Terry Clark as Buffalo Bill Cody
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Buffalo Ill in Song Logo  Terry Clark 2011
William Frederick Cody was born near LeClair Iowa on February 26th, 1846. One early experience was witnessing his 14-year-old brother Sam being crushed to death when the horse he was riding recklessly while showing off for some young girls, reared and fell on him. Will was determined to become an expert and careful horseman.
The family soon moved to Kansas. At a dry goods store near Fort Leavenworth when Will was 9, his father was forced by the crowd to speak his mind during a heated discussion about whether Kansas should be a Free State or a Slave State. Isaac Cody spoke against slavery and a man who worked for his brother Elijah stepped up and put a knife in his chest. Isaac didn't die from the injury for three years, but it was up to Will to provide for his family, and he got a job working for the large freight company, Russell, Majors and Waddell. He began as a courier, but worked as a cavalard, the boy who cared for the spare animals, and as a bullwhacker. During this time he became an expert at moving bull trains across streams and rivers, met James Butler Hickok and learned to read the topography of the western plains.
Cody worked as a rider for the Pony Express, rode with a Jayhawker band led by Doc Jennison and tried his hand at trapping and prospecting. His Mother died in 1863 and he was released from a promise he had made to her and joined the 7th Volunteer Kansas Cavalry. During the Civil War Cody served as a teamster, courier and scout. He was sent to St. Louis near the end of the war where he met Louisa Frederici, who was three years his senior and became engaged as a prank they played on another of her suitors. After the war she wrote Will to remind him of his promise and he returned to marry her. He tried his hand as a innkeeper with the Golden Rule Inn, but he never adjusted to domestic life and soon returned to a life on the plains. After guiding General Custer to Kansas Cody was hired by the Kansas Pacific Railroad to hunt for meat to feed the men building the railroad. Cody was paid $500 a month to kill 12 buffalo a day for their meat. He hunted for 18 months and killed an estimated 4350 buffalo. The men on the railroad would sing a song about him.

Buffalo Bill, Buffalo Bill,
Never misses and never will.
Always aims and shoots to kill,
And the company pays his buffalo bill.

From that time on he was called Buffalo Bill. During his time hunting he and a man named William Rose, who had a contract grading the railroad right of way, staked out a town ahead of the railroad advance and named it Rome. Over a period of a few months it became a thriving community with several stores, homes and saloons. When Rose and Cody refused to partner with the railroad the line was moved north one and one-half miles and the town of Hays City was created. Rome was dismantled in two days, but Cody acquired a lifelong desire to develop property in the west.
Buffalo Bill scouted for the Fifth Cavalry and fought in several battles, including the battles of War Bonnet Creek and Summit Springs against the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers under Chief Tall Bull. For his service as a civilian contractor Cody was awarded the Medal of Honor.
It was at this time that he met Ned Buntline, whose real name was Edward Zane Carroll Judson, a writer of dime novels and, although a heavy drinker, a speaker on the temperance circuit. It was during one of these speaking tours that he met Buffalo Bill. He was originally intending to write another dime novel about Wild Bill Hickok but he wrote one about Buffalo Bill instead titled Buffalo Bill Cody - King of the Border Men which sold in large numbers making Buffalo Bill famous in the East.
Cody began leading Buffalo hunting expeditions for wealthy Easterners and visiting European royalty. During one hunting trip he met James G. Bennett Jr. the Publisher of the New York Herald who invited Cody to visit New York City. During that trip, he looked up Ned Buntline who took him to a play based on the dime novel. When the audience found out he was in the house it demanded he appear on stage. He was embarrassed and scared but it was his first taste of show business.
Later that year he went to Chicago with his friend Texas Jack Omohundro and began touring in a play written by Ned Buntline. He was a terrible actor at first, but within a year he could fill houses and entertain the audiences with stories of the rescue of innocent women who were captured by Indians and the foiling of villains. Each scene ended with the curtain falling on a gun smoke obscured scene of Buffalo Bill standing with his smoking rifle and a thankful woman kneeling at his side clutching his knees while surrounded by villains lying as if dead. The next scene the villains are back and the rescue is performed again with small differences.
After ten years of performing with his Buffalo Bill Combination on stages throughout America Cody formed the Wild West, a traveling exhibition of various types of horse racing, bucking bronco riding, re-enacting Indian War battles, telling the story of the winning of the west and letting America see Native Americans living with their families in tipis and caring for their children. With the Wild West Cody traveled America and Europe and helped to create the image of the west in the minds of the world. His vision of the west was contagious and his audiences all over the world believed they had seen the west as it had been during the days of the frontier.