Henry County Historical HighlightsHi-Yo Silver, the Lone Ranger’s horse was born near New London
While some may remember the Lone Ranger’s beautiful horse, it is doubtful that any know where the horse was born.
“Hi-Yo Silver” was born near New London. True story.
As a young girl, Virginia Lee McDonald Perry had dreamed of owning and training her own white horse. When she was 16, she assisted with the birth of an American albino foal on the family farm southeast of New London on the county line road.
This was her dream come true. She named the foal, “Tarzan’s White Banner” and immediately began working with him. When he was three years old, he could do 35 tricks on command.
Because of the financial hardship at that time, she sold Banner for $1,000 to Charles Van Dyke of Peoria. Later she learned that he had sold the horse to a group producing the Lone Ranger radio and television shows. She claims that he was purchased for $25,000. Starring as the Lone Ranger were Brace Bremer and later, Clayton Moore.
“Banner” then became one of the several horses called “Silver.” The only thing that really bothered Perry was that she never received any credit for breeding and raising him.
Thirteen years after selling the horse, Perry was showing some of her horses at the Donnellson fair where Moore, then the Lone Ranger, was appearing. She spotted
Silver and went up to him and called his name. “I told the handlers that I once owned the horse and they believed me because he had never reacted to anyone like that before,” she said later.
Silver was only photographed in close-up shots, and performed at parades, fairs and very special occasions. Stand-ins were used for the chase scenes and the rough stuff so Silver would not receive a cut or nick which would mar his perfect coat. A dozen American white albinos were rented for the chase scenes.
Unfortunately, Silver did not receive much exercise and he became almost too sleek and fat, so he was put on an exercise and diet program.
In 1964, George Trendle of the broadcasting corporation that owned the right to “The Lone Ranger” and other programs, wrote to Perry inquiring if they could purchase a stallion from her similar to Silver, but she did not have such a horse at the time.
Perry married, raised five children, and continued raising white horses, adding the name “Silver” to all of the horses’ names. Three of Silver’s offspring — Silver Streak, Silver Flossie and Silver Nodja — were used by Perry when she performed in shows, fairs, at weddings, etc.
Later, she moved to Oregon where she bred and trained horses. In 1996, she moved to southern California to take advantage of better weather and to be closer to the film industry, which had expressed an interest in a remake of “The Lone Ranger.” Perry, 71, died in 2001 in Joshua Tree, Calif.
Much more information and many photos of Perry and her horses can be found at New London’s Dover Museum.