Buffalo Bill Cody
William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody was born in LeClaire, Iowa Territory on February 26, 1846. He was an American scout, bison hunter, and showman.
After his father’s death he became a rider for the Pony Express at age 14. During the American Civil War, he served the Union from 1863 to the end of the war in 1865. Later he served as a civilian scout for the US Army during the Indian Wars and received the Medal of Honor in 1872.
One of the most colorful figures of the American Old West, Buffalo Bill started performing in shows that displayed cowboy themes and episodes from the frontier and Indian Wars. He founded Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in 1883, taking his large company on tours in the United States and, beginning in 1887, in Great Britain and Europe.
In 1883, in the area of North Platte, Nebraska, Cody founded Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, a circus-like attraction that toured annually. (Contrary to the popular misconception, the word show was not a part of the title.) With his show, Cody traveled throughout the United States and Europe and made many contacts. He stayed, for instance, in Garden City, Kansas, in the presidential suite of the former Windsor Hotel. He was befriended by the mayor and state representative, a frontier scout, rancher, and hunter named Charles “Buffalo” Jones.
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, cowboys, American Indians, and performers from all over the world in their best attire. Turks, gauchos, Arabs, Mongols, and Georgians displayed their distinctive horses and colorful costumes. Visitors would see main events, feats of skill, staged races, and sideshows. Many historical western figures participated in the show. For example, Sitting Bull appeared with a band of 20 of his braves.
In 1895, Cody was instrumental in the founding of the town of Cody, the seat of Park County in northwestern Wyoming. Today the Old Trail Town museum is at the center of the community and commemorates the traditions of Western life. Cody first passed through the region in the 1870s. He was so impressed by the development possibilities from irrigation, rich soil, grand scenery, hunting, and proximity to Yellowstone Park that he returned in the mid-1890s to start a town. Streets in the town were named after his associates: Beck, Alger, Rumsey, Bleistein and Salsbury. The town was incorporated in 1901.