Date: c. 1880
Description: This stuffed bison head was shot by the famous William F. Cody, better known by the name “Buffalo Bill.” A native of Le Claire, Iowa, Cody worked as a cattle driver from an early age and after the Civil War he joined the army as a scouter, and his comrades gave him the nickname “Buffalo Bill” due to his hunting prowess. Soon Cody became the stuff of legend, starring in dime novels, newspaper accounts, and even performing on stage in some of his own acting troupes. But he is most famous for his Wild West Show, which starred real “cowboys” and “cowgirls” from the ranches out West. His show popularized the lives of cattle drivers, miners, and cowboys in the great American West to the American public, and his show appeared in over 1,400 communities nationwide. Cody and his show were even invited to Britain as a part of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebration. The show gained a stigma for allegedly its poor treatment of Native Americans, but most accounts say Cody was fair in his treatment of not only Natives but the women starring in his show as well. Financial trouble hit Cody hard in Denver and the Wild West Show was forced to retire, and Cody died shortly after its disbandment in 1917.
Cody was a famous hunter of bison, or the American Buffalo. He sent this particular carcass to the old Sioux City Fur Co. for mounting, which they obviously did. However, Cody never returned to the city to come pick it up. Sioux City Fur Co. was eventually purchased by Williges Fur Company, and this stuffed head remained with the firm until it was presented to the museum in early 1962.
Donor: Paul W. Wilderson
*Source: Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave