A poster about the Wild West Show in England on display at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody.
On January 10, 1917, the world lost one of the most famous men in the West, if not the entire world.
In The Worland Grit newspaper, January 12, 1917, this article appeared. Colonel WF Cody Died: Denver, Colorado, January 10.—Colonel William Frederick Cody, “Buffalo Bill”, soldier, hunter, scout and idol of youthful America, died at 12:03 p.m. today at the home of his sister here. With Colonel Cody when death came was his wife (lousia) and daughter (Irma), who rushed from Cody, Wyoming, the family home, to be at his bedside, and his sister, Mrs. LE Decker of Denver. The colonel had been in a coma since this morning. He fought death as he often fought it on the plains when he was young.
“You can’t kill an old Boy Scout,” he would tell his doctors whenever his condition improved. When the doctor told him his life was ebbing, the Colonel accepted his fate like a stoic.
William Frederick Cody was born in Scott County, Iowa, on February 20, 1846. His parents moved west and took up a grant near Leavenworth, Kansas, then an Indian border post, when Cody was five years old.
When Cody was ten, his father was killed and Cody began working to help support his family. His first job was as a courier between the freight car trains that operated between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains.
At 14, he was too young to enlist as a private in the Union Army, so he started carrying messages on horseback for the freight company Waddell & Russell, which later merged with the shipping company. ‘Alexander Major and launched the Pony Express in 1860. Cody continued to ride for the company.
In Cody’s Northern Wyoming Herald in December 1921, there’s this article about the pony express.……Wm. F. Cody, a mere 14-year-old boy was one of those (Ponly Express) runners, his first stint being a short 45-mile run in Nebraska, but like he succeeded, he was given at his request a much longer and lonely one from the Red Buttes on the North Platte to the three crossings of the Sweetwater for a distance of 116 miles…the he broke the record for the longest duration Ponly Eexpress route. A galloping day inat Trois Traversées he found the rider who was to continue has been killed, so he himself was forced to go to Rocky Ridge; the next station, 85 miles. He went mdo the 384 mile round trip nonstop except toh change horses and eat a meal.
In 1863, at the age of 17, Cody enlisted as a mate and private in Company H of the 7th Kansas Cavalry, and served until his discharge in 1865. His scouting and leadership qualities the brought to the attention of Lt. Phil Sheridan, General Crook, General Custer and others. In 1866 he reunited with his old friend Wild Bill Hickock in Kansas, who was then serving as a scout. Cody enlisted as a scout himself and began working with various commanders, including George Custer.
During the construction of the Kansas-Pacific Railroad. Cody entered into a contract to supply fresh buffalo meat to track crews. During a period, and under contract, he killed 4,280 buffaloes, giving him the name “Buffalo Bill”.
In the Cheyenne Daily Leader for June 10, 1876, a note from the Inter Ocean Hotel contained this interesting information: William F. Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill, arrived here yesterday, and will accompany the Fifth Californiavalry on their trip north.
Luckily Cody missed Custer’s fight on June 25, but three weeks later Cody slew famed Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hand in the presence of Indians and troops, and held up his bloody trophy while shouting “The first scalp for Custer!”
In 1866 he had married Miss Louisa Frederick, they had four children, one son and three daughters. Their son, Kit Carson Cody, died at the age of 6. Only his youngest daughter, Irma, survived her famous father. The Irma Hotel in Cody is named after her.
Dime’s novels helped make Cody famous. In 1869 writer Ned Buntline went to interview Wild Bill Hickok who drove him away at gunpoint. Buntline saw Cody, who had fought alongside Hickok against the Sioux and Cheyenne. The, Buffalo Bill: King of the Bordermen was born. This dime novel caused a sensation in publishing and made “Buffalo Bill” Cody a household name.
With the advance of civilization, finding occupations in the vanished western plains, Cody took to the stage playing lead roles in dramas depicting life on the frontier. Later, in association with Nate Salsbury, he organized his Wild West show. The show has toured coast to coast in the United States and made eight tours in Europe, four tours between 1887 and 1892, and four from 1902 to 1906. In Europe he was warmly welcomed and entertained by royalty.
In The Cody Enterprise, February 7, 1901: Colonel Cody and the Queen. the Great Scout entertained the late Queen Victoria in London. From the Omaha Bee: A Nebraska it wass Who given Queen Victoria the only glimpse she ever had of this phase of American life that existed in such abundance for many if it reign… It was a day in June in 1887 less than week before party from her gold Jubilee, that englandwoman first… has been youhe guest of Colonel William K. Cody -Nebraska’s ‘Buffalo Bill,’ and the Oild I went to see…. On the go the box queen haD her truck drives straight to Colonel Cody’stent, aand she thanked himrSonally it had been a pleasure she said, aD a teayou she wouldn’t be soon Forget.
She has not forgotten. As well as other gifts, Queen Victoria sent a Birch Bar at Buffalo Bill whom he installed in the dining room of the Irma hotel, and who can still be seen today.
In the head of the Cheyenne Daily for July 19, 1902, this advertisement appeared, giving an idea of what happened in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show Extravaganza.AN AFTERNOON PERFORMANCE ONLY
CHEYENNE, SATURDAY AUGUST. 9. “Goodbye, but not goodbye.” Will positively go to Europe this fall. But this year will be touring the American continent. Form an ocean to another. Visiting major cities and major railway centers only, as a farewell to the great nation that gave birth to it. And Congress of the Rough Riders of the World, now in the zenith of its overwhelming and triumphant success, presenting a program of marvelous merit, and presenting the mounted warriors of the world such as Indian, American, English, German soldiers. Russian and Cuban armies, fully equipped and ready for war an exhibition that teaches but does not imitate. It is men who do and dare and it is the events of action: a great review of all nations. a racing race, in which Cowboys. Cossacks, Mexicans, Gauchos and Native Americans participate. Artillery exercise by veterans. a roundup in the plains, with incidental events. Pony Express riding. Groups of Mexican riders and lasso experts. famous snipers and reputable snipers. Real Arab riders and athletes. Lifesaving exercise by veteran members of the US Life-Saving Service. Genuine Caucasian Cossacks of Russia. Indian boys in their favorite hobbies. Cowboy fun with the bucking broncos. United States Cavalry Military Drills and Drills. The famous Deadwood Stage Coach attacks, pushes back. victory. Moments with bola throwers. brutal riders and native gauchos, Colonel WF Cody “Buffalo Bill” in feats of marksmanship. A buffalo hunt like in the Wild West. A herd of real buffaloes, the last of the race. Great military maneuvers. episodes of camp life, with its humor and hardships. night bivouac. assembly of allied armies, exercise and incident action. Realistic “on the line of fire” scenes. all the exciting elements of war and battle, in which “Old Glory” always triumphs. See it while you can. Enjoy it while you can. Great review of the Rough Riders in street cavalcade at 9 am on the day of the exhibition. All culminating with The Great Military Show, The Battle of San Juan Hill.
Admission 50c Children under 9 25c Reserved seating (including admission) $1.00, on sale at Palace Pharmacy.
Besides being a showman, Cody was an entrepreneur. Near the town of Cody, Buffalo Bill established three hotels, The Irma, Pahaska Teepee, and Wapiti Inn, as well as the Sheridan Inn in Sheridan, Wyoming.
He also had a ranch, Scouts Rest, near North Platte, Nebraska, where he raised stock and thoroughbred horses. Although Buffalo Bill spent much of his life in the town that now bears his name, Cody, Wyoming, he was also instrumental in building the Sheridan Inn in Sheridan. An article in the Sheridan Post on May 10, 1894 reads: Cody (Buffalo Bill) and Mr. Sherman Cantfield became financially interested in Mr. Geo. Canfield at the Sheridan Inn, and they are making great preparations for the summer tourist trade….
Cody was interested in politics and was elected to the Nebraska legislature in 1872. He was on the staff of Governor Kendrick of Wyoming.
Upon his death, the Wyoming State Capitol flag flew at half mast. Several tributes were paid by dignitaries such as King George V; Kaiser Wilhelm II and President Woodrow Wilson. Governor John B. Kendrick led the funeral procession to the cemetery.
The people of Cody felt that Buffalo Bill should be buried in the town he founded. But his wife, Louisa, and daughter, Irma, said he always said he wanted to be buried at Lookout Mountain near Denver, where his grave is now.
Even though ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody passed away 105 years ago this month, his outstanding legacy lives on.