When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
—The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
At first his death was mourned worldwide, and the accolades poured in—yet William F. Cody had no sooner been laid to rest in his solid gran/ ite grave on Lookout Mountain than detractors stepped forward to attack his character and reputation. In their efforts to belittle or deny his achievements—efforts that continue to this day—some undoubtedly acted out of jealousy, others out of envy. When we look at his legacy, however, we will understand that Cody was indeed the real thing, and not a papier/ mâché hero manufactured by the hype of press agents like Major Burke and Frank Winch.
After his death a cowboy named Teddy Blue Abbott remembered working briefly for Cody as a cowboy. “Buffalo Bill was a good fellow, ” Abbott said, “and while he was no great shakes as a scout as he made the eastern people believe, still we all liked him and we had to hand it to him because he was the only one that had brains enough to make that Wild West stuff pay money.”
“No great shakes as a scout?” Ridiculous! Cody's scouting record speaks for itself. His service with the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars is unequaled.
Abbott also remembered that on one occasion when Buffalo Bill entered a North Platte saloon, he took off his hat and his long hair fell to his shoulders. He rolled it up again under his hat, as the bartender said,