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Buffalo Bill Cody ALS "Big Horn"

Lot 0051
Cody William

Buffalo Bill Cody ALS "Big Horn"

WILLIAM F. "BUFFALO BILL" CODY, Autograph Letter Signed, to Eleazur V. Foote, September 28, 1896, Dubuque, Iowa. 1 p., 8.5" x 11". On "Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders, of the World" stationery; with matching envelope addressed by Cody; also includes "Official Route of Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World" for June and July 1896 in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Expected folds; small tear on one fold; very good.

Complete Transcript

Dubuque, Ia

Sep 28th 96

My Dear Foote

Was delighted to receive your letter saying you would join me on a trip to inspect the Canal. Now Foote although I would like to have you as my guest at my home. But if your time is going to be limited, I would prefrre you would spend more of it in the Big Horn Basin than in Nebraska, as it would be more interesting. So you can either meet me at Annex Auditorium Hotel Chicago Oct 26th as I will be there on that day and go home with me or meet me Paxton Hotel Omaha on Nov Sixth 6th And from there we will go direct to Basin. This will give you a chance to put in a good sound money vote before leaving New York.

Let me hear your decision.

Yours - W. F. Cody

Historical Background

In 1895, Buffalo Bill Cody, George W. T. Beck (1856-1943), and other investors founded the Shoshone Land and Irrigation Company to build a canal to irrigate the Big Horn Basin in northwestern Wyoming, and to found the city of Cody. They operated under the provisions of the Carey Act, passed by Congress in 1894 at the request of Wyoming Senator Joseph Carey. The act allowed private companies to erect irrigation systems and profit from the sales of the water to encourage settlement. They originally planned to irrigate more than 400,000 acres along the Stinking Water (now Shoshone) River, but soon scaled back to the more manageable goal of 25,000 acres.

Cody attracted a group of businessmen from Buffalo, New York, to invest in the project, but Cody and Beck soon had to reach out to other investors, including Nathan Salsbury (1846-1902), who was producer and manager of Buffalo Bill's Wild West, the traveling show that made Cody famous, and Phoebe Hearst, mother of newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst.

The Burlington and Missouri River Railroad, a subsidiary of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, ran through Red Lodge, Montana, approximately sixty-five miles north of Cody. Buffalo Bill Cody invited New York City hotelier Eleazur V. Foote to visit the area. Doing so, Cody hoped, would encourage Foote to invest in the Shoshone Land and Irrigation Company.

Cody also told Foote he could remain in New York to vote for "sound money," a reference to the upcoming presidential election on November 3, 1896. The candidate associated with "sound money" was Republican presidential nominee William McKinley of Ohio, who favored remaining on the gold standard. Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska called for reform of the monetary system and attacked business leaders he held responsible for the economic depression that had gripped the nation since the Panic of 1893. Drawing on the ideas of the Populist party, the Democratic platform supported a silver-backed currency. Cody was a Democrat, who had been nominated for a seat in the Nebraska legislature in 1872 but did not win, and who was briefly mentioned as a candidate for Nebraska governor in 1893.

However, the New York Times published a few sentences from Cody to Foote two weeks earlier declaring that although he lived in Nebraska and personally liked Bryan very much, Cody could not support the Chicago Democratic platform. Cody wrote Foote from Wisconsin, where he was touring with his "Wild West" show, that "McKinley will sweep the Northwestern States." Based on his daily interactions with hundreds of people, Cody wrote, "I am meeting many Democrats who will vote against Bryan, while I encounter comparatively few Republicans who will not vote for McKinley. It is easy to see that the silver craze is decreasing." Cody was accurate; McKinley won the election with 51 percent of the vote, winning a clear victory of 271 to 176 in the Electoral College. However, he carried only 23 states to Bryan's 22. Bryan carried the entire South, except the former border slave states, and much of the trans-Mississippi West, but McKinley carried the entire Northeast, Midwest, and Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, and California in the West.


William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846-1917) was born in Iowa Territory, lived with his family for a few years in Ontario, then lived in Kansas Territory. After his father was attacked and mortally wounded for delivering an antislavery speech, Cody began working, and he became a rider for the Pony Express at age 15. He served as a teamster in the 7th Kansas Cavalry during the latter half of the Civil War. In 1866, he married Louisa Frederici, and they had four children. That same year, he reunited with Wild Bill Hickok and joined him as a civilian scout for the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars. In 1867 and 1868, he took a leave of absence to supply Kansas Pacific Railroad workers with buffalo meat. He is purported to have killed more than 4,200 buffalo in eighteen months, earning him the nickname "Buffalo Bill." Back as an army scout in 1868, he rode as a dispatch courier among five forts, covering 350 miles in 58 hours through hostile territory, including the last 35 miles on foot. He served as Chief of Scouts for the 5th Cavalry Regiment and later for the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. In 1869 and the early 1870s, Ned Buntline wrote sensationalized stories about Cody's adventures that made Cody nationally famous. For his service in the Indian Wars, he received the Medal of Honor in 1872 (revoked in 1917, shortly after his death, when Congress authorized the War Department to revoke hundreds of medals, including all civilian ones, and controversially restored in 1989). Cody founded "Buffalo Bill's Wild West" touring show in 1883, and took his large company on annual tours of the United States. With his profits, he purchased a 4,000-acre ranch near North Platte, Nebraska, in 1886. Beginning in 1887, he expanded to tours of Great Britain and continental Europe. He also established an independent exhibition near the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, the organizers of which had rejected his request to participate in the fair. Cody continued to support the town of Cody, Wyoming, building a hotel there in 1902 and another in 1905. He also established a dude ranch nearby, which also served as a base for hunting expeditions. He filed for divorce in 1904, but the court rejected his petition in 1905, and he and his wife reconciled in 1910.

Elizur/Eleazur Valentine Foote (1855-[1945?]) was born in New York City to Joel West Foote (1820-1864) and Catherine Matilda Valentine. He became the treasurer of the corporation that purchased the Hoffman House hotel and café in New York City in 1894. One of his partners was Edward S. Stokes, who had served four years in prison for killing fellow financier Jim Fisk Jr. over the songstress Josephine Mansfield in 1872. The Hoffman House was built in 1864, and the political powerbrokers of Tammany Hall considered it their unofficial headquarters. Grover Cleveland lived there when he was elected to his second term as president. William M. "Boss" Tweed lived at the hotel, as did William F. Cody for extended periods when he was in New York City. The 1907 Panic harmed the hotel, and it closed in 1915. Foote never married. In the 1910 and 1930 censuses, he was listed as a real estate broker, living in New York City.


This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.

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Buffalo Bill Cody ALS "Big Horn"

Estimate $1,200 - $1,400Oct 02
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Westport , CT, USA
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