April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Buffalo Bill wows crowd at Hope library event

By By Paul [email protected]

Was this a concert or a history lesson?

It was during one of Buffalo Bill Cody's livelier songs that 5-year-old Gidget Bulmer found herself rocking and bopping on her mother's lap. When the talking restarted, she sat transfixed, wowed by the hero's on-stage persona.

Indeed, the Western showman that Columbus resident Terry Clark portrayed Friday at the Hope Branch Library was meant to entertain, to educate and to inspire an appreciation for the man himself -- and the many people he knew.

William F. Cody was born Feb. 26, 1846, in LeClaire, Iowa, to Isaac and Mary Ann Cody. His life became notable early on, as it included an 18-month stint working for the Pony Express, in which the young Cody logged the third longest horseback ride in the mail delivery service's history, and earning the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry as chief of scouts during the Plains Wars of the 1870s.

The nickname "Buffalo Bill" came from Cody's time working for the Kansas Pacific Railroad, when he was purported to have killed 4,280 bison in just 18 months to supply railroad workers with meat.

But it was Buffalo Bill's eventual founding of his Wild West Show that led to his recognition as the country's ultimate showman. The show featured main events, feats of skill, staged races, mock battles and sideshows, many performed by authentic figures of the Western frontier. Among Buffalo Bill's celebrity performers were the Native American Chief Sitting Bull and the famed sharpshooter Annie Oakley.

Clark's performance Friday was his 45th nationwide since he started the character six years ago. He estimated he has performed the show for a total of 5,000 people.

Clark wore Buffalo Bill's trimmed mustache and beard, his brimmed hat and his knee-high boots. Oh, and the showman's bigger-than-life personality.

The crowd responded with interest, laughs and applause.

Bulmer, who attended with her mother and grandmother, said her favorite part of the performance was the silly songs. Specifically, she liked one about a mustache.

But there was so much more to choose from.

Clark said after the performance that the children's interest in Buffalo Bill keeps him coming back. Buffalo Bill was an extraordinarily interesting person, he said, and knew so many famous people of that era.

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