Cody was a class act with tour­ing town

Macclesfield Express - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

DUR­ING my re­cent mus­ings on Euro­pean bi­son, a story I once heard from the es­teemed edi­tor David Jones about the orig­i­nal Buf­falo Bill rid­ing into Glos­sop with An­nie Oak­ley and Chief Sit­ting Bull kept nig­gling me - so here goes, stick on your Stet­son, jump up on the stage­coach and ride shot­gun with me as I tell you the tale.

Buf­falo Bill Cody was a con­stant com­pan­ion of my child­hood, along with Davy Crock­ett, Wyatt Earp and other fic­tional char­ac­ters such as Tex Tucker and Roy Rogers, but Cody was the real thing; a rider for the pony ex­press, a fron­tier scout, a buf­falo hunter, and veteran of the so-called ‘In­dian Wars’.

He was with­out doubt one of the greatest and most in­flu­en­tial show­men in the his­tory of pop­u­lar en­ter­tain­ment, and ar­guably the most fa­mous American in the late 19th and early 20th Cen­tury.

Cody’s vis­its to the United King­dom un­doubt­edly in­formed and shaped how the American West was to be per­ceived for the next hun­dred years.

Imag­ine the scene on the morn­ing of Oc­to­ber 17, 1904, as Buf­falo Bill and his Rough Rid­ers pile into the town af­ter per­form­ing in Ash­ton two days ear­lier - 800 men, women and chil­dren; cow­boys, na­tive Amer­i­cans (in­clud­ing Sioux, Cheyenne and Chero­kee), black­smiths, doc­tors and cooks, 500 horses and a host of wag­ons and equip­ment.

Mot­tram Moor would have been as busy as it is to­day and the town wor­thies ner­vous - they’d have heard that ‘Char­lie Lit­tle Sol­dier’, in full na­tive re­galia, had been found worse for wear on the streets of Derby, two Na­tive Amer­i­cans had died in an­other town, and the Grand Mas­ter him­self been seen re­lax­ing with a pint of Bass Ale in Bur­ton.

Reader Derek Slack tells a tale he was told by his grand­fa­ther of when Buf­falo Bill went into the Nor­folk Arms and saw a West In­dian crick­eter called Oliv­era, who played for Glos­sop and was very pop­u­lar in the town. Ap­par­ently Buf­falo Bill called for him to get out, and the reg­u­lars picked the show-man up and threw him out in­stead.

The visit was partly fi­nanced by Sa­muel Hill Wood, who went on to be­come chair­man of Arse­nal FC, and the show in­cluded Sit­ting Bull and An­nie Oak­ley. It’s said he sta­bled some of his most valu­able horses in sta­bles be­hind the for­mer Roe­buck Inn on Whit­field Cross.

The ‘show’ was set for the fields of Pye Grove, and the lo­gis­tics of ‘an­other town’ rolling into town were mon­u­men­tal, al­though it all seems to have gone down very well.

The pho­to­graph I dis­cov­ered could well have been taken in Glos­sop. Per­haps the most cu­ri­ous snip­pet I un­earthed con­cerns Cody’s an­ces­try. In his me­moirs he states that his mother Mary Ann Bon­sell Lay­cock de­scended from the Bunting fam­ily in Eng­land, who were early con­verts to the Quaker faith. Pi­o­neer mem­bers of the Bunting clan left Eng­land in 1682 on voyages closely fol­low­ing the his­toric sail­ing of the Wel­come which took Wil­liam Penn to Amer­ica. The Buntings set­tled in newly-founded Darby (Derby) in Penn­syl­va­nia.

Buf­falo Bill Cody

The Laugh­ing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

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