Louise Frederici & Buffalo Bill Cody

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 History:

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.  


Birth record of Christopher Frederici/Frederici, April 7, 1789. Photo provided by David Frederici.
Christopher is the grandfather of Louisa Frederici and brought the family from the Moselle area of France, to the US in 1833.

49 Responses to Louise Frederici & Buffalo Bill Cody

  1. Stephen D. Hottinger says:

    My own family connection to Margaret Louisa Frederici, Arnold, Missouri.

    Your article above sparked my interest. Here’s why:

    Over the past decade I got on Ancestry.com for US Census records and also found the Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Cemetery records (cemetery located near the St. Louis Arch) and retrieved most of my family ancestry information pertinent to St. Louis and Jefferson County, Missouri.

    I was born in Mankato, Minnesota, Nov. 14, 1946. As a boy growing up in the 50’s and early 60’s I listened attentively to my great aunt Zita Guth (born 1887, Mankato, Minnesota) proudly tell me her family connection to Bill Cody and Louisa Frederici:

    Zita’s mother’s (Mrs. Henry Guth = Barbara nee: Braxmeier Guth) SISTER was Katharine Guth who had married Michael Frederici, a BROTHER to M. Louisa Frederici, in St. Louis, Missouri. Zita told me the immigrant Frederici family spoke both fluent French and German, if I am correct.

    Yes I discovered that records show they settled at Arnold Missouri, Jefferson County in 1833… the entire pioneer family of Christopher and Elizabeth Frederici from Cappel, Lorraine, France.

    Katharine and Michael Frederici lived in the German neighborhood on S. 8th Street which I discovered was a block north of the Soulard Market Stalls in St. Louis.

    Finding this household was a Eureka moment for me, because I discovered that Katharine Braxmeier Frederici had her mother living there… Anna Maria Braxmeier had immigrated with her children from Gleisweiler (in what is now Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany) settling early on in Quincey, Illinois, but re-locating to St. Louis (before the Civil War, I believe). Her husband Hermann had died in Germany before her emigration. This family (household) is buried in Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Cemetery near the St. Louis Arch.

    BTW–I discovered Gleisweiler is only a very short distance from Lorraine province, France.

    My great aunt Zita Guth who died in Mankato, Minnesota at 97 in 1984 was the youngest sibling who never married. Her oldest sister, Mary Guth was born in St. Louis in 1866, since Henry Guth from Mankato as a harness-maker was stationed in St. Louis during the Civil War. That’s how he met Barbara Braxmeier living there as German immigrants also. After their first child (Mary) was born (1866), they moved (back for him) to Mankato, where Henry’s parents had settled from Herbolzheim, Germany around 1845. Henry Guth had immigrated as a child with his parents, Joseph and Anna, and his siblings. Henry’s parents and most of his offspring are buried in Calvary Cemetery, Mankato, Minnesota.

    My own father’s (Walter Hottinger, the youngest sibling) MOTHER was Julia Guth, the middle daughter of Henry and Barbara Guth.

    Stephen D. Hottinger
    Springfield, Missouri

    • Colleen Morrison says:

      Thank you Stephen for the great information on Louisa. My Mother’s maiden name was Guth (Cornelia.) I remember reading about Bill Cody and Louisa marriage on a newspaper article at home. My family (Weldon) lived on a farm in Blakeley township. I remember visiting Zita and Mary upstairs apartment in Mankato,Mn either on top of the meat market or the jewelry store. I would visit my Grandma Anna Guth, who lived upstairs over the S&S bar where my Uncle Louis worked that was across the Hubbard Milling Company in Mankato,Mn. Thank you again for the story of Louisa.

      Grandpa Louis Guth—Grandma Anna Engelen/Guth
      Colleen Weldon Morrison, Belle Plaine,Mn.

      • Khris Houston says:

        I would like to know if I could find out more about your links to Christopher Frederici. He happens to be my 4th Great Grandfather. I am doing family history on his family and would love to know some of the sources that you used to find out more about his family. Please let me know how I can connect you
        Khris Houston

    • David Frederici says:

      Christopher and Elizabeth Frederici (Frederitzi, among many other spellings) are my 4th great grandparents, and Louisa would be my great great grand aunt. I am a descendant of her brother Francis John Frederici. This article is incorrect, as Christopher and Elizabeth were her grandparents, and her father John Francis was brought over as a 15 year-old. I have thus far been unable to find any information as to what ever became of Elizabeth (Hennessienne) Frederici, as the last record I found her in was the 1850 census. I have found no death or burial records for her.

      I have spent a lot of effort finding information on the family origins in France. I have many French records for births, marriages, and deaths, and a growing set of information on ancestry.com. I am happy to share anything and everything I have found, and if anyone can translate French more fluently than I can (and that wouldn’t be hard), then that would be great too!

      I find the comment that the family spoke fluent French as well as German to be rather interesting, and it would certainly make a lot of sense. I have seen evidence supporting them speaking both, and the family tree in France itself is full of French AND German names.

      • Gina French nee Frederick says:

        My uncle traced his family tree and found out we were related to Buffalo Bill by marriage. My grandfather was Matthew Frederici and began an Ice Cream Business in Chorley Lanc’s. Have you any links with us? or any information you could share with us. Gina French

        • David Frederici says:

          I don’t have an exhaustive genealogy completed, so without knowing more about your exact line, it’s hard to know what the link would be.

        • David Frederici says:

          Do you have any further information on your family line that might make it easier to look into?

          • Joan Minnich says:

            Hello David,
            I too am a descendent but from Anna who I believe was a sister to Louisa who would be my great great aunt. Anna married Valentine Kochner and had two daughters Lillian and Pauline. I know something happened to them because Lillian my grandmother was adopted by the Whites: Em, Jean and Bill. I know my aunt Pauline was able to see and maybe ride in one of his Wild West Shows.

    • Cyndy Payne says:

      Hello. Just a brief note as I came across your posted letter. Now retired I will someday join in the research of my family, which distantly includes you. My name is Cynthia Brann Payne, born Cynthia Ann Brann (7-28-1958). My father William DuWaine Brann and mother Virginia Marie (Bach) Brann. My maternal grandmother is Emily Frederici born St. Luis, Missouri. Louise Frederici was her Aunt.

    • Grace Schneider says:

      Stephen: Your account and family connections to Wm. Cody and his wife’s family is fascinating. I’m googling around at the moment to find out whether a family myth of my own is accurate. My grandfather William Walter Schneider (become a board member at Monsanto under Queeny) told family members that his grandfather or perhaps a great grandfather was a justice of the peace and had officiated Bill Cody’s marriage. This sounds impossible given the Frederici’s connections to a home church. Do you have any advice about checking the marriage certificate of the couple? Lacking that, is there a way to check on whose marriages that Christian Schneider may have officiated? My grandfather grew up somewhere in St. Louis, but several relatives, including some “old maid” aunts who fed his family chicken dinners on weekends lived in an area near Alton, Ill.

      • don says:

        Cody was married on Lombard street just a few blocks south of the Arch … there was a plaque on the building until about 2001

        • RBD says:

          What happened to that Plaque ? I became aware of it @ in the late 90’s – 2000 – and shared the bit of history with several people – now I understand it is gone. Who would know what became of it?

          • Bluescorer says:

            I took a picture of that sign. It was more of a sign than a plaque as I recall. Stamped raised letters in black on a white field. This pic was using film and I must try to locate it. Located on an industrial building on the south east corner of 3rd and Lombard.

    • Terry says:

      Hello ,
      I just read your interesting family history.
      My mother’s Family the Courtney’s were
      From Minneapolis. I was born there in 1946
      But moved to California when I was 5 years old.
      We returned to Minnesota when I was 6 because
      My Mother’s paternal Grandmother Elizabeth Moselle
      Passed away. ( We returned to California when I was 8.) Mother was exceptionally close to Her paternal Grandmother who came from Sun Prairie Wisconsin. I remember My Great Grandma Courtney’s sisters
      Visiting with her. The family came from France but all conversations
      Were in English to us but between the sisters were in German &

  2. paige says:

    when I watched buffalo bills biography video one of the people that they interviewed was his grandson. so im wondering if he had another kid with someone else or if Irma had a kid before she died?

  3. janet evans says:

    My husband is an ancester of buffalo bill cody

  4. Gene Geissler says:

    My father Herman Max Geissler was the son of Lilian Geissler (née Frederici)
    Lilian had 3 sisters Clara, Gertrude and Verna. I had herd of a connection to William Cody . Incidently my wife is from Arnold Missouri and we were married at Immaculate Conception church in 1975.

    • David Frederici says:

      Using Ancestry.com, I was able to find information of Lillian Friderici from St Louis who married a George Geissler in 1920. Her family appears to originate in Thuringia, Germany, and not related to William Cody’s in-laws.

  5. Laura Reneau Schulman says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading all these comments–looks like I’m related to many of you! My paternal grandmother was Alice Elizabeth Frederici Reneau–youngest daughter of Francis (Frank) Frederici who was the youngest brother of Louisa Frederici Cody. Grandma had many memories of the ranch in North Platte and I guess some of her older sisters traveled with the Codys to Europe several times.

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  8. roberto pilotti says:

    is it possible to know from wich area in Italy comes the original family of Louise Frederici, Cody’s wife? Thanks to whom will answer.

    • David Frederici says:

      They were not from Italy. The family originated in Lorraine, France, very near the modern border with Germany in the modern-day Moselle department. This region of France was at the time mainly German-speaking, and the local Catholic Immaculate Conception parish in Arnold, Missouri lists Christopher and Peter Frederitzi (as it was spelled before Frederici, these being her Grandfather and uncle) are listed as German-speaking founding members on its website. Family names that intermarried into the Frederici/Frederitzi line in France appear to be a mix of both German and French.

  9. Bernie Wilde says:

    I am excited to read and/or reread all of the connections to the Frederici/Frederitzi family.

  10. jacob says:

    im related to buffalo bill

  11. Anna Reneau Sanner says:

    This is Awesome! I love seeing our relatives all on her. Alice Reneau is my great grandma. Her son Robert Reneau was my Grandfather. I miss Grandma Alice :-(. I remember her calling me on the phone and singing happy birthday to us. She would always have candy for us when I came to visit her.

  12. Bernie Wilde says:

    Once again it is fun to read all of the connections so many of you have with the Frederici/Frederitzi family tree. Continue your conversations! I take care of many of the items at the Arnold Historical Society Museum so if you are ever in the area, contact me on my cell 636-375-1106 and I will try my best to meet you.

  13. rittenhouse says:

    My family comes from Mary Frederick, they are also some of the line that reaches Cody. I’d have to get my research out but I do remember that Mary was Louisa first cousin. That side of the branch moved to Seneca Ohio. The grand mother lived out her life with my line of the Frederick clan. And if you look at imdb Mary had a sister who was an actress also. I know the name was changed often but that is how it happened with immigrants. I know some where in the 60s time magazine had a picture of frediric castle in France in the area mentioned. Its a very interesting history to be part of.

    • Linda Graham says:

      My grandmother was a Frederick and claimed kin to Buffalo Bill but I’ve never been able to make the connection . Her grandfather was
      William D Frederick 1861
      John Henry Frederick 1836
      Hezekiah C Frederick 1810
      Henry Frederick born 1785
      Phillip Frederick born 1746

  14. KATHY Seibold Barr says:

    My great great great grandmother was Bill Codys niece. Her father and uncle were brothers.

    • Larry says:

      Was this the same niece that accompanied him at the 1893 World’s Fair, and claimed divine healing from John Alexander Dowie?

  15. Everett Watters says:

    My Grand , Jack Cody was Bill Codys 8th Coudin, trying to figure out what tribe of indians were bred into the Family. As my Grandpa was part indian. Any ideias?

    • Bernie Wilde says:

      I can’t answer you about Indian tribes in the Frederitzi/Cody line. Maybe David Frederici knows. Or you can contact the Cody Museum In Wyoming.

  16. Mandy Moulton says:

    Buffalo Bill is my 9th cousin. He is from mom’s side family.

  17. Chelsea Wilson says:

    So things are not making sense to me. My parents own a house in red lion along rt 74 near bahns mill road. There is a road down the street called church road which I read that Bills wife had been born in a log cabin chruch on a road with the same name. What made me look into this is the fact that my parents had found probably 30 letters in an old cigar box under our floor boards in the attic. They are dated from the same time period and many signed Buffalo Bill. Signature looks exact to the ones from him I found online. How could this be? We are in PA? Some of the letters are pretty dirty for that time period(as in sexual). The house we live in is at least 100 years old. Our well was literally hand build and goes probably 30ft down and we have a root cellar. Also I wanted to know if anybody had any idea how two of their children died so young thinking it might be a clue to something.

  18. Chelsea Wilson says:

    I would love to be more descriptive on the letters but they are not in my possession at the moment. I remember though most of the letters were readable still a few had been chewed up by mice and the letters are somewhat hard to read since they are written I. The dialect that had been used back then. All in cursive writing def written with a quill pen.

  19. Marjourie Freese says:

    Over the years I have been told that my grandmother was related to Buffalo Bill. Sadly, there’s no one left for me to find out more information from.
    I’m not very tech savy so that doesn’t help either. Lol
    Anyway was wondering if anyone knew of a connection to the McPherson (Lois,was grandmas name) and buffalo Bills family?
    Thank you. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  20. Clinton Cody says:

    In 1800 there were only 25 Cody families in the USA. My family was 1 of the 25 along with Bill Cody’s family. My Grand father Worth Cody was born in 1852, and Bill 1846..Where did Bill Cody’s family migrate from? My family in late 1700s from Ireland.. My great grandfather Pearce Cody and his father were born in East Tennessee in early 1800’s and late 1700s.I have always been asked if we were related…I do not know.

  21. Tim says:

    I recently received a diary from my mother that was her grandmother’s. She, my Great Grandmother, grew up in North Platte NE. Apparently she was good friends with Irma Cody around the age 17. There are many passages in the diary about Irma.

  22. Mary F. Morrison says:

    my grandfather, William F. Cody was related to Bill. Cousins, I believe fathers were brothers.

  23. John F. McDermott V says:

    This is fascinating information. My grandfather, Professor John Francis McDermott III, never discovered the distant family relationship through marriage to Buffalo Bill, despite John’s being a renowned Washington University professor, Missouri historian. and avid genealogist. Louisa’s grandfather, Christopher Frederici, was my 4 great grandfather. My g-g-g grandmother, Margaret Frederici Steber, would have been Louisa’a aunt, and my g-g grandfather, Nicholas J. Steber, would have been Louisa’s cousin. Ironically, I think that my father’s second cousin, Michael McDermott (whom I have never met), might be a current resident of Arnold.

  24. Suzanne Blackwell says:

    Cody/Fonda Connection?? GRANDFATHER Clayton CODY Fonda,, traced back to Fonda MY. Cody middle name was told came from Buffalo Bill CODY.. anyone know about the connection??

  25. George Guiver says:

    I’ve been researching Louise “Lulu” Frederici for my wife. Her Mom’s maiden name is Frederici. Mrs. Cody is my wife’s 2nd Great Aunt. I just finished reading her memoirs of her time with Buffalo Bill. I believe she leaves out some of the bad times since I’ve read Buffalo Bill tried to divorce her a couple of times. One time due to “nagging.” That was never brought up. My wife’s family’s story of her was she was a city woman who grew to dislike Buffalo Bill. Mrs. Cody’s memoir paints a very different story. She loved him. I always thought she just stayed in the city, while Cody went buffalo hunting, scouting and putting on his shows. Not true. She was truly a frontier woman who learned to shoot, ride and kill buffalo. She does write how terrible it was to leave her estimate of 3 million pounds of buffalo meat to rot on the plains. The white man didn’t use all of the buffalo like the native Americans.

  26. Whitney Sanders says:

    Hello. I just recently found out I am related to Worth Cody whom was married to Margaret (Maggie) Dennis. I believe he is a relative of Buffalo Bill Cody. I’ve always been told on my grandfather’s side we are related to him.

    • ahs says:

      Welcome to the Cody family. I will pass this info on to the two relatives who live here and let them correspond with you. Thanks for letting us know. There will be another Louisa Frederitzi Cody celebration next May. Maybe you can attend.

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