Phoenix Rising

In the event of imminent disaster at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, I'll assume that there will be enough advance warning of the supervolcano's eruption to load a truck with twenty-five objects and transport them to safety. Since Buffalo Bill's existence was the driving force that led to the creation of the Center, the items I've chosen pertain to him and his extraordinary life. After his passing in 1917, friends and family members organized a society to keep his memory alive in the town he helped to found - Cody, Wyoming. Eventually his niece, Mary Jester Allen, was able to establish the Buffalo Bill Museum. Following in their footsteps, the objects listed below will form the nucleus of a new collection to rise again.
Curated by Linda Ordogh

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This gallery has 25 objects

Sculpture. Buffalo Bill - The Scout. The memorial done by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney who donated most of the funds for this sculpture herself. It was the first object commissioned by the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
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Sculpture. Buffalo Bill - Plainsman. Welcomes visitors to the Center of the West and will continue to welcome visitors at a new location.
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Hat. One of Buffalo Bill's many hats.
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Jacket. He appears in several photographs wearing this fringed and beaded buckskin jacket.
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Gauntlets. Also fringed and beaded to complement his jacket.
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Boots. His outfit wouldn't be complete without his signature black leather boots.
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Saddle. This is seen in the last photograph of him taken at his ranch.
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Gun. He named it Lucretia Borgia after the deadly female character he had seen in the Victor Hugo play of the same name in St. Louis. He also got his nickname "Buffalo Bill" using this gun.
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Congressional Medal of Honor to William F. Cody. This speaks for itself.
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Painting of his mother Mary Ann Laycock Cody. (Artist unknown). Buffalo Bill very much respected and admired his mother who exerted a great influence on his life. He later became a supporter of women's suffrage and was far ahead of his time in advocating that women should receive the same pay as men for the same work.
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High chair. Made for his only son who succumbed to scarlet fever at age five years and five months - Kit Carson Cody - named after the man who taught his father "how to shoot from horseback."
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Sterling silver charm bracelet with fifty-five hearts. Presented to his daughter Irma Cody by Annie Oakley and J..J. McCarthy. Irma traveled with her father and his show over the years and was beloved by the cast. Each heart is inscribed with the name of a person or group from the Wild West show.
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Jacket. Worn by Annie Oakley. A starring performer in the Wild West show, she remained with it for sixteen years.
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Shotgun. Owned by Annie Oakley. A crowd favorite wherever she went, Annie's incomparable sharpshooting never failed to thrill her audience. She was nicknamed "Little Sure Shot" by her good friend Chief Sitting Bull.
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Glass target ball. Both Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley used target balls similar to this one to demonstrate their marksmanship. Buffalo Bill would shoot them out of the air while on horseback at full gallop.
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Poster. Her Majesty Queen Victoria at Buffalo Bill's Wild West, London, May 11th 1887. Queen Victoria saw his show at Earls Court and stayed until the very end because she was so captivated by it. This was the first public entertainment she had appeared at since her husband's death twenty-five years previously.
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Stagecoach. Took "center stage" in one of the Wild West show's most popular acts. For a special command performance requested by Queen Victoria, the kings of Belgium, Denmark, Greece, and Saxony plus the Prince of Wales boarded the Deadwood coach with Buffalo Bill in the driver's seat to "participate" in the mock attack.
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Poster. Je viens. A descendant of French Huguenots (on his father's side) who left France to escape religious persecution, this poster announced his return.
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Painting. Col. William F. Cody by French artist Rosa Bonheur. Survivor of a conflagration at his house in North Platte, NE in 1890, it was one of his most cherished possessions and hung next to a painting of his son Kit in the parlor of his home.
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Headdress (Northern Plains). In recognition of all the Native Americans who traveled with the show during its thirty year run. Buffalo Bill began to be an advocate for Native Americans in the late 1870s and continued to speak publicly about the government's injustices to them.
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Tipi (Plateau Nez Perce). While this is not one of the tipis that members of his show put up while touring, it is stunning and must be included. Native Americans were encouraged to pitch their traditional camps while on the road with the Wild West to teach others about their culture and traditions. One of the most unusual photographs I've ever seen is the one picturing tipis set up on the grounds of the Colosseum during the show's 1890 visit to Rome.
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American bison. Iconic symbol of the American West. Although he hunted buffalo and received his nickname from his prowess in doing so, Cody later became an advocate for their preservation.
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Painting. Yellowstone Falls by Albert Bierstadt. Buffalo Bill purposely situated the town of Cody in proximity to Yellowstone Park.
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Wild West chess set in bronze. One of a limited edition of ten by native Cody artist Jeffrey Rudolph. Among the playing pieces are: Buffalo Bill (kings); Annie Oakley (queens) and Lakota chiefs (bishops). Charity chess tournaments featuring this set could help raise funds for a new museum.
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Spurs. Last, but not least, an exquisite pair manufactured in my hometown of New Britain, CT. Buffalo Bill wrote complimentary letters to North & Judd about the quality of their spurs and whenever he was in the area, would stop by the factory. During these visits workers were allowed to bring their children to meet him.
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Questions and Comments


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Suzanne S's deep thoughts

Wonderful exhibit of things significant to Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, including the important participation of Native Americans and Annie Oakley. Some of the selected items provide interesting information about him important shows around the world, as well as his travels for equipment such as the spurs from Connecticut. Some of the selected items reveal unusual aspects of Buffalo Bill's identity as a Huguenot, and others reveal aspects of Buffalo Bill's family life, which is another important historical context enlarging our understanding of him.