand firm against what he considered the murder of innocent people, Ned Wynkoop, who, as a sheriff in Denver, thought nothing of breaking pals out of jail or standing up to a friend on the “field of honor” with the intent of killing him.

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Portrait of Ned Wynkoop. (© Louis Kraft 2007)

Good with guns, but also a man before his time, Wynkoop not only dared to stand firm in his beliefs but had no problem with stating that the best way to end the Indian problem (in 1868) would be to extend American citizenship to Indians and allow their representatives seats in congress. Johnny Boggs, in his review of Ned Wynkoop and the Lonely Road from Sand Creek, commented, “No wonder Wynkoop wore a gun.”

I am in that good spot where I want to secure a gig, but can’t for I can’t talk about something that didn’t exist or happen. Can I push Geronimo, Wynkoop, or maybe even Wild Bill? Hope so. We’ll see.

You can bet I’ll contact the producer and chat, there’ll be no gunfight with LK talking about Tom Horn and his mastery with guns. No sir, for this will never happen. That’s life, and it’s my life. No fiction B.S. is going to spout forth from my lips. Not today; not ever.

Gatewood and Geronimo live

Website & blogs © Louis Kraft 2013-2020
Contact Kraft at writerkraft@gmail.com or comment at the end of the blog


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Lt. Charles Gatewood. (art © Louis Kraft 2004)

Recently a friend of mine, Erik Wright, who is writing about Charles Gatewood, asked if it bothered me that he had begun to write about him. Absolutely not, I had told Erik. Actually, I was thrilled that he had taken up where I had left off. I truly believe, as I had told actress Olivia de Havilland, two books are better than one, and three are better than two. The more that Erik, and hopefully others, write about Charles Gatewood is much better than just one writer bringing his life to light.

Erik has already written at least two articles about Gatewood, and I hope he writes many more.

I owe Wild West a couple of Geronimo/Apache articles (as always, I’m late). But Greg Lalire, if you see this blog, patience is the key, for they are almost complete.

Better yet, I spent a terrific day with Mike Koury, whom I met in 1987 (when I delivered my first talk—believe it or not at an Order of the Indian Wars event in SoCal, and more surprisingly the talk dealt with Ned Wynkoop) while surviving Colorado’s four-month delay of a white Christmas (pictures promised by Sunday).

Mike has been a good friend since that time long gone, but all too often we don’t have enough time to hang out when at the same location at the same time. This changed on this wintery Colorado day when we hung out together at his home in Johnstown (a major plus for me on this trip was getting to know Dee, his pretty wife).

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My bro Glen Williams took this image of LK at the ongoing Geronimo exhibit in Tucson (a disappointment) in 2012. (photo © Louis Kraft & Glen Williams 2012)

The Order of the Indian Wars is going to track the Apaches and the Apache wars this coming September. I pitched Mike on me speaking about Gatewood finding Geronimo, Naiche, and the remnants of their people still free, and talking them into surrendering to the U.S. before either the U.S. Army or the Mexicans killed them. What Gatewood pulled off is, in my opinion, the greatest feat of the Indian wars. I told Mike that the only reason I wanted to give this talk was because he needed to stuff his Plains Indian wars bias and realize that the Apache people and their struggle to retain their freedom was/is as exciting as the Cheyenne and Sioux fight to retain their freedom.

It is a done deal, and come late September I’ll be in Tucson to talk about two of my favorite people, Mr. G and Mr. G. Details to come as they become available.