Book Review: The Life of Billy Dixon

Having grown up on the remote ranch lands in the Texas Panhandle, just a stone’s throw from the site of the Battle of Adobe Walls, I grew up hearing from the old timers who knew him, stories of the great plainsman, Billy Dixon. Since my early childhood, Dixon has been one of my heroes. In 1913, Dixon was approached by an Oklahoma newspaperman with an idea that he should write his autobiography. With the encouragement of his wife, Olive, Dixon decided some folks just might enjoy hearing his stories. Sadly, his passing precluded the finish of the book, necessitating the change from autobiography to biography, with the finishing touches by his wife, Olive. The book was originally published in 1914, only months after Billy’s death. It was reprinted in 1927.

Those original copies are near impossible to find. I spent many years trying to locate a copy. Then in 1987, a limited edition leather-bound reprinting was done. I have number 34 of 50. I always thought it was such a shame that so many people would never have the opportunity to know of Dixon’s story. So of course, I was thrilled to learn that recently, THE LIFE OF BILLY DIXON, by Olive K. Dixon, was once again reprinted, this time with enough copies of this wonderful book for everyone.

When we think of Plainsmen, buffalo hunters, Indian fighters and the like, many people come to mind such as Buffalo Bill Cody or Wild Bill Hickock but these folks have nothing over Billy Dixon. The only difference being, Dixon never sought fame. Had he succumbed to the dime novelists of the time, his name would be a household word today, for his adventures and accomplishments hold full measure to anyone of that era.

As this book was originally intended an autobiography, the story is told in the first person account, which makes the reader feel as though you are sitting at a campfire, listening to Dixon tell of his adventures and hardships. This book truly and avidly brings to life, a true life adventure story that anyone who appreciates that era or that lifestyle, will not want to miss.

Anyone who has ever earned the Congressional Medal of Honor, as Dixon did at the Buffalo Wallow fight, deserves to have their story told in vivid detail, but Dixon’s life is presented here in such fascinating detail as is rarely achieved. Surely Miss Olive’s, as she was affectionately known throughout the area, background as a school teacher contributed greatly to the telling of this story by adding literary prose equal to the most accomplished of writers.

If you appreciate true life adventures, the kind told without the need for embellishment for the sake of sensationalism, this is a must read. From the loss of his family very early in life, his early days as a young bullwhacker, the transition to a buffalo hunter, Indian scout, postmaster and rancher, it’s all covered in explicit page turning detail. My only regret to this magnificent story is that it should have been another thousand pages. I absolutely hated seeing this book come to an end. This is a real life story that deserves to be heard and one that you will not soon forget.

Monty Rainey

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About montyrainey

Public Speaker and District Manager. Mission: To empower and inspire others professionally, personally and spiritually to elevate their lives to a higher level.
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