Colorado’s ‘Moccasin Bill’ was the Last of the Old West Frontiersman
William H Perkins, better known as "Mocassin BIll" was many things.
He got his nickname because his mocassins froze to his feet and he had to wear them for months. He came to Colorado as a government agent, charged with fighting indians, and his body bore the scars of numerous arrows that had been shot into him.
Standing six feet seven inches, he was easy to spot, which might explain all those arrows he took. But Mocassin Bill had another interesting fact about him that few people knew.
He was born with only six teeth, which was later confirmed by his mother.
Bill was also a gold prospector and had dug for gold all over Colorado and had begun trapping as a young man, making traps to catch those fur-bearing animals that were around his home. He became so adept at it that he became known as the "boy trapper".
One of the most often told stories occurred around a panther that stalked him after a successful turkey shoot. Once he shot and killed the wild turkey, the panther happened upon his scent and followed him. Sensing he was in real danger from the approaching animal, he dropped the turkey and ran. The panther pounced upon the turkey and devoured it as Mocassin Bill made his escape.
The panther was known as the "Terror of the Wabash" due to numerous run-ins with many locals. As BIll headed for home the rain started and, in a flash of lightning revealed the panther still on his heels, crossing the river Bill had just crossed. Seeing this, he moved quickly and made it home safely.
The story doesn't end there, however. Once he told his story to those in the town, several men grabbed their dogs and went to track the animal. They were successful and it was Mocassin BIll who put one shot through its heart, giving Bill the satisfaction of killing the adversary.
Mocassin Bill Perkins died on November 13, 1904, at the age of 78 and is buried in the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Crawford, Colo.