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Teddy and Cody

Cody – William F. Cody is well known in northwest Wyoming. A town, reservoir, and a museum complex is named for him. Many people think he and Teddy Roosevelt were good friends. But the curator of the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody is also a respected Roosevelt scholar. He says they were not friends. Jeremy Johnston is writing a dissertation on their complicated relationship.

The Buffalo Bill Museum presents William F. Cody as a hunter, a showman, a husband and father. He is one of the founding fathers of the town of Cody. The dam that he tried to raise money to build irrigates the farmlands of the Big Horn Basin, and is named for him.

But, was he good friends with Theodore Roosevelt?
Buffalo Bill Museum Curator Jeremy Johnston said, “There’s the private, personal relationship which really did not exist…which was tumultuous at times…”

Johnston explained the third relationship was the public image.
He said, “Both men were very good at maintaining a public image, and because of that, they were very reluctant to speak out against each other.”

But, Johnston said Cody asked a favor of Roosevelt.
He explained, “The reclamation service took over Cody’s effort to open up the entire Shoshone River valley to irrigation, to develop farmland. And what had happened is Cody had really invested heavily in Ralston Wyoming thinking he would make a fortune….but the reclamation service decided to create the community of Powell.”

After that, Johnston said, the two never spoke or wrote to each other again.

Ironically his research shows that Roosevelt never made it to Cody, Wyoming. And, he never said that the area between Cody and Yellowstone is the most scenic 52 miles in North America.

Johnston said, “I know that Roosevelt was invited here in 1902. He didn’t show up.”

Roosevelt came to Yellowstone in 1903.

Johnston remembered, “In 1904 there was a lot of hope that he would be here for a big hunt. And in fact my great great grandfather Johnny Goff was recruited to be one of the hunting guides.”
But that didn’t happen.

Johnston concluded, “And in 1905, he decided, probably because of the growing tension between him and Cody, he decided instead to hunt in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.”

After Cody died and toward the end of his own life, Roosevelt called Cody, “An American of Americans…a rugged individual.”


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