I have written about other scouts and pioneers; such renowned men as Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and Kit Carson, but they were dead before I wrote of them. Otherwise, perhaps, I would not have had the hardihood to do it, because I had great respeet for them in a general way and their capacity for "getting even."
I wrote of these men because the atmosphere and environment in which they had lived were peculiarly pleasant to me. There was a kinship, so to speak, in their love of the lives they led, with my own early ambitions and the experiences that followed.
But when it comes to writing of myself I am staggered, yet to stagger is not easy with me. Strange as it may seem, all things considered, I am a modest man, and I can prove it. Reminiscent writing demands one kind of egotism, but that does not signify self-conceit. One cannot indulge in personal reminiscence without frequent use of the personal pronoun, hence to tell the story here demanded of me the "ego" must occur often, otherwise the story could not be told autobiographically.
One strong and almost mandatory reason to me, and self-excuse, for doing this piece of work, that is anything but enticing, otherwise, is to tell the real truth concerning my experiences rather than to have go into history, as veracious, much of the romantic and dramatic stuff that has been attributed to me by persons who have written of "Buffalo Bill" and who depended upon hearsay, and more or less vivid imagination, for their extravagant consumption of good ink and paper used in the manner mentioned.
With all this in view, commanding as it does the leniency that it seeks, the story is herewith given so far as I am able to give it from memory.
I made my debut upon the stage of life February 26th, 1845. The scene of this extremely important event, to me, was a little log cabin situated in the backwoods of Scott County, Iowa, where opportunities were few and society was in a state of embryo, as the settling up of that State was just then beginning. My father, Isaac, and mother, Mary Ann, were honest folks, but their possessions comprehended scarcely anything more than good characters and eight ehildren, of which latter I was fourth in rank. I was christened William Frederick, which name I have never discarded, though more than once in my life I would have found it convenient, and decidedly to my comfort, to be known, for the time being at least, as some other fellow.
If in early youth I was different from other boys it was because
I was without example and not from any inherent distinguishing characteristics.
Playmates I had none, save among my brothers, and of these there were only
two, one of whom was too young to appreciate my ambitions and the other
too old to indulge my fancies. Accordingly, we were forced to the rather
unsatisfactory compromise of each brother playing by himself, a condition
very harmful in the raising of a large family.
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