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Name Cody, William Frederick "Buffalo Bill," 1846-1917
Born 02/26/1846
Birthplace Iowa
Father Cody, Isaac
Mother Bosnell, Mary Ann
Notes William F. Cody was born on a farm in Scott County, Iowa on February 26, 1846, the son of Isaac and Mary Cody. The family moved to Kansas where the father died in 1857. William found work at the age of eleven on freighting outfits and later was employed by Russell, Majors, and Waddell as a mounted messenger. In April of 1860 he is said to have been hired as a rider on the Pony Express. In 1863 he served as a scout with the 9th Kansas Cavalry in operations against the Kiowas and Comanches. The next year he served as a scout for General A.J. Smith in Tennessee. He earned his nickname "Buffalo Bill" in 1867 while he was engaged in hunting buffalo to supply meat for Kansas Pacific R.R. construction crews. For the next four years he served as a scout for the Army.

Colonel Judson, writing as Ned Buntline, made Cody the central figure in western fiction. In 1872 Judson wrote a play, Scouts of the Prairies, which Cody produced, and played the lead role. Cody scouted for the Army again in 1874 and 1876. In July of 1877 Cody, in partnership with Luther, James and Major Frank North, established the Cody-North ranch on the head waters of the Dismal River. As a Wild West showman Cody helped popularize the cowboy as a romantic figure in American History. He, with Major John Burke and W.F. Carver, commenced the Wild West Show. Cody in partnership with Nate Salisbury continued this show for years, combining frontier attractions into an active entertainment which pleased audiences in the United States and Europe. Cody was married to Louisa Frederick in St. Louis in 1866. He died in Denver, Colorado, on January 10, 1917 and is buried on Lookout Mountain overlooking that city.

The first public performance of William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody's Wild West show was May 19, 1883, in Omaha. A dress rehearsal had taken place May 10 in Columbus. Several residents of Sidney, however, enjoyed an even earlier preview of a few of the show's attractions. Sidney Plaindealer-Telegraph editor J. C. Bush reported in the May 3, 1883, issue on an excursion to North Platte, which included a May 1 visit to Buffalo Bill's ranch:

"In the afternoon in company with Mr. [James] McNulty and Hon. W. F. Cody we visited the germ of the great show which is to spring into existence the latter part of this month at Omaha and which will sweep all before it when once fairly started. . . . On a piece of level meadow land was pitched the tents for the men while the buffalo and a large number of horses were grazing in an adjoining pasture. A number of elk were expected in a day or two and men were engaged purchasing the most famous bucking horses that Nebraska afforded. 'Buck' Taylor, who is to be one of the star riders of the combination, gave an exhibition on a wall-eyed calico horse that would astonish the effeminate easterners, and if he lives long enough the performance will be repeated for their benefit during the summer. Another wing of the show is getting under way at Omaha, where the Indians will join it, and about the 17th of the present month the western Nebraska wonder will give its opening exhibition at the state's metropolis."

Of course, the Omaha performance of Cody's show was a resounding success, and The Wild West went on to become renowned around the world as Nebraska's unique contribution to entertainment.
Occupation Wild West show performer
Role Performer
Spouse Frederick, Louisa Maud
Children Thorp, Arta Lucille Cody Boal
Cody, Kit Carson
Cody, Orra Maude
Garlow, Irma Louise Cody Stott
Deceased 01/10/1917
Deceased where Denver, Colorado

Associated Records

Image of RG0716.PH000038-000001 - Negative, Glass Plate

RG0716.PH000038-000001 - Negative, Glass Plate

Buffalo Bill is sitting atop a white horse in full costume. The horse has a fancy bridle. The background is a canvas tarpaulin stretched to form a visual barrier between the performance and the crowd. A few onlookers peer over the canvas at the left margin of the photo.

RG0802.PH - Collection, Photograph

Otto Klima was an avid postcard collector from Pilger, Nebraska. This collection consists of photographs related to Nebraska's people and places. This collection consists of negatives, glass plate negatives, and photographic prints, 1856-ca.1994, mostly ca.1900-1950s. Included are photographs from counties across Nebraska of street scenes and buildings, such as churches, libraries, schools, courthouses, post offices, museums, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses. There are also images related to prominent persons, such as William Jennings Bryan and William Frederick Cody. Photographs of Native Americans and frontier figures and photographs related to the Wounded Knee Massacre and the

RG1730.PH - Collection, Photograph

This collection relates to the Ballantine family, settlers and stock raisers in Frontier County, Nebraska. One of the family members, Ena Palmer Raymond(e) Ballantine, was a writer of poetry and fiction who had her poetry published in women's magazines of the late 1880s. This collection consists of photographs arranged into groups based on the individuals and subjects represented. This component includes portraits of Ballantine family members and well-known figures, such as General Robert E. Lee and Woodrow Wilson. There are numerous photos of domestic animals, mostly Hereford cattle. Images of sod houses and Native American art are also included.

RG1755.PH - Collection, Photograph

Nebraskans in Film was a project funded by the Nebraska Committee for the Humanities to research Nebraska's contribution to American film history. Much of the collection consists of oral history interviews of stars, and their relatives, friends, and mentors. This collection consists of photographs made in conjunction with the production of the television program, _Nebraskans in Film_. Included are photographs of Harry Langdon, ca. 1920, and later photographs of his wife, Mabel, and son, Harry Jr.; a childhood photograph of Marlon Brando; three photographs of Dorothy McGuire, 1981; and a photograph of Peter Fonda, 1981. This collection is for research and reference only and cannot be use

RG2154.PH - Collection, Photograph

This collection includes images of towns and rural settings in Lincoln County, Nebraska. This collection consists of photographic prints, 1854-1967; mostly ca.1907-ca.1930. The photographs show street scenes, schools, businesses, churches, and homes in Lincoln County. There are also photographs related to Fort McPherson and William F. Cody's ranch. Of particular interest are photographs of a 1915 livery barn fire and a photograph showing crowds lined up to register for land in North Platte, Nebraska.

Image of RG2154.PH000006-000112 - Postcard, Picture

RG2154.PH000006-000112 - Postcard, Picture

A picture postcard of the statue of Buffalo Bill in Cody Park, North Platte, NE.

RG2316.PH - Collection, Photograph

This collection consists of photographs of some of the notorious outlaws of the American West in the late 1800s. Also included are photographs of Native Americans and Omaha, Nebraska, street scenes. This collection consists of sixty-nine photograph prints and portraits of Frank and Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Poncho Villa, and Calamity Jane, ca.1880s; and scenes of Omaha, Nebraska, showing Dodge and Farnam Streets, ca.1880, and the territorial capitol building, undated. Also included are photos of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, 1893, showing Buffalo Bill Cody, cowboys, and Native Americans.

RG2845.PH - Collection, Photograph

The massacre at Wounded Knee emerged from a spiritual movement among the Plains Indians called the Ghost Dance religion. Tension between troops and Indians climaxed into the tragic confrontation at Wounded Knee. This collection consists of images documenting the days leading up to the battle and to its aftermath. This collection consists of photographs of ghost dancers, scenes from the massacre, group and individual portraits of both military men and Indians, and camps of both the infantry and the Indians at Pine Ridge Agency.

Image of RG2845.PH000005-000004 - Print, Photographic

RG2845.PH000005-000004 - Print, Photographic

Photograph of men on horses at Pine Ridge Reservation. Pictured from left to right: Buffalo Bill, Captain Baldwin, General Nelson Miles, and General Moss.

Image of RG2845.PH000119-000073 - Print, Photographic

RG2845.PH000119-000073 - Print, Photographic

Large group of Indian Chiefs and officers posed, including Quatermaster Humphrey, Major Ernest, Buffalo Bill and other military officers, Scouts, and Indians at Pine Ridge Agency. This photograph was taken in front of the Quartermaster's office. Indian War Views album page 37.

RG3004.PH - Collection, Photograph

Approximately 200 photographs; William Frederick Cody, bettern known as "Buffalo Bill," was an army scout and Wild West showman. This collection relates to his life as an entertainer and scout and to his home, Scout's Rest Ranch, near North Platte, Nebraska. This collection consists of photographic prints and negatives, ca.1870-ca.1940 and undated, mostly 1890s and 1930s. Numerous photographs of William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody and other frontier and Wild West show figures are included. Also included are photos of Cody's Scout's Rest Ranch and residence near North Platte, Nebraska, and photos of monuments related to "Buffalo Bill."

Image of RG3004.PH0-000023 - Postcard, Picture

RG3004.PH0-000023 - Postcard, Picture

This is a studio portrait of Chief Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill Cody. Both men are standing, and Cody is holding a rifle.

Image of RG3004.PH0-000024 - Negative, Sheet Film

RG3004.PH0-000024 - Negative, Sheet Film

This is a studio portrait of Ned Buntline, Buffalo Bill Cody and Texas Jack. Cody is seated, the others stand. NOTE: This image is from the December, 1938 issue of the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society.

Image of RG3004.PH0-000031-a - Print, Photographic

RG3004.PH0-000031-a - Print, Photographic

This is a copy of a Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show poster, first presented in Omaha, Nebraska, in May, 1883. This show is identified as "Buffalo Bill to the Rescue."

Image of RG3004.PH0-000035 - Print, Photographic

RG3004.PH0-000035 - Print, Photographic

A group photo of the cowboys in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

Image of RG3004.PH0-000139 - Print, Photographic

RG3004.PH0-000139 - Print, Photographic

This is group portrait, showing several Native American performers for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Chief American Horse is identified. They are seen at an encampment in a New York City park. Also seen are tipis in the background.

RG3623.PH - Collection, Photograph

28 photographs; William Frank "Doc" Carver developed a reputation as a marksman, touring Europe between 1879-1882 and later operating a Wild West show. The materials relate to Carver's life and family, as well as to his reminiscences about frontier times and people. This collection consists of photographic prints and negatives, including many images of William Frank "Doc" Carver at different stages of his life. Also included are images of Carver's family, his grave, and drawings depicting Carver. Many of the photographs were taken in the 1920s, but undated photographs, as well as photographs from 1880-1968, are included.

Image of RG5741.PH000001 - Negative, Sheet Film

RG5741.PH000001 - Negative, Sheet Film

This is the Scout's Rest Ranch in North Platte, Nebraska. It shows the main house surrounded by several trees. The ground is covered in snow, and tracks can be seen going to the building.

Image of RG5741.PH000002 - Negative, Sheet Film

RG5741.PH000002 - Negative, Sheet Film

This is the Scout's Rest Ranch in North Platte, Nebraska. It shows a night scene, where the main house is surrounded by several trees. Lights are on from the inside. The ground is covered in snow, and tracks can be seen going to the building.

Image of RG5741.PH000003 - Negative, Sheet Film

RG5741.PH000003 - Negative, Sheet Film

This is a series of posters for the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show appearing in London in 1881. The posters are attached to the wooden walls of a building and are showing intense wear and age. It reads: Representative Englishmen and Visitors to Buffalo Bill's Wild West, 1887." On the poster are images of four men and Buffalo Bill.