We're working on the first leg of the BBB Wild Bill Book Tour, which will launch in June with the first leg of the tour ending in Deadwood at the Wild Bill Days Celebration.
By my count, this is my 13th book and I always learn something I didn't expect when I get into the flow. Some tidbits have intrigued me for a very long time, like this one: "Stag his nibs!" What the hell does that mean? It comes from a newspaper report, in1874, when a kid yelled the phrase at Wild Bill Hickok, in a snowstorm. Actually, the full phrase is "Stag his nibs wid the long hair!"
We'll come back to this intriguing slang in a moment.
The biggest problem with Wild Bill is that his massive legend almost turned him into a cartoon character. I recently met some Old West fans from Britain who questioned whether Wild Bill even existed. Hickok is almost too perfect in his appearance and swaggering abilities. He seems made up.
But, of course, he was a real guy.
The Truth About Wild Bill
• And, finally, we come full circle to the phrase that has stumped me for the past 40 years: "Stag His Nibs wid the long hair!” It was yelled at Hickok as he left show business in a snowstorm in Rochester, New York and a reporter wrote it down. The article appeared in the Rochester Democratic on March 14, 1874, when an "impudent youngster" newsboy recognizes the famous Westerner. Finally, it can be told exactly what this phrase means. And if you buy the book, it's on page 83.
"Oh, look at that self-important man with the long hair."
—Translation of Stag His Nibs