Chronology of Events
Chronology taken from Buffalo Bill and the Wild West, pp. 14-15. I have adapted it slightly to accomodate this format and have added my own points of information where relevant.
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- 1846: William Cody born February 26 near Le Claire, Iowa
- 1857-59: Hired as a messenger for Majors and Russell Co. in Kansas; serves on wagon trains and cattle drives, and makes his first trip across the plains.
- 1860: Rides for the Pony Express; at the age of 15 makes the third longest trip of 322 miles. Later, the Pony Express gains notoriety and is featured as an act in the Wild West Show.
- 1864: Enlists in the Seventh Kansas Volunteer Cavalry
- 1865: Works as a scout and dispatch bearer for General William Tecumseh Sherman in Kansas
- 1866: Marries Louisa Fredirici
- 1867-68: Acquires the name "Buffalo Bill" while under contract to provide buffalo meat for the workers of the Kansas Pacific Railroad. "During my engagement as hunter for the company," he later writes, "I killed 4,280 buffaloes."
- 1868-72: Employed as a scout and guide for the U.S. Cavalry, most notably as chief of scouts for the Fifth Cavalry.
- 1869: Buffalo Bill, the King of the Border Men, written by Ned Buntline, is published--the first of more than 550 different dime novels about Buffalo Bill.
- 1872: Guides buffalo hunting party and provides "Indian" entertainment for Grand Duke Alexis of Russia. Begins eleven-season stage career by playing himself in a melodrama of frontier life.
- 1873: Forms the "Buffalo Bill Combination," a travelling theatrical troupe, with Wild Bill Hickok and Texas Jack Omohundro; confines his scouting to the summer months.
- 1876: Produces and stars in The Red Right Hand; or, Buffalo Bill's First Scalp for Custer, a dramatization of the Warbonnet Battle.
- 1878: Indian-manned police forces are established by the U.S. government for reservation supervision. The southern herd of buffalo nears extinction. Cody uses reservation Indians as actors in stage melodramas for first time
- 1880: The Northern Pacific Railroad is completed.
- 1881: A Century of Dishonor, an indictment of U.S. Indian Policy by Helen Hunt Jackson, is published.
- 1883: Buffalo Bill presents first Wild West show in Omaha, Nebraska. This same year, Sitting Bull participates in the last traditional buffalo hunt of the Sioux; the northern herd is now virtually extinct.
- 1884: Annie Oakley joins the show as "Little Sure Shot"
- 1885-86: Sitting Bull joins the show for a season
- 1887: The Wild West show is part of the American exhibition at Queen Victoria's Jubilee in London. The show makes regular tours to Europe until 1906
- 1890: The Ghost Dance religion reaches the Sioux. It promises the disappearance of the white man and the return of the buffalo. On December 15, Sitting Bull is shot killed by Indian police attempting to arrest him. On December 29, more than three hundred Sioux are massacred at Wounded Knee by the 7th Cavalry.
The Census Bureau reports settlement across the continent: "The unsettled area has been so broken into by isolated bodies of settlement that there can hardly be said to be a frontier line."
- 1893: The Wild West show opens next to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago; the "Congress of Rough Riders of the World" is introduced; Frederick Jackson Turner presents his Frontier Thesis
- 1895-96: Cody develops town of Cody, Wyoming
- 1905: Sues his wife for divorce
- 1908: Merges Wild West with Pawnee Bill's Great Far East
- 1910: Begins a series of farewell appearances
- 1913: The Col. W.F. Cody Historical Pictures Co. is formed to produce short films on the Indian wars.
- 1916: Joins and makes his final appearance with Miller Brothers and Arlington 101 Ranch Wild West; theme of show is military preparedness
- 1917: Dies on January 10 in Denver, Colorado, and is buried on Lookout Mountain