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The Johnny Baker Archive

We are pleased to present a fabulous group of lots related to Lewis H. Baker, Jr. (1869-1931), more commonly known as "Johnny" Baker or "The Cowboy Kid". The items came from the estate of Gladys White, Baker's granddaughter. They were saved by Baker's second wife and passed down through the family. The archive includes photos from all stages of Baker's life and career, encompassing autographs, personal artifacts and items related to his tenure with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show.

Baker was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. His family were neighbors and friends of Mr. & Mrs. William F. Cody. After the death of Cody's son Kit in 1876, Johnny became Cody's de-facto foster son. He formally joined Cody's Wild West show in 1885, the same year Annie Oakley & Frank Butler signed on. He and Oakley became friends and she helped him to hone his shooting skills. Billed as "The Cowboy Kid", he performed as a sharpshooter, engaging in friendly rivalries with Oakley.

A year later, in 1886, Baker married fellow performer Della Ferrell (sometimes spelled Farrell). Ferrell was a cowgirl and trick rider who entranced audiences with her equestrian skills, winning rave reviews. The couple had two children: Della C. (1892-1986) and Gladys K. (1893-1990). Tragically, Della Ferrell died from pneumonia at age 26 in 1896. Not surprisingly, material related to her brief time with the Wild West Show is rare and sought-after.

Baker remained with the show, eventually taking on managerial duties. His devoted relationship to Buffalo Bill lasted until Cody's death in 1917. Baker raced to Cody's bedside, but arrived one day too late to bid a poignant last farewell to the great scout and showman. In the years that followed, he founded the Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum in Denver, Colorado.

Johnny Baker