Buckskin Ben Stalker. In the tradition of the old wildwest shows made popular by Buffalo Bill and others, Wayne County Indiana also had its own nationally known showman. Benjamin Stalker, better known as “Buckskin Ben”, lived and wintered his show in Cambridge City, Indiana. His wild west show traveled the midwest and eastern United States extensively during the early part of the twentieth century.
Cowboy Ben Stalker was born “out west” in 1863 (several dates regarding the year of his birth have been published) and relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana after “30 years of hard life” in 1886. He had planned to settle down and get married, but after a short time in Indianapolis, he decided to start a wild west show. His success in this endeavor was undoubtedly a direct result of the many ranching and shooting skills he had learned out west. The show proved to be an immediate success.
While performing in Wayne County, Indiana in (c:) 1900, Ben decided the show would set up its winter home in Cambridge City. With the profits from one of his shows in that county, he established the company’s winter quarters and purchased a tract north of the city. The entire Stalker family would eventually became members of Ben’s wildwest show. Ben, his wife and their six children.
Charles Albert of Richmond joined the show, as manager in 1906. Noah (Little Eye) Waddell of Cambridge City (and later of Ft. City, Indiana) was a trick rider with them for 10 years, during the show’s early years. Buckskin Ben & company performed their last Richmond show on July 23, 1929, at the old exhibition arena. He was 76 years old at the time. He died in Columbus, Ohio in 1949, and was buried beside his wife in Cambridge City, Indiana.
Buckskin Ben as a young man.
Noah Waddell was a trick rider for the Buckskin Ben Show (10 years).
Photograph Source; Cambridge City Indiana Library.
Buckskin Ben Stalker; photo source; Cambridge City Indiana Library.
Evening Item photo of show members, while performing in Richmond, c: 1929.
The Stalker family home in Cambridge City, Indiana. (Photo by Dan Tate)
Ben Stalker (Courtesy of Cambridge City Indiana Library).
A closer view of the preceding photo.
THE END OF A LEGEND.
Palladium Item obituary for Ben Stalker; 1949
Buckskin Ben’s Wild West. Ben Stalker (“Buckskin Ben”), prop.; Geo. O. Litt, gen. mgr.; Frank S. Reed, asst. mgr. & press rep.; Mrs. Ben Stalker, treas. & mgr. commissary dept.; Geo. Stalker (“Buckskin Ben, Jr.”), equestrian dir.; Prof. Doc Howard, supt. of stock; W. D. Wager, leader of band and or. From: “Circus Roster”, Billboard, March 20, 1909.
The particular saddle that my friend, Brian, had on hand was one that had been custom-ordered by a modern-day version of Buffalo Bill Cody, a gent by the name of Ben Stalker, who went by the moniker œBuckskin Ben. Ol™ Ben had commissioned Monroe to build him a kind of ˜billboard saddle™, one that not only served as a seat atop his magnificent steed while leading the Grand Entry at the beginning of each of his Wild West Shows, but also as a ˜traveling advertisement™ wherever he went, since it was stamped œBuckskin Ben in large letters on the saddle™s cantle, pommel and fenders. As it was naturally a ˜one-of-a-kind™ piece, and in decent condition for its age, that saddle brought in a tidy sum for Brian when he sold it on eBay. Source
A GREAT Buckskin Ben website
Palladium Item article re: Ben Stalker and Noah Waddell. (Source; Cambridge City Indiana Library).