He was born in Le Claire, Iowa Territory, but lived for several years in his father's hometown in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, before the family returned to the Midwest and settled in the Kansas Territory.
After his father's death, Buffalo Bill started working at the age of 11. He became a rider for the Pony Express at 15, served the Union during the Civil War from 1863 to 1865, and later served as a civilian scout for the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars, receiving the Medal of Honor in 1872.
Buffalo Bill Cody became one of the most famous and well-known figures of the American Old West and had already begun to build his legend by the time he was 23.
Shortly thereafter, he founded Buffalo Bill's Wild West, a traveling show that toured the United States and Europe for many years.
The show featured reenactments of Western life, and it helped to shape the public's perception of the American West. The show featured many Western legends such as Annie Oakley, Wild Bill Hickok, Sitting Bull, and many others.
Buffalo Bill Cody was instrumental in the founding of Cody, Wyoming, in 1895. He was so impressed by the development possibilities of the region, including irrigation, rich soil, grand scenery, hunting, and proximity to Yellowstone National Park, that he returned to the area in the mid-1890s to start a town.
The town was incorporated in 1901, and streets were named after Cody's associates: Beck, Alger, Rumsey, Bleistein, and Salsbury.
Today, the Old Trail Town Museum commemorates the traditions of Western life at the center of the community.
Buffalo Bill Cody died on January 10, 1917. He was baptized in the Catholic Church the day before his death by Father Christopher Walsh of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
He received a full Masonic funeral. His funeral service was held at the Elks Lodge Hall in Denver, and the governor of Wyoming, John B. Kendrick, a friend of Cody, led the funeral procession to the cemetery.
Tributes were made by King George V, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and President Woodrow Wilson.
Buffalo Bill Cody had a family full of tragedy.
His father migrated to Kansas from Ohio, where he pushed for Kansas to be a free state. He died young, and so did Cody's mother.
When his father died, his siblings were young and still unable to provide for themselves. Six years later, his mother passed away.
He had two brothers; each died at a young age. His sisters lived much longer and gave birth to many others.
He met and married his wife. The two would have four children, and tragically, Buffalo Bill would see the death of three of his children. His youngest daughter died shortly after him and prior to his wife.
He and his wife's marriage was rocky, and he filed for divorce. The couple decided to remain married, but their relationship did not improve until 1910 when the couple reconciled, and she began traveling with him again until his death.
Despite these tragedies, the grandkids of Buffalo Bill Cody lived on and married and had other children, which gives him direct descendants today.
Family Tree Chart
Isaac Cody (1811 - 1857) - He was an outspoken free state man when he arrived in Kansas. This was during the Bleeding Kansas era, and he was once stabbed in the back and had to remove himself from the state to his native Ohio. He died before Kansas became a state and did not witness the Civil War.
Mary Ann Bonsell Laycock (1827 - 1863) - She married her husband, and they had seven children together. She did see Kansas become a state.
Louisa Maud Frederici (1844 - 1921) - She and her husband had four children together. At her death, she received a large funeral. She and her late husband were popular figures in the West.
Arta Lucille Cody (1866 - 1904) - She was the eldest child of Buffalo Bill Cody. She died suddenly while on her honeymoon from appendicitis. Her obituary reads the following: She was married only one month; the wedding had occurred on New Year's Day. Her death was due to the operation of laparotomy, which was performed a week previously, being followed by complications that proved fatal.
Kit Carson Cody (1870 - 1876) - Born in the winter of 1870, Kit Carson Cody was the doted-upon son of Buffalo Bill Cody. He appeared occasionally in his father's Wild West Show. In April of 1876, Louisa Cody telegraphed her husband that their son was seriously ill with scarlet fever. Cody caught the train home to Rochester, New York, where his son died in his arms later that night.
Orra Maude Cody (1872 - 1883) - She tragically died at 11 years of age. She was beloved by her parents.
Irma Louisa Cody (1883 - 1918) - She married twice and had three children. She also died young, and it is rumored that her ghost appears at the Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming.
Samuel Cody (1841 - 1853) - At age twelve, he was thrown from a horse and died from his injuries. He was the oldest of the Cody siblings.
Julia Melvina Cody (1843 - 1928) - She married and had many children with her husband. She died while in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Eliza Alice Cody (1848 - 1902) - She was the younger sister of Buffalo Bill Cody. She married and had five children. She died after a long illness.
Helen Ella Cody (1850 - 1911) - She wrote a book about her brother. She migrated to Los Angeles, California, where she had one child.
Mary Hannah Cody (1852 - 1926) - She married twice and had two children. She named one of her sons after her famous brother.
Charles Whitney Cody (1855 - 1864) - He was the youngest brother of Buffalo Bill and died at the age of 9. This would be the second brother that he lost at a young age.