Mary Jane Overall

Mary Jane Overall has lived all over the world including Europe, Africa, Asia and Central America.  She has a BA in Political Science and an MFA in Printmaking and Weaving. In 1984, she won the Chromacryl Arts award and traveled to Australia where she later became a resident and lived in Darwin for 17 years. There she continued working on her art and began producing videos on health issues with the Aborigines. Upon returning to the United States, she produced her own TV show called “15 MINUTES” which featured Tucson Artists and their work.  She later became a News editor for NBC’s Channel 4 in Tucson.

She is an accomplished artist and writer.  She has written and illustrated a number of children’s books. This is her first biography.  She knew Jean Meskens aka Buffalo Johnny and at first thought him to be just another quirky outback character – that was until she really studied his background.

Mary Jane lives in Tucson, Arizona and when not traveling loves spending time with her son and daughter and her four grandchildren.

Jacki Fleet

Jacki Fleet is a well known artist who lives in Darwin. Jacki spent months researching this book with Mary Jane. Buffalo Johnny and Jacki Fleet remained in contact and friends till the end of his life. When Johnny passed away, she did the eulogy at his funeral. Jacki, and Johnny’s brother, Edmond, were responsible for getting and transporting Johnny’s paintings and other artworks to the Northern Territory Museum of Art. Johnny now has some true recognition as a fine artist. Jacki’s tremendous contribution to this book is deeply appreciated.

Elka Kerkhofs

Elka, like Johnny, is originally from Belgium.  She acted as translator when interviewing Johnny’s brother, and sister Edmond and Rosa for the book.  She spent many hours listening and explaining the memories of Johnny’s family.  Without her assistance, much of the Meskens family history would have been lost.

Brian Reid

Brian Reid is a medical practitioner and a historian. He is a past President of the Northern Territory Historical Society and a past Chairman of the Northern Territory Government Heritage Council. A long term resident of the Northern Territory, Dr Reid is particularly interested in early Northern Territory settlement history, a subject on which he has had several papers published. Dr Reid’s assistance in providing support, guidance and the layout for this book is deeply appreciated.



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!