1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cody, William Frederick

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16878101911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 6 — Cody, William Frederick

CODY, WILLIAM FREDERICK (1846–  ), American scout and showman, known under the name of “Buffalo Bill,” was born in 1846 in Scott county, Iowa. He first became known as one of the riders of the “Pony Express,” a mail service established in the spring of 1860 by the Central Overland California and Pike’s Peak Express Company to carry the mails overland from Saint Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, a distance of 1950 m., by means of relays of ponies, each rider being expected to cover about 75 m. daily. Owing to the wildness of the country and the hostility of the Indians, both the riders and the station-keepers led lives of great hardship and danger. The “Pony Express” was discontinued in 1861 upon the completion of the Pacific Telegraph company’s line, and young Cody became a scout and guide for the United States army. In 1863 he formally enlisted in the 7th regiment of Kansas cavalry, in which he served until the close of the Civil War. In 1867 he made a contract with the Kansas Pacific railway to furnish its employees with buffalo meat while the line was being extended through the wilderness, and his name of “Buffalo Bill” was given him from this circumstance. In 1868–1872 he was again an army scout and guide, serving against the Sioux and Cheyennes; and in 1872 was a member of the Nebraska house of representatives. During the Sioux-Cheyenne War of 1876 he served in the 5th United States Cavalry, and at the battle of Indian Creek killed the Cheyenne chief Yellow Hand in single combat. In 1883 he organized his “Wild West Show,” a spectacular performance on a large scale, his first European tour taking place in 1887. In the Nebraska national guard he again served against the Sioux in 1890–1891.