Fun Facts About Buffalo Bill Cody

Discover the fascinating connection between Casey Rislov's book, "The Rowdy Randy Wild West Show," and the Wild Western legend Buffalo Bill Cody.

These facts are perfect for teachers, homeschoolers, and anyone intrigued by historical characters, these fun facts add an extra layer of excitement to the story.

  • William Fredrick Cody lived from 1846 to 1917.
  • He was born near LeClaire, Iowa and died in Denver, Colorado.
  • His life highlights were riding for the Pony Express when he was age 14, fought in the American Civil War, served as a scout for the Army (received a Medal of Honor for his duty) and created his famous Wild West Show.
  • His name, Buffalo Bill, came from shooting over 4,000 bison in 18 months, as he was working for the Kansas Pacific Railroad in 1967-8, and supplied the meat to the railroad workers. Also, the negative side of it, killing bison was encouraged by the US Army in order to starve & control the American Indians.
  • He considered North Platte, Nebraska his hometown, especially while raising a family and taking breaks from being on the road for his Wild West Show.
  • Late in life, Buffalo Bill Cody founded the town of Cody, Wyoming and it was named after him in 1896. He helped start this town as he saw the picturesqueness of the region, the nearness to Yellowstone, abundance of wild animals & fish, and land available for farming and ranching.
  • Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show started in 1883 and lasted over 30 years. The show died shortly before he died at age 71.
  • The Wild West Show would display the animals of the West, cowboy activities and the Native American life.
  • Lakota people were the main tribe in the Wild West Show. Well known American Indians that were a part were Chief Sitting Bull (A Chief & holy man of Hunkpapa Lakota that brought courage to defending native lands & Battle of Little Big Horn is an example), Red Cloud (Spokesman & leader for his Oglala Lakota people), Chief Joseph (Nez Pierce leader in Oregon who lead his followers in a dramatic escape to Canada) and Geronimo (infamous leader of Chiricahua Apache & feared by US military).
  • The role of American Indians was both essential and anomalous in the Wild West. At least in the big shows, they generally were treated and paid the same as other performers. They were able to travel with their families, and they earned a living not possible to them on their reservations. They were encouraged by Buffalo Bill Cody and others to retain their language and rituals. They gained access to political and economic leaders, and their causes were sometimes argued in the published show programs.
  • Famous women that were involved in the Wild West Show were Annie Oakley (who could outshoot most men), Calamity Jane (frontiers woman, sharpshooter & storyteller), Lillian Smith (trick shooter & rider) and May Lillie (Equestrian rider & rifle shooter).
  • Black Americans of the 9th & 10th Cavalry and Bill Pickett (famous rodeo bulldogger) were a part of the show.
  • Other famous cowboys were Wild Bill Hickock (known for life on the frontier as a soldier, scout, lawman, cattle rustler, gunslinger gambler, showman and more), Will Rogers (American entertainer, #1 radio personality & highest paid film star in 1933), Tom Mix (most flamboyant & popular cowboy movie actor), Mexican Joe (Joseph Shelley’s show name in Wild West Show) and Cowboy Kid (Johnny Baker’s name as a sharpshooter in the Wild West Show).
  • In 1893 at the Chicago World Fair, Buffalo Bill Cody also included Congress of the Rough Riders of the World- who were Hawaiian, Cuban, Philippine and Japanese.
  • His Wild West Show’s included horse shows, exotic & wild animals, trick performances and theatrical reenactments. Also, sharp shooting (pistol & rifle), wing shooting (shotgun), roping and riding, rodeo style events.
  • Animals used in his show were bison, horses, mules, texas steers, elk, deer, bears, moose and later exotic animals like elephants and camels.
  • Buffalo Bill Cody sailed from New York to England in 1887 with cowboys, sharpshooters, musicians, American Indians, horses, bison, elk, mules, steers and old Deadwood Stagecoach.
  • The Europeans were extremely curious about the Wild West in America and came out in big crowds to see the show. Buffalo Bill Cody went to several countries from England, Italy, France, Spain and Germany. Leaders from each country came out to see the show.
  • When Buffalo Bill Cody brought his Wild West Show to the Chicago World Fair in 1893, his event was by far the most beloved. This is the time it became popular in the United States. By 1895, Barnum and Bailey revolutized their travel arrangements with 2 trains and 50 cars to carry 30 buffalo, 100’s of show and draft horses and much more.
  • In 1899, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West covered over 11,000 miles in 200 days giving 341 performances in 132 cities and towns across the United States. In most places, there would be a parade and two two-hour performances.

For more information visit these great historical reference websites:

Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Cody, Wyoming |
Buffalo Bill's Wild West in Europe (