“Where Council Fires Gleamed”
William Frederick Cody, the legendary “Buffalo Bill, ” died quietly and painlessly at five minutes past noon on January 10, 1917, in the Denver home of his sister May Cody Decker. Cody had four sisters—Julia, Eliza, Laura Ella (known as Helen), and Mary Hannah (May)—and one half sister, Martha. At the time of his death, only Julia and May were still liv/ ing.
Within minutes the news was telegraphed around the world, having been given “Clear the Line” status by Western Union and the other tele/ graph companies, a status then reserved only for news of the war raging in Europe.
Joseph Bona of the Olinger Mortuary in Denver was called to the Decker home at 2932 Lafayette Street at about one o'clock. He em/ balmed the body in the bedroom where it lay. Bona said he found “a man of unusual appearance, tall and straight, with fine, big veins that made the embalming so easy he was finished in about two-and-one-half hours.” The young mortician later told how impressed he was by the telegrams and messages streaming in from all over the world: from the king of En/ gland, the kaiser of Germany, President Wilson, governors, generals, sen/ ators, friends from everywhere.
Indeed, for one day, William Frederick Cody stole center stage from a world war.
The accolades were indeed impressive. Said Lieutenant General Nel/ son A. Miles: “Colonel Cody was a high-minded gentleman, and a great scout. He performed a great work in the West for the pioneers and for the generations coming after them and his exploits will live forever in history.”