As far as the papers were concerned, Hilsher had packed away the circus and costume and settled back into the life proper to her as a young woman in that early phase of the twentieth century.
Her jaunt in Wiggins was merely a flight of feminine fancy: a local gossip piece.
Hill was there to prove that he was the rightful owner of land bought under the name of Helen Hilsher, and he took it as an opportunity to reveal his past identity to his new friends.
Changing into feminine clothing on arrival at the Denver town hall, Hill presented himself to the group as “Helen” for the first time. According to one report, Helen was forced to remove the wig she had donned for the occasion, and to resume her masculine gait and tone of voice before her friends would finally believe that she was indeed their friend “little” Jack.
He nodded politely as he greeted each of the eligible young ladies who stopped him as he went about his business, watching with a wry glint in his eye as they walked away, or whispered in the shades of doorways as he passed them in the street.
He held his secret close to him like a gleaming talisman, but these girls must have caught flashes of it sometimes – in the way he smirked mischievously at them in full view of their mothers, or the pleasing firmness of his hand as it pressed into each of theirs. Within a few months of arriving in Meeker, Jack Hill was observed to have taken an intense interest in one Miss Anna Slifka, a young woman considered by many to be “the prettiest girl in the White River country.” An electric current of unspoken recognition had passed between them at their first meeting: the understanding that in each other they had found an equal to their own ambition, a mirror-image – a partner in crime.
The people of Meeker weren’t to know – at least not yet – that this quiet youth who mixed their drinks with sober care and politely returned their blushing glances in the town’s streets had, only six years previously, been living under a very different name in nearby Coal Creek, Colorado.
Indeed, as recently as 1907, “Jack Hill” had been known not as a barman but as a teacher – a young woman by the name of Helen A. here Helen Hilsher was born or what her life was like before she arrived in Meeker it is, for the most part, difficult to say.
It had the air of a completed sideshow, a party trick.Born in Czechoslovakia, the daughter of a well-to-do rancher and sister of the local cobbler, Slifka enjoyed much the same popularity amongst the town’s men as Jack had found among the women, and by the autumn of 1912 they had become firm friends.Speaking about their friendship and apparent courtship in 1913, the two maintained that they had bonded over their mutual experience of pursuit.It was in Wiggins that “Jack Hill,” according to the newspaper records, first came to life.He arrived without great incident, and immediately took up residence on a 160-acre homestead 12 miles southwest of the town.