25 cts..Family Ticket..25 cts. [ticket for a lecture by Western frontier showman John Harwood Pierce].
This lecture ticket admitted a whole family to Col. Pierce’s Lecture. John Harwood Pierce (1848–1925) led a full and exciting life, gaining fame as a public entertainer. Styling himself “Colonel Pierce,” he lectured in full costume, wearing western buckskin or his Civil War uniform. He called his lectures “The Indian Monologues.”
In an interview before her death in 2012, Pierce’s daughter described him as a “character” and added “it hurts to say it, but he was something of a con man.” The con man was also a poet, a Civil War soldier, a teacher to former slaves in the South, an Indian Scout and militiaman, and a friend of Buffalo Bill. As a celebrity journalist for the Omaha Daily Bee, he wrote as “Ranger of the Plains,” recounting stories of the Western frontier and General George Custer.
Pierce’s ticket is illustrated with a scene showing an advancing line of Union infantry charging up a hill. The regiment’s commander and the American flag lead the way forward. Confederate soldiers return fire. The caption reads, “Remember the Heroes who stood by our Flag.”
Pierce regaled his audiences with stories of his childhood Indian friends, his Civil War service in the 11th Illinois Cavalry Regiment, and his friendship with Buffalo Bill. The frame of Pierce’s diverse life experiences allowed him to exaggerate his tales, to fill in the gaps in an entertaining way. The critics praised him:
His magnetic eloquence was recognized in New York City, where at the Cooper Union and the Coliseum audiences of many thousands were so delighted with his oratory, that the New York World on commending said: “A man of power and full of fire; he greatly moved the hearers again, and again.”
Pierce considered himself to be, in some ways, “last man standing” — the last of the frontier showmen who out-survived them all. Wild Bill Hickok, Captain Jack Crawford, California Joe, Buffalo Bill Cody. They had been the last of a dying breed, but Pierce, in his mind, had outlived them all. (Case)
Description: 25 cts..Family Ticket..25 cts. [ticket for a lecture by Western frontier showman John Harwood Pierce].
[Np, np, c. 1870s–1880s]. Ticket. 2 x 3½ inches. Orange, coated stock paper. Illustration. Near fine.
Ref. John Harwood Pierce, A Biography and Genealogy authored by by Barbara Case and accessed online.