Legends of Jim ‘Kid’

                            Age                  Benchmark Years

                                          1850 Population of U.S.A. - 23.2 million.

                                          1850 12th President Zackery Taylor dies in office, Millard Fillmore

                                                   becomes 13th President of United States.

                                          1853 Franklin Pierce elected 14th President of United States.

                             0 yrs.     1857 James W. Willoughby born.

                                          1857 James Buchanan elected 15th President of United States.

                                          1860  Population of U.S.A. - 31.5 million.

                             4 yrs.     1861 Abraham Lincoln elected 16th President of United States.

                                          1861 Civil War begins.

                                          1862 Jim’s sister (Great Grandmother) Mary Elizabeth (Mollie) born.

                             8 yrs.     1865 Civil War ends & Abraham Lincoln Assassinated.

                                          1865 Andrew Johnson becomes 17th President of United States.

                             9 yrs.     1866 1st Winchester repeating rifle goes on the market.

                            12 yrs.    1869 Ulysses Grant becomes 18th President of United States.

                                          1869 Union Pacific & Central Pacific joined at Promontory Point.

                                          1870 Population of U.S.A. - 38.5 million. 

                            17 yrs.    1874 Alexander Graham Bell demonstrates the telephone.

                            19 yrs.    1876 Battle Of The Little Bighorn.

                                          1876 Territorial Prison at Yuma, Arizona opens.   

                                          1876 Younger brothers captured and sentenced to prison.

                                          1876 Alexander Graham Bell awarded the telephone patent.

                             20 yrs.   1877 Rutherford Hayes becomes 19th President of United States.

                                          1877 Jim ‘Kid’ driving the No. 2 Hack in Cheyenne and a Outrider

                                                  for the Deadwood Stage.

                                          1877 Johnny Slaughter, 1st Deadwood Stage Driver shot dead

                                                  during an attempted hold up by Joel Collins of the Bass Gang.

                                          1880 Population of U.S.A. - 50.2 million.

                            23 yrs.    1880 Edison patents electric light bulb.

                            24 yrs     1881 James A. Garfield elected 20th President of United States

                                                   and is assassinated 200 days later.

                                          1881 Vice President Chester Arthur becomes 21st President of

                                                  The United States.

                                          1881 Sister Mollie Willoughby marries George C. Crager.

                                          1881 Gunfight at the OK Corral.

                                          1881 Billy The Kid killed

                            25 yrs.    1882 Jessie James killed.

                                          1882 Jim’s sister Mollie has daughter Bessie Crager.

                            26 yrs.    1883 Jim ‘Kid’ titled Championship Rider of Montana. Jim rode the

                                                   horse ‘White Immigrant’.

                                          1883 Krakatoa erupted.

                            28 yrs.    1885 Jim ‘Kid’ performs with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

                                          1885 Grover Cleveland elected 22nd President Of United States.

                                          1886 The Statue of Liberty is dedicated.

                            30 yrs.    1887 Jim ‘Kid’ marries Lillian Francis Smith at Staten Island, N. Y..

                            31 yrs.    1888 ‘Jack The Ripper’ murders occur in London.

                            32 yrs.    1889 Jim ‘Kid’ wins wager of 50,000 francs for Cody in Paris.

                                          1889 Benjamin Harrison elected 23rd President of United States.

                                          1890 Population of U.S.A. - 63.0 million.

                            33 yrs.    1890 Massacure At Wounded Knee, site becomes a tourist attraction.

                                          1891 Wiliam F. Cody takes custody of ‘Hostile Indians’ involved in

                                                  Massacure and begins his European 1891-92 Tour of Buffalo

                                                  Bill’s Wild West Show.

                            35 yrs.    1892 Pledge of Allegiance first published for a youth magazine.

                            36 yrs.    1893 1st automatic Borchardt pistol produced.

                                          1893 Grover Cleveland elected 24th President of United States.

                            40 yrs.    1897 William McKinley elected 25th Pesident of United States.

                            41 yrs.    1898 Battleship USS Maine sank in Havana Harbor.

                                          1898 Spanish American War commences.

                                          1898 Hawaiian Islands annexed to the United States.

                            42 yrs.    1899 Boxer Rebellion begins.

                                          1900 Population of U.S.A. - 76.2 million.

                            44 yrs.    1901 President William McKinley assassinated.

                                          1901 Vice President Theodore Roosevelt become 26th President of

                                                  The United States.

                            47 yrs.    1904 SS Slocum sinks, 1,021 killed.

                            52 yrs.    1909 William Taft elected 27th President of United States.

                                          1910 Population of U.S.A. - 92.2 million.

                            54 yrs.    1911 Jim ‘Kid’ performing with the 101 Ranch Wild West Show

                                                   joining up with ‘Princess Wenona’ and Bill Pickett.

                                          1911 Nephew Edward James Mallard, 7 yrs., dies in home accident.

                            55 yrs.    1912 Jim ‘Kid’ appearing in silent films.

                                          1912 RMS Titanic sinks after hitting iceburg, 1,572 killed.

                            56 yrs.    1913 Woodrow Wilson elected 28th President of United States.

                            59 yrs.    1916 Jim ‘Kid’ dies & receives Hollywood Star’s Funeral.

                                          1920 Population of U.S.A. - 106.0 million.

James W. Willoughby was born in Clay County, Missouri September 17, 1857. Presently our family does not have any specific records indicating what became of his Mother and Father, although a ‘Tin Type’ photograph of Jim’s mother, Elizabeth Thurston-Willoughby, has survived. By 1880 Jim and his sister, Mary Elizabeth (Mollie), are living with their Grandmother Lucy A. Thurston in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The 1880 census records also indicates Jim working as a ‘stock tender’ on the ranch of John W. Rose near Pine Bluff, Wyoming.


From the information contained in lengthy obituary, written by ‘Two-Bar-7 Hawks” (William E. Hawks) Jim’s cowboy career started at the age of 12 in 1869. Hawks accounts for Jim’s time working for a dozen or more outfits in the then Wyoming Territory. In 1884 Jim won the Riding Championship of Montana. His prizes for that Championship ride was a Meana saddle, bridle, silver trimmed spurs, chaps, lariat, six-gun and $260 in cash. The horse which he won his riding Championship on was named “White Immigrant.” State riding championships were unknown until 1883. His prize saddle and equipment became part of his professional identification. After his death his sister Mollie donated his gear to the Wyoming State Museum, Western section. His gear still appears on display at the museum.

October 29, 1885, The Cheyenne Leader, the following account was given of Jim, the Kid and his runaway hack:



In 1885 Jim’s skills and fame lead him to join up with Colonel Cody of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Jim was a headline performer for the show into the late 1890’s. During this time Jim met and married Lillian Francis Smith, “The California Huntress and Champion Girl Rifle Shot”. Lillian’s real name was allegedly Maud Fontannielo and she was just a ‘Wee Lass” of 16 years, while Great Uncle Jim was near 28 years old! The 1887 performing season opened in England to celebrate Queen Victoria Jubilee. Their marriage was not long lived, Lillian left Jim for another ‘Bucker” after the 1889 season.

Lillian Francis Smith had a nasty professional rivalry with Annie Oakley. Lillian just proclaimed she was the better shot, Annie just state Lillian did OK in spite of her ample figure! Annie was billed second to Lillian on the program as “Champion Markswoman”. Annie left the show in dispute over who was the best. Annie returned a few years later after Lillian had left the show. Lillian faded from the scene as a headliner in a shooting act. She later dyed her skin and changed her professional name to Princess Wenona. She died in near obscurity in 1930. For more information concerning Lillian and Annie please visit the following web-sites:

Lillian Francis Smith as Princises Wenona ~1900


Boston Daily Globe, Wednesday, October 6, 1886 reported the marriage and its denial in the same article?

On August 18, 1889 the Cheyenne Daily Leader reported on the demise of the marriage between ‘Jim The Kid’ Willoughby and his sharp shooting bride Lilian Francis Smith.








The following account was published in 1887 that describes how Jim was able to win a bet of 50,000 francs for Buffalo Bill. That show year started its Queen Victoria Jubilee Tour in London, England. When the show finally arrived in Paris, France Colonel Cody was accused of using trained horses rather than wild horses for his ‘bronco riders’. Jim was called upon to set the record straight.

Jim wrote home from Paris to Ed Towse, City Editor of the Cheyenne Leader, and gave the following account of events in Paris:




Jim Kid, the Champion Rider of Buffalo Bill's Combination, writes to a Friend that He is Having a High old Time.

The City Editor of the Cheyenne Leader has just received a personal letter from James Willoughby, a former Cheyenne boy, who is now known everywhere as "Jim Kid, the Wyoming cowboy." Jim is the champion rider of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Company now playing in Paris. After speaking of school day incidents and inquiring about numerous Cheyenne people, the great rider says:

"Colonel Cody's show is really the greatest attraction here. Of course the Exposition is a marvelous thing, but a great deal of it does not interest everyone, while men, women and children just swarm to our show and think it is the best exhibition in the world. There is a big crowd around our camp all the time and we are asked all sorts of questions even by Americans.

"All of us have learned a little French, and I'll sling the lingo at the boys when I get back. We are treated like Princes by the people. A member of the company can keep drunk all the time if he wants to, and some of them come pretty near doing it. My health isn't as good as it use to be, and I take good care of myself. Besides, I'm married now and must keep straight. My wife is the champion rifle-shot, and has made a great hit here. The Frenchmen handle their toy revolvers pretty well, but are no good with rifle or six-shooter.

"I could make a heap of money giving riding lessons if I wasn't under contract with Cody. They all acknowledge that I am the best rider and roper, with Oscar Quiun of Evanston, next. We are a great card for Wyoming, a place mighty few of these lively Frenchmen ever heard of before. The natives here are thoroughbreds, a great deal more like Americans than the English. They're awful particular about their togs, but drink like fishes and will hot at any point. Most of them will fight at the drop of the hat. The women are all pretty and gay.

"My greatest play here was riding a big black stallion that had killed two men. Some French sports bet a barrel of money that "les cowboys" couldn't get the best of 'Le Relief.' I had never seen the brute, but was keen to make a name for myself and offered to try him. He was led in during the show and I tell you I felt pretty shaky when I saw him. He looked mighty wicked. He was thrown and saddled without much trouble and I got on his back quick for fear I'd weaken. Well, I never was so surprised in my life. He bucked right lively, but couldn't pitch anything like a Western bronco. Every time he stood on his hind legs I waved my hat and the people yelled like Indians. I pulled out a cigarette and lit it and they nearly went wild. They didn't know that it was a snap when compared with riding a good pitching cow horse. He weighed nearly a ton, though, and came down pretty hard, I made him carry double before I let him go. All of the papers gave a big account of it the next morning and the men who lost money on the horse took me to a pub and filled me up with wine and thought I was the best rider in the world.

"This is the longest letter I ever wrote in my life, Ed, but I knew you'd print some of it in the Leader and I want my Wyoming friends to know how I am getting along.


                                                                                                        James Willoughby

In the early 1890’s Jim’s eye was caught by another lady, one Miss Nellie Beach. He sent a photograph of Nellie to his sister Mollie. On its back he wrote, “This is Miss Nellie Beach - That might be your sister-in-law - Who knows - What do you think of her” (signed) Jim Kid

In 1890 Jim left B.B.W.W.S. and went into business with George Beach breaking horses to saddle and harness at Castleton Corners on Staten Island, New York. George had previously been, for several years, in charge of the livestock for B.B.W.W.S.. The assumption at this time is Nellie Beach was some relation to George.


It was The Weston County Democrat in New Castle, Wyoming that reported Jim & George’s new business venture. In the story below this, The Democrat reported there were now nineteen licensed liquor dealers operating in Deadwood, the most famous of the 19 was the ‘Gem’ operated by E.A. Swearingen.

Apparently Jim also had significant skills as an animal trainer preparing ‘trick’ horse and dogs for the show. As Jim traveled around the country with the Wild West Show it did stay long enough in some places to conduct a little business and bring in some addition income, here’s an ad he ran in a Warren, Illinois newspaper:




Somewhere down the trail in the Wyoming Territory, Jim met up with another cowboy by the name of Al Jennings. Historical accounts indicate that Jim and Al Jennings were friends for many years and their paths often crossed. Al Jennings was a real western character of some note. Al Jennings’ fame preceded him through life, he was known as 'The Reformed Bandit'. Al and his brothers had led the train robbing 'Jennings Gang'. Later in life Al unsuccessfully ran for Governor of Oklahoma. Please visit the following web sites for more information about Al Jennings:








Along with Jim's skills as a Rider, Roper, Scout and Outrider for the Deadwood Stage, he filled his time writing songs and poetry. ‘Two-Bar-7 Hawks' (William E. Hawks) noted that Jim “was strong on writing songs”. Some of the songs penned by Jim where “To Hell with Number One” in which he describes life on Fisher’s ranch under old Jim Preston when he is driving Number 2 Hack in Cheyenne. Three Hacks , passenger wagons, ran from the Union Pacific Station to various parts of Cheyenne. Jim desired to drive the No. 1 Hack but had to settle for the No. 2 Hack. “Johnny Slaughter” was his second attempt, in which he describes the killing of Johnny, who was the first driver killed on the Black Hills Stage Line in route to Deadwood by the Bass Gang road agents. Jim’s work for the Line as an ‘Outrider’ acquainted him with Johnny Slaughter. Although Jim and Johnny’s deaths were separated by 39 years they are at final rest within 100 feet of each other. See web sites about the killing of Johnny Slaughter:







Another song written while he was in the Fort Smith, Arkansas, hospital with a broken jaw, describes his life there that includes every nurse, doctor, cook and laundress in that institution. The last song was written on March 30, 1916, was “To My Old Pal Billy From His Old Chum Kiddy Just A Remembrance Of The Tricks We Played In The Good Old Days. Jim and Bill” (I suspect that William E. Hawks is Jim’s “Old Pal Billy”). The name of his last song was “Once A Cowboy” and it is the only one we know the lyrics for, they were included in the obituary written by William E. Hawks:

                                                         Once a Cowboy

                                                             By Jim Kid

                                          You can have my chaps for I’ve quit my job

                                          And here are my spurs and saddle too,

                                          You can have my gun belt and old Betsy Colt.

                                           For there ain’t a thing on the range to do.

                                           The bellowing heard has strayed away,

                                           And d–d if I know what to do;

                                           Most every puncher that throwed a rope

                                           Has gone to work for a picture show –

                                           The hinges creak in the bunk-house door.

                                           And there ain’t no cook like there used to be.

                                           Frying sow-belly and singing a tune,

                                           And the Waddys as mad as they could be.

                                           The bunch grass Susies in the lazy breeze.

                                           And the blossom nod their head now

                                           Where punchers shout whoopee.

                                           But all of ‘ems gone with a picture show.

                                           And so I say you can have my chaps

                                           And everything else of my outfit too.

                                           Take my gun and cartridge belt.

                                           There is no place for a buckaroo.

                                           I know the trail from Wyoming up,

                                           I have worked in sunshine, rain and snow.

                                           There is a damn few of us left.

                                           Who in hell invented the picture show.

In the early 1900's, as silent movies started to gain in popularity the interest in attending Wild West shows began to fade. By 1910 Jim was 53 years old and probably was not having much fun getting thrown from bucking horses. Jim apparently saw the light and decided it was time to go ‘Hollywood’.


It’s unknown exactly when Jim arrived in the Burbank area (‘Hollywood’ films were being made in Burbank) but it’s known he was under contract as a film actor with Fine Arts Film Company at the time of his death. The historical silent film records reveals that in 1911 a large number of ‘Cowboys & Indians’ from the Miller Brothers 101 Wild West Ranch Show became full or part time contract actors for the New York Motion Picture Company. This operation was managed by producer and filmmaker Thomas H. Ince, the films produced were called Bison-101 features. Ince created a year round outdoor filming location east of Santa Monica in the Santa Inez Canyon and this is most likely where Jim began his silent film career.

Wednesday, July 5, 1916, Iowa City, Iowa



On June 24, 1914, Jim wrote to his sister Mollie. Jim was living at 1808 Allesandro Street, Edendale, California. Edendale was the home for most of the major silent film studios in California. Edendal is know today as the Echo Park District and Allesandro Street is now Glendale Boulevard. Jim wrote to his sister Mollie:


“. . . again I had a pretty close call this time I fell 219 feet all most perpendicular. I was working in a Picture called Jim Kid’s Famous Ride and it came very near being the truth it cut 5 big holes in my Head causing fifteen stitches to sew my head up. Dislocated my left Shoulder and Broke Three Ribs on my left side. Ruptured the Cartilage of my right Knee Mashed my chest and Sprained my Neck with a few other Cuts and Bruises. I came out O.K.. But I saved my horse from going over the Bank . . .”


As of this time I have found 2 film credits for Jim, the 50 minute production of  the silent film “Jordan Is A Hard Road” and the epic 3 hour production of “Birth Of A Nation” were Jim plays a security agent. Both films were produced in 1915.



1915 Letter to a friend:




E.A. Logon, the book store man, who as a young man was a cow-puncher, is in receipt of the following which will be appreciated by many old timers.

Glendale, Cali., Jan. 4, 1915

Earnest Logan

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Dear Old Pal:

In my rounds today I ran across Neal Hart, in our conversation your name was mentioned. Well Earnest it sure a reminder of boyhood happy day and Earnest it sure made me feel good to meet a guy I could talk too of days gone by never to return.

I met Hugh Clark in Los Angles at the Rodeo in which Hugh got away with the big prize as you know and I got h - - - because I was judge you know. But nevertheless Hugh got there if I did get H - - -.

Well Earnest I don’t suppose I would know many of the old bunch any more. I am working here in the moving picture game, doing pretty well when I am not crippled up. I have just gone back to work after laying in bed 18 weeks from a fall I got over a cliff 208 feet high. I got five big holes in my head, the back cords of my neck torn loose from my skull, five ribs broke, my right knee dislocated, my nose broke and my lower jaw fractured, slightly hurt inside, otherwise I was OK. But I am all growed together again and working ready for another but hope not.

How is everything in old Cheyenne. Tell Frank Meanea I still ride a Meanea saddle, its good enough for me. There is only two Meanea saddles in this county that I have seen and I have got both of them. I ride one and a lady friend of mine rides the other and the honyokes (honyokes - old slang word for  a rube or simpletonhas never been able to down old Wyoming yet. How I would love to have a pair of old Logan spurs and a bit. Then they couldn't catch me with an airship. I have two Wyoming horses and they are the stuff. I will send you their picture some day if you want them.

Well old boy chum give my regards to all Wyoming friends and write soon.

                                                                                                                Your old chum forever

                                                                                                                James G. Willoughby

Jim Kid

1805 Allesandro St.

Los Angles, Calf.

(Jim had attached his business card to the letter)



Douglas Fairbanks Sr. was one of the main stars at Fine Arts Films. Al Jennings now has also turned up in Hollywood, he is also being featured in Fine Arts Films. Al had played himself in a 18 minute film made in 1908 called the ‘A Bank Robbery’, not much of character stretch! Whatever Jim’s talents really were he certainly made lots of friends through-out his life.


After Jim’s death on December 9, 1916 he was reportedly given the biggest ‘Hollywood’ funeral ever accorded to a film actor of that time. Jim’s death was reported to be from pneumonia possible brought on by an injury he received during a filming accident. The funeral was arranged and paid for by Douglas Fairbanks Sr.. Al Jennings gave Jim’s eulogy. I will include two of Jim’s obituary notices here:


Cheyenne State Leader, December 13, 1916

He wanted to be buried in Cheyenne, and the old timers here are prepared to grant his dying request.

James Willoughby, familiarly know as Kid, one of the most famous cowboys of the early days in Wyoming, died this week in Los Angeles, Calif., according to a telegram received yesterday by Charles Hirsig. The old cowboy expressed a wish just before his death to be buried on the old range where he spent his youth, and Charles Hirsig yesterday wired Los Angeles that the Old Timers of Cheyenne are ready to give him the burial on which his heart was set.

Willoughby left Cheyenne with the Buffalo Bill Show in 1885. Though he traveled the world, his heart was always in Wyoming. In recent years he worked for the moving picture companies in Hollywood, and as an employee of the Universal Film Company in Los Angeles at the time of his death. He was as popular with the motion picture people as he was on the range.

The telegram received yesterday by Hirsig reads as follows: " Jim Kid died here and wanted to be buried in Cheyenne. We are giving him an old-time cowboy funeral, but thought you Old Timers there would like to bury him on his old stamping ground. We will prepay everything to Cheyenne!"

Hirsig's response was instantaneous and the Old Timers here are prepared to carry out his last wish of the former cowboy.

Willoughby worked on the range here as early as 1876 and 1877. He was recognized as the champion rider of the early days, and the old timers declare there never was another rider like him. It was not only his ability as a rider that won him friends, but his straight forward honest character. 


Cowboys and Cowgirls Weep

At Funeral of Jim Willoughby


Special to the Wyoming State Leader


Los Angeles, Cal Dec. 18 . . . Following one of the most picturesque funerals ever witnessed in Los Angeles, the body of Jim Kidd, famous cowboy and scout, was shipped today to Cheyenne, Wyo. At the funeral service held at the First Methodist Church, a hundred and more cowboys and cowgirls sobbed like little children around James bier as he was pronounced the "Squarest man and best friend that ever threw a leg over a saddle." Sunday traffic in the heart of the business district was amazed at the cavalcade which, in point of numbers, might have honored a potentate of the old world.


The hearse was drawn by four white horses as Jim would have liked it to be. Behind it rode Douglas Fairbanks and Al Jennings. The pallbearers rode in a battered stage coach, relic of many a road agent in Wyoming. The following well known movie performers acted as pallbearers: William Gettinger, Vestaer Pegg, Harry Carey, Fred Burns, Harry Burns, Harry Gant and Bud Osburne. Then came the men and women of the cortège, new employes for the most part in the making of motion pictures. Down the sun-burned faces of the men, some of them gray-bearded pioneers, the tears trickled fast and the cowboys showed by their constant recourse to bandana handkerchiefs that this was a funeral where everyone knew and lamented the dead.


At the station they drew their horses in a circle while Jim's lariat, bridle and six-shooter were fitted. His saddle was sewn up in a sack with his chaps into a wooden box to be shipped with his body. His trained horse Joe, which had already been sold, was brought to the depot to see the last of his master.


No word of a service was spoken at the station, the horsemen and horsewomen sitting as stiff in their saddles as if they had been chiseled by Remington. But the plaintive whine of Kidd's dog Pinochle was heard as the animal coward among the flowers with which the coffin was buried. He had followed the horses from the church.


Rev. Dr. Charles Edward Locke, pastor of the church made a brief address. Jennings who first met Kidd around camp fire circles of Cheyenne, delivered an eulogy on the man, "Whose purse was at the disposal of his nearest friends." "He might have been rough but he never lied," said Jennings "At his place you never had to ask for a night's lodging. If he knew you on the trail many miles away, you were his guest. Money he never had much of because he desired only to give to his friends. His riches which he spent his life in gaining are the faces here of those who really mourn him."


Jim’s horse Joe, with saddle reversed, lead the funeral procession.

Shortly after Jim’s death Douglas Fairbanks wrote an article for the July 1917 issue of "The American Magazine" in which he tells wonderful stories about his late friend Jim. This article was reproduced in its entirety as part of a literary collection of Mr. Fairbanks' writings called Douglas Fairbanks: In His Own Words and speaks of Jim on the following pages xiv, 23,24, & 25:

"I was pretty well discouraged by my semi-aeronautical broncho-busting attempts when Jim Kid, who later proved to be guide, philosopher, and friend came along and took me in hand. Kid was a remarkable type of plainsman and cow-puncher. He was quite an interesting character as Roosevelt –––– in fact, he was much like the Colonel in many respects.

Kid was quite a philosopher, and I would as soon consult him as read Herbert Spencer. He was the philosophy of life generally. He taught himself never to worry. "Life at its best", he used to say, "is simply a different way of doing things." And another, "We have wonderful houses here, but the ground I sleep on is both enough and good enough for me." Once he said, "I take every man to be a gentleman until he proves himself otherwise." Or, if he should meet a man and there would be a discussion, he would say, You are a gentleman, Now, show me."

We were riding on the Mojave Desert one day and I said, "How do you like it out here, Jim? "It don't make much difference where you are, it's who's with you," was his answer. And how true that is! Jim never could stand for the ill-treatment of a horse. I heard him say once to and Indian who was abusing his broncho, "If you don't get off that horse, Ill bust you high, wide and handsome!" And the Indian got, too!

By the way, I got a good many titles (screen dialog) for "The Americano" (Fairbanks 1916 silent film) from just such remarks of Kid's. A curious thing about this man was, he was very forgiving. He had a quick temper, but a most remarkable sense of justice. He would always find a good excuse for someone who had offended him. He used to say, "Give me two hours and I'll find the right solution!" He had learned his philosophy on the round-up. Jim never was a heavy drinker except toward the end, and then bad health drove him for consolation and relief to John Barleycorn. Previous to that he used only to drink for companionship.

He took a fancy to me because I was a tenderfoot. I had great affection for the old man. He was getting on toward seventy and I used to have to look after him. One night toward "the end" he came to me and said very confidentially. "Doug, if you want anybody killed let me now." I told him that I didn't have any work of that kind laid out or in contemplation at the moment, and he went away. But the next day he wrote me a letter saying. "I was drunk last night and maybe I meant what I said and maybe I didn't –––– but I guess I did. But I just wanted you to know I would do anything in the world for you."

Jim's memory used to betray him at times when he was too deeply in his cups. He gave his horse (Joe) to me one day, and then went and sold the same animal to someone else (George Walsh). As matter of fact, I owned everything Jim had. He gave me his saddle and chaps, but these were buried with him when he died. I still have his hat.

Kid was sixty-seven when he died, but he was as spry as a boy. And he didn't know what fear was. Eight months ago he played for me in a picture. He road right into the midst of a fight, and he was supposed to be killed, falling off his horse right in the mix-up of stampeding horses and fighting men!

We sent Kid back to Wyoming, his beloved state, to be buried. Two hundred and fifty cow-punchers in full regalia rode down to "see Jim off." And there was his horse with the empty saddle reversed. It was a very impressive sight, that was!"

And from Nebraska’s Lincoln Star, Sunday, December 31, 1916:

Since the original posting of this web-site I've been contacted by a few historians that were knowledgeable of Jim 'Kid' Willoughby's life. Recently I was contacted by Mr. Mike Blackstone, the Great Grandson of Mr. Harry A. Gant. Harry Gant was also a silent film actor and later a silent film maker, he was one of Jim 'Kid's 1916 Pallbearers. Mr. Blackstone sent me the following excerpts from I Saw Them Ride Away, a memoir by Harry Arthur Gant:

The title of this chapter is 'The Two Jims'. In previous chapters, Gant told of his love for a horse of his named Jim. When the horse's leg was broken, he refused to put him down, and he lived the life of a retiree for some years on Gant's father's ranch. When Gant says of Jim Kidd, "Had broken horses for us in the early nineties." he is referring to one of the ranches that Harry Gant's father operated in the area near Fort Collins. Harry Gant was born in 1881. At the end, when he says, "Wonder if it is still there!" he was writing in about 1958.

I hope you enjoy this excerpt. Feel free to use it on your website or otherwise, if you wish. 


Mike Blackstone


The Two Jims

I had word from home that my horse Jim had died. He’d made it through the winter and, of his own accord, drifted off on the range and died, age 26 years. Father swore that Jim knew he was through and just did not want to bother anyone in his final hours.

Within a few days of this I got news of Jim Kidd. He was an old hand that had never in his life done anything other than work with cattle and horses. Had broken horses for us in the early nineties. Now he had drifted to Hollywood where he made a precarious living in the movies. Now, he too, had cashed in his chips, all but a 50 cent piece the coroner found in his pocket. Jim had been one of the strong contributors toward making the Schenleys one of our wealthier outfits. Even to the end, Jim had figured their product would cure his cold as was attested by the many bottles found in his humble room. The sale of empty bottles would not go very far toward a decent burial. So, Fred Burns, who had known Jim when he was a hand on the Buffalo Bill Show, called and asked that I pass the Stetson at Universal to keep the old boy from potter’s field.

The next evening I met Fred and between us we had about one hundred dollars but he had solicited Douglas Fairbanks who had told Fred to put our hats back on and send him the entire bill. On one of my visits with Jim he had told me that when the final day came he hoped he could lie somewhere on the Great Plains, preferably at Cheyenne, where he was born. His folks had sold to Percy Hoyt what was once Charlie Hirsig’s ranch.

Remembering Jim’s wish, I wired Charlie Hirsig asking if Cheyenne would take care of things at that end. I had a day off during the week and started out to procure a church for a Sunday funeral. Visited six, of different denominations, only to be turned down, when they found it was just a broken down old cowpoke. I was about to give up when I called on the pastor at 6th and Hill streets, about the biggest Methodist church in Los Angeles. I told him the whole story, and that the old ex-train robber, Al Jennings, was to preach the service. Without hesitation he said, “Yes, right after our service is out at noon, no charge.” Such men as he make one have more faith in humanity. Thus the hard-riding, hard-drinking son of the plains, Jim Kidd Willoughby’s last remains were carried in a hearse drawn by four horses with 100 mounted men and women following, his horse being led behind the hearse with his boots reversed in the stirrups. There are a great many men who have thought they had brightened up the world by their presence thereon, that had a less impressive send off. At the depot we sacked his saddle and checked it on his ticket for Cheyenne.

The only claim Jim had on the Elks Lodge was probably the elk’s meat he had eaten in his time, but they laid him away on the plains from whence he came. Money a little short, but friends legion. His horse we gave to Fairbanks. When in Cheyenne in 1922 I asked what they had done with his saddle. Hirsig said, “D___ed if I know. Last I saw it was still sacked in the basement of the Plains Hotel.” We took it to the museum at the Capitol Building. Wonder if it is still there!

Other than the obituary information given by William E. Hawks, we do not have specific knowledge which areas of the Wyoming Territory Jim ventured to by 1885. Except we do know he was an Outrider for the Deadwood Stage and he may have known many of the characters that made that place famous. The most startling realization for us was that he lived in the Wyoming Territory during 1876, then 19 years old, and that was the year of The Battle Of The Bighorn.


 When Jim’s remains arrived back home in Cheyenne, Wyoming (Douglas Fairbanks Sr. also paid for the freight cost to ship his body home) his burial was arranged and paid for the by The Cheyenne Old Timers Association and the Cheyenne Elks Club. Jim was honored for his skills, career, honorable reputation and the attention that he brought to Wyoming acting as their Cowboy Ambassador to the World. Jim is buried in Cheyenne’s Lakeview Cemetery, in Lot 1410.

Today James W. Willoughby is still remembered by the good folks of Cheyenne’s Genealogical Historical Society. Each year during Cheyenne’s Frontier Days Celebration the Society members perform graveside reenactments at the Lakeview Cemetery of some of their pioneer plainsmen and plainswomen that include Esther Hobart Morris, John Hunton, John Portugee Phillips, Helen Frances Warren Pershing - wife of General Pershing, Nellie Tayloe Ross, Willie Nickell , Tom Horn and James W. Willoughby - Jim ‘Kid’.


In 1939 Jim’s sister Mollie (Mary Elizabeth Lee Willoughby-Crager) died at the age of 79 years in Seattle, Washington. Mollie survived her husband, she was survived by her daughter, my Grandmother, Bessie Crager-Mallard. Prior to Mollie’s death she had requested she be returned to “her beautiful Wyoming” and be buried with her beloved brother Jimmy. Mollie was cremated and her ashes were placed in Jim’s grave.

The research on Jim ‘Kid’ lead to the discovery that Mollie’s grave marker had never been set. I have found correspondence between Mollie’s daughter in San Francisco and family representatives in Wyoming discussing the cost and placement of Mollie’s grave marker but it just never got done. Only after the wonderful people at Lakeview Cemetery took the time to go out to Jim’s grave, and photograph it for me, did we learn Mollie’ marker had not been set.


We have now set Mollie’s grave marker on Jim’s grave so Mollie is forgotten no more and everyone who sees Jim’s grave will know Mollie is “resting with Jimmy” just as she had wished.

Jim’s Brother-in-Law, Mollie’s husband, and my Great Granfather, George C. Crager (1859-1920), is another character written into Western History. He was a trumpeter in the U.S. Army, Company M, 3rd Cavalry from 1876-1881, the adoptive son of Chief Two Strike, a Sioux-Lakota Indian interpreter of 13 dialects , U.S. Army Indian Scout. He was present at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Chief’s Counsel immediately after the Massacare of Wounded Knee and appears in many of the historic photographs memorializing the aftermath of that event. He was the manager of the New York Office of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and manager of Indian performers, by Congressional appointment an Indian Land Agent, manager for the famed interpretive dancer Loie Fuller and stage actress Alice Nielsen, correspondent for The New York World, London’s Globe and Daily Mail newspapers, Inspector for the American Red Cross during WW1, Inspector General for Perrier Ltd., the Aimsinck Company’s Representative in Chile and a representative of American Scenic Railroad Company, he referred to himself as an “Impresario”. In addition he fluently spoke Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German and Russian. Grandfather Crager’s passport was Commisioned to him by President Grover Cleveland and several of his visa applications during the WWI years were endorsed by official military documents. His third daughter, Winifred Crager, died with over 1,000 other passengers in the great fire and sinking disaster of the S.S. General Slocum on New York’s East River June 15, 1904.


Note: The original photograph of the 101 Ranch Show is 52” in length and 10” in height, it has been significantly restored by American Editions of Redwood City, Calif. Considering the extremely poor condition of the photograph they started with, their results are absolutely amazing.


Jim signed his name as “Jim Kid” in his personal correspondence. He was referred to as Jim Kidd by most all that wrote of him. Pages  321 & 332 of The life & Legends of Buffalo Bill  by Don Russell speaks of his 1884 riding championship and his marriage to Lillian Francis Smith. Pages 84 & 116 of Buffalo Bill’s Great Wild West Show by Walter Havighurst speaks of Jolting Jim Kidd’s riding and rope twirling skills. The story of James (Jim Kid) Willoughby by OL’ WADDY appears page 66 of The Western Horseman Magazine May 1961.


All the photos of Jim ‘Kid’ were given to “Us” by my Uncle Bernard C. Mallard and his surviving family. . .