A statue of James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok will soon join ranks with Shawnee’s pioneer trail history memorabilia.
The statue will be installed in the center of Trail Scout Park, which the Shawnee council approved Monday as part of its revised budget. One of the newest additions to the Nieman Now project, Trail Scout Park and the statue will be located on the roughly one-half acre plot of land between Stag’s Creek and Commerce Bank just north of Shawnee Mission Parkway.
“It’ll be a real nice addition to — and tie into — Pioneer Crossing,” said Neil Holman, parks and recreation director of Shawnee.
Charles Goslin, a Shawnee historian who has sculpted the city’s other statues, will sculpt “Wild Bill” Hickok. The project idea, which has been in the works for the past year, will have a tie in with Pioneer Crossing Park, located east of Nigro’s Western Store along Shawnee Mission Parkway.
The statue will depict Hickok, hat in hand and looking back at the wagon train at Pioneer Crossing as if he’s leading the way across Shawnee Mission Parkway.
Hickok came to Shawnee in his late teenage years to work for Dick Williams, a local wagon master, Holman said, citing Goslin’s extensive historical research on Shawnee history. Hickok then went to the township of Monticello, where he became a deputy. He then went on to Nebraska and worked at the Rock Creek Station of the Russell, Waddell and Majors Freight Company. It was there he became known as “Wild Bill.”
The city earmarked $150,000 for the park and statue, although Holman doesn’t anticipate that the project will require the full amount of funding.
Holman said the Shawnee council had wanted the plot of land to accommodate a commercial or retail building similar to Stag’s Creek. However, after drainage work into Turkey Creek was completed, the city found that the half-acre plot wasn’t “buildable.”
Trail Scout Park will also feature a plaza area with signs that share more about “Wild Bill” Hickok’s story, the blacksmith Black Star who shoed oxens for wagon trains, and also photos of the wagon master Dick William’s house that was across the street.
Holman expects the park and statue to be complete sometime in early summer 2019.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect a more accurate timeline of Hickok’s claim to fame. He became known as “Wild Bill” after he left Monticello and was working at the Rock Creek Station of the Russell, Waddell and Majors freight company in Nebraska — not while he was working as a deputy in Monticello.