ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

"Buffalo Bill" Cody and the Wild West Show competed with the world's fair

Updated on June 3, 2015
dahoglund profile image

Don has worked in newspaper writing, business writing, and technical writing.

Buffalo Bill Wild West


Le Claire, IA


Early Years

William Frederick Cody known as Buffalo Bill Cody,led an interesting life in many occupations, some authentic and some not so certain.His life is about frontier history but also intertwines with Native American Indian History.In his Wild West shows where both whites and Indians wore respective wild west costumes and he showed respect for the Native American culture, by including Indian women as well as warriors.

Both Cody and Bill Comstock claimed the name Buffalo Bill when they hunted Buffalo under contract to the railroad to supply meat to the crews. Cody won the title in a shooting match between the two. Besides being a buffalo hunter he was a pony express rider, soldier in the Civil War, Chief of Scouts for the Third Cavalry during the Plains War. He claimed many other jobs including trapper, bullwhacker, wagon master, stagecoach driver, and hotel manager. But it was as a showman that he left his mark on history.

Born February 26, 1846 near Le Clair, Iowa , a river town near the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois. Its population just under 3000 people.

The city is named for Antoine, LeClair who originally owned the land. There is a Buffalo Bill Museum there. The Mississippi River is scenic there and when I lived in Moline, Illinois it was the kind of place we liked to go for a Sunday drive.


An interesting custom and activity started. In 1987 a tug of war between Le Clair, Iowa and Port Byron, Illinois started. A 2,700 ft. rope is strung across the river between the two towns. That section of the river is closed to river traffic. Each side has 10 teams of 20 muscled competitors.. It takes place in late July or early August with festivities in the area for two days.


The Cody Homestead is Bill’s boyhood home It is located in the valley of the Wapsipincon River near the Scott County Park. It is a 1847 farmhouse entered in National Registry of Historic places.

Buffalo Bill at 19



His family moved to Leavenworth, Kansas when he was seven years old. After his father gave an anti-slavery speech slavery supporters  formed a mob and his father was stabbed.. Young Cody helped drag his father to safety, but the father never fully recovered. As a result the family was persecuted by the pro-slavery people forcing Isaac Cody to spend much time away from his home.  Young Bill, who was ill at the time, rode thirty miles to warn his father that his enemies heard of his plans for a trip home and wanted to kill him.. The father died in 1847 from complications of the previous stabbing.

The family had financial difficulties after losing the father and Bill, at  age eleven, took a job as a “boy extra” delivering messages the length of the wagon train.

At fourteen he headed for the gold fields but  met a   Pony Express agent and signed on with them. He helped build ways stations and corrals and worked as a rider until he was called home due to his mother’s illness.

Buffalo Bill Cody



After his mother recovered, he wanted to join the Army but he was too young. He worked for a freight caravan delivering supplies to Fort Laramie. He enlisted as a teamster in1863 with the rank of Private in the 7th Cavalry until discharged in 1865. He then worked as a scout for the U.S. Army. Part of the time he scouted for Indians and the rest of the time he killed buffalo for the Army and the Kansas Pacific Railroad. In 1872 Cody scouted for the Grand Duke Alexi Alexandrovich of Russia’s highly publicized royal hunt.Cody got a Medal of Honor in 1872.

Cody with Sitting Bull


Buffalo Bill


The Wild West

Cody’s show business career started in Chicago with his stage debut in The Scouts of the Prairie, an original show of the Wild West produced by Ned Buntline the author of many Dime Novels about frontiersmen.

They toured for ten years and included a 1876 incident at Warbonnet Creek where is claimed to have scalped a Cheyenne warrior in revenge for the death of General Custer. Later Cody became a strong advocate of Indian rights.

In 1883 near North Platte, Nebraska he put together a traveling show called “Buffalo Bills Wild West” which was somewhat like a circus. It was later changed to “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World.’‘

The show began with horseback a parade with participants from horse-culture groups including U.S. and other military y, American Indians and performers from all over the world in their best attire. Turks, Gauchos, Arabs, Mongols and others showed their distinctive horses and costumes.

The show included feats of skill, staged races and sideshows. Many Western people such as Sitting Bull, Annie Oakley and her husband Frank Butler. Events included re enactments of the Pony Express rides, Shooting exhibitions, Indian attacks and stagecoach robberies.Custer’s Las Stand was usually re-enacted as the finale.

In 1887 the show went to Britain to celebrate the jubilee year of Queen Victoria. In 1890 he met Pope Leo XIII. In 1893 he set up an exhibition near the Chicago World’s Fair. It made him popular the promontory had turned down his request to be part of the fair, so he was basically competing with it and drawing business away from the fair.

Cody Wyoming

In 1895 Cody helped found the city of Cody. On the original site, the Old Trail Museum stands to honor the traditions of Western life.

January 10, 1917 he died of kidney failure. He was baptized before his death by Father Christopher Walsh into the Catholic faith. He received tributes from many world leaders.

Buffalo Bill Cody was an advocate for women’s rights and the rights of the American Indian. Although he made his reputation hunting buffalo, he supported conservation and spoke out against hide hunting and for having a hunting season. Although the American Indians were usually the “bad guys “ in his shows attacking wagon trains he had the Indian women and children of the performers in their wild west costumes set up camp for the audience to see the human side of the Native American Culture with families like any other culture did. The history of the West is as much American Indian history as of the frontier..

© 2010 Don A. Hoglund


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)