Buffalo Bill Cody: Birthday Boy

Buffalo Bill. It’s a name that conjures images of the Wild West: cowboys on horseback, wide open spaces, a sky that goes forever, great gun battles, leather with fringe, the list goes on…

The best part about Buffalo Bill, though, is that the stories are true. He really did leave home at the ripe old age of 11 to herd cattle. Hereally did join the Pony Express at 14. He really did hunt buffalo (the reason for his nickname) and cross the Great Plains several times before the age of 20. And this is all before he formed his famous travelling show.

William F. ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, born in LeClaire, Iowa, would be celebrating his 170th birthday tomorrow (February 26). His life has become the stuff of legends; books, movies, articles, plays- all of them have been made trying to capture the adventure of Buffalo Bill and his Wild West.

He didn’t start off with ‘Buffalo Bill’s Wild West,’ though. In 1872, Bill Cody made his first appearance in Chicago. He was an actor in ‘Scouts of the Plains’ created by Ned Buntline, author of dime novels, and Cody’s performance was less than stellar. Despite some of the criticism, Buffalo Bill went on to form his own troupe. In fact, during the course of his life, Cody traveled and performed with five separate troupes. ‘Buffalo Bill’s Wild West’ is, by far, the most remembered today, but in case you were wondering…

  • Buffalo Bill’s Combination acting troop; *1872- 1886
  • Buffalo Bill’s Wild West: 1884 – 1908
  • Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Pawnee Bill’s Far East: 1909 – 1913
  • Sells-Floto Circus and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West: 1914 – 1915
  • Buffalo Bill and the 101 Ranch Combined: 1916

Davenport was an important stop in his travels. He visited us 10 separate times:

  • April 22 – 23, /1874*
  • January 17, 1878*
  • Sept. 1 – 2, 1879*
  • September 23, 1880*
  • September 1, 1881*
  • September 23, 1882*
  • August 15, 1898
  • September 3, 1900
  • August 12, 1909
  • August 3, 1911 July 9, 1913

There are so many things that Buffalo Bill did in his life…There’s no possible way we can write about it all!IMG_20160225_163925493_HDR[1]

But, like so many things, if you want to know more, Special Collections has a great collection of materials on this national icon. So we say to you, Buffalo Bill, ‘Happy birthday, Cowboy, may your trails be happy.’

(posted by Jessica)



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