My cousin Trevor was convinced that one of the Native Americans in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show was our great-grandfather.
Trevor said that it was Paul Eaglestar. My cousin Reg, Trevor’s brother, was also convinced of the story. he had been told the story by our uncle Billy, my mother’s brother.
Reg was another family member that I had lost contact with for many years. At the time Reg told me what he knew, he was living in Cyprus. A couple of years later he moved with his wife back to England. Sadly he died about two years ago so I was not able to share the results of my DNA test with him. I wonder what he would have made of it. Would he have been as puzzled as I am about the origin of the myth?
Reg and I chatted a few times on Skype. He said that he had been told about the Native American ancestor by our uncle Billy. He also recalled that as a child he had been taken by his dad to Brompton Cemetery. He was shown a grave and remembered the name Eagle. I was almost convinced that this was true when I looked again at this old family photograph.
One of the two young men standing (on the right) could be my grandfather, William Tyson. The other is unknown to me. I guess judging from the uniforms that it is from the period of World War 1. Who the seated men are I have no idea but could they be the fathers of the younger men? Intriguingly, could the one on the left be our Native American ancestor? The back of the photograph was interesting too.
In pencil, under the writing at the top left, is my grandmother’s address, 10 Goodson Road. Covering that in pen is some photographers instructions ending with the word Eagle. My cousin Trevor thought that our Native American ancestor was Paul Eaglestar
Paul Eaglestar: the sad truth of his story.
Paul was with the show when it visited Sheffield in August 1891 when a tragic accident occurred.
Part of the show was a re-enactment of an attack on the Deadwood stagecoach. As the Indians galloped into the arena Paul’s horse stumbled and fell against the surrounding fence. Paul’s leg was trapped under the belly of the falling horse and he suffered a compound fracture. He was rushed to Sheffield Infirmary where surgeons operated on his leg. Tragically tetanus set in and surgeons were forced to amputate his lower leg, but the disease won the fight and Paul passed away on the 24th August 1891.
With great reluctance, the show had moved on to its next venue when Paul died. George Crager the interpreter stayed behind and was with Paul round the clock and held the dying man’s hand. He was also visited by Chief Short Bull.
The death certificate states Paul was twenty-five when he died in 1891. My Grandmother was born in 1887 so the dates do not add up either. He left a wife and children back in Rosebud Agency, United States.
Paul’s return home.
A story was circulating the press a few years ago that Paul had been buried in Sheffield. They were excavating a site for a new building and it was speculated that the grave could have been on the site. Certainly not true as it has been clearly documented that the body was taken back to London’s Brompton Cemetery. Some years ago when I was researching I saw the grave myself. Pauls remains were later exhumed and taken back home by his relatives to Rosebud reservation. I emailed one of the journalists to correct the story but he never replied. “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story”.