Thursday, December 30, 2010


ISAAC CODY, deceased. Among the most outspoken and thoroughly active men who were identified with the Free-state party in Kansas was the subject of this sketch. He was born in Canada, where he was reared until his eighteenth year, when his father emigrated to the states with his family, and purchased tracts of land on which is now situated a portion of the city of Cleveland, Ohio. In 1840 Mr. Cody came West, and concluded to locate in Iowa. Returning to Ohio in 1841 he married in Cincinnati, Miss Mary B. Laycock. With his young wife he returned to Iowa, locating for a time in Davenport, and soon after turned his attention to agricultural pursuits in Scott County, residing a few years at Walnut Grove, these moved to LeClaire, and eventually returned to Davenport. Being a man of learning and an impressive and eloquent speaker, he soon became known among the politicians of the Hawkeye State.

He was elected a member of the Iowa Legislature, was Justice of the Peace and held other offices. For a few years he was interested in operating the stage line between Davenport and Chicago. In 1849, with others, he determined to go to California. When the necessary preparations had been made some of the party became discouraged and the project was abandoned. He then located as before mentioned, on a farm on Walnut Grove. In the spring of 1854 he moved with his family to Weston, Platte Co., Mo., where he had a brother residing. A friend of Mr. Cody's, who was a Congressman from Scott County, Iowa, informed him that he would convey him the news privately as to the time of the passage of the Kansas bill, known as the Enabling Act of Kansas Territory, and he could have the honor of pre-empting the first claim, which as far as can be ascertained was carried out in detail.

Early in 1853 he located a claim on Salt Creek Valley, four miles from the Kickapoo Agency, where he resided until April, 1854, when the bill passed and he pre-emptied. Mr. Cody was a strong Free-state man, and his troubles commenced as soon as that fact was known to the border ruffians and others of the stripe. On one occasion he was requested by a crowd to make a speech and express his views on the issues of the day, which he undertook to do; but before he had proceeded far a Missourian sprang on him with a knife, stabbing him severely. The third child born to Mr. and Mrs. CODY was a son, who was named William F. His name, or rather his soubriquet, to-day is familiar to every one throughout the Union and a great portion of Europe as Buffalo Bill.

At that time, but a mere lad, he was instrumental in saving his father's life, and as he grew older he became a terror to the Pro-slavery party. Mr. Cody found that he could not lie on Salt Creek, as it became necessary for him one night to leave his house in female attire, they were after him so strongly; so he went to Grasshopper Falls and commenced the erection of a saw-mill. It was ascertained by the family that the Pro-slavery party intended to wait and waylay him as he returned from the Falls, to kill him. Mrs. Cody started little Billy to the Falls on a horse, a distance of thirty-five miles. He had gone but a short distance when he was discovered by a party of Pro-slavery men, who recognized him and gave chase, but he displayed the nerve and grit that characterized him as a man afterward, and made his adventurous trip all right.

Mr. Cody at once went to Lawrence, where they were organizing the Lecompton Legislature. He was elected a member of that body, and took part in organizing the first Legislature under Gov. Reeder. He was one of the agents sent to Ohio to encourage immigration. He afterward continued his work on his mill at the Falls, and did much in given the town a start. When he visited his home he did under cover of the night, for his life was in continual jeopardy. Thus life was a constant struggle with him, which he bravely bore until April, 1857, when his death occurred, which was largely due to the wound he received a few years previous, and exposure. Mrs. Cody continued to reside on Salt Creek until her death which occurred November 22, 1863. There were seven children in the Cody family--Samuel (the oldest, was accidentally killed in Iowa), Julia M. (wife of J. A. Goodman), William F. (Buffalo Bill), Eliza, Laura E., Mary H., and Charles W. Cody.

This information was taken from; ( William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas.) JEFFERSON COUNTY, Part 8.

1 comment:

Col. B. Bunny said...

An interesting story. Thanks for your efforts to publish this.