Buffalo Bill opens his Wild West show in Omaha today
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody opened his Wild West show in Omaha today. He has been in numerous stage shows and made many public appearances in the last few years. All of these appearances have been designed to portray and glorify the wild west.
However Cody has envisioned for several years an elaborate outdoor show that would bring the real excitement of the west to eager easterners.
The forerunner of the show was first put together last year at North Platte where the famous scout has a ranch and an elaborate home that he has named the Welcome Wigwam. In June his fellow citizens of North Platte had decided to put on what they called an "Old Glory Blow-Out" on the Fourth of July.
They asked Buffalo Bill to take charge of its presentation, he was more than happy to. The original plan was to put on a kind of rodeo and bronco-busting contest. Cody soon switched to the kind of a Wild West Show of which he had been dreaming.
Cody hired a number of Indians and bought from an old friend, Luke Voorhees, a Concord Coach that had been running on the Cheyenne Black Hills line. With the addition of local cowboys, he enacted a famous stagecoach hold-up. They put on horse races and a sharp-shooting contest. He also included a drive of a small herd of buffalo.
The Old Glory Blow-Out was a sensational success. Buffalo Bill said, "I tried it on my neighbors, and they lived through it and liked it, so I made up my mind right then I'd take the show east."
In 1868 Cody offered to carry military communications from Fort Hays to Fort Dodge and then on to Fort Larned after several other couriers had been killed on the route. When he completed the 350 mile route in 60 hours, General Sheridan made him Chief of Scouts for the Fifth Cavalry.
In this capacity he spent several weeks in the Hat Creek vicinity during the summer of 1876. On the morning of July 17, less than 24 hours after resupplying at Camp Hat Creek, Cody killed the Cheyenne chief Yellow Hand (or Yellow Hair) about 40 miles east of here. The Fifth Cavalry was successful in turning back about 800 Cheyenne who were headed for the Powder River to reinforce Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull after Custer's defeat on June 25.
As soon as Cody killed Yellow Hand and his horse he noticed that the Indian was wearing an American flag for a breechcloth and had a blond woman's scalp for a trophy. These two sights so angered Cody that he forthwith scalped the Indian and proclaimed it to be the first scalp taken in revenge of Custer's defeat. He also took Yellow Hand's war bonnet, bridle, whip and weapons for trophies.
It was through Cody's friendship with Voorhees that he was able to get the Concord coach. They had first met when Voorhees was on a buffalo hunt and stopped for a meal at the Cody farm on Salt Creek in Kansas.
Cody had ridden in the coach in the autumn of 1876. It was later attacked by Indians and laid neglected eight miles east of here near Indian Creek for three months before being repaired.
(Information sources: "Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes," by Spring; "Buffalo Bill and the Wild West," by Henry Blackman Sell and Victory Weybright.)