||Bill Cody was involved in the westward expansion of the USA.|
Join: Wild Wild West Project
Discuss: Wild Wild West
Buffalo Bill Cody was a scout of the Western United States Frontier and Wild West showman.
|Cody home Leavenworth County, Kansas|
William Frederick Cody was born on February 26, 1846 on a farm just outside Le Claire, Iowa, the son of Isaac and Mary Ann Bonsel (Laycock) Cody. William was baptized in the Dixie Union Chapel in Peel County, Ontario, Canada in 1847. The church was built on land donated by his grandfather, Phillip J Cody. The Codys lived in Toronto until 1853 when Isaac sold the land he owned in Iowa and moved to Kansas.
The Codys settled in Salt Creek Valley in Leavenworth County, Kansas where Bill's father took up a claim and made friends with the neighboring Native Americans by offering them hospitality. Isaac once invited 200 local natives to a barbecue. Bill learned to hunt with a bow and arrow from his new friends. There were also hardships that taught him many lessons.
|William Cody aged about 10|
Bill's father was an abolitionist. At one point, Bill rode his pony 30 miles to warn his father that pro-slavery neighbors were coming to kill him, an act that saved his father's life. Soon after, they stole the pony which left Bill without a way of making an income. In June 1856, Bill and his father were on a trip into Fort Leavenworth and Bill's father gave a speech outside a local bar and was stabbed in the back. Afterward, Isaac became a hunted man and left his family for Cleveland, Ohio. The family was under constant attack and ill-treatment from the neighbors, who took their belongings and forced Bill's mother and sister to accommodate. In the spring of 1857, Bill's father returned to his family very ill from his previous wound; he died March 10, 1857. Bill was forced to seek work to support his mother and siblings.
For the next few years, Bill worked for Russell, Majors and Wadell, the parent company of the Pony Express. In an early job as an extra hand with a large wagon train driving freight, he experienced his first attack by Native Americans. He gained notoriety in the newspapers of the time due to his young age. Bill became a rider for the Pony Express at age 14.
|Pony express advertisement|
During the U.S. Civil War, Bill served first as a Union Army Scout in campaigns against the Kiowa and Comanche, and later enlisted in the 7th Kansas Calvary. He served as a private in Company "H" from 1863 to the end of the war in 1865. Bill earned his nickname, Buffalo Bill, after the Civil War when he had a contract to supply Kansas Pacific Railroad workers with buffalo meat. He reported to have killed 4,282 American Bison (Buffalo) in eighteen months during 1866-67.
|William Cody as a scout|
On April 26, 1872, while traveling along Nebraska’s Platte River near Fort McPherson as scout for the Third Cavalry, Bill was awarded the Medal of Honor for his “gallantry in action”, although this award was revoked in 1916 on the grounds that Cody was not a regular member of the armed forces at the time. (The award was restored posthumously in 1989).
Bill joined his friend, Texas Jack Omohundro in The Scouts of the Prairie, one of the original Wild West shows produced by Ned Buntline, December 1872. During the 1873–1874 season, Cody and Omohundro invited their friend James Butler, "Wild Bill" Hickok, to join them in a new play called Scouts of the Plains. The group toured for ten years.
|William Cody, Ned Buntline and James Butler|
In 1883, Buffalo Bill started his own show,Buffalo Bill's Wild West, which was a touring variety show. In 1893, Cody changed the title to "Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World". The show began with a parade on horseback, with participants from horse-culture groups that included US and other military, Native Americans, and performers from all over the world in their best attire.  A wide variety of ethnicities displayed their distinctive horses and colorful costumes. Sitting Bull appeared with a band of 20 of his braves.
Bill's show had other well known performers including Annie Oakley and her husband Frank Butler, Gabriel Dumont, Lillian Smith, and Calamity Jane. Performers re-enacted the riding of the Pony Express, Indian attacks on wagon trains, and stagecoach robberies. The finale was typically a portrayal of an Indian attack on a settler's cabin. Cody would ride in with an entourage of cowboys to defend a settler and his family. The show influenced many 20th-century portrayals of "the West" in cinema and literature.
|Wild West Show at the Colosseum, Rome|
Buffalo Bill took his company to Great Britain in 1877 to celebrate the Jubilee year of Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria attended a performance. Bill did quite well in Europe, touring in 1889 and in 1890, even meeting Pope Leo XII. He had an exhibit at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. This exposure made him even more popular.
Besides his touring shows, Bill Cody was instrumental in the founding of the town of Cody, Wyoming. He fought for a hunting season and other restrictions to protect the diminishing buffalo. He and his associates introduced an irrigation system by diverting water from the Shoshone River, which failed due to lack of money for a holding system. However, this did not discourage them. Early in 1903 they joined with the Wyoming Board of Land Commissioners in urging the federal government to step in and help with irrigation development in the valley. This eventually resulted in the construction of the Shoshone Dam which was renamed to Buffalo Bill Dam and Reservoir by an Act of Congress.
Buffalo Bill Cody died of kidney failure on January 10, 1917, in Denver, Colorado, one day after he was baptized into the Catholic Church. He received a full Masonic funeral at the local Elks Lodge Hall.
|Passage of Buffalo Bill's Coffin|
In 1948 the Cody chapter of the American Legion offered a reward for the "return" of his body, so the Denver chapter mounted a guard over the grave until a deeper shaft could be blasted into the rock. <explanation of what this means?>
|Cody Pullman Car|
Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.
Categories: Le Claire, Iowa | 7th Regiment, Kansas Cavalry, United States Civil War | Comanche Wars | American Heroes | United States, Entertainers | Nominated Profiles | Wild Wild West | Wyoming Project-Managed | Horse Riders | Pony Express | Example Profiles of the Week | Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum, Golden, Colorado | Frontiersman, Scouts | Medal of Honor