Raymond Hatfield Gardner was captured by Comanche Indians as a one-year-old child while crossing Texas in a wagon train. At age nine, his captors traded him to the Sioux tribe. The trading price demanded by the Comanches? Nine ponies, eight blankets and two girls! He escaped from the Sioux and became a government scout at the tender age of seventeen. He came to be known as Arizona Bill and was one of the last great scouts of the American West.
In his incredibly long and varied career, Arizona Bill served as a Civil War soldier, cavalryman, courier, Pony Express rider, Indian fighter, government scout, deputy U. S. Marshal, Arizona Ranger, prospector, mule trader, and Wild West performer. His nickname came after military campaigns against the Apaches in Arizona. In his later life, he lectured and had a radio show during the 1930s. He also wrote a book called “The Old Wild West: Adventures of Arizona Bill”. He died in 1940 at around age 95!
He was known for his long hair and long, flowing beard. It was said that even at age 82 he didn’t have a single gray hair! He retired near Fort Sam Houston and slept in a stable near his burro, Tipperary. He was buried in a pauper’s grave, but when his civil war military records were found later, he was buried with full military honors on Veteran’s Day, 1976.
Arizona Bill was said to be an extremely interesting conversationalist. No doubt his many experiences contributed greatly to any conversations he held!