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  • Matthew Kerns

He Could Not Stay

On April 20th, 1876, the Scouts were playing in Springfield, Massachusetts. The first act of their play Life on the Border had just ended when Bill Cody pulled his friend and costar Texas Jack Omohundro aside. The look on the scout's face must have told the whole story. Cody had just received a telegram from Rochester, New York. His son Kit Carson Cody had fallen ill and wasn't expected to last through the night. If Cody left Springfield now he could make the train to Rochester and be there for his little boy. Texas Jack had watched the young Cody grow up—the child was born just after Jack and Bill became friends at Fort McPherson—and had often entertained the boy while guarding the Cody family as Bill was away from the Fort scouting for the Army. He now urged his friend to rush to his child's side, and John Burke agreed to portray Cody for the second half of the show. Cody rushed from the Opera House and just made the train, arriving home to Rochester in time to hold his boy one last time. At 8:25 PM, the telegram arrived at the Springfield Opera House.

A telegram from Buffalo Bill Cody to Texas Jack Omohundro, from April 20, 1876. "My only darling boy is dead. Died six o'clock this evening."

In times of sorrow, we turn to the people we trust. We share our grief with the same people who have shared our joy, trusting that they will understand the magnitude of our loss. In his moment of sorrow, the great Buffalo Bill turned to the same man he always turned to—Texas Jack.

Kit Carson Cody, son of Buffalo Bill.

Cody would later write to his sister about the loss of his child, "He was to [sic] good for this world. We loved him to [sic] dearly he could not stay, And now his place is vacant and can never be filled, for he has gone to be a beautiful Angel in that better world, where he will wait for us."


Kit Carson Cody, Buffalo Bill's son.

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