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A Wedding

Title

A Wedding

Description

Excerpt from The Life of Hon. William F. Cody Known As Buffalo Bill The Famous Hunter, Scout and Guide An Autobiography, Chapter 12, A Wedding, pages 141-145.

Creator

William F. Cody

Publisher

Frank E. Bliss

Date

1879

Language

en

Text

The war closing in 1865, I was discharged, and after a brief visit at Leavenworth I returned to St. Louis, having made up my mind to capture the heart of Miss Frederici, whom I now adored above any other young lady I had ever seen. Her lovely face, her gentle disposition and her graceful manners won my admiration and love; and I was not slow in declaring my sentiments to her. The result was that I obtained her consent to marry me in the near future, and when I bade her good-bye I considered myself one of the happiest of men.

Meantime I drove a string of horses from Leavenworth to Fort Kearney, where I met my old friend Bill Trotter, who was then division stage agent. He employed me at once to drive stage between Kearney and Plum Creek, the road running near the spot where I had my first Indian fight with the McCarthy brothers, and where I killed my first Indian, nearly nine years before. I drove stage over this route until February, 1866, and while bounding over the cold, dreary road day after day, my thoughts turned continually towards my promised bride, until I at last determined to abandon staging forever, and marry and settle down. Immediately after coming to this conclusion, I went to St. Louis, where I was most cordially received by my sweetheart; it was arranged between us that our wedding should take place on the 6th day of March, following.

At last the day arrived, and the wedding ceremony was performed at the residence of the bride's parents, in the presence of a large number of invited friends, whose hearty congratulations we received. I was certainly to be congratulated, for I had become possessed of a lovely and noble woman, and as I gazed upon her as she stood beside me arrayed in her wedding costume, I indeed felt proud of her; and from that time to this I have always thought that I made a most fortunate choice for a life partner.

An hour after the ceremony we—my bride and myself—were on board of a Missouri river steamboat, bound for our new home in Kansas. My wife's parents had accompanied us to the boat, and had bidden us a fond farewell and a God-speed on our journey.

During the trip up the river several very amusing, yet awkward incidents occurred, some of which I cannot resist relating. There happened to be on board the boat an excursion party from Lexington, Missouri, and those comprising it seemed to shun me, for some reason which I could not then account for. They would point at me, and quietly talk among themselves, and eye me very closely. Their actions seemed very strange to me. After the boat had proceeded some little distance, I made the acquaintance of several families from Indiana, who were en route to Kansas. A gentleman, who seemed to be the leader of these colonists, said to me, "The people of this excursion party don't seem to have any great love for you."

"What does it mean?" I asked; "What are they saying? It's all a mystery to me."

"They say that you are one of the Kansas jay-hawkers, and one of Jennison's house burners," replied the gentleman.

"I am from Kansas—that's true; and was a soldier and a scout in the Union army," said I; "and I was in Kansas during the border ruffian war of 1856. Perhaps these people know who I am, and that explains their hard looks." I had a lengthy conversation with this gentleman—for such he seemed to be—and entertained him with several chapters of the history of the early Kansas troubles, and told him the experiences of my own family.

In the evening the Lexington folks got up a dance, but neither the Indiana people, my wife or myself were invited to join them. My new-found friend thereupon came to me and said: "Mr. Cody, let us have a dance of our own."

"Very well," was my reply.

"We have some musicians along with us, so we can have plenty of music," remarked the gentleman.

"Good enough!" said I, "and I will hire the negro barber to play the violin for us. He is a good fiddler, as I heard him playing only a little while ago." The result was that we soon organized a good string band and had a splendid dance, keeping it up as long as the Lexington party did theirs.

The second day out from St. Louis, the boat stopped to wood up, at a wild-looking landing. Suddenly twenty horsemen were seen galloping up through the timber, and as they came nearer the boat they fired on the negro deckhands, against whom they seemed to have a special grudge, and who were engaged in throwing wood on board. The negroes all quickly jumped on the boat and pulled in the gang plank, and the captain had only just time to get the steamer out into the stream before the bushwhackers—for such they proved to be—appeared on the bank.

"Where is the black abolition jay-hawker?" shouted the leader.

"Show him to us, and we'll shoot him," yelled another. But as the boat had got well out in the river by this time, they could not board us, and the captain ordering a full head of steam, pulled out and left them.

I afterwards ascertained that some of the Missourians, who were with the excursion party, were bushwhackers themselves, and had telegraphed to their friends from some previous landing that I was on board, telling them to come to the landing which we had just left, and take me off. Had the villains captured me they would have undoubtedly put an end to my career, and the public would never have had the pleasure of being bored by this autobiography.

I noticed that my wife felt grieved over the manner in which these people had treated me. Just married, she was going into a new country, and seeing how her husband was regarded, how he had been shunned, and how his life had been threatened, I was afraid she might come to the conclusion too soon that she had wedded a "hard customer." So when the boat landed at Kansas City I telegraphed to some of my friends in Leavenworth that I would arrive there in the evening. My object was to have my acquaintances give me a reception, so that my wife could see that I really did have some friends, and was not so bad a man as the bushwhackers tried to make out.

Just as I expected, when the boat reached Leavenworth, I found a general round-up of friends at the landing to receive us. There were about sixty gentlemen and ladies. They had a band of music with them, and we were given a fine serenade. Taking carriages, we all drove to South Leavenworth to the home of my sister Eliza, who had married George Myers, and there we were given a very handsome reception. All this cheered up my wife, who concluded that I was not a desperado after all.

Having promised my wife that I would abandon the plains, I rented a hotel in Salt Creek Valley—the same house by the way, which my mother had formerly kept, but which was then owned by Dr. J.J. Crook, late surgeon of the 7th Kansas. This hotel I called the Golden Rule House, and I kept it until the next September. People generally said I made a good landlord, and knew how to run a hotel—a business qualification which, it is said, is possessed by comparatively few men. But it proved too tame employment for me, and again I sighed for the freedom of the plains. Believing that I could make more money out West on the frontier than I could at Salt Creek Valley, I sold out the Golden Rule House, and started alone for Saline, Kansas, which was then the end of the track of the Kansas Pacific railway, which was at that time being built across the plains.