Gordon W. Lillie

Class of
Gordon W. Lillie

Gordon W. Lillie

“He helped make the West a place worth singing about.”
Southern Living Magazine, 1992


Oklahoma’s first “King of the Cowboys,” Pawnee Bill began his life as Gordon W. Lillie when he was born in Illinois and later taught public school on the Pawnee Reservation. He was a noted hunter, trapper, scout, and interpreter for Pawnee Indians in Kansas before coming to Oklahoma as a leader of the Boomer movement during the opening of the unassigned lands in the area. In 1883, he and six Pawnee Indians joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and would stay for 30 years, where he became famous across the U.S. and in Europe as “Pawnee Bill.”

He and his wife, Mary, built their home in Pawnee and became the proprietors of the historic Pawnee Bill’s Buffalo Ranch and Indian Trading Store. He stopped touring in 1913 and came home to Pawnee to ranch at Blue Hawk Peak, where he worked tirelessly in his efforts to save the buffalo from extinction and produced several of the country’s first Western movies. He was also the author of several books including Blazing Horizon (1927) and Thirty Years Among the Pawnee Indians (1928).

Fun fact

In 1909, Lillie became half owner with Buffalo Bill Cody of a new show that combined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and Pawnee Bill’s Great Far East. It was also a well-known fact that Lillie never owned a pair of shoes, only boots.

Oklahoma connections

Lillie came to Oklahoma as a leader of a Boomer colony.









No items found.
No items found.