Al Goodman
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Al Goodman and Julia (Cody) Goodman
Manager of Scout's Rest, Buffalo Bill's Ranch

In 1882, Buffalo Bill needed a partner he could trust at his home, the ranch at North Platte James Alvin (Al) Goodman and his wife Julia (Cody) Goodman. In 1882, Buffalo Bill needed a partner he could trust at his home, the ranch at North Platte. He turned to Al Goodman (James Alvin Goodman), husband of his sister Julia. Al Goodman and Julia had been managing the farm of Joseph Cody at Valley Falls, Kansas. In 1883, Buffalo Bill Cody started the Wild West show.

In November 1885, Al Goodman became manager of the Ranch at North Platte. Because of problems involving Buffalo Bill and Lulu (his wife), the Goodmans had to live in a small house on the Ranch that winter with their family of nine, in addition to ten hired hands and an assortment of casualties from the Wild West show that Buffalo Bill sent home to recuperate. Buffalo Bill was planning to build a house of fifteen rooms with porches ten feet wide. It was to be called "Scout's Rest", and that name was painted on the barn in letters large enough to be read from the Union Pacific tracks a mile from the ranch.

The house was built during 1886. The contractor offered to supply all materials, remove the old house, and the new house would cost $3500. Buffalo Bill left most details to the Goodmans. A period of serious difficult between Buffalo Bill and his wife coincided with his heavy drinking during the first Wild West season.

Julia (Cody) Goodman says that while she lived at Scout's Ranch, she entertained everyone from royalty to cowboys. Buffalo Bill usually brought a group of house guests with him at the end of each Wild West season. Some of these people were perennial visitors.

Buffalo Bill's extravagant hospitality was expensive, but this was not a complete liability. Omaha newspapers were interested in Scout's Ranch both for its agricultural development and because the ranch belonged to Buffalo Bill. The newspapers reported that Al Goodman was a progressive and competent manager. A newspaper correspondent in 1885 was impressed by the herd of 125 Herefords, Polled Angus, and Shorthorns, including an imported pedigreed Hereford bull named Earl Horace, at a period when western ranchmen were just beginning to improve their stock. Ten years later, a reporter for the Omaha Bee reported that Scout's Rest was one of the finest improved farms in western Nebraska. In partnership with a neighboring ranch owner Isaac Dillon, Buffalo Bill had built a 12 mile irrigation ditch capable of watering 6,000 acres. The ranch worked 80 horses and employed 30 men, the number rising to 50 or 60 at certain seasons.

Buffalo Bill's daughter Arta, who usually sided with her mother, married Horton Boal in 1890. At that time Lulu Cody urged that Horton Boal take over management of Scout's Ranch, as Al Goodman was not well and was unable to oversee the management of the ranch efficiently. Buffalo Bill did not agree, and urged that Al Goodman stay, and ride around in a buggy to manage the ranch. Al Goodman resigned in 1891 and moved back to Kansas, and Horton Boal took over management of t5he ranch.

When Horton Boal has no success in running the ranch, Al Goodman was persuaded to return to manage the ranch. Julia took more persuading, even when assured that no one was in the house but Al. Eventually Al Goodman and Buffalo Bill went to Denver to talk her into returning to the ranch. This time the Goodmans stayed until 1899, after which they moved into North Platte, because of Al's serious illness. He died in 1901.

Julia Mevina (Cody) Goodman, sister of Buffalo Bill, was born on 28 March 1843 in LeClair, Iowa. She lived in LeClair, Leavenworth, Kansas, North Platte, and Cody, Wyoming. She died 26 October 1928 in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is buried in North Platte. Julia married James Alvin Goodman at Leavenworth, Kansas in 1862.

Julia lived in Iowa until she was eleven. After her father's death, she helped her mother care for her younger brothers and sisters. Her mother died shortly after the death of her father. At that point Julia and Buffalo Bill were made guardians of the younger children. Julia raised a large family of her own. She spent 16 years at Scouts Rest in North Platte. In 1902, after the death of Al Goodman, she took charge of the Hotel Irma which Buffalo Bill had opened in the new town of Cody, Wyoming. She visited various family connections, going to Philadelphia to the home were her mother was born, then to Cleveland to visit with Cody cousins, and the grave of her grandfather Philip, then to Florida to visit a son. After her 75th birthday, she went to Honolulu to visit a son who was stationed there. She had a keen interest in the Cody Family Association, and was voted honorary President for life.

More about Al Goodman in the book Last of the Great Scouts, Chapter 23.

"The Lives and Legends of Buffalo Bill", Don Russell, 1960, published by University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma.
"The Cody Family - Massachusetts 1698", 1954, published by Cody Publications, Kissimmee, Florida.

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