This is the true story of an eccentric Territorian by the name of Jean Meskens, aka Buffalo Johnny. In order to collect the information needed for this story, a number of people helped. I owe, first, a deep appreciation to my mate and colleague, Jacki Fleet who began this adventure with me many years ago and as mentioned above, I also owe a great thanks to Elka Kerkhofs who also stepped in and acted as translator for Johnny’s family, the Meskens family. Without her assistance, much of the Meskens family history would have been lost.
A special thank you goes to Edmond and Rosa Meskens, Johnny’s brother and sister who gave me their stories and to Gaby Vingerholts who translated for them when Elka was not there. Margot and Thomas Meskens, thank you for your stories. Thomas probably put in more time assisting at the zoo than most of the other workers. He also inherited his stepfather’s love and talent for painting.
So many of the people that lived in Batchelor offered their time and stories about Johnny. I hope I have not forgotten anyone. Thank you Lyle and Jesse Johnson, Ralph and Kerry Wirkner, Margaret Wirkner, Bruce and Ros Jones, Paul Walsh, Bill Binns, Robyn Lesley, Wendy Leach, Noel Padgham Purich, John Waters, Michael Ward, Alex Bishaw, Robert Fox, Bill Binns, Adina and Peter Poole, Phoebe and Michael Busges, The Mills Family, Auriel and Roy Isaman, Peter Forrest, Cael Small, Brian Radunz, Dave Russell, John Waithman, Annick and Ingrid Beyderwellen, and a special thank you to my brother Curtis Overall who combed through my first manuscript and offered some fine critiques.
Thank you to The Northern Territory Law Society, The Northern Territory Reference Library, John Dawson, Bill Luck, Peter J. Gillin, Speedy McGinnis, Chris Herman, Otto Sutter, Emilia at the Territory Wildlife Park, Frank Wirhl, Paulette Bric, Chris of the Butterfly Farm, The Northern Territory Museum, Terry, Esther, Simeon, Raphael and Pascoe Lawler, Qantm, Ernie Drewes, Douglas Barrie, Rollins Overall, Adrian Bannister, Clayton and Richard Jarvis, Rachel Burgos, Donny Thomas, Brian Reid and the NT Historical Society, The writing students at Pima Community College and particularly my fellow students in Meg Files class.
Thank you, Thomas Cobb and T.C. Boyle for your encouraging support. Thank you, Marian Devitt, Kaye Hall and all the fabulous people who gave me their time and their stories to make this book happen.
Thank you all so much!