A century ago there were no western movies and television shows to watch. But when Buffalo Bill's (William F. Cody, 1846-1917) famous Wild West show came to town, the people could crowd into a big circus tent and see real Indians and cowboys of the old West. Indians in war paint riding bareback on their western ponies and shouting war whoops thundered into the ring. Behind them came buckskinned cowboys shooting as they rode. Buffalo Bill himself was the star of the show. He performed amazing tricks with his guns.
William Cody was born in Iowa, but his family soon moved to Kansas. When he was only 14 he was hired as a rider for the Pony Express. He learned to know the Great Plains well. He knew both the land and the Indians who lived on it. Before long he became a scout for the army and helped fight the Indians.
Buffalo Bill got his nickname because he killed so many "buffaloes," or bison. When the Kansas Pacific Railroad was being built across the plains, young Cody agreed to furnish the workmen with meat. In one year he killed nearly 5,000 bison.
In 1883 he gathered many Indians and cowboys together and started his Wild West show. People liked it so much that he traveled about with it for many years.
The town of Cody, Wyo., was named for Buffalo Bill.