Did Buffalo Bill Cody and Wyatt Earp meet?
For all the “history buffs”, Western students and writers of the Old West who have been at this longer than I have, can anyone answer the question I have posed in the title of this article? Did Buffalo Bill Cody and Wyatt Earp meet? If so, can you point me to any information about any meeting or relationship between the two? If not, how or why do you think such a meeting would NOT take place?
Cody and Earp closed at the same age. Sources place Cody’s birth in Iowa in 1846 (1845 at earliest writing, but since corrected); Earp was born in Illinois in 1848. Cody died in Denver, Colorado, in 1917; Earp died in Los Angeles, California, in 1929. Both men spent time in and out of Kansas and the Great Plains in general. I’ve seen accounts that Earp at least met and may have spent some time with “Wild Bill” Hickok, and Cody can definitely be clearly linked to Hickok, even doing a failed performance with Hickok in the 1870s.
Given such proximity, and given Cody and Earp’s quick tendencies as artists always trying to profit from their images (Cody certainly much more so than Earp), I find it surprising that the two weren’t associated in some way.
It is my understanding, and by no means knowledgeable about Wyatt Earp, that Earp never pushed the tales, showmanship, or reputation as strongly as Cody. However, in later years I think Wyatt took advantage of the not always accurate accounts of his life to make money when he could. He certainly never seemed to seek or achieve the mythical status in his life that Cody and Hickok did, probably because he never really cultivated it.
But even if that’s true, I’m surprised there aren’t any accounts I can find of Cody and Earp ever meeting. When you consider that Cody went to great lengths to recruit every “big name” he could find for his famous Wild West in the 1880s and 1890s, I’m surprised he didn’t make an effort to track down Earp and turn him into a offer. Perhaps the ups and downs of “real life” as Earp encountered it in the various cowtowns of Kansas and later Arizona dissuaded Cody from the idea. Or, we could easily speculate, Earp’s tough, sometimes law enforcement, sometimes outlaw reputation in those years caused him to ignore Cody’s attempts to hype up the “Wild West” and Earp just didn’t want to be a part of it. of that.
However, it’s fun to speculate on how the two were considered. I suspect they knew enough of the realities of life on the plains in the 1860s and 1890s that they both understood what was real and what was show business in each other.
So, I ask again: Did Buffalo Bill Cody and Wyatt Earp ever meet? If you have any information about it, and especially if you can direct me to some sources about it, I invite you to leave a comment on my website!