Old West Book Review: The Many Loves of Buffalo Bill

Buffalo BillThis book is a short introduction to the personal life of “Buffalo Bill” Cody who was born William F. Cody, in 1846 in Scott County, Iowa.  He had a brother and three sisters who adored him, plus a worried mother who wanted the best for her son.  William’s father died when the boy was ten years old, and William became the “little man” of the family at an early age.  During his early years he worked as a freighter, buffalo hunter, army scout, Indian fighter, and daredevil rider for the Pony Express.

Tall and handsome, William cut a dashing figure with his long blonde hair and buckskin jackets.  He deftly handled wagons and horses, and was a crack shot.  From the very beginning of his working days, he was determined to take care of his mother and sisters, and accepted many dangerous jobs if the pay was good.

When still in his early twenties, he noticed Margaret Louisa Frederici’s good looks and superb horsemanship.  Louisa was the daughter of a hard working farm family, who had been educated by Catholic nuns in a convent in St. Louis.  The girl won the heart of William Cody, but a rocky personal road was ahead for both people.  They married on March 6, 1866. Louisa had fallen madly in love with the dashing William Cody, but she eventually learned to despise him because of his philandering.  She wanted William to find a steady job close to home, but that was not to his liking.

Always a good provider, off Cody went into one adventure after another while his wife kept the home fires burning.  The couple had several children; two died at an early age.  Staying at home, making many of her husband’s elaborate costumes, Louisa raised the children, took care of their ranch in Nebraska and stashed money William sent to her in properties she put into her own name.

“Buffalo Bill” had a dream about putting together a “Wild West” show, and that is exactly what he did.  Year after year, he traveled to cities throughout the United States and even Europe.  He employed hundreds of cowboys, cowgirls, sharpshooters, trick riders, stagecoach drivers, wild Indians and herds of horses and buffalo to fill his acts.

While William traveled constantly, he naturally attracted the attention of numerous women who fell for the dashing showman.  Some women became romantically involved with him, while others, such as Annie Oakley, found the relationship strictly business.  Nevertheless, Louisa harbored a burning jealously of her husband.  This did not improve when she made a surprise visit to a hotel where he stayed while on tour, and discovered “Mr. And Mrs. William Cody” were registered there.  Louisa’s threats reverberated for many years thereafter.

As news filtered back to Louisa about William’s affairs, including one of long standing with a beautiful blonde actress named Katherine Clemmons, the wife burned with resentment.  It was later told by servants that Louisa tried to poison William on more than one occasion by serving him a tea concoction that made him violently ill.

Cody eventually applied for a divorce, but Louisa fought the legal action and the judge ruled in her favor.  There was not enough evidence to prove attempted murder.  In time the two reconciled, and remained together until death did they part.

Buffalo Bill Cody passed away due to heart failure January 10, 1817 and was buried in Colorado on Lookout Mountain.  Thus ended the career of probably the most famous wild west showman of all time.  He met presidents as well as kings and queens, Indian chiefs and lady sharpshooters.  He had millions of adoring fans. A more flamboyant character is hard to imagine.

This little book is a first step toward uncovering the personal life of Buffalo Bill Cody.  It is fast-paced and fun to read.

Editor’s Note: Reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of numerous books about the Old West including The Apache Kid, published by Westemlore Press, P. 0. Box 35305, Tucson, Arizona 85740

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

Remember Goliad and the Alamo!

When Mexico gained their independence from Spain, Mexico gave the Anglo-Texans considerable autonomy. But in 1835, Santa Anna proclaimed himself dictator of Mexico; he imposed martial law, which fed the flames of the Texan’s resistance. So, Santa Anna decided to personally lead his army to wipe out these Anglo-rebels.
Early in March of 1836, while Santa Anna was attacking and defeating a small force of Texans at an abandoned mission called the Alamo, Santa Anna’s chief lieutenant, General Urrea was heading toward another group of 400 Texans defending a town called Goliad.
As General Urrea’s 1400 man army approached, James Fannin, the leader of the Texans, was indecisive as to whether he should defend Goliad or rush to the aid of the Alamo. At the last minute, Fannin decided to retreat. By then General Urrea’s men had surrounded the Texan force. Trapped on an open prairie Fannin realized there was no escape, so he surrendered.
Fannin and his men felt they were soldiers surrendering as prisoners of war. Unfortunately, Santa Ana had stated before that he considered the rebels to be “perfidious foreigners” or in a more common term “traitors,” and they would be treated as such.
On March 27, 1836, General Urrea took the over 340 prisoners and shot them at point blank. Those who didn’t die during the first volley were hunted down and killed by bayonet or lance. Then General Urrea and his men moved on, leaving the dead Texans unburied.
When news got out about the Goliad massacre, the battle cry became “Remember Goliad and the Alamo!”
Tiburcio Vasquez

Freed Slaves Head West

It was early 1877. The Civil War had been over for more than ten years. But blacks still didn’t have the freedom they had hoped for. Tenant farming had replaced the plantation system. Because of the price of rented land, and supplies, the black farmer seldom broke even at the end of the year. So, they started looking for somewhere else that would give them true opportunity.
Prior to the Civil War, by the vote of the residents, Kansas had changed from a slave to a free state. Although blacks had moved to Kansas on an individual basis, the first serious attempt to establish a black colony was on March 5, 1877 when Benjamin Singleton led a group from Tennessee to Baxter Springs located in the southeast corner of the state. Cherokee County Colony, Singleton Colony, Hill City, and Nicodemus Town followed. Most failed because of poor leadership, the transient nature of the emigrants, and having only marginal land available for settling.
It’s estimated that between fifteen and twenty thousand blacks migrated to Kansas in just a two-month period. Realizing the loss of cheap labor, southern landowners tried to stop the migration with intimidation and attacks against those involved in the “Colored Exodus.”
The biggest obstacle for blacks was that they had little or no money when they started their trek to Kansas. Many had only the possessions they could carry on their backs. However, they were assisted with relief efforts along the route from churches and private citizens.
By 1879 word got back to the south that the Kansas immigrants were facing tremendous problems in establishing a new life, and almost as fast as it started, the Kansas immigration dropped off to a trickle, and stopped.
Stephen Austin

Chuckwagon: Cowboy Slang

Cowboys are noted for developing their own vocabulary.  Sometimes it was because they couldn’t pronounce the word correctly as used in the language of origin.  They were famous for perverting Spanish words.  Cowboys also named items because the item reminded them of something else.  However they came about, cowboys had a vocabulary that was colorful and their own.  Below are some words used in reference to chuck, or for the non-cowboy, food, while they were on the trail.

    • Calf Slobbers – Meringue on a pie.
    • Fried Chicken – Bacon rolled in flour and fried.
    • Chuck Wagon Chicken – Fried bacon.
    • Charlie Taylor – A substitute for butter. A combination of molasses and bacon grease.
    • “Man at the Pot!” – Term yelled at a person pouring himself a cup of coffee. A cowboy’s way of saying, “Pour me a cup too.”
    • Spotted Pup – Cooking raisins in rice.
    • Stacked to a fill – Compliment to the chief following a great meal.
    • Dry Camp – A camp that has no water available.
    • Prairie or Mountain Oysters – Calf’s testicles.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

Old West TV: Samuel Maverick

Have you ever wondered about the origin of the term “Maverick”? Cattle and the Old West are the discussion of this particular story of Chronicle of the Old West with Dakota Livesay.

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