Wild Bill sculpture unveiled in Shawnee, Kansas

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 1:44 PM CST
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SHAWNEE, Kan. (KCTV) - On Jan. 24, the famous gunfighter Wild Bill was being remembered in Shawnee for his short but impactful time in Johnson County, Kansas.

A huge statue went up about a quarter of a mile from Pioneer Crossing Park.

“Thousands of people will see it for many years,” said Maretta Kennedy, the sculptor.

Wild Bill was an American, Old West folk hero. He was known for his life on the frontier and for his involvement in many famous gunfights.

“William Hickok was a very interesting character,” said Museum Director Charlie Pautler. “There have been more books, movies and theatrical productions written about him than a lot of other folks associated with the American West.”

Wild Bill began his career locally as a lawman and trail scout before he went down the Santa Fe Trail.

“As a lawman, he was best known for this area of Shawnee,” Pautler said. “This was before Kansas was a state. We were a territory at that time.”

Artist Maretta Kennedy started on the project in 2020, taking over for her colleague Charles Goslin.

It took several years to complete.

“It’s bronze,” Kennedy said. “It weighs about 2,300 pounds, so it’s quite heavy. I really enjoy the challenge of sculpting so, when it’s challenging, I think it’s fun.”

Kennedy’s years of research and time spent working on the project isn’t being overlooked.

“This has been a painstaking process, but I’m really impressed with the amount of detail that the artist did and put into it,” Pautler said. “She did her homework. It points westward, so he is telling folks to follow him. He is just waving his hat, showing you the way into Shawnee where life is pretty good.”

Wild Bill started off as a constable in the small city of Monticello, Kansas, in 1856. He spent about three years in the area before moving on to more storied adventures.