William F Cody

"Buffalo Bill"

WILLIAM FREDERICK CODY was born in Scott County, Iowa in 1845. His father, Isaac Cody, drove stage coaches from Iowa to Chicago. In 1852 the family moved to Weston, Missouri, and then two years later to the Salt Creek Valley, north of Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. In was there that the younger Cody began to spend time with the Kickapoo Indians, learning to ride and shoot. In 1857, he was hired by Alexander Majors to ride as a messenger between wagon trains on the road to Utah.

When Cody was 15 years old, he was hired as a Pony Express rider out of Julesburg, Colorado. Several months later he was transferred to Jack Slade's area in Wyoming. At 22, in Kansas, he was rechristened "Buffalo Bill." As one of the most colorful figures of the Old West, he became the best known spokesman for the New West. By this time he had been a trapper, a bullwhacker, a Colorado "Fifty-Niner," Pony Express rider, wagonmaster, stagecoach driver, Civil War soldier, and even hotel manager. He earned his nickname for his skill in supplying railroad workers with buffalo meat. He was about to embark on a career as one of the most illustrious prairie scouts of the Indian Wars.

"Buffalo Bill" was not only one of the best pony express riders, but he was also a expert driver for the Overland Stage. In 1865 he drove between Fort Kearney and Plum Creek, a handsome gray team, a decided favorite among all the stage boys in that vicinity. He participated, some distance west of Kearney, during the old staging days, in one of the liveliest fights that ever took place with the Indians on the great Overland Line. The story of the fight, in which he took a prominent part, is told by John M. Burke, a veteran stage driver, as follows:

"The condition of the country along the North Platte had become so dangerous that it was almost impossible for the Overland Stage Company to find drivers, although the highest wages were offered. Billy at once decided to turn stage-driver, and his services were gladly accepted. While driving a stage between Split Rock and Three Crossings he was set upon by a band of several hundred Sioux. Lieutenant Flowers, assistant division agent, sat on the box beside Billy, and there were half a dozen well-armed passengers inside. Billy gave the horses the reins. Lieutenant Flowers applied the whip, and the passengers defended the stage in a running fight. Arrows fell around and struck the stage like hail, wounding the horses and dealing destruction generally, for two of the passengers were killed and Lieutenant Flowers badly wounded. Billy seized the whip from the wounded officer, applied it savagely, shouted defiance, and drove on to Three Crossings, thus saving the stage."

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