William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody
Born in LaClare, Scott County Iowa, February 26, 1846, Buffalo Bill was destined to become one of the most famous members of our ancient and honorable Fraternity. At the age of 23, he petitioned Platt Valley Lodge No. 32, A.F.& A.M. of North Platt, Nebraska. On his 24th birthday he was elected to membership. He was initiated an Entered Apprentice March 5th, 1870, passed to the Degree of a FellowCraft April 2nd, 1870, and "raised" to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason on January 10, 1871.
At the age of 40 he petitioned Euphrates Chapter No. 15, Royal Arch Masons, of North Platt, Nebraska on September 1, 1887. He was advanced to the Degree of Mark Master, inducted into the oriental chair and received and acknowledged a Most Excellent Master on November 14th, 1888. He was exalted to the Royal Arch Degree on November 15th, 1888.
Within two months thereafter he petitioned Palestine Commandery No. 13, Order of Knights Templar, was duly elected and received the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross on April 1, 1889 and on the following day received the Order of Malta and was dubbed a Knight Templar.
He petitioned Tangier Temple of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of Omaha, Nebraska on March 22, 1892, and walked the "hot sands" three days later.
Buffalo Bill was made a member of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Northern Jurisdiction of the United States of America in the Valley of New York City on April 4th, 1894 having joined the Lodge of Perfection (4th-14th Degree), the Council of Princes (15th & 16th Degrees), the Chapter of Rose Croix (17th & 18th Degrees), and the Consistory (19th - 32nd Degrees) all the same day.
Buffalo Bill gave the last performance of his Wild West Show at Portsmouth, Virginia where he became ill with a cold and headed for his Wyoming ranch. He stopped off at Denver to visit his sister but died suddenly from uremia on January 10, 1917. Although Buffalo Bill left a will stating he wished to be buried on top of Cedar Mountain about five miles west of his town, Cody, Wyoming, his family changed those plans and after his remains lay in state in a bronze casket in the Capitol Rotunda in Denver, a service was held, and his body was placed in a temporary vault while a permanent tomb could be cut out of the solid granite atop Lookout Mountain about 18 miles west and south of Denver.
At the request of Platt Valley Lodge of North Platt, Golden City Lodge No. 1 conferred Masonic burial rites on June 3, 1917, atop Lookout Mountain, at 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon. Worshipful Master G. W. Parfet, Jr. of Golden City Lodge No. 1 appointed eight Brother pallbearers who were in their full-dress Templar uniforms. At the request of Mrs. Cody, and almost five months after his death, the casket was opened and an estimated 10,000 viewed the deceased pioneer and trail blazer. It was estimated that more than 20,000 persons visited the spot and 15,000 were present at the burial ceremony having walked or ridden to the top of Lookout Mountain. It was certainly one of the largest, if not the largest, Masonic burial ever. These words were said by the Masons over the grave: "His spirit ascends to God who gave it. His memory we cherish in our hearts. His body we consign to the earth."
Before his burial a group of friends and family members formed an organization to foster and perpetuate the memory of Buffalo Bill in Cody, Wyoming. From this timely but meager start the world famous Buffalo Bill Historical Center has developed.
The Grand Lodge of Wyoming has on two occasions met in Cody to perform dedicatory services in connection with the Historical Center. On May 17, 1924, the Grand Lodge was convened in Cody to lay the cornerstone of the Buffalo Bill Memorial Statue which stands at the west end of Cody's main street. Again on July 4th, 1927, the Grand Lodge was convened for the purpose of assisting in the dedication of the Cody Museum (a building now across the street east from the present Historical Center buildings).
To visit other Buffalo Bill Masonic Items in the Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum (Click Here).
A special "Thanks" to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center for the above photo of Buffalo Bill in his Templar uniform and his Masonic History.
A special "Thanks" also to Brother Jerry Stotler (jstot on eBay) of Dodge City, Kansas for donating this wonderful Cody item to our museum. Thanks Jerry!
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