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Definition: Cody, William F(rederick) from Chambers Biographical Dictionary

known as

Buffalo Bill

1846-1917

US showman

Born in Scott County, Iowa, he became an army scout and pony express rider. He earned his nickname after killing nearly 5,000 buffalo for a contract to supply meat to the workers on the Kansas Pacific Railway (1867-68). He served as a scout in the Sioux wars, but from 1883 toured with his own Wild West Show. The town of Cody in Wyoming is situated on part of his ranch.


Summary Article: Buffalo Bill
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

1846–1917, American plainsman, scout, and showman, b. near Davenport, Iowa. His real name was William Frederick Cody. His family moved (1854) to Kansas, and after the death of his father (1857) he set out to earn the family living, working for supply trains and a freighting company. In 1859 he went to the Colorado gold fields and he claimed, apparently falsely, to have ridden for the pony express in 1860. His adventures on the Western frontier as an army scout and later as a buffalo hunter for railroad construction camps on the Great Plains were the basis for the stories later told about him.

On his first visit to the East in 1872, Ned Buntline persuaded him to appear on the New York stage, and, except for a brief period of scouting against the Sioux and Cheyenne in 1876, he was from that time on connected with show business. In 1883 he organized Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and toured with it for many years throughout the United States and Europe. Wyoming granted him a stock ranch, on which the town of Cody was laid out. He died in Denver and was buried on Lookout Mt. near Golden, Colo. The exploits attributed to him in the dime novels of Buntline and Prentice Ingraham are only slightly more imaginative than his own autobiographies (1879, 1920).

  • See Walsh, R. J.;Salsbury, M. S., The Making of Buffalo Bill (1928);.
  • biographies by D. B. Russell (1960, repr. 1969) and J. Burke (1973).
  • Warren, L. W., Buffalo Bill's America (2005).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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