Buffalo Bill Days 02-10-2013 admin 0 (Frank) Today on Around Kansas, Deb is in the oldest city in Kansas talking about her favorite Kansan…Buffalo Bill Cody. Buffalo Bill is a true Kansan, shaped by Kansas and in turn, shaping Kansas history, and Leavenworth has returned to those roots by reinstating Buffalo Bill Days. Enjoy the show. Closed Captioning brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers. (Deb) Welcome to Around Kansas. I’m your host, Deb Bisel. We’re standing on the banks of the beautiful Missouri River in the oldest town in Kansas, Leavenworth or Leavenworth City as it was called in the Territorial period. Now we’re here today to talk about my favorite Kansan, Buffalo Bill Cody and the Cody’s came to Kansas territory in 1854. In fact, they were on this very river riding the ferry across to stake their claim when they found out that the Kansas-Nebraska Act had been signed a couple of weeks before and it was okay to go ahead and make that claim. Now as you can see, if you’ve got a good arm, you can actually throw a rock across the river to Missouri, so the Missourians had had their eye on this part of the Kansas territory for a long time. There’s some beautiful countryside here and little Will Cody would recall that a lot of those Missourians would come across the river with whiskey bottles and when they were empty, they would drive those into the ground at the corners of their claims to mark their land claims with. Now as Bill Cody grew up, of course, he became the world famous showman, Buffalo Bill. He took the American west to the entire world. He took the wild west show to Europe, to London, the Vince, to the crown heads of state, all over the world and when you visit Germany, England, many of those countries today, they still love the American west because of Buffalo Bill and Buffalo Bill is a true Kansan. He’s shaped by Kansas. he, in turn, will come to shape Kansas history and Leavenworth has returned to those roots by reinstating Buffalo Bill Days that will be happening later on here today and as we spend some time in Leavenworth, we’re gonna talk about the places that Buffalo Bill would have seen as he was growing up and becoming a young man and some of the mark that he left on this incredible country. So stay tuned, we’ll be right back with more of Around Kansas. (Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas. I’m Deb Bisel, your co-host and I’m joined by two Buffalo Bills, at this point. We have Cale Denny, who is four years old and Bob Spear, who is the owner of the Book Barn and historical interpreter and actor of great renown. It’s great to have both of you here and, Cale, can you tell me about Buffalo Bill? What do you know about Buffalo Bill Cody? Do you know anything about Buffalo Bill? Did your mama talk you into being Buffalo Bill today? Yes, I thought she probably did. So are you gonna learn a lot about Buffalo Bill today? You think so? Is that is picture behind us on the mural? Did you notice that? Well we picked little Cale to come with us today because Buffalo Bill Cody used to be little Will Cody when we lived in Leavenworth and grew up here and he was just a boy when we came to the Kansas territory, so I think it’s a great reminder to have that beautiful, young face to remind us of just what a childhood in the Kansas territory would have been like and I hope Cale has it a lot easier than the guy he’s portraying did. Cale, it’s nice to meet you and thank you for joining us. We look forward to seeing you again. Can you tell everybody bye? (Male) Bye-bye. (Deb) Bye-bye. We’ll be right back. (Deb) Just across the bridge that you see behind me, just a couple of miles is Weston, Missouri, a beautiful little river town and Elijah Cody, who was Bill Cody’s uncle lived in Weston. He was a very prosperous businessman in Weston, Missouri and it was Elijah that urged his brother Isaac, who lived in Iowa at the time with his family, to come to the new Kansas territory and settle. So when the Cody’s came to the Kansas territory, they actually stayed in Weston with the brother for a while and the brother was also a slave owner, a very prominent slave owner and, of course, slavery was the big issue of the day, so when Isaac Cody came with his family to the Kansas territory, the neighbors assumed that he would be like-minded, and this was pretty much a pro-slavery, pro-southern community, so Isaac Cody, with his abolitionist beliefs, was not very welcomed. In fact, it wasn’t long before he began being harassed pretty seriously. Now Isaac had this beautiful farmland, basically just outside the post at Fort Leavenworth now, and he had a contract with the post to raise hay for the horses and mules at Fort Leavenworth, so he made many trips back and forth from his farm to the post at Leavenworth, and it was one of those trips that these Border Ruffians were hanging out at a country store along the side of the road, stopped Isaac Cody, and they forced him up onto a freight box say, about that tall, to make a speech. He was reluctant. He was not an overbearing, in-your-face sort of man, but he was also not a man to back down from what he believed in. so he got up onto the freight box and is making an appeal that why can’t we live in peace and we really don’t need slavery and was making a very reasoned speech when one of the men jumps up and stabs him. Now Mr. Cody was severely injured, but he didn’t die then. He actually lived a year or so past that, but constantly on the lookout for these men who were going to come and finish him off. So little Will Cody becomes the man of the house very early on and there is an episode that Bill’s sister Julia describes later on where their father is home visiting and he had to sneak back home each night. He would hide his horse at a neighbor’s house and walk through the woods to even visit his family and he was there one night. He was too ill to get up and leave the next morning when one of these Border Ruffians came into the house demanding dinner and wanting to know where that damned abolitionist was. Mrs. Cody fixed him a meal, remained calm, sent little Bill and Julia upstairs to be with their dad who was hiding and the father upstairs tells the children and Bill is eleven and Julia might be thirteen, that if that man comes looking for me, you’ll have to protect me and he tells Bill Cody to get the gun and he tells his sister Julia to get the ax and he says, If that man starts up the steps, Willy, you shoot and if he misses, Julia, you get him with the ax because I’m too sick to defend myself, and that was the constant fear that the Cody family lived in. it wasn’t long after that that Isaac Cody did die and became one of the first martyrs to the cause of Bleeding, Kansas and leaving young Will Cody truly as the man of the house. (Deb) I’m Deb Bisel. Welcome back to Around Kansas. We’re in historic Leavenworth today. Once again, the oldest city in Kansas and with me is Bob Spear. Bob, I’m so glad to have you with me today. (Male) Thank you very much, Deb. (Deb) And you might have noticed that Bob bears a striking resemblance to that gentlemen on the mural behind us, Buffalo Bill Cody. So, Bob, tell me how you got interested in portraying Buffalo Bill? (Male) Well I used to be just a storyteller and started that in 1997, then eventually raised to the next level in storytelling, becoming a story performer and I selected two characters, one was Burl Ives because I sing and play guitar as well, but the other was Buffalo Bill Cody because he had a history here in Leavenworth and because I could portray him appearance wise, as well as a knowledge of history. You know Cale, the young, little boy, four years old, Buffalo Bill was only eight years old when we came here from Iowa and they settled in the Salt Creek Valley area. (Deb) And I think that’s a really good point, again, having Cale on and I was so glad to see him because we forget. You know Buffalo Bill has become such an icon of American history that Kansans tend to forget, we’ve got a real strong claim on him. (Male) Exactly. He was only eleven years old when we became the breadwinner in his family and he became a herd boy for the same contractors that eventually put together the Pony Express, but he was a herd boy for the wagon trains going out west. They would trade him oxen and when some of them got tired, they joined the herd. He kept that herd together, eleven years old, and he killed his first man at age twelve. (Deb) It’s an amazing story and Bill Cody, one of the things that I really enjoy reading is his autobiography and then the writings of his sisters and like you said, he became the breadwinner, not just making pocket money, but he’s supporting the family when he’s just a child himself and his sisters remained so loyal to him throughout his life, he could have set the house on fire and it would have been okay. They were so protective and so loyal to him the rest of their lives. (Male) And played an important role. He helped them get setup once he made his claim to fame and, so, they were a family and they acted like a very strong family. Buffalo Bill, it’s very interesting, 1969, we had some community leaders who saw the need for a park and they wanted to name the park after Buffalo Bill, Cody Park and that’s how the Buffalo Bill Festival got started and it went for quite a few years and then it lapsed and we had River Fest, things like that and finally, two years ago, we started the Buffalo Bill Festival and that’s going strong. That goes on today and tomorrow and that’s gonna be a lot of fun, very exciting. We’ve got all kinds of period type people coming in to portray different things and I’m really looking forward to it. (Deb) You’re a man after my own heart, Buffalo Bill and books, how much better can it get? Stay tuned. We’ll be right back with some more of Around Kansas. (Deb) Buffalo Bill is such a huge part of the American west, but again, his stamp on Leavenworth is tremendous and the way Leavenworth formed him and he, in turn, helped shape the history of the town, so I think it’s really appropriate to revive that as an annual event. (Male) It is. This town is incredible. Remember Horace Greeley, the famous publisher in New York City who had advice to a young man, the young man said, Where should I go to make a career, and Greeley replied, Go west young man, go west. Well the young man was his nephew and he had just returned from checking out Leavenworth and was so impressed. That’s where he was talking about when we said, Go west young man, go west. (Deb) And then, of course, we’ve got the Lincoln statue right over here and Lincoln commented many times when he was in the White House that he considered, after his retirement, you know, after he left the presidency, I think I would like to go to Kansas. (Male) Well, you know, he practiced the speeches for his campaign here. There was a theatre just across from my bookstore where he gave many of those speeches. Four years later, an acting troop came to town and they put on a play and everybody was very impressed with the star actor whose name was John Wilkes Booth. (Deb) Isn’t that amazing? The crossroads of history, Kansas and Leavenworth truly are the crossroads of history and then, of course, Abraham Lincoln was in Leavenworth the day that you’re talking about when he got news that John Brown had been hanged. (Male) Yes, that is correct. (Deb) And they asked him for his comments about John Brown, so truly, truly a crossroads of history. Now tell me about the book business, tell me a little bit about your store because it’s a tremendous asset to the community as well. (Male) Well, you know, we got started in Junction City while I was still in active duty back in 1979 as a used bookstore and then I got a medical discharge from the army and came here as a civil servant and we moved the store here in 1981 and we became more and more new books and finally we did a flip-flop, we became mostly new books instead of used books, but we’re an icon. We’ve been around here forever and my wife, Barbara, is the one that runs the store and does a superb job of it and this has just been going on for a long time, but we’re very unusual. We’re a mom and pop, independent bookstore that has somehow managed to survive against the big chains and it’s because of her work and because of the events that we have. We’re very fortunate. We’ve received both state and national awards for the events that we put on because we set them around the history and what better place to have history events than the historic Leavenworth, Kansas. (Deb) I hope you’ve enjoyed our visit to Leavenworth, Kansas as much as I have. Not only is it the first city in Kansas, it obviously remains a very thriving city in Kansas and I hope you get the opportunity to come and visit for yourself. There’s so much to enjoy here, whether it’s the history, the food, the riverfront, the vibrant downtown, the fort itself. There’s so much to see and do in Leavenworth and, you know, join us next time on Around Kansas, Frank Chaffin and I guarantee we’ll make it a great trip. Thanks. Closed Captioning brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.