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Buffalo Bill Cody

  • West Des Moines Historical Society, PO box 65563 | West Des Moines, IA 50265
  • Presented By: WDM Historical Society
  • Dates: May 17, 2020
  • Location: West Des Moines Public Library
  • Phone: (515) 225-1286
  • Start/End Time: 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM
  • Price: Free
  • Overview

    William F. Cody (1846-1917), better known as “Buffalo Bill,” was born near Le Claire, Iowa, in Scott County, just north of Davenport. By the end of his life, he had become what some have called “the most famous American in the world.” He was a Pony Express rider, an Army scout, a buffalo hunter for the railroad, and the founder and central attraction of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, which traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe for thirty years. This talk is an overview of Cody’s life, both tragic and heroic. It was tragic because of the role that he played in the near extinction of the American Bison (he himself is said to have shot nearly 3,000 buffalo in eight months), and, even more deplorable, in the subjugation of Native Americans. If his life was heroic, it was because of his later support of the rights of Native Americans, his friendship with many of them (most notably with Sitting Bull), and his link with colorful characters like Annie Oakley and Wild Bill Hickok. As a Wild West performer, it is thought that Cody probably played to a collective audience of more than 50 million, including at various Iowa towns.
    This is a face-paced and entertaining 45-minute talk, illustrated by projected vintage photographs, film clips and animated graphics.
    Free and open to the public thanks to the support of West Des Moines Historical Society Members, the West Des Moines Library Friends Foundation and the Iowa Arts Council.