ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • History & Archaeology»
  • History of the Modern Era

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

Updated on June 3, 2015

Buffalo Bill Wild West

Source

Le Claire, IA

Source

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.

Tugfest

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.

Homestead

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

Source

Kansas

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

Source

Military



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

Source

Buffalo Bill

Source

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..


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      RJ, glad you liked the hub. The main thing that inspired me to write it is that he had Iowa origins and I was living close to the area he came from. The photos came from Wikimedia, and are public domain.

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 2 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      OMG!!!!!! I cannot believe it! We are probably the biggest Buffalo Bill fans in the entire world!!! Two of the books in the Wurtherington series are Buffalo Bill books! I know this fellow from beginning to end and will be re-publishing Buffalo Bill The King of the Border Men as a part of the series.

      The photos you have here are super duper. I've seen a lot of them and you have the best posted here ( except for one I will use on the cover). You will love that I am sure.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      HI Stella. Yes, buffalo Bill, I think,was a born showman. He used what he learned in living to put on a show that was for everyone. Thanks for the comment and share.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 2 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Hi dahogland, Buffalo Bill was a very colorful person, and was fortunate enough to have lived more than most of us could in 5 lifetimes. I notice we hardly ever hear complaints from the American Indians. Great article, Sharing. Stella

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for the correction. I think I got it now.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Opposite the ad for his show (opposite the indian mother and child) is the correctable "Pop Leo XIII" reference which should read Pope Leo XIII.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Buffalo Bill was, I think, one of the great showmen of all time. He probably created the image we have of the wild west which was carried on in movies and all.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Awesome article. I learned so much I did not know; I had no idea he was an entertainer.

      And that tug of war sounds like quite an event..bragging rights would be well earned :D

      Shared Many Angels are on the way to you this afternoon ps

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Jan 6

      dahoglund,

      GREAT! I will check your site from time to time. You are one excellent writer. Have a Great New Year!

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Kenneth avery,

      I do have a few things along those lines. Thanks again for your comments.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      dahoglund,

      You are very welcome. Any topic, story about Buffalo Bill, George Custer, Wyatt Earp, etc., I am hooked.

      And you, my friend, are a fantastic writer. I mean it.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      kenneth avery

      Thanks for reading and I appreciate the comment.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      dahoglund,

      Fantastic hub. Very interesting. Happy New Year to You and Everyone on this hub.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      billybuc,

      Thanks for reading for reading this hub and your comments. I always likd the idea that people wwe think of as westerners actually grew up other places.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I actually knew quite a bit about Cody, but I didn't know he was from Iowa. Thanks for the information. He was a fascinating individual. Love his museum.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      dahoglund,

      My pleasure. It was meant too.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I appreciate that.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      dahoglund,

      You are always welcome. This was a terrific hub. Anything or anyone associated with the Wild West, is always a guaranteed read, votes, and comment by yours truly.

      Keep up the great work.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Kenneth. Glad you liked the Buffalo Bill hub. Somehow, we don't think of Iowa as the frontier. However, a lot of what we think of as the frontier--such as Indian wars were in that area. The Black Hawk wars, for instance. Thanks for the good words and votes.

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      dahoglund,

      No wonder I was attracted to this hub. It was TERRIFIC; in-depth and great background research. Loved it.

      I am going to find the voting and vote all the choices.

      Keep up the fine work.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Stella.I was somewhat surprised myself how much of Buffalo Bill is in the Iowa area. The home of Wyatt Earp is in Illinois, not too far from there. Thanks for commenting.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Watched the life of Buffalo Bill,but never realized he was from Iowa, or that there were two of them. If I lived back then I would have chosen the Worlds Fair. Thanks stella

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks Bill. It is interesting that so much of the "West" is related to places like Iowa. Thanks for commenting.

    • handymanbill profile image

      Bill 3 years ago from western pennsylvania

      Great hub and very interesting.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      stuff4kids, Thanks for reading my article.I agree that a lot is and was wrong in dealing with the Indians. It is a complex issue and i keep learning new things on both sides of the issue.

    • stuff4kids profile image

      Amanda Littlejohn 3 years ago

      Thanks for a very interesting 'take' on one of the iconic figures of the Old West.

      I do think, however, that the Native peoples have been appallingly treated and still are. The state of Indian affairs is the secret shame of our modern America.

      Thanks for sharing! :)

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      praesajain,

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting on my hub about Buffalo Bill.

    • prasadjain profile image

      Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD 3 years ago from Tumkur

      A good article with so much information.Thanks.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Paul,

      Having lived in the area that Buffalo Bill grew up in I probably acquired a view that is different than I would have otherwise. I appreciate your comments, votes and sharing.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Don,

      This hub is absolutely awesome. I remember seeing a movie or documentary about Buffalo Bill years ago, and it was basically just what you have described. Your hub is certainly very well researched. I never realized Bill Cody led such a colorful life. Voted up and sharing. Also Pinning and Tweeting.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi PegCole, It must be nice to hear stories from your family members. I recall going to rodeos with my father. I appreciate you reading and commenting.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      This story about Buffalo Bill really brings back the old times as a kid, watching the Westerns on TV and hearing my old Dad tell stories he'd heard from his father. I loved the way you told the story about the wild West shows, and remember some minor versions which were still popular at the carnivals when I was much younger. Great detail.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Ed,

      I recall when I was much younger going through Cody, Wyoming but do not recall what I saw there. The people in Iowa have preserved a number of relics of his early years and I lived in that area for about twenty years. He is much responsible for our image of the frontier, for better or worse. Thanks much for commenting.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 4 years ago

      I went to the Buffalo Bill Cody museum in Cody Wy. on one of my trips to the Yellowstone , awesome place if you like this history ! Great hub my friend , I wanna go back now !......Ed

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Dolores, thank you for commenting. Buffalo Bill was a great showman and helped preserve the flavor of the west in history.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Interesting hub on Buffalo Bill Cody! When I was a child and crazy for the Wild West, my mother told me that she had a teacher who had gone to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. It struck me as so amazing how we can touch history, how close the distant past can seem.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for commenting and for the additional information.I rather miss the Quad Cities

    • profile image

      Tknapp 6 years ago

      Great article on Buffalo Bill. About the Tug Fest. I am the Vice Presient and love the mention in your article. Couple of clarifications if you will. There are 11 teams each year, 10 men teams with 20 on each team and the women's team of 25. It is held in the second full weekend in August. In 2011 that will be August 11-13th. If anyone would like more information please see us at tugfest.org.

      Thanks

      Tammy

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • thecollecktor profile image

      thecollecktor 6 years ago

      Great article on Buffalo Bill Cody. You may want to check out another aspect of Bill Cody as the marketer

      thecollecktor Brian Bessler

      The Marketing genius of Buffalo Bill Cody, http://hubpages.com/t/1f60f8

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you for the kind words. Some of your hubs look interesting as well.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 7 years ago from Wales

      I don't know how I haven't come across you before now, but better late than never I think.

      I loved this hub and I now look forward to reading more of your work.

      Take care.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Yes he did. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • pick807 profile image

      pick807 7 years ago

      what an interesting life he had.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Peggy W

      No I did not know that but I will correct it. I am a bit technologically challenged. Thanks for pointing it out.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi dahoglund,

      Do you realize that you have two comment sections? Another one is below this one. People might miss seeing the added link if they do not scroll further down. Wonder how it is happening that people are commenting in both sections? Some interesting dialog in the one below!

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for the comment. I think Cody saw that the West was changing and that we could not be reckless in use of resources. I don't know what you mean by "three lots of comments."

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      Excellent - interesting that there were two claims to buffalo bill initially. The conservation element would seem ahead of his time. Not sure if you know but you have three lots of comments going here :)

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for the comment. It is funny how many people want to be cowboys. I remember an episode of the Bob Newhart show where he went off to a ranch to become a cowboy.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 7 years ago from Texas

      Interesting reading! Thanks! My great grandfather came from England with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show because he wanted to be a cowboy! That's all I know about him, but it's a fun thing to know!

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      freelancewriterva

      I'm glad you found it interesting. Thanks for you comment.

    • freelancewriterva profile image

      freelancewriterva 7 years ago

      Wow, I could not put this one down. This was a great read. Thanks

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      eovery,

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 7 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      A nice slice of history. I admit to having mixed feelings about Cody. On the one hand he helped destroy the West for the Indians. He was part of the government's efforts to kill off the buffalo and thus take away the Indian's livelihood to where they had to conform to the white man's way of life. Also the idea of killing for the sake of killing rubs me the wrong way. Meat for the railroad workers was, I suppose, okay but the royal hunt he was part of I reckon was a disgrace. The Indian used every part of the buffalo and was in the habit of killing only enough to meet needs. The royal hunt was not about killing buffalo to meet anyone's needs.

      What good Cody did for the Indians would be hard to measure against some of the wrong which may have been on his part unintentional. The Wild West show was basically a good idea. Maybe more about how he supported conservation in a later hub would be great. I have heard stories about how members of the Wild west show wanted to make sure the beaver didn't go extinct and so started up a breeding program which involved reintroducing them into places where there were once beaver. I'm not sure if Cody was involved.

    • eovery profile image

      eovery 7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      Great article,

      Keep on hubbing!

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Peggy W

      Thanks for the comment. I put a link to your Pioneer Village hub because the Cody homestead is close to it.

      I guess I put details in that appeal to me and hope they d to others. Actually I never saw the tugged myself but it was a topic of conversation at work and the first one got quite a bit of publicity.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Buffalo Bill Cody certainly led a full and interesting life and you reminded me of much that I had previously read and heard about him. Tragic what happened to his father and therefore his family.

      That Tugfest must be something to see and in which to participate! Love the details you put into your hubs!

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for commenting. In an age where entertainment was limited compared to now it would especially be spectacular.

    • Gawth profile image

      Ron Gawthorp 7 years ago from Millboro, Virginia

      Excellent story, I learned several new things. I wish someone would resurect the wild west shows. It must have been a thing of wonder to watch one.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      FCEtier

      Thanks for commenting. It's always interesting when someone has a personal identification with the related events.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Creativeone59

      Thanks for your comment. I'm glad you found it interesting and worthwhile reading.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Coolmon2009

      Thanks for your comment. It's always good to know someone got some benefit from hub.

    • FCEtier profile image

      Chip 7 years ago from Cold Mountain

      My wife's great great grandfather worked for BBC.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 7 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you dahoglund, for a great and informative hub with much information. I enjoyed reading it. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      I enjoyed your article and I learned a few facts I didn't know. Buffalo Bill was quite a man.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Tom

      I agree. Buffalo Bill is certainly part of our heritage. There are aspects of the Wild West show that remind me of the rodeos I used to go to with my father.I think some country stars like Willy Nelson are still trying to be Buffalo Bill.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Tom

      I agree. Buffalo Bill is certainly part of our heritage. There are aspects of the Wild West show that remind me of the rodeos I used to go to with my father.I think some country stars like Willy Nelson are still trying to be Buffalo Bill.

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      dahoglund,

      Thank you for a very informative and entertaining hub on Buffalo Bill. These "bigger than life" figures are all part of our heritage.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you fir stopping by and commenting. Cody is a lengendary figure in frontier history.

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 7 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      Thank you for a most useful article. Mr Cody seems to have lived a very full life.