Members of the Hays chapter of the Old City Hays Coral of the Westerners learned of the similarities between Buffalo Bill Cody and Billy Dixon at Thursday night's inaugural meeting.

Two dozen people showed up at Rose Garden Steak Haus -- more than what was expected said Don Westfall, executive director of the Ellis County Historical Society, and a member of the group.

"Very pleased with the turnout and the enthusiasm of the people who attended," he said. "About twice what we expected. I think we're off to a great start here."

Joti Winchester from the Department of History at Fort Hays State University gave a talk entitled "Billy Dixon and Bill Cody: Scouting for Similarities."

Using a chart, Winchester pointed out how similar the lives were of the two frontiersmen, who each spent time in Hays.

"They are both here at the same time," she said. "I don't know if they knew each other. As far as I know, they don't talk about each other as people they knew."

Both lived in dugouts in the Hays and Salina area; Cody was in Hays from 1866 to 1868, while Dixon was a muleskinner at Fort Hays in 1867; both came to Kansas from other states; both were fatherless at an early age; they both were teamsters and bullwhackers in Leavenworth.

They also both served as scouts for the U.S. Army. They each won the Medal of Honor as civilians. They each had their medal revoked but years later, after they died, they were returned to them.

In 1867, Cody was among those who founded Rome along Big Creek. Dixon, with Billy Reynolds, established the Whiskey River dugout south of Hays in 1871, which was used as a trading post.

"Both were in Kansas when Kansas was the place to be," Winchester said. "This is a great place to be from, and go to."

The next meeting of the Old Hays City Corral of the Westerners is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 27 at Rose Garden Steak Haus.