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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 RG5741.PH000004 - Negative, Sheet Film

RG5741.PH000004 - Negative, Sheet Film

This is a poster for the Buffalo Bill U.S. Army Scout career. It is tacked to a wooden wall inside a building and shows signs of wear and age. The poster shows William Cody, and the faces of several army generals. It reads, "W.F. Cody Buffalo Bill Chief of Scouts U.S. Army and some of the famous generals under whom he has done actual scouting service."

Image of RG5741.PH000005 - Negative, Sheet Film

RG5741.PH000005 - Negative, Sheet Film

These are posters for the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show tacked on the inside wooden wall of a building at the Scout's Rest Ranch in North Platte, Nebraska. On the left is part of a buffalo and an advertisement for Pawnee Bill's Far East Show. In the middle is an image of Annie Oakley on horseback. The right poster shows portraits of royal visitors to one of the shows.

Image of RG5741.PH000006 - Negative, Sheet Film

RG5741.PH000006 - Negative, Sheet Film

This poster for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in London shows Cody's portrait surrounded by six women, including the Queen of England. The poster is tacked to the wall of a wooden building in North Platte at the Scout's Rest Ranch, and shows sign of wear and age. The text on the poster reads: "Royal Visitors to Buffalo Bill's Wild West London 1887."