Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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CODY, William Frederick, scout, born in Scott county, Iowa, 26 February, 1845. When he was about seven years old his father removed to Kansas, then an unsettled territory, where he was killed in what was known as the "Border war." When the pony express was established across the plains in the spring of 1860, William became one of the most fearless and daring among its riders. At the beginning of the civil war he acted as government scout and guide, being chiefly employed in Arkansas and southwestern Missouri. In 1863 he enlisted in the 7th Kansas cavalry, was promoted, and served with distinction as scout until the close of the war. In 1867 he entered into a contract with the Kansas Pacific railway in western Kansas, at a monthly compensation of $500, to deliver all the buffalo meat that would be required for food for the army of laborers employed, and in eighteen months he killed 4,280 buffaloes, earning the title of "Buffalo Bill," by which he was afterward familiarly known. Cody again entered the government service in 1868 as a scout and guide, and after a series of dangerous rides as bearer of important dispatches through a country infested with hostile Indians, was appointed by General Sheridan chief scout and guide for the 5th cavalry against the Sioux and Cheyennes. He then served with the Canadian River expedition during 1868-'9, and until the autumn of 1872 was with tire army on the western border. In 1872 he was elected a member of the Nebraska legislature, but, after serving a short time, resigned, and made a successful appearance on the stage in Chicago. At the beginning of the Sioux war in 1876 he discharged his dramatic company, joined the 5th cavalry, and was engaged in the battle of Indian Creek, where he killed in a hand-to-hand conflict the Cheyenne chief Yellow-Hand. At the close of the campaign he returned to the stage, and in 1883 organized an exhibition called the " Wild West," whose object was to give a realistic picture of life on the frontier. His actors included actual Indians, Mexicans, and "cowboys," and in 1886 he contracted to take his company to Europe during 1887.
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