Wild West tales this Saturday

William Cody was known as many things. A Pony Express Rider, an Army scout, a buffalo hunter, and the founder of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. The Iowa native, better known as “Buffalo Bill” was born near LeClaire, Iowa in Scott County.

Humanities Iowa Presenter Roy R. Behrens will be sharing the adventures of “Buffalo Bill” Saturday at Mulberry Center Church, 220 Ohio St., at 1 p.m. The event is free to the public. Behrens has been giving talks about Cody for almost 15 years.

“People of all ages seem to respond to the story of Buffalo Bill. And they are inevitably moved by the fate of the Native Americans,” said Behrens. “The talk is exceptionally rich pictorially, so a wide range of people can enjoy it.”

During “Remembering Iowa’s Buffalo Bill: Never Missed and He Never Will” attendees will hear about the heroic and tragic parts of Cody’s life. Cody played a role in the extinction of the American Bison, he himself is said to have shot nearly 3000 buffalo in eight months. Cody was also well-known for his later support of Native Americans and friendship with them. Cody’s most notable friendship, Sitting Bull. Cody was also linked to Annie Oakley and Wild Bill Hickok.

“Since childhood, I’ve been interested in the history of the American West. I decided to talk about Buffalo Bill because he was born in Iowa just north of Davenport,” said Behrens. “Another reason is that my father, who was born in 1901, actually attended a Wild West show and saw Buffalo Bill in Cresco, Iowa. It was thrilling to hear that story.”

“I talk about his life as a showman,” said Behrens.

The free presentation will include projected vintage photographs, film clips, and animated graphics.

“My talk is fast-paced, so no one will be able to take a nap. I also use a lot of vintage photographs, and I point out some surprising connections,” said Behrens. “For example, people may not realize that Buffalo Bill actually performed with his Wild West show in Webster City on two occasions.”

Behrens is a Professor of Art and Distinguished Scholar at the University of Northern Iowa. Behrens has taught graphic design and design history for nearly 45 years at colleges and universities across the United States.

“Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always been interested in the history of my surroundings,” said Behrens. “I grew up in Iowa, and as soon as I moved back in 1990, I began to write about Iowa history. Giving Humanities Iowa talks provides the opportunity to share what I’ve learned and to learn more by visiting with the audiences.”

Behrens has published seven books, hundreds of journal and magazine articles, and has been featured in interviews on NOVA, National Public Radio, Australian Public Radio, BBC, Iowa Public Radio, and Iowa Public Television.

Behrens’ most recent book is “Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City: Architectural Heart of the Prairie” and is scheduled to come out early this December.