Wild Bill

Today in Europe, particularly Germany and England, there are tens of thousands of people who are Old West enthusiasts. The man responsible for this movement died over 85 years ago on January 10, 1917.  

 

"BUFFALO BILL CODY"

 

Born William Frederick Cody, at the age of 11 his father died. As the middle child of seven brothers and sisters, William Cody had to go to work to help support his family. His first job was carrying messages on horseback between wagon trains for a freight company. For a while he was a rider for the pony express where he became acquainted with his lifelong friend, Wild Bill Hickok.   

After failing at running a boarding house, he got a job killing buffalo to feed the workers on the Kansas Pacific Railroad. This is where he got his nickname “Buffalo Bill.” The railroad workers who called him by that name didn’t do so as a compliment. They got so tired of buffalo meat that when they saw him they would say, “Here comes that ‘Buffalo Bill.’”  

In 1872, now known as Buffalo Bill Cody, he starred in a play entitled “The Scouts of Prairie.” Although he had a couple more stints as a scout for the army, his head was in show business. In 1882 “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show” appeared for the first time. 

In 1887 he took the show to England. In 1889 he went on a tour of Europe… And again in 1891 his “Wild West Show” went back to Europe. The European citizens were enthralled with the Indians, the skills of the cowboys and wildness of the west.

Inspired by Buffalo Bill Cody, Europe has had a love affair with the Old West, even through two world wars. It’s interesting that although they were inspired by the theatrics of Buffalo Bill’s show, they, much more than American Old West re-enactors, strive for authenticity in their attire and reenactments.  

WildBill&Sitting Bull

Wild Bill and Sitting Bull

W.B.


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 courtesy Chronicle of the Old West

                                                                     © Michelle Young 2012