William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody (February 26, 1846 – January 10, 1917) was an American soldier, bison hunter and showman.
Buffalo Bill started working at the age of eleven after his father’s death, and became a rider for the Pony Express at age 14. During the American Civil War, he served from 1863 to the end of the war in 1865. Later he served as a civilian scout to the US Army during the Indian Wars, receiving the Medal of Honor in 1872. One of the most colorful figures of the American Old West, Buffalo Bill became famous for the Wild West shows he organized with cowboy themes, which he toured in Great Britain and Europe as well as the United States.
After his mother recovered, Cody wanted to enlist as a soldier in the Union Army during the American Civil War, but was refused because of his young age. He began working with a United States freight caravan that delivered supplies to Fort Laramie in present-day Wyoming. In 1863 at age 17, he enlisted as a teamster with the rank of Private in Company H, 7th Kansas Cavalry and served until discharged in 1865.
The Scouts of the Prairie
In December 1872, Cody traveled to Chicago to make his stage debut with friend Texas Jack Omohundro in The Scouts of the Prairie, one of the original Wild West shows produced by Ned Buntline. During the 1873–1874 season, Cody and Omohundro invited their friend James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok to join them in a new play called Scouts of the Plains.
Buffalo Bill's Wild West
In 1883, in the area of North Platte, Nebraska, Cody founded “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West”, a circus-like attraction that toured annually. (Despite popular misconception, the word “show” was not a part of the title.) With his show, Cody traveled throughout the United States and Europe and made many contacts. He stayed, for instance, in Garden City, Kansas, in the presidential suite of the former Windsor Hotel. He was befriended by the mayor and state representative, a frontier scout, rancher, and hunter named Charles “Buffalo” Jones.