Buffalo Bill tells Wild West tales at historical society meeting
Guy Bieber was scheduled to provide the program for the Feb. 28 meeting of the Weisenberg Lowhill Historical Society but the man who showed up in his place was “Buffalo Bill.”
Deb Zettlemoyer, co-president of the historical society, welcomed everyone to the 2017 quarterly meeting.
Gloria Zimmerman gave a brief biography of Bieber, who had been employed by Lower Macungie Township and served in the Army National Guard. She met him at a Rotary Club meeting.
Bieber is a member of Jerusalem (Red) Church in Kempton, the NRA and the Wild Turkey Federation.
In 1997, he took first place in a Buffalo Bill look-alike contest in Denver, Colo.
“William Frederick Cody was born in LeClair, Iowa, in 1846,” began Bieber.
He was still a child when the family moved to Leavenworth, Kans. His father loved adventure, which was the reason for the move.
It took 30 days to reach the Salt Creek Valley. His father was stabbed and died a year later.
Cody’s father was one of the first men to be against slavery in the North and when Buffalo Bill formed his Wild West show, he paid women the same amount for comparative work.
At age 11, Cody looked for a job. He earned $40 a month and food when he worked as a boy extra delivering messages along the length of a wagon train.
He helped drive a herd. They got to Plum Creek peacefully but one night they awoke to the thunder of hoofs. The men got under the riverbank and headed downstream.
Some wanted to fight but they were told to keep together and to keep moving.
The water was waist deep on Cody and the men got ahead of him. When the moon arose, he saw an Indian and raised and fired his gun. He landed with a splash in the water. This became the beginning of his career as an Indian fighter.
By the age of 14 he was gold struck and headed to Fort Collins, Colo., but on the way he was signed to the Pony Express. He had earned $1,000 to take home to his mother. She had wanted him to go to school and he refused until he realized he could not even sign the payroll.
Cody said he spent a year trapping and caught 300 beaver and 100 otter in his first year.
The Pony Express was 2,000 miles of alkali soil, desert and two mountain ranges.
Stations had to be built and then he was given the job as a rider. The first trip was made in 10 days but eventually went down to eight days.
One day, he rode 74 miles and when he arrived at the station the next rider was too drunk so Cody changed horses and rode another 85 miles. Until he was done, he rode 320 miles in 21 hours.
He joined the Red-legged Scouts in Kansas where Quantell and the James Brothers were raiding.
He was with the 9th Kansas Cavalry and was sent to tame the Indians and protect settlers.
Cody was sent out as a hunter to bring in food for the railroad. In one day he killed 12, and that was when he acquired the name Buffalo Bill.
In the 18 months his career lasted, he killed 4,280 buffalo. He considered it an exciting adventure.
He named his rifle “Lucretia Borgia” and developed a method of getting the buffalo to circle so the butchers did not have to travel far to skin them and take the few parts they used back to camp.
He married and had four children while living in New York.
By 1868, he became chief of scouts for the 3rd Cavalry. Buffalo Bill received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his scouting work.
In 1872, he made his stage debut with Texas Jack Omohundro in the Scouts of the Prairie.
He struck out on his own in 1883 with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. The show included Indians, cowboys, sharpshooters, buffalo, elk, Indian fights, stagecoach robberies and more.
Sitting Bull joined the show. His face was pitted with smallpox scars. He discovered popcorn candy and usually had some handy as well as his long-stemmed pipe.
The show was taken to Europe beginning in England for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.
At one time, the Prince of Wales drove a coach while Buffalo Bill rode shotgun. There were four kings in the coach.
Buffalo Bill said the land had belonged to the Indians and when the white man took it, it was reasonable they would fight. In closing, Buffalo Bill noted the scouts did not hate the Indians and tried to have them treated fairly.
The next quarterly meeting of the Weisenberg Lowhill Historical Society is scheduled for the last Thursday in May.
Mary Hess will show photos of the Lehigh Valley.
A basket social will take place at Zettlemoyer’s Auction House on April 24. The annual yard sale will be 8 a.m.-2 p.m. the Saturday before Memorial Day, and a quilt raffle will take place during the cookie sale in December.
Genealogy workshops are offered 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month at the old Zimmerman’s Hotel, Werleys Corner, Weisenberg Township.