Hard to say—and it depends on whether we’re talking about popular at that time or today. If we’re talking about the former, I’d have to say Buffalo Bill Cody has to rank up there. He was the real McCoy when it came to being a Western hero, and then he formed his entertainment show and took it around the world. He was probably the best-known American on earth, and thus the most popular.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org