Presentation explains Buffalo Bill's legend and ties to Iowa

The Ottumwa Library's Reminisce Society presented a history on Buffalo Bill.

Many don't realize that a popular Western figure has plenty of ties to Iowa.

Buffalo Bill was born in Le Claire, Iowa, which is near the Quad Cities, in the same year Iowa became a state. Many know the legends surrounding Buffalo Bill, but since he became famous based on stories of him in dime novels and comic books, many stories are exaggerated and it's difficult to separate truth from fiction.

In reality, he was a complex character. He contributed in large part to the extinction of buffalo in America. As a member of the Army, he also participated in many attacks against Native Americans. However, later in life, he decided he could help Native Americans and made them a part of his traveling show.

Buffalo Bill and his complexities was a primary focus of a presentation given Tuesday morning by the Ottumwa Public Library's Reminisce Society.

"He contributed to the familiarization of American whites with Native Americans and I think he, well, he made great strides in trying to help them," said Roy Behrens, Professor at University of Northern Iowa. "It was an impossible situation, really."

Buffalo Bill also traveled to Iowa several times with his Wild West show, including six times to Ottumwa and once to Centerville.