Buffalo Bill

Army Scout, heroic soldier, Pony Express rider, ranch hand, bison hunter, and showman. Buffalo Bill was a rugged outdoorsman, a living symbol of the Wild West—and an American legend.


William Frederick Cody, “Buffalo Bill,” was born on February 26, 1846, in Le Claire, Iowa.


In 1857, his father died, and 11-year-old Bill got a job delivering messages between train drivers and workers. Next, he signed up to be an Army Scout to help guide the U.S. Army to Utah.


From 1860 to 1868, Bill had many exciting adventures. He became a Pony Express rider, delivered supplies to Fort Laramie in Wyoming, and enlisted in the Civil War.


Over the years, he also got married and fathered four children; worked for the Kansas Pacific Road hunting bison to provide meat for the railroad workers (which is how he got his nickname, Buffalo Bill); and was hired by the U.S. Army to be a civilian scout and guide for the Fifth Cavalry, earning him the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor.


As his fame grew, he created The Buffalo Bill Combination troupe, which ran for 10 years. Then, he created Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show starring headline performers including Annie Oakley, Frank Butler, and Calamity Jane. It toured for 30 years through the U.S. and Europe, making Bill an international celebrity and a rich businessman.


Buffalo Bill, the most famous American in the world at the turn of the 20th century, died on January 10, 1917.


Over 100 years later, his legend lives on—and Buffalo Bill is still considered one of the greatest heroes of the Wild West.