In October 1912, Buffalo Bill’s circus visited Orlando.
Bill’s oldest, and subsequently largest, buffalo took it upon himself to run away from the circus and meander his way along Orange Avenue.
A group of “punchers,” or cattle prodders that totally ushered the buffalo from place to place, were trying to direct Big Barney over to his train car after performing his stunts for onlooking Orlandoans.
Barney was supposedly suffering from an acute case of “Texas Fever,” an illness caused by parasitic protozoa carried by ticks that causes emaciation, anemia, and inevitably death. So at about the point, Big Barney reached Central Avenue, he started to make a fuss. His handlers removed his ropes and restraints in an effort to calm him but he took off on his own and even headed into a series of shops; Kanner’s followed by Duckworth’s Department Store, where he braced himself against a massive window but managed not to shatter it.
The punchers managed to rope Barney again and haul him further down the street, where he laid down at the intersection of Church and Orange and breathed his last breath. Just outside of the new Walgreens.
106 years ago a massive buffalo named Barney died in Downtown Orlando while attempting an epic escape. We need a statue.
Thank you to our friends at the Orange County Regional History Center for helping us with this research.