One of the most colorful figures of the American Old West, William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody was a frontiersman, scout, buffalo hunter, soldier, and show business entrepreneur of the first order. In 1883, at age 37, Cody founded Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, which was variously described as a combination of circus, vaudeville, and rodeo. For more than 30 years, variations of this show traveled throughout the United States and Europe, including a command performance for Queen Victoria in 1877. Wild West performers included famed sharpshooter Annie Oakley, storyteller Calamity Jane, and Lakota Sioux Chief Sitting Bull accompanied by a band of 20 braves. The drama of the show included recreation of famous battles, including Little Big Horn and the Charge Up San Juan Hill. Starting in 1873, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West performed over 150 time in Indiana, including seven times in South Bend between 1896 and 1916, the year before he died. This photo of “Buffalo Bill” on stagecoach was taken during a parade in downtown South Bend prior to one of his local performances. In 1898, admission to the show was 50 cents, with children under nine getting in for 25 cents. Buffalo Bill and his performers traveled by dedicated train, usually arriving early in the morning and giving two shows before packing up to head to the next town. Donated by Arthur W. Cooksey.
Buffalo Bill Cody
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