First of all, on this, the 241st year of our country's Independence, I want to wish all our patriotic Sweethearts, families & friends a very Happy 4th of July!
I'm sure there's been a blog or two about "Buffalo Bill," but having visited the fascinating Buffalo Bill Historical Center, I thought readers would enjoy a brief post about this amazing man who by the turn of the 20th century was probably the most famous American in the world. No one symbolized the West for Americans and Europeans better than Buffalo Bill. He was consulted on Western matters by every American president from Ulysses S. Grant to Woodrow Wilson.
William F. Cody was born in LeClaire, Iowa in 1846. His family moved to Leavenworth, Kansas when he was a child. Cody left home at the age of only eleven to herd cattle and drove a wagon train across the Great Plains several times. In 1860 at fourteen, he rode for the Pony Express. After the Civil War, Cody scouted for the U.S. Army. A fur trader, gold miner, and master bison hunter, he then gained the name "Buffalo Bill."
Buffalo Bill's career in show business began in 1872 in Chicago at the age of 26. He acted in the show "Scouts of the Prairie" which became a huge success. Critics said he may not have been the best actor, but he knew how to charm the audience. The following season Cody started his own show, Scouts of the Plains, including his friends, Bill Hickok and Texas Jack.
In 1882, Cody organized the famed "Buffalo Bill's Wild West" show, a grand outdoor event, with a cast of hundreds including the western personalities, Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, Will Rogers, Wild Bill Hickok, Chief Sitting Bull, and Geronimo, as well as many live animals, in particular, horses, buffalo, elk, moose, bear and Texas steers. He recruited cowboys and cowgirls from ranches throughout the West. The shows demonstrated bronco riding, roping and many other skilled events.
In 1887, the Wild West show was invited to England for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee celebration. Cody's show was a popular hit and soon rose to international fame. His notoriety earned him an audience with Pope Leo XIII while touring Europe. At the turn of the twentieth century, he was known as "the greatest showman on the face of the earth."
In 1895, Cody was instrumental in the founding of the town of Cody, in northwestern Wyoming. In 1902, Buffalo Bill opened the Irma Hotel, named after his daughter. (I visited the town and the fascinating hotel where you can experience the romance of the era.)
Buffalo Bill never retired. He died in 1917 at the age of 71. He was buried in his chosen place on Lookout Mountain overlooking the Plains and Colorado Rockies where he had spent the best times of his life. His wife, Louisa, was buried next to him four years later.
In 1921, Johnny Baker, a dear friend of Cody, created the Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum. It illustrates the legendary life and times of William F. Cody and his Wild West shows. The exhibits offer many objects of the Old West, including Indian artifacts and firearms as well as Buffalo Bill's show outfits. Today the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave in Golden, Colorado is one of the top visitor attractions in the state.
In Cody, Wyoming, the Buffalo Bill Museum is the flagship museum of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. First opening its doors to the public in 1927 in a log cabin in downtown Cody – modeled after Bill Cody's house at his "TE Ranch" – southwest of town, the museum remained in that location until 1969 when it was relocated to a newly-built wing of the then Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Today the center is a complex of five museums and a research library featuring art and artifacts of the American West.
Cheri Kay Clifton - Historical Western Author
Born in Nebraska, Cheri Kay Clifton loved researching the Oregon Trail, historically known as the "Gateway to the West." Her passion for those brave pioneers, Native Americans and 19th Century America led her to write the epic western historical Wheels of Destiny Trilogy. Cheri is married and has one grown son. If she’s not riding on the back of her husband’s Harley, she’s writing the third book in the Wheels of Destiny Trilogy which includes already published Book 1, Trail To Destiny and Award Winning Book 2, Destiny’s Journey.
"The Old West isn't just a time or place, it's a state of mind. I get germs of ideas, do a lot of research, then breathe life into my characters. I like strong heroines, but loveable; and strong heros, but vulnerable."
Reviews from Easychair Bookshop judges: "A must read western romance." "A10/10 read." "Action, adventure, romance at its very best."