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Wyoming’s First ‘Celebrity Wedding’ Celebrates its 141st Anniversary

Gary Cooper and Helen Burgess star in ‘The Plainsman’, the story of Wild Bill Hickok and his friends. Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Gary Cooper and Helen Burgess star in ‘The Plainsman’, the story of Wild Bill Hickok and his friends. Hulton Archive, Getty Images

This week marks the 141st anniversary of Wyoming’s first “celebrity wedding”.

On March 5, 1876, infamous gunslinger “Wild” Bill Hickok and legendary lion tamer Agnes Thatcher Lake were married in Cheyenne.

The ceremony took place at a friend’s house and was officiated by Reverend W.F. Warren of Cheyenne’s First Methodist Church.

The Cheyenne Daily Sun reported news of the nuptuals the following day.

“Wild Bill of western fame has conquered numerous Indians, outlaws, bears and buffaloes, but a charming widow has stolen the magic wand. The scepter has departed and he is as meek and gentle as a lamb. In other words, he has shuffled off the coil of bachelorhood,” they wrote.

At the time of their marriage, Lake was eleven years older than Hickok.

Prior to meeting the renowned wild west showman, Lake had built a reputation of her own as one of the premiere circus performers in the country.

At 16, she met and married her first husband, a circus clown named Bill Thatcher, who went by the stage name of Bill Lake. She mastered the art of tight-rope walking and learned to train lions, quickly becoming one of the most popular attractions in the west.

Two years after her first husband was killed, she met and befriended Hickok, who was then the town marshall of Abilene, Texas.

Another five years later, in February of 1876, they met again in Cheyenne and were married the following month.

Sadly, their marraige would be short lived. On August 2, 1876, Hickok was shot and killed while playing poker in a Deadwood, South Dakota, saloon.

In September of 1877, Lake returned to Cheyenne. This time, she married another younger man named George Carson. He was 29, she was 42.

It’s unknown how long her third marriage lasted. Lake eventually moved to New Jersey, where she lived with her daughter and son-in-law until 1907, when she passed away at the age of 80

She was laid to rest in Cincinatti, Ohio, next to her first husband Bill Lake.

 

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