This is a story about the courtship of Louise Frederici and William (Buffalo Bill) Cody.
Margaret Louise Frederici was born in Arnold, Missouri, May 27, 1844 on a farm near present day Jeffco Blvd. and Frederitzi Lane, just south of Church Road. Members of the Frederici family were some of the founding members of Immaculate Conception Church which was only a log church building when Louise was born.
Much of our information regarding this subject comes from the book Last of the Great Scouts (Buffalo Bill) by Helen Cody Wetmore (Buffalo Bill’s sister), along with noted author and writer Zane Grey.
The book delves into Buffalo Bill’s life and how he was a symbol of the Old West. Zane Grey stated that Buffalo Bill inspired the pioneers, guided the soldiers, and helped the builders of the railroad. His life was more thrilling than any wild, adventurous, and moving romance of that time.
Chapter 14 of the book gives an account of how Buffalo Bill met Louise Frederici. During the Civil War, Bill Cody was a Union scout. After he survived participation at the Battle of Pilot Knob in southern Missouri, Bill Cody was assigned to special service at Military headquarters in St. Louis (Jefferson Barracks), commaned by General Polk. Ironically, the wife of General Polk was an old school friend of Bill Cody’s mother. Through the years, the two school friends kept us a correspondence with each other until Bill Cody’s mother passed away. As soon as Mrs. Polk learned that the son of her dear friend was in the Union Army, she took it upon herself to obtain a good position for him while at Jefferson Barracks. Unfortunately, working behind a desk was not to Bill’s liking. Being the outdoors type, once being a rider for the Pony Express and a scout for the Union Army, he was not happy with the desk job that he had been assigned. His new duties became intolerable for him, lacking the excitement and danger that made his life worthwhile to him. One event, however, sparked his existence in St. Louis. He met Louise Frederici, the girl who was to become his wife.
Margaret Louise Frederici was born in Arnold, Missouri, May 27, 1844 on a farm near present day Jeffco Boulevard and Frederitizi Lane, just south of Church Road. Present day I-55 runs through part of the original farm. Members of the Frederici family were some of the founding members of the first Roman Catholic parish in Jefferson County, Missouri, the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. The log church building was only two years when Louise was born. According to church records, Louise was baptized at this parish. Her immigrant parents were Christopher Frederici and Elizabeth Hennessienene, married February 22, 1816, in Cappel, Lorraine, France.
More than once, while out for a morning ride on his horse, Bill Cody often saw a woman of attractive face and figure riding her horse. Few things caught Bill’s eye more quickly than a lady riding a horse who demonstrated great horsemanship qualities. Bill Cody desired to establish an acquaintance with this young lady. Unfortunately, none of his friends knew her to formally introduce them and he was frustrated with the possibility that they would never meet. At that time, a man and a lady had to be formally introduced before they could court.
In time, a divine intervention occurred. While out riding his horse one morning, he saw this beautiful lady, whom he had admired from afar, riding on a run-away horse. The bridle rein had broken, and the horse was running wild. A rescue was needed for this damsel in distress. Bill Cody himself became the knight in shining armor. Because of this one incident, their acquaintance came easy.
From war to love, Bill Cody lost no time taking advantage of this chance meeting. His past offered few opportunities to enjoy feminine society. This accounts for his promptness in courting the lady that he so long admired from afar. He became the accepted suitor of Louise Frederici before the Civil Was ended in 1865.
Before he could dance at his own wedding, he realized that he needed to establish himself financially before he could get married. The pay of a soldier was next to nothing, barely supporting himself, not to mention a wife.
Bill Cody went to Kansas and drove horses between Leavenworth and Ft. Kearny for the Army. He met a former friend who owned a stage line business and was looking for drivers who were familiar with the area and Indian territory. Cody fit the bill and grabbed the chance to drive the stage lines. He earned enough money to support a wife, for the pay was quite substantial–$150.00 a month.
He did this for a while, but a letter from his intended, Louise Frederici, encouaged him to give up driving the stage lines and return home to find another calling. In his return letter, he asked Louise to set a date for the wedding, because he had resigned as a driver for the stage line.
Bill Cody returned to St. Louis, and the wedding date was set for March 6, 1866. The wedding was a quiet and simple affair held at the home of the bride’s parents before family and a few friends.
Louise Frederici and William “Buffalo Bill” Cody were married for almost 51 years. The marriage itself was “rocky” because of the numerous separations that they endured. His life on the wild frontier, being an Army scout, supplying buffalo meat for the pioneers and military, and later producing and traveling with his “Wild West” shows, kept them apart many times. Through the years they had four children — a son and three daughters. Their son Kit Carson Cody, died at age 6. Their second daughter. Orra Maude Cody, died at age 11. Their oldest daughter, Arta Lucille cody, died at age 38, and the youngest daughter, Irma Louise Cody, died at age 35. Irma Louise was the only child to survive her famous father. Irma passed away in 1918. Louise Frederici Cody outlived all four of her children.
William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, died on January 10, 1917, and was buried atop Lookout Mountain near Golden, Jefferson Couonty, Colorado. Louise Frederici Cody, died on October 21, 1921, and was buried next to her husband.
Louisa’s grandfather, Christopher Frederici, brought the family from the Moselle region of France, to the US in 1833.
Below is the birth record for Christoper, found in the online French archives by his decendent David Frederici.