Lakes Region Forgotten Legends: Wild Jim French
Born in 1851, Wilde J. “Wild Jim” French made Antioch, Illinois home base for most of his life while he traveled the country. “Wild Jim” was buried in Antioch’s Hillside Cemetery after he died of natural causes in New York state in 1917. This interesting and eccentric character made his way west from his birthplace in New York state, and ran his own Wild West show, of which he was the star attraction. According to his obituary, "his daring feats in the saddle and his skillful handing of firearms, won for him fame and distinction, and his daredevil acts lived long in the memory of those who witnessed them."
French published his own booklet entitled “Wild Jim—The Texas Cowboy and Saddle King.” In it, he spins tales of his adventures as a “famous mountain scout.” LRHS has a copy of this book in its archives. It is difficult, however, to separate fact from fiction in French’s heroic and boastful stories in which he inserts himself into the middle of some of the West’s most infamous events.