who gave the first buffalo to Golden Gate Park?

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Who gave the very first buffalo to Golden Gate Park? Our family lore says our ancestor did, and that they were the buffalo from the Buck Taylor Wild West show. After the 1894 midwinter fair closed, JB Gilbert, owner of Scott & Gilbert Co manufacturing chemists, bought the show and ran it to advertise his "Top Notch" products. The show became a liability and he disbanded it. [JB and Buck Taylor were arrested April 16, 1894 for "pulling the bull's tail" during the show--SF Call page 12, 17 April 1895]. It was then he gave the buffalo to the park, and they were the beginning of the herd. JB Gilbert was the Haight Street Manager, whatever that was. What is the historical account of the first buffalo?

-- Lavinia G. Schwarz (r-vschwarz@worldnet.att.net), May 30, 2001


The Koshland collection at the SF Public Library shows a listing for the buffalo history in its Golden Gate Park collection.

Contact them and see if you can take a look at it. If you're not in SF, I bet they'd be happy to look it up for you. The librarians are really nice and helpful.

-- Rosa Debonneheure (rosadebon@yahoo.com), July 06, 2001.

Here is someting I found ...

They're in a strange position, these animals. One herd or another has been in the park since 1890, when concerned naturalists transported the then-endangered originals, a girl bison, or cow, named Madame Sarah Bernhardt, and a bull called Ben Harrison, from the plains of Wyoming and Kansas, and installed them there for their own safe keeping. [Source: Oh, Give Me a Home by Samantha Schoech http://www.onthepage.org/outsiders/oh_give_me_a_home.htm ]

-- rp (zpub2000@yahoo.com), September 07, 2001.

Ray Clary wrote a 2 volume history of Golden Gate Park, fairly comprehensive, and certainly the most complete history of the park ever attempted. He cites a time of around 1890, before the Midwinter Fair, when six buffalos "were purchased in Utah." Apparently only three survived the trip, and were placed in the city's first zoo, a spot near today's Aids Memorial Grove, aka DeLaveaga Dell. The female, "Sarah Bernhardt", gave birth to a calf in the park in 1892. In 1899, while moving the buffalos to a new paddock (today's location) one of the males tried to break free, and during attempts to capture him, attacked and gored to death the horse of Police Captain Sam Thomson while he was riding it. Years later, in the late 1900s, the herd contracted a form of tuberculosis. Most, perhaps all, of those infected were moved to a work farm on the south peninsula and new unifected buffalo were brought in to replace them.

-- Chris Dichtel (cyberiad@earthlink.net), October 21, 2003.

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