Lot 293    

Go-Won-Go Mohawk, Indian Princess & Wild West Show Performer, Personal Knife, Medal, & Photographs
6/21/2012 - American History, Including the Civil War
Lot includes Go-Won-Go Mohawk's knife with sheath; bronze presentation medallion; and 7 photographs. 

Go-Won-Go Mohawk (1860-1924), also known as Caroline, was born on August 11, 1860 on the reservation in Gowanda, Cattaraugus County, New York, to chief and medicine man Dr. Alan Mohawk, and moved to Green, New York, at age one, living there until the death of her father in 1869. In 1870, Go-Won-Go moved with her mother, Lydia Hale Mohawk, to Painesville, Ohio, where she continued her education. Go-Won-Go was a self-proclaimed "Indian Princess" with many talents. In addition to being a terrific athlete and sportswoman, Go-Won-Go was considered the first Indian actress to perform on the American stage. During the early 20th century, the two primary plays she starred in were "The Indian Mail Carrier," which she wrote and produced, and Lincoln Carter's "The Flaming Arrow."

According to her own authority, she briefly appeared with Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok in Cody's Wild West Show, where her role required a masterful display of horsemanship, riding two horses at once while standing on their backs. Go-Won-Go was purportedly given the bronze medal of Buffalo Bill and Pawnee Bill in profile, included with this grouping, by Cody himself in remembrance of this performance. The medal measures approx. 1.5 in. in diameter. Go-Won-Go was also an advocate of Native American Rights and was given a pair of white horses by President Harding in recognition of her efforts for this cause. 

Go-Won-Go married Captain Charlie Charles (1835-1926), a white gentleman, in Paterson, New Jersey on May 20, 1889. Charles was an ex-Army officer and former actor who became her stage manager on the Vaudeville Circuit. Charles had also performed with Buffalo Bill following the Indian Wars. Go-Won-Go owned a large home in Edgewater, New Jersey, which was close in proximity to the home and business of the consignor's grandfather, Lorentz Kleiser. Her chauffeur was also the gardener to Mr. Kleiser. Go-Won-Go kept her white stallions at this home in Edgewater, and when they passed, the stallions were buried with an elaborate Indian ceremony in the orchard behind the home of the consignor's grandfather. 

A highlight of this fine lot is Go-Won-Go's knife and sheath, measuring 9 in. long. The knife is a true western American blade, with a hilt that is fastened with copper rivets cut from telegraph wire. The knife, along with the bronze medal, were given to the consignor's grandmother, Mrs. Lucy Kleiser, in recognition of her devoted work with the Camp Fire Girls, which incorporated much Native American lore into its activities. The knife and medal have since descended in the family to the current owner, who was told by his relatives that the knife was an acting prop with a lead blade. However, he later discovered that the blade was made of the finest steel.

Accompanying the knife and medal are 5 photographs of Go-Won-Go, including a cabinet card of her dramatically posed with her knife, and two additional cabinet photographs of Go-Won-Go, one by Wood of New York, the other by Rhoads of Philadelphia. In addition, the lot features 2 large format photographs, one with applied paper label that reads Gowongo Mohawk by a memorial wreath of her deceased lover, 6 x 8 in., mounted,  the other a large photo postcard of Go-Won-Go in her later years, 8 x 10 in. A large photo postcard of her manager and companion, Captain Charley Charles is included with the lot, as well as a souvenir cabinet photograph of Buffalo Bill by Stacy of Brooklyn, New York. 

Go-Won-Go continued to tour and perform until her health failed in 1924. She died in Edgewater, New Jersey at the age of 58. The items featured in this lot provide a unique glimpse at her many accomplishments as a performer. 
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