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Civil War Round Table of Kansas City
Biographer of Wild Bill Hickok Dies

Contributed by Howard Mann

Wild Bill Hickok?

Wild Bill Hickok (Wikimedia Commons)

Howard MannAs an expatriate member and past president of the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City, I want to contribute this article from the Nashville, Tennessee CWRT. I received a notice on the passing of Joseph G. Rosa on January 15 in Ruislip, England. Joseph G. Rosa was an expert on James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok and a friend of mine. Joe wrote several books on Wild Bill and the equally Wild West over the years, and befriended the Hickok family in Troy Grove, Illinois. Joe and I talked a good bit about Wild Bill’s Civil War career. Over the years, I collected a good bit of the existing material on the life and times of Wild Bill Hickok.

Joseph was a quiet spoken, erudite gentleman who had been writing about Wild Bill since the late 1960’s.

The following quotations are taken from the story, “Wild Bill Hickok biographer dies,” which appeared in the The Mendota Reporter on March 3, 2015.

“Joseph G. Rosa, historian and expert on the life of James “Wild Bill” Hickok, died on Jan. 17, 2015 in England. Mendota area residents became acquainted with Rosa due to his lifetime interest and tireless research on the life of Hickok. In 2008, when the Mendota Museum and Historical Society was making plans to unveil the bronze statue of “Wild Bill” Hickok on the museum grounds, they invited Rosa to be the keynote speaker, an invitation he gladly accepted …

“Rosa was born Nov. 20, 1932 in West London, England and grew up not far away in Woodville Gardens, Ruislip, Middlesex. From the time he was a child, Rosa enjoyed drawing and painting and became a very proficient artist. He also loved movies, especially westerns. This was a passion he shared with his father from an early age …

“The inspiration to begin his massive research project on the life of Hickok came after seeing Cecil B. DeMille’s film, “The Plainsman” in which Hickok is a central character. This was a daunting challenge for Rosa in the pre-computer 1950s and required literally writing thousands of letters and requesting copies of documents from many American historical societies. To great acclaim, Rosa’s work, “They Called Him Wild Bill” was published in 1964. This book was considered the first real biography of Wild Bill and was accepted by historians as the definitive work on the subject.”

Link to Joseph G. Rosa's Author Page on Amazon

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