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MS 322 - Captain Jack Crawford Collection



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MS 322 - Captain Jack Crawford Collection, 1868-1950 | McCracken Research Library

By Samantha L. Harper

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Collection Overview

Title: MS 322 - Captain Jack Crawford Collection, 1868-1950Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Crawford, John Wallace "Captain Jack"

Extent: 36.0 Boxes


The collection (No. 322) is arranged into seven series by type of record, as follows:

Biographical Information – Box 1

Family Information – Box 1


            Personal (Non-Business) – Box 1-3

            Business – Box 4-5

Business Affairs – Box 6

Financial Documents – Box 7

            Business – Box 7

            Family – Box 7

Literary Works

            Poems – Box 8-10

            Songs – Box 10

            Plays – By Captain Jack – Box 10-12

            Plays – By Others – Box 13

            Stories – Box 14

            Articles – Personal Accounts – Box 14-15

            Articles – By Others – (About CJ, Contemporaries, or Family) – Box 16

            Newspaper Clippings – Box 17

            Books – By Captain Jack – Box 17

            Diaries – By Captain Jack – Box 17

            Notebooks & Scrapbooks – Box 17-20, 23-24(oversize)

Printed Materials – Captain Jack – Box 21-22

            Entertainment, Mining, and General

Oversize Manuscript Materials – Box 23-26, 36

Photographs – Box 27-35

            Oversize Photographs – Box 33-35

Date Acquired: 01/01/2008

Languages: English


The John Wallace "Captain Jack" Crawford Collection consists of family and personal papers, research, and drafts of writing projects as well as correspondence related to business and personal matters.  Writing topics include poetry, short stories, and theatrical plays.  His business interests included performing, mining, scouting, and running a farm and general store.

Collection Historical Note

John Wallace Crawford (1847-1917), sometimes called "Captain Jack" or "The Poet Scout", was born in Northern Ireland.  Immigrating to the United States at the age of eleven (1858), he joined his father in a coal mine in Minersville, Pennsylvania.  In 1863, he and his father joined the Union Army in the Civil War, serving in the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers.  ‘Captain Jack’ was wounded four times, the last of which occurred at Spottsylvania. A nun taught him to read and write while he was recuperating from the wound. After the war, Crawford returned to Pennsylvania, married Maria Stokes and started a family.

One of the original seven men who settled in the Black Hills region after the Custer expedition in 1874, Crawford was a newspaper correspondent for The Omaha Daily Bee, reporting on conditions in the Black Hills.  He also became Chief of Scouts for the Black Hills Rangers.  After the defeat of General Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876, Crawford joined the Fifth Calvary at the urging of his friend, William Frederick ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody.  While he served as a scout and messenger for both Generals Merritt and Crook, Crawford continued to send dispatches to The Omaha Daily Bee.  In the fall of 1876, Crawford joined Buffalo Bill's theatrical troupe for the winter season.  He starred as ‘Captain Jack’ opposite ‘Buffalo Bill’ in western themed melodramas.

In the spring of 1878, Crawford journeyed to the gold fields of Dawson in the Yukon Territory.  He never had much luck as a miner, so, a year later, he traveled to San Francisco to negotiate the publication of his first book, The Poet Scout.  During the last half of 1879 and through 1880, Crawford scouted for the U.S. Army in New Mexico for their campaign against the Apaches.  Crawford liked the area, so after he resigned from the Army in 1880, he decided to remain in New Mexico.  After Crawford accepted a position as post trader at Fort Craig, he sent for his wife, Maria, and their children.  The family maintained their residence at this isolated location for nearly two decades, even after the troops withdrew and the fort closed.  He continued to prospect, perform, and write.  The Poet Scout was enlarged and reprinted in 1886 and was followed by three other books; Camp Fire Sparks, Lariette and The Broncho Book.  He also wrote several plays in which he took the central roles, and he authored more than a hundred short stories.

Because of a promise that he claimed he made to his mother on her death bed, Crawford allegedly never touched a drop of whiskey.  Proud of his sobriety, he became a special agent of the Justice Department under President W.H. Harrison in the fall of 1889.  Responsible for the capture of outlaws and "bootleggers" who sold whiskey to Native Americans, he traveled extensively throughout the Southwest during the next four years.

In 1893, Crawford devoted time exclusively to his career as an entertainer.  By 1898, he attained recognition as one of the country's most popular platform entertainers.  However, by 1899 he submitted to ‘gold fever’ again joining the rush to the Klondike.  After two years, he returned to his career as an entertainer, but his finances were precarious.  Estranged from his wife, Crawford died in his Woodhaven, Long Island home in 1917.

Administrative Information

Repository: McCracken Research Library

Access Restrictions: McCracken Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials. Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation or publication. Contact McCracken Research Library for more information.

Acquisition Source: Harriet Crawford Richardson

Acquisition Method: Gift

Related Publications:


The Broncho Book.  The Roycrofters, 1908. [PS1469 .C73 1908 – Russell Collection]

The Poet Scout.  Funk and Wagnalls, 1886.  [PS 1469 .C73 1886 – Russell Collection]

The Poet Scout.  H. Keller & Co., 1879.  [PS 1469 .C3 1879 – Russell Collection]


Miller, Darlis A.  Captain Jack Crawford : buckskin poet, scout, and showman.  University of New Mexico Press, 1993.  [F 594 .C73 M55 1993]

Rezatto, Helen.  Tales of the Black Hills.  North Plains Press, c1983.  [F 657 .B6 R46 1983]

Sagala, Sandra K.  Buffalo Bill on Stage.  University of New Mexico Press, c2008.  [F 594 .B94 S23 2008]

Spotts, David L.  Campaigning with Custer : and the Nineteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry on the Washita Campaign, 1868-69.  University of Nebraska Press, 1988.  [E 83.869 .S76 1988]

Preferred Citation: John Wallace "Captain Jack" Crawford Collection, MS 322, Harold McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Historical Center.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Biographical Information, 1860 - 1960],
[Series 2: Family, 1860 - 1960],
[Series 3: Correspondence, 1860 - 1960],
[Series 4: Business, 1860 - 1920],
[Series 5: Financial and Legal Documents],
[Series 6: Literary Works],
[Series 7: Photographs],
[Series 8: Oversize Materials],

Series 2: Family, 1860 - 1960Add to your cart.
Information pertaining to the Crawford family or its members and friends.  These materials are arranged by the hyphenated last name combination of Crawford-(married name) for female family members.  Materials that relate to certain branches of the family or multiple family members are listed under the family name (i.e. Crawford Family, Nattress Family, Stokes Family).
Box MS322.01Add to your cart.
Folder 322.01.23: Family - Anna Maria Stokes Crawford - CardsAdd to your cart.
322.01.23.001 - To My Mother
Folder 322.01.24: Family - Crawford, Harry - NewspapersAdd to your cart.
16 pages of photocopied Newspapers
Folder 322.01.25: Family - Crawford-Brechtel, Elizabeth Esther May - CorrespondenceAdd to your cart.
Photocopy of Christmas Card
Folder 322.01.26: Family - Crawford-Reckhart, Evangeline L. - Marriage Announcement and Certificate, 1895Add to your cart.
3 pages of photocopied invitation and certificate
Folder 322.01.27: Family - Crawford-Newcomer, Laura C. - ObituaryAdd to your cart.
2 pages of photocopied funeral announcement and article
Folder 322.01.28: Family - Richardson, Harry Crawford - "Round the World By Mail" CertificateAdd to your cart.
Photocopy of Certificate
Folder 322.01.29: Family - Crawford - Fort Craig (New Mexico) - MapAdd to your cart.
322.01.29.001 - Small Map of Fort Craig, NM
Folder 322.01.30: Family - Friends - Johnson FamilyAdd to your cart.

322.01.30.001 - Envelope

322.01.30.002 - Funeral of O.G. Johnson & Hymnial

322.01.30.003a - A Tribute

322.01.30.003b - By Esther Wiblesworth & The Denouement

322.01.30.004 - Laid At Rest

322.01.30.005 - In Memoriam

322.01.30.006 - Join In A Warning

322.01.30.007 - Mr. and Mrs. Henry Brown Johnson

322.01.30.008 - Henry B. Johnson

Folder 322.01.31: Family - New Mexico History - Socorro & ChlorideAdd to your cart.

Photocopy of "Schools in Chloride" 3 pages

Photocopy of "Socorro New Mexico" 24 pages

Folder 322.01.32: Family - New Mexico History - San Marcial (New Mexico)Add to your cart.

322.01.32.001 - Souvenir - San Marcial Public School District Number 13

322.01.32.002 - NM Horny Toad Sportsman

322.01.32.003 - Following were present at the San Marcial Picnic

322.01.32.004 - Following were present at the San Marcial Picnic

322.01.32.005 - Following were present at the San Marcial Picnic

322.01.32.006 - A Matter of Patriotism and Common Sense

322.01.32.007 - Handwritten - San Marcial Reunion Picnic 1940

322.01.32.008 - Handwritten - San Marcial Reunion Picnic 1940

322.01.32.009 - Handwritten - San Marcial Reunion Picnic 1960

322.01.32.010 - Handwritten - San Marcial Reunion 1948

322.01.32.011 - San Marcial Picnic - 1945

322.01.32.012 - San Marcial Picnic - 1947

322.01.32.013 - September 11, 1949

322.01.32.014 - SM 1950

322.01.32.015 - Musing and Dreaming on New Year's Eve

322.01.32.016 - SM 1951

322.01.32.017 - For Picnic of Sept. 1954

322.01.32.018 - Federal Works Agency

322.01.32.019 - Central Methodist Church

322.01.32.020 - List of Names and dollar amounts

322.01.32.021 - The old San Marcial papers Gray Hanna would like to see

322.01.32.022 - Postcard - You are invited to attend the Annual San Marcial Reunion

322.01.32.023 - Postcard - Dear May: Many thanks for

322.01.32.024 - Postcard - Dear May: Thanks very much for your

Folder 322.01.33: Family - New Mexico History - Socorro (New Mexico)Add to your cart.

322.01.33.001 - The City of Socorro

322.01.33.002 - Climatic Summary

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Biographical Information, 1860 - 1960],
[Series 2: Family, 1860 - 1960],
[Series 3: Correspondence, 1860 - 1960],
[Series 4: Business, 1860 - 1920],
[Series 5: Financial and Legal Documents],
[Series 6: Literary Works],
[Series 7: Photographs],
[Series 8: Oversize Materials],

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