Episode 70

Buffalo Bill Cody: The most famous man of the Wild West

🎙️

Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West show brought the Western frontier to thousands of people around the world. Did you know that Buffalo Bill ACTUALLY DID the things that were written about him?

He was the real deal!

🚕 Google Map to the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave (Golden, CO)

🎥 Buffalo Bill Wild West life and death

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Transcript
Scott:

Alright, so Jen, I have another joke for you.

Scott:

Oh gosh.

Scott:

Okay.

Scott:

What do you call a happy cowboy?

Jenn:

A happy cowboy.

Jenn:

Um.

Jenn:

Not a cowboy anymore.

Jenn:

A

Scott:

jolly

Jenn:

rancher.

Jenn:

I

Scott:

figure I'll keep those going for a road trip series.

Scott:

Welcome to Top of History.

Scott:

I'm your host, Scott, here with my wife and historian, Jen.

Scott:

Hello.

Scott:

On this podcast, we give you insights to our history inspired, world travels,

Scott:

YouTube channel journey and examine history through deeper conversations

Scott:

with the curious, the explorers, and the history lovers out there.

Scott:

Before we get into the main topic that I know you guys are anxious to kind of hear

Scott:

about, um, I do want to call out another, uh, It looks like an updated review from a

Scott:

friend of ours, uh, Doug McLiberty, great podcast on the Lincoln Conspiracy Trial.

Scott:

He was a big fan of this, that episode, our episode a couple,

Scott:

a couple of podcasts ago.

Scott:

He said, thank you for another great episode.

Scott:

You can always teach me something new.

Scott:

I want the, I watched the 2010 movie Conspirator and it was wonderful.

Scott:

Never would have known about it without your podcast.

Scott:

So we, if folks remember and they had listened to us talk about Grant Hall.

Scott:

We talk about the movie conspirator.

Scott:

You, you talk about it.

Scott:

I haven't seen it, but you've seen it and you kind of spoke highly of it.

Scott:

And there's a couple of people even on Instagram that said it was pretty good.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

It really centers on Mary Surratt.

Jenn:

Uh, Robin Wright Penn plays her.

Jenn:

Robin Wright plays her.

Jenn:

And, uh, yeah, it's directed by Robert Redford.

Jenn:

It's a good

Scott:

movie.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

So that was, that's fun.

Scott:

It's always fun to hear, uh, from.

Scott:

Folks who are listening to the podcast, we love getting those reviews

Scott:

because that's kind of the best form of feedback that we can get.

Scott:

And it really does help us grow.

Scott:

Like one day I hope to get that podcast featured on some new and upcoming,

Scott:

you know, Apple podcast section.

Scott:

It's very difficult to do, but podcasts really do help that.

Scott:

So if you listen, we really do appreciate, um, the reviews either

Scott:

here or on Spotify, it's just stars.

Scott:

There's no real comments, but thank you for the reviews out there.

Scott:

Thank you so much.

Scott:

Buffalo Bill Cody.

Scott:

was a legendary American frontiersman, a showman and entrepreneur who became famous

Scott:

for his Wild West shows showcasing the romanticized image of the American West.

Scott:

His larger than life persona and captivating performances made him a

Scott:

cultural icon of the late 19th century, leaving a lasting legacy as an emblem.

Scott:

of American Frontier Spirit.

Scott:

And while many of us only remember Cody for his Traveling Wild West

Scott:

show that entertained crowds all over the world, don't forget that Buffalo

Scott:

Bill Cody was also the real deal.

Scott:

So Jen, let's talk a little bit about this legendary Western

Scott:

frontiersman Buffalo Bill Cody.

Scott:

So where are we starting with him today?

Jenn:

Well, we went to visit his museum.

Jenn:

And Grave outside of Denver, Colorado in Golden, Colorado, and, uh,

Jenn:

he's on Lookout Mountain and the address is Lookout Mountain Road.

Jenn:

And we went out there because Buffalo Bill Cody, if you're a fan of any Westerns,

Jenn:

even today, if you like 1883, if you like Yellowstone, if you like Longmire

Jenn:

or anything that even like centers around the, uh, the, the Western, it might

Jenn:

even Mandalorian might even be a good, yeah, because it's like a modern day.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

Western.

Jenn:

Very much so.

Jenn:

You have Buffalo Bill Cody to thank for this.

Jenn:

And you might be like, well, why?

Jenn:

It's because he made this transition from the real West to entertaining

Jenn:

people about stories of the West.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Scott:

And when you say the real West and in the video that we made

Scott:

and we put out, and it's, it's doing decently because people are

Scott:

interested in that Western history.

Scott:

I mean, he, he was out there doing it.

Scott:

The pony express shooting Buffalo and, and scouting and also like.

Jenn:

This transitional time of the West.

Jenn:

That's right.

Jenn:

So basically this territorial Western expansion this whole

Jenn:

people settling homesteading He's pinnacle in this entire time.

Jenn:

So Cody is born in 1846 in Iowa and His father is from Canada.

Jenn:

His mother is a Quaker and they don't believe that he was raised that way,

Jenn:

but he's the only boy in their family, his four sisters, and they moved to

Jenn:

Kansas when he's seven years old.

Jenn:

Again, his father has very much of this entrepreneur kind of

Jenn:

spirit, the settler kind of spirit.

Jenn:

And in Kansas, it's a area at the time when you think he's moving there

Jenn:

in the 1850s where Kansas is under turmoil of whether it's going to be

Jenn:

a free state or in a slave state.

Jenn:

That's right

Scott:

You talked a little bit about bleeding

Jenn:

Kansas.

Jenn:

Bleeding Kansas is this fight in the state because there are some people

Jenn:

who want it to be a slave state so they can have free labor and start farming.

Jenn:

There's free labor and there's some people who want it to be a free state because

Jenn:

enslavement is wrong and you can pay your, your laborers, which are usually,

Jenn:

you know, your poor whites, you can pay them instead of using enslaved labor.

Jenn:

And so, Cody's father is on the side of anti slavery, and he goes to a rally

Jenn:

where he basically insults people who are pro slavery and somebody is in the crowd

Jenn:

with a bowie knife and stabs him twice.

Jenn:

Now, he doesn't die at that moment, but he will succumb to

Jenn:

those injuries later in life.

Jenn:

So, he, uh, Cody becomes the man of the house when he's 11 years old.

Jenn:

So his father will die when he's 11.

Jenn:

And so what does Cody do?

Jenn:

I mean, he's in Kansas.

Jenn:

He has a mother and four sisters.

Jenn:

He does what his father did.

Jenn:

He helps with this expansion.

Jenn:

And so people who usually took an Oregon trail or would trail runners.

Jenn:

You know, across America needed protection.

Jenn:

They needed horses.

Jenn:

They just needed help.

Jenn:

They needed help.

Jenn:

So he has 11 years old.

Jenn:

He became what they call like a horse runner, which not only are you getting

Jenn:

horses, but you're running messages from the person in the very front

Jenn:

of the wagon train to the person at the very back of the wagon train.

Jenn:

And you're kind of helping the people who this is their.

Jenn:

business of getting these wagon trains out there.

Scott:

So, and think about it, like, I mean, for that kind of role,

Scott:

what, what better role for, you know, an 11, 12, 13 year old kid,

Scott:

you know, with all this energy,

Jenn:

becoming a young man.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And early on, he's proven to be a very accurate shooter.

Jenn:

Uh, he's very accurate, accurate with his rifle.

Jenn:

So they notice this about him from a young age that he can shoot game and,

Jenn:

uh, he can help feed people and he doesn't take a lot of waste bullets.

Jenn:

And so it's not long before they also see his advantage at about 15,

Jenn:

16, he becomes a pony express rider.

Jenn:

So again, the same kind of business model, the same kind of

Jenn:

men are trying to run messages.

Jenn:

Right?

Jenn:

Same thing, the male, and they're, and here's someone who's proven themselves

Jenn:

on the wagon train to run messages.

Scott:

Yeah, an experienced rider can take care of himself.

Jenn:

And accurate with a rifle, and so they use him.

Jenn:

It's kind of a precursor to the Pony Express.

Jenn:

He does some trails along the Pony Express, but even before the Pony Express.

Jenn:

So he's one of those very like front runners, right?

Jenn:

So the real deal, we talked about this.

Jenn:

And um, and so This is 1860 when he's really working for the Pony Express.

Jenn:

He's 16 years old.

Jenn:

So, when you think the Civil War is about to start, he's too young

Jenn:

to really join the Civil War.

Jenn:

So, you don't really see him in the Civil War until 1863.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

Until later.

Jenn:

When he's 18, 19 years old.

Jenn:

And he becomes a scout.

Jenn:

Yep.

Jenn:

Just like, um, what he will do later in life, a scout.

Jenn:

Go out in front, scout out the area where's the enemy.

Jenn:

He can get in, get out.

Jenn:

He's very, he lives off the land.

Jenn:

He's a frontiersman.

Jenn:

He's very good at, like, hiding his track.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

And, I mean, if you think about it, for, for any general or.

Scott:

You know, unit that is kind of looking for someone like that.

Scott:

He's plug and play, right?

Scott:

That he comes in, he's like, I'm going to, he fought for the union side, right?

Scott:

So it comes into this unit and they're like, Oh, you're, you do this at any

Scott:

other, it's like, yeah, I can be a scout.

Scott:

Great.

Scott:

Go, you know.

Scott:

Scout over here and tell us what you see and does it no issues, right?

Scott:

Yeah, and if you're successful that then leadership is like perfect.

Scott:

This is all you're gonna do

Jenn:

Yes And you know he doesn't wear the uniform because he's wearing

Jenn:

is like Right, you know He's rawhide like he's wearing his like skins and

Jenn:

stuff because he's just a man of the land And this is where he meets Hickok

Jenn:

for the first time Oh, he meets him

Jenn:

in

Scott:

the yeah in the army in

Jenn:

the army And the Hickok's nine years older than him and Hickok is also a scout.

Jenn:

So Hickok is also very good at this again frontiersman Good at living

Jenn:

off the land, you know, hunting people, knowing where people are.

Jenn:

And so they become friends.

Jenn:

And it's during this time right after the Civil War that he is hired by

Jenn:

the Kansas Pacific Railroad in 1866 to hunt buffalo for the railroad.

Jenn:

So he becomes a military scout on the side as they venture out into the West.

Jenn:

Think of Custer and everyone who's kind of venturing out after the Civil

Jenn:

War and he helps feed the railroad.

Jenn:

So they're trying to build a railroad across the United States to connect.

Jenn:

And this is, this

Scott:

is where he earns his name because he's so good at what

Jenn:

he does.

Jenn:

Yes, between 1867 and 1868 he kills over 4, 000 buffalo.

Jenn:

That's crazy.

Jenn:

And he's actually, um, he's, Somebody challenges him to see who can kill more

Jenn:

buffalo, and he beats that person by 10.

Jenn:

And the reason why is because a lot of people hunted buffalo

Jenn:

from the back of the herd.

Jenn:

Scare in the herd and then whoever the, the, the low, you know, the

Jenn:

slower ones is the one that we kill.

Jenn:

Cody goes out in front and hits the herd from the front and then it kind

Jenn:

of pushes them to the side where he can just shoot alongside of them.

Jenn:

As they're walking, as they're running by.

Jenn:

So he can hit them and he just goes back and gets them.

Jenn:

That seems

Scott:

like a much more dangerous way to hunt buffalo.

Scott:

It's a

Jenn:

very dangerous way to hunt buffalo.

Jenn:

And if you see in our video, first of all, we stand by a stuffed buffalo.

Jenn:

You can see how big they are.

Jenn:

They're huge.

Jenn:

Plus buffalo, They're just like bulls.

Jenn:

So when you think of a bull, it's going to charge you with their horns.

Jenn:

A buffalo will charge you when they're scared.

Jenn:

Listen up, Yellowstone

Scott:

visitors.

Scott:

What do all the teachers say?

Scott:

Don't pet

Jenn:

the fluffy cows.

Jenn:

Don't pet the fluffy cows.

Jenn:

Buffaloes charge.

Jenn:

And so, um, so he has to ride basically alongside of them and shoot them.

Jenn:

And again, he's accurate.

Jenn:

You have to get close to get through a buffalo hide.

Jenn:

And it's basically like shooting a deer under the, under the shoulder.

Jenn:

Um, but he's so accurate.

Jenn:

And he also favors I read instead of like a quick action kind of weapon.

Jenn:

He favors like a bigger barreled weapon.

Jenn:

So he does want the, the get

Scott:

it, get him with the one shot rather than needing to

Jenn:

or something like that.

Jenn:

He's very accurate.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So, uh, so And again, he's, he's so good.

Jenn:

He gets paid a lot of money for this.

Jenn:

He's able to support his family this whole time.

Jenn:

He does become man of the house and takes care of his family.

Jenn:

And, um, and he's paid a lot of money to kill these buffalo

Jenn:

to feed the railroad workers.

Jenn:

And he's very good about taking care of people who work for him.

Jenn:

So anyone who's helping him, he's also, um,

Scott:

compensating them.

Scott:

And, and now I think he even said in the video a little bit later in

Scott:

life, he actually said, This expresses regret for killing so many buffalo.

Jenn:

He does, because I mean, at the time there was a lot of buffalo on the

Jenn:

plains, but in these years from the 1860s to the 1880s to the 1890s, you're

Jenn:

going to pretty much decimate the buffalo bison population and almost extinction.

Jenn:

That's crazy.

Jenn:

In just

Scott:

a couple of

Jenn:

years.

Jenn:

Yeah, and so and there's this twofold There's a lot of thoughts about that.

Jenn:

The military did it on purpose to wipe out the food source for the American Indians

Jenn:

Hmm, and so they would just kill Buffalo, but Cody Ate the Buffalo and so he felt

Jenn:

bad in the when it eventually came to the point where they do You know, you're down

Jenn:

to a couple hundred Buffalo left and thank God, you know, there were these People

Jenn:

who protected them and they now today, you know, even the herds are reestablished

Jenn:

But he did feel bad about that because he did appreciate You know, what the

Scott:

buffalo was.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

And the, the museum we visited, visited, right.

Scott:

And that's, that's kind of what this video is kind of predicated on.

Scott:

We were up there, you know, in Denver visiting friends, went up to Golden,

Scott:

which is just outside of Denver, up and up in the hills of Lookout Mountain.

Scott:

We went up to the, to the museum and the museum does a really good

Scott:

job of taking you through his life and through these different stages

Scott:

of his life, really showcasing, you know, how he was, you know, where he

Scott:

came from, how he was the real deal.

Scott:

And then what he did.

Scott:

Transitioning into kind of the show business.

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

It was great.

Jenn:

And I think, you know, so, the museum is, starts in 1921.

Jenn:

So, Cody dies in 1917.

Jenn:

So, when you really think the museum starts four years after his death.

Jenn:

Oh, wow.

Jenn:

I don't think I realized that.

Jenn:

It's very accurate, then, in a patrol, because they get a

Jenn:

lot of artifacts right away.

Jenn:

As you know, the, his, uh, His show coat is there.

Jenn:

They got peace pipe, some sitting bowl.

Jenn:

They have a headdress from sitting bowl there.

Jenn:

He was living

Scott:

there.

Scott:

He was, I mean that's the area

Jenn:

where he was living at.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

They have his medal of honor there.

Jenn:

So the story is pretty seamless after he passes to tell the story.

Jenn:

But I think that the museum does a good job of is showing you that

Jenn:

Buffalo Bill Cody is not just a story, he's not just a character he is.

Jenn:

This person who did do these things during this time in American history of the West

Jenn:

and then transition to the show of it.

Jenn:

Yeah,

Scott:

and kind of telling his story numerous times, which when you

Scott:

tell a story enough times, even I.

Scott:

You know, you and I embellish stories at time after time after time after time

Scott:

and someone like that, when that's your business for many years after getting

Scott:

out of the business of being a scout and, you know, hunting buffalo and all

Scott:

that stuff, like things are, you know, will tend to get a little bit more

Jenn:

grandiose.

Jenn:

Sure.

Jenn:

I mean, you can imagine Sitting Bull wore his headdress for every show, right?

Jenn:

A chief is not going to wear his headdress.

Jenn:

Right.

Jenn:

Every day, all day, right?

Jenn:

But he's gonna wear it for every show, cause it's a very, it's a, it's a piece.

Jenn:

Like, it's a very flamboyant, uh, piece of their costume.

Jenn:

But, um, In 1868, he goes back into the military, so he's, he's taking a piece,

Jenn:

he's shooting for the Buffalo, he goes back into the military in 1868, because

Jenn:

this is when they start scouting out for the Indian reservations, this is when

Jenn:

they start the Indian War, so if you think of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868,

Jenn:

this is the time when Cody's coming back into military service, and this is when

Jenn:

he actually gets his Medal of Honor, and he gets his Medal of Honor because this

Jenn:

is the time when there is a lot of You know, uproar, instability between the

Jenn:

white settlers and the American Indians who are being pushed off their land.

Jenn:

Plus the American Indians of tribes are being pushed together

Jenn:

that don't want to be together.

Jenn:

And this is what happens in Bighorn.

Jenn:

And so the Indian tribes want their own spaces as well.

Jenn:

They want to be their own autonomous groups.

Jenn:

And so you get a lot of this back and forth, you know,

Jenn:

massacring this settlement, massacring this American Indian.

Jenn:

Uh, I'm going to try massacring this settlement.

Jenn:

So Cody is brought in to help stop some of that.

Jenn:

And again, to scout that out.

Jenn:

And he ends up killing some American Indians who were there to kill him.

Jenn:

And he ends up, and I think he takes out 12.

Jenn:

He's with two other men.

Jenn:

They take out 12.

Jenn:

And so he gets the medal of honor for this.

Jenn:

Now.

Jenn:

The Medal of Honor was taken away because of this.

Jenn:

And then it was reinstated in the late nineties because I think

Scott:

what I read when I was putting the video together was

Scott:

because he, because he was a scout.

Scott:

So technically a civilian, they reviewed these medal of honors, I think.

Scott:

You know, I don't know, 10, 20 years after the facts or something like that.

Scott:

And so there was a few scouts that actually had their there was

Scott:

there's a couple others like him They had middle medals of honor.

Scott:

They were removed and then what was it 19?

Scott:

It was when reagan?

Jenn:

Yeah, I think it was cody's like great grandson or someone who knew

Jenn:

who's who made a petition to a senator in wyoming The senator in wyoming went

Jenn:

to the white house the white house.

Jenn:

I mean it probably was reagan i'm, pretty sure

Scott:

it was reagan because it was like And he was like, give him back.

Scott:

And of course Reagan would be like, yeah, give him the medals of honor back.

Scott:

But they actually, they did kind of re award them, um, to them.

Scott:

So that was kind of neat.

Jenn:

So I say this because it's in 1869 at 23 years old that

Jenn:

he's going to meet Ned Buntline.

Jenn:

So this is pretty significant.

Jenn:

Ned Buntline is the writer, is the reporter who sees these great Western

Jenn:

stories and wants to put them in.

Jenn:

Um, the Chicago Weekly News, he wants to put them in the New York Weekly.

Jenn:

He, he wants to write these stories and...

Jenn:

The dime novels.

Jenn:

The dime novels.

Jenn:

And Cody is the perfect, uh, character.

Jenn:

He's the perfect person to write...

Jenn:

Almost unbelievable.

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

To write these...

Jenn:

What, what he's done.

Jenn:

These stories about.

Jenn:

And so he writes this really good, uh, book called Buffalo

Jenn:

Bill, King of the Bordermen.

Jenn:

So, you know, like the border, and so, and he writes this book and what's

Jenn:

great about Cody is the same year in December of 1872, he is, um, goes to

Jenn:

Chicago and performs this on the stage.

Jenn:

Tells the story.

Jenn:

He's able to sit and read the story and then, like you said, he

Jenn:

probably embellishes or stands up.

Jenn:

Sure, you read the story enough times, you don't need to read it anymore.

Jenn:

And then he kind of knows, and so people love this theatric of

Jenn:

learning about the Wild West from a man who really did these things

Scott:

in the Wild West.

Scott:

And I think it was Ned Butlein who technically like gave him...

Scott:

kind of cemented his name is Buffalo Bill.

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

I mean, because it was a good nickname.

Scott:

Yes, it was kind of perfect.

Scott:

You know, mnemonic.

Scott:

Yeah, easy to remember.

Scott:

And so from there, I think if I remember right, Ned Buntline wrote a

Scott:

few of these, you know, kind of wrote some more because they got popular.

Scott:

And then that's when that was the early stages of kind of this transition.

Jenn:

So this is like the 1870s and he's going to invite Hickok to join him.

Jenn:

He wants to invite a lot of his friends to join him because it helps tell the story.

Jenn:

Plus he's like, look at what we can do.

Jenn:

The West is getting settled and there's now, you know,

Jenn:

that's, let's see if we can.

Jenn:

Um, not only educate people about the West, but maybe we can use what we've

Jenn:

learned and make some money off of it.

Jenn:

But Hickok hates it.

Jenn:

Hick Hock hates standing in front of people.

Jenn:

He hides behind the scenery.

Jenn:

He actually shot a Spotlight that was on him he shot it

Jenn:

and so Cody sees right away.

Jenn:

Okay, maybe this isn't for you.

Scott:

Yeah, and like That that's funny.

Scott:

I hadn't heard that that bit about you know, shooting the spotlight

Scott:

that's on him, but You know, there's a lot of these men who were living

Scott:

out in the west for such a long time.

Scott:

I mean true frontiersmen just kind of out on their own or maybe with friends

Scott:

or you know Riding with a wagon train or something like that Being in a situation

Scott:

like that where all of a sudden now you're transported into Constant crowds.

Scott:

I can see how that would just be overwhelming for someone who is never

Jenn:

used to that around so many people.

Jenn:

Exactly.

Jenn:

And you have a lot of freedom to act how you wanna act and now you kind of

Jenn:

have to have a little more decorum.

Jenn:

Um, yeah.

Jenn:

And

Scott:

this is where Buffalo Bill Cody really stands

Jenn:

out.

Jenn:

Stands out.

Jenn:

So this is 1880 and 1883, he's gonna found the Buffalo Bell Wild West Show.

Jenn:

And this, think of this as like a circus.

Jenn:

Think of this like a circus, but with.

Jenn:

The West as the story, and that's when he's going to hire

Jenn:

Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull.

Jenn:

And he does this, um, a couple years later, he'll do this Wild West and the

Jenn:

Congress of Rough Riders of the World.

Jenn:

So he, he wants to showcase cowboys of the world and, and who are these rough riders?

Jenn:

Who are these, these lawmen or anti lawmen?

Jenn:

Of a, of a, you know, all across the globe.

Scott:

It was really neat in the museum, you know, that was up on Looking

Scott:

Mountain, just outside of Golden.

Scott:

In the museum, they have a bunch of those old posters, right?

Scott:

And they, one of the things they said in there was that at certain points

Scott:

throughout his kind of showmanship career, Buffalo Bill Cody was so famous that

Scott:

all the posters said was, I am coming.

Scott:

Mm hmm.

Scott:

And that's it.

Scott:

And people knew what he looked like and they knew what that meant.

Scott:

That's how, that's how famous his show was.

Scott:

And one of the things that I really enjoyed and you pointed it out well,

Scott:

when you start talking a little bit about diversity and, and kind of, you

Scott:

know, he wants a quality for all the people in his show and everything like

Scott:

that was all these posters are not just a bunch of white cowboys, right?

Scott:

It's.

Scott:

Gauchos down from Mexico and Arabic writers and women

Jenn:

in India, Mongols, like people from

Scott:

Mongolia.

Scott:

Really neat.

Scott:

So I can, I can only imagine and they do have.

Scott:

Very late footage I show in the video.

Scott:

They're like 1908 type footage.

Scott:

I mean they have like elephants

Jenn:

in the show Yeah, so this is people's taste of the world, right?

Jenn:

like so we talked about the circus before on one of our episodes we talked about

Jenn:

Dan Rice and how this is how People of America before radio, before television,

Jenn:

get a taste of what's out there.

Jenn:

And here he is bringing it to you.

Jenn:

He's bringing not only the West of America, but he's bringing all these

Jenn:

different kind of cowboys of the world.

Jenn:

So you get a taste of elephants, you get a taste of seeing

Jenn:

people from different countries.

Jenn:

And Cody, it's important to Cody, again, from a young age to share.

Jenn:

the wealth.

Jenn:

So he makes sure people are paid equally.

Jenn:

Women are paid equally.

Jenn:

People of color are paid equally.

Jenn:

And I know someone had commented, well, Cody doesn't care about diversity.

Jenn:

That's a today thing.

Jenn:

It's, it's, it's before that.

Jenn:

This is a precursor that he's not interested in diversity.

Jenn:

He's interested in people and

Scott:

quality.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

I mean, they may not have called it that, but he would have said like, Hey,

Scott:

you know, these people are in my show.

Scott:

I'm not going to not pay people.

Scott:

Right.

Scott:

Just because they're different than me or because Sitting Bull was a Native

Scott:

American or something like that.

Jenn:

So, and I also think this is also a smart businessman because you're

Jenn:

going to get a good performance out of people if people are being paid.

Jenn:

Absolutely.

Jenn:

And they have job satisfaction, right?

Jenn:

We talk about this all the time.

Jenn:

You have job satisfaction, you're going to put on a good show.

Jenn:

And that's the most important thing.

Jenn:

And what this museum has that I love are these colorful Posters these

Jenn:

propaganda posters just like the circus that would come into town before

Jenn:

you would come into town and they're larger than life and Cody traveled

Scott:

the world.

Scott:

Yeah, I mean, legitimately the world.

Scott:

Didn't he like, didn't he perform like in the Coliseum

Jenn:

in Rome?

Jenn:

Yes, and he performed for Queen Victoria.

Jenn:

That's crazy.

Jenn:

He, it was amazing.

Jenn:

He would go, he went over to Europe.

Jenn:

He performed for Queen Victoria.

Jenn:

Queen Victoria gave him a desk.

Jenn:

Like Mark Twain.

Jenn:

was jealous of how much popularity Buffalo Bill Cody had.

Jenn:

And you can think of Mark Twain, who was well known.

Jenn:

Cody was known by everybody.

Jenn:

And he brought the show everywhere.

Jenn:

He traveled, there's a book there at the museum, and you

Jenn:

can look to see if your town

Scott:

is...

Scott:

I didn't get a chance to

Jenn:

look through it.

Jenn:

But he came to every town we've been in with the military.

Jenn:

He has been there.

Jenn:

Wow.

Jenn:

And that was pretty interesting.

Jenn:

Now there are some states that aren't states at the time, but you

Jenn:

can look and see if he came to like the territory, maybe where you live.

Jenn:

But Cody, and I'm not talking just once to these cities, like

Jenn:

he's been there a couple times.

Jenn:

So this show was a consistent traveling show and pretty much like

Jenn:

a circus probably doing two days, moving on two days, moving on.

Jenn:

And the, and it would kind of travel before you, before, you

Jenn:

know, everybody who was the show, the showcases would get there.

Jenn:

So, uh, Yeah, he was very, very popular and again, um, just

Jenn:

really making a name for himself all over and traveling all over.

Jenn:

And then, you know, as he gets a little later in life, that's

Jenn:

when you start to see the movie

Scott:

films.

Scott:

Yes.

Scott:

That was fun.

Scott:

And because, and I actually wasn't expecting to be able to find that, but

Scott:

when we were in the museum, they actually have some stuff playing on a loop.

Scott:

Um, because if you think about it was some of our other videos, we

Scott:

talk about the world's fairs, right?

Scott:

And so that's the very early 1900s, 1901, two, three, four, right?

Scott:

When they have, you know, photographs are becoming more used.

Scott:

And then all of a sudden they start figuring out basic, basic video film.

Scott:

Sure.

Scott:

And so they start

Jenn:

filming some of the shows.

Jenn:

It's a Edison studios invited Buffalo Bill and his show to be filmed in the

Jenn:

early Senate film called Buffalo Bill.

Jenn:

And that's actually

Scott:

when I, where I found the clips.

Scott:

It was, it's labeled as such.

Scott:

Yes.

Jenn:

And, you know, he was part of the World's Fair in Chicago.

Jenn:

He meets the Pope.

Jenn:

He made, he met Queen Victoria.

Jenn:

Mark Twain commented, it's often said on the other side of the water that none of

Jenn:

the exhibitions which we send to England.

Jenn:

are purely and distinctly American.

Jenn:

If you will take the Wild West show over there, you can remove that reproach.

Jenn:

That's what he said.

Jenn:

Interesting.

Jenn:

So the Wild West brought a foreign, exotic foreign world to

Jenn:

life for its European audiences.

Jenn:

It gave them a glimpse of the fading American frontier.

Jenn:

And That's interesting because what you're going to get in return at the

Jenn:

time is you get Dickens who wants to come to the West and you get Oscar Wilde

Jenn:

who wants to come to the West because this is a fading American frontier, but

Jenn:

they're learning about it from Cody.

Jenn:

So Cody is bringing it to all these places around the world.

Jenn:

Like this is what America is basically overcoming the wildness of it.

Jenn:

And, uh, and people want to see it before it goes away.

Jenn:

Yeah, and, and

Scott:

one of the things that I found interesting kind of as, as Buffalo

Scott:

Bill Cody, I mean, he had his show for quite some time and made tons of money,

Scott:

but he was not the best businessman.

Scott:

He kept trying to invest his money afterwards and just not being successful.

Scott:

He tried to retire once or twice.

Jenn:

Yeah, so he tried to buy a ranch in...

Jenn:

Nebraska that was unsuccessful.

Jenn:

He took Cody, Wyoming.

Jenn:

Okay.

Jenn:

Right.

Jenn:

So he establishes Cody, Wyoming, and he tries to bring water up

Jenn:

there and he tries to, you know, just establish a life up there.

Jenn:

And again, then he starts to see it being exploited.

Jenn:

He starts to see the people coming in and taking the coal and things like that.

Jenn:

So one thing for Cody, I think he sees is he starts to really see.

Jenn:

uh, appreciation for the Western culture, but he sees it change dramatically.

Jenn:

During his life.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So he, he sees the West one way he's lives the West one way and then it

Jenn:

completely changes during his lifetime.

Jenn:

I mean,

Scott:

that really is a massive shifting point for the country, right?

Scott:

Think about he lived through the Civil War.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

And then he lived through, you know, the turn of the century.

Scott:

And that's, that, the turn of the century really is kind of that, that newer

Scott:

industrial revolution for, for the U.

Scott:

S., you know, and he passes away just before World War I.

Jenn:

Yeah, his show is basically sold off.

Jenn:

Uh, he, he, again, it's It's a circus.

Jenn:

It's a, and so you're basically, I would think you're basically just breaking even.

Jenn:

'cause you're paying people, you're moving things, you're kind of keeping

Jenn:

up with the times and then just, you know, it's hard to make a profit.

Jenn:

And so his show is sold off.

Jenn:

He goes bankrupt, he's sold off, he has to perform in some shows

Jenn:

as part of his, uh, contract.

Jenn:

And then he just gets sick.

Jenn:

And it's just This is later in life.

Jenn:

Later in life, yeah.

Jenn:

And so in 1917, he.

Jenn:

He's told at the beginning of the year, he's told he has two weeks

Jenn:

to live and he's in Colorado.

Jenn:

So he makes it to his sister's house in Denver, Colorado.

Jenn:

And there's an Instagram of me going to the house.

Jenn:

It's at 2932 Lafayette Street in Denver.

Jenn:

It's still there.

Jenn:

And he makes it to his sister's house when he dies.

Jenn:

January 10th of 1917 and he gets, uh, baptized the day before he

Jenn:

dies and, uh, he's with his wife.

Scott:

And it was like, there was a massive crowd that came to his

Jenn:

funeral.

Jenn:

Sure.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

Well, he, um, again, this is January.

Jenn:

So he goes into the rotunda at the Capitol.

Jenn:

He's friends with the governor of Colorado and the, you know, people have really

Jenn:

appreciated what he meant to the West.

Jenn:

And so 25, 000 people will visit him laying in state in the rotunda.

Jenn:

And then of course, they're going to wait to bury him because it.

Jenn:

Winter.

Jenn:

Yeah, the ground's frozen.

Jenn:

In Colorado.

Jenn:

But on his deathbed, he tells his wife that he wants to be

Jenn:

buried at Overlook Mountain.

Jenn:

Uh, most people thought he was going to be buried in Cody, Wyoming, his namesake.

Jenn:

But uh, he, he says to her he wants that and other people heard him say it too.

Jenn:

And because of that, when she buries him on June 3rd, 1917, she will open

Jenn:

his coffin because people will be complaining, why is he being buried here?

Jenn:

I thought it was supposed to be Cody.

Jenn:

And she goes, this is what he wanted.

Jenn:

These were his last wishes.

Jenn:

His sister will pick out the plot area and look out mountain.

Jenn:

And then he's buried there and his, um, his wife will join

Jenn:

him four years later in 1921.

Jenn:

So they're buried side by side and it's after she's buried there.

Jenn:

that this whole controversy around Cody, Wyoming really picks up.

Jenn:

Oh, just because she's gone.

Jenn:

And she's gone and no one can really confirm what he said.

Jenn:

And then his daughter chooses to be buried in Cody, Wyoming.

Jenn:

And she's a real proponent of my dad wanted to be buried in Cody, Wyoming.

Jenn:

So Cody, Wyoming plays these games of, uh, we'll pay anybody 10, 000.

Jenn:

and bring it back to Cody, Wyoming, and there's claims that somebody did do it

Jenn:

and he's buried on the mountain there in Cody, Wyoming, but if you go to the grave

Jenn:

and lookout mountain, he's buried under concrete and he's buried around a fence.

Jenn:

So there is no reason to believe that his body isn't still there in, um, at lookout

Scott:

mountain.

Scott:

But again, that just speaks to the popularity of.

Scott:

Of how popular was he even at the time he was such a massive

Scott:

draw and so publicly well known.

Scott:

Yeah.

Jenn:

I mean, this argument is to say that he was the most famous person

Jenn:

in the turn of the 20th century.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

Um, so there's a 80, 000 visitors will visit the Buffalo Bill Museum

Jenn:

and grave in golden Colorado.

Jenn:

I will say that, um, the kids loved it.

Jenn:

Oh,

Scott:

it was, it was such a good museum.

Scott:

If you're in that area, you, you need to go up there.

Scott:

It's not far outside

Jenn:

of Golden.

Jenn:

You don't even know you're really outside of Denver.

Jenn:

And you have a beautiful lookout, a great picture, uh, spot,

Jenn:

great picturesque location.

Scott:

I kept finding like engagement photos online.

Scott:

Every time I was trying to look for, for photos, I kept finding

Scott:

there's all these couples

Jenn:

that get engaged.

Jenn:

It's so beautiful.

Jenn:

And the kids, so they have like.

Jenn:

Fake horses that the kids can ride and they have cowboy hats that you can put

Jenn:

on and wear And so the kids really had a great time and I don't know if they

Jenn:

quite appreciated who Buffalo Bill Cody was But they appreciated being able to

Jenn:

play with all those things in the museum.

Jenn:

So that's really great for

Scott:

kids.

Scott:

Yeah Yeah, they did a really good job.

Scott:

It was it was very fun to do And I so enjoyed going out there, not just because

Scott:

we were West and closer to kind of, you know, where my roots are, um, but

Scott:

also because we really were seeing this kind of larger than life character and

Scott:

in his own museum and kind of learning about him was, was just fascinating.

Scott:

For, for folks nowadays, if you ever kind of played Cowboys and Indians

Scott:

when you were growing up, some piece of you is thinking, is doing that

Scott:

because of what Buffalo Bill Cody

Jenn:

did.

Jenn:

I think the biggest message you should get from Buffalo Bill Cody, and I hope

Jenn:

we explained in this podcast, is he really went from adversary to advocate.

Jenn:

He really went from a person who was part of this Western expansion and saw the

Jenn:

American Indians as an adversary and then really learned to become an advocate.

Jenn:

for all of those people who helped to make the American West what

Jenn:

it was and what it is today.

Jenn:

Well, again,

Scott:

thank you for everyone who's listening to the

Scott:

talk with history podcast.

Scott:

If you want to support the podcast, there's a couple things that you can do.

Scott:

So we talk about reviews and I kind of foot.

Scott:

really do help and we really love just getting that feedback, but you can also

Scott:

support us over at talkwithhistory.

Scott:

com.

Scott:

If you want to leave like two bucks, buy us a coffee.

Scott:

If you want to, you know, say, here's, here's five bucks, we're thinking

Scott:

about membership stuff in the future.

Scott:

I don't really know where that's going to go yet, but if you want to support

Scott:

the show, the best two ways is kind of visit the website, talkwithhistory.

Scott:

com or share this podcast with a fellow history nerd, history buff out there.

Scott:

Because we do rely on you our community to grow and we appreciate you all every day.

Scott:

We'll talk to you next time.

Scott:

Thank

About the Podcast

Show artwork for Talk With History: Discover Your History Road Trip
Talk With History: Discover Your History Road Trip
A Historian and Navy Veteran talk about traveling to historic locations

About your hosts

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Scott B

Host of the Talk With History podcast, Producer over at Walk with History on YouTube, and Editor of TheHistoryRoadTrip.com
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Jennifer B

Former Naval Aviator turned Historian and a loyal Penn Stater. (WE ARE!) I earned my Masters in American History and graduate certificate in Museum Studies, from the University of Memphis.

The Talk with History podcast gives Scott and me a chance to go deeper into the details of our Walk with History YouTube videos and gives you a behind-the-scenes look at our history-inspired adventures.

Join us as we talk about these real-world historic locations and learn about the events that continue to impact you today!

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Thank you for the great podcasts and for sharing your passion! Love hearing about the locations you visit.