Col. Charles 8 BIGELOW

"Texas Charley"
Page 3

Blue Gray Line

15133.425    Col. Charles 8 BIGELOW, son of Charles 7 (Charles 6, Charles 5 , Joseph 4, John 3, Samuel 2, John 1), and Harriet C. (TAFT) BIGELOW, was born 14 January 1855 at Worcester, MA.  Died December 30, 1917 at Houston City Auditorium while giving an address on the importance of the US joining the Allies in the European War (WW1). The address was titled "The Kaiser's Quiver".
Buried in Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven.
     He and John E. Healey ran The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company.

From left,
Kickapoo promotion by J. Ottmann Litho. Company, Puck Bldg., New York City;
Chief Red Spear; 23½ x 17½ inches.(see below)
Cossack riders by A. Hoen and Company; 30½ x 20'/,6 inches.
Unusually large Cody photograph by Stacy, Brooklyn, New York.
Redstone and carved-wood effigy pipe.
Reins of a horsehair bridle, late nineteenth century.
The tomahawk was a presentation to White Beaver.

Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company

     Contemporary with the brilliant showmanship and unerring marksmanship of Buffalo Bill and Johnny Baker, two enterprising businessmen combined their skills and intuitions into a medicine show that in some respects rivaled the success of Buffalo Bill's Wild West. This ingenious business was known as the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company, and the entrepreneurs were Texas Charlie Bigelow and John E. Healy.
Indians were considered by many whites to have special powers in matters of health, fitness, and sickness through a knowledge of herbs, roots, bark, and other natural substances. Catering to public gullibility, wily salesmen touted products for which they claimed Indian origins. The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company operated first in Boston 1881-1884), then in New York 1884-1887), in New Haven for ten years, and finally removed to Clintonville, Connecticut. This august firm was able to boast an endorsement from none other than Buffalo Bill himself: "Kickapoo Indian Sagwa... is the only remedy the Indians ever use, and has been known to them for ages. An Indian would as soon be without his horse, his gun or blanket as without Sagwa."
     The company headquarters in New Haven were touted by Healy and Bigelow in language that would have done their hero, P. T. Barnum, proud:
 Near by the river front on Grand Avenue, New Haven, Conn. stands a towering massive warehouse; into this you are invited to visit the uncultured sons of the plain and forest who assist in carrying on one of the most original enterprises of the continent. In the upper portions of the building these sons of the far west find a home; in fact, it is their hunting grounds: (pro tem.), and if one will but shut one's eyes to the fact that a roof is between himself and heaven, there is little or nothing left for imagination. It is here the Indians are received prior  to being consigned to their duties in the extensive factory or .to encampments upon the road. Another portion of the building is occupied with tents erected and equipped exactly as though they formed a settlement on the plains. The clothing and food supplies of the band are scattered about with that unstudied elegance of disorder which, as the initiated are well aware, forms a great attraction to the free and easy red and  pale faces, constituting the grandest charm of life away from the trammels of civilization

     The building was termed the principal wigwam, and: the owners boasted a private museum in the building, replete with displays of weaponry, curios, artifacts, and wild-animal trophies. Guests were allowed a guarded look at these authentic treasures. All thief' served to back up Kickapoo claims of the merit of their healing tonics.
     Packages of Kickapoo Indian remedies had a caution stamp, looking much like a cigar band, imprinted with Indian motifs and the legend: CAUTION: NONE GENUINE WITHOUT THIS OUR SEAL & SIGNATURE WHICH MUST BE ENTIRE AND UNBROKEN. In script was
the signature "Healy & Bigelow.'
     A stream of publications was produced for the faithful, with enticing titles such as The Indian Illustrated Magazine and The Kickapoo Indian Dream Book. The reader was encouraged to be temperate and to follow such homilies as:

I am Chief of the Kickapoo Indian tribe
And am strong as a brave can be,
Not brandy, nor whiskey do I imbibe,
Nor the Chinaman's poisonous tea.
But Indian Sagwa I often do take,
For it's good for man at least.
It cures the body of many an ache,
And stomach for many a feast.

     The publications combined advice on health and medical matters with entertainments, information, and promotions on the Kickapoo product line.
One such publication, Kickapoo Indians: Life and Scenes Among the Indians, ran feature articles, poetry, maps, and even biographies of Buffalo Bill and the vanquished George Armstrong Custer. Texas Charlie became a heroic figure in these articles and in dime novels. Brooks McNamara interprets the phenomenon:

In their magazines, Healy and Bigelow were turning themselves into frontier heroes. The old raw West was rapidly dying out, replaced by a picturesque literary and theatrical West created by popular authors, showmen, and publicists. Healy and Bigelow, like Buffalo Bill Cody, were products of the nostalgia that accompanied the closing of the frontier; and like Cody their reputation as heroic Western figures was chiefly the result of a carefully conceived public relations campaign.

     The main difference between Healy and Bigelow and Buffalo Bill was that the latter was a bona fide frontier hero. Healy and Bigelow developed their own medicine show with Indian performers whose job it was to help sell Kickapoo patent medicines. The Indians acted out scenes of terror, reflecting their reputation to city folk and the uninitiated, and at the same time performed domestic roles, the latter intended to help move the products. These encampments traveled about much like Cody's Wild West but were not on as grand a scale. Some whites also served the company, which claimed over eight hundred employees by the late 1880's. Alas, the actual Indians were never Kickapoos but primarily Eastern tribes like the Iroquois and tribes from the West like the Sioux, Blackfoot, and Cherokee. A few were hired from reservations, as was done by Cody, and some were enticed away from Buffalo Bill's Wild West.

Flier promoting the Kickapoo encampments;
note reference to "Sharp Shooting" at right.

Front-page obituary "Houston Chronicle" December 31, 1917 provided by Dallas Public Library.
"Collecting the West" (pg. 128) by Wm. Ketchtun
"One for a Man, Two for a Horse" (pg.62) by a G. Carson - photocopy provided by Wm. Ketchurn.
Miscl. Information provided by Connecticut Historical Society, letter dated 9/8/98.
"Buffalo's Bill's Wild West" by Wilson & Martin, (pg. 230-234).
Color plates of Texas Charlie engraved rifle, advertising and SSA pistol from (.9) Wilson & Somberland's book on Colt Firearms.
"Sixguns" by Elmer Keith (pg. 148).
''The American West Magazine" 2/1967, Vol 4, No.1)  Long article on Kickapoo Medicine, Healy & Bigelow and Texas Charlie.
Pictures and Information supplied by:
David T. Hulse
6992 S. CR 350 W
Clayton, IN 46118

go to kickapoo page 4. for pictures and article on "Texas Charley" Rifle.
back to kickapoo page 2.

Subject: Chief Red Spear Indian Remedies
Date: Sat, 16 Nov 2002 19:38:17 -0500
From: "candace ridlon" <>
 I have the same picture of Chief Red Spear that in on this web page. Do you have any information about this Indian ? It
looks like he may have been part of  selling Indian medicine. It's a great picture and I have it on our livingroom wall.
Everyone that sees it wants to know who he is including me.
Thanks so much for your help.

Modified - 11/19/2002
(c) Copyright 2001 Bigelow Society, Inc. All rights reserved.
Rod  Bigelow - Director

Rod Bigelow (Roger Jon12 BIGELOW)

P.O. Box 13 Chazy Lake
Dannemora, N.Y. 12929