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Wild Bill Hickok

Photo of James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok

James Butler Hickok (May 27,1837-August 2,1876) was better known as Wild Bill Hickok.

Hickok was born in Troy Grove, Illinois. He left his father's farm in 1855 to be a stagecoach driver on the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails. His gunfighting skills led to his nickname. In 1861, he became a town constable in Nebraska. He became well-known for single-handedly capturing the McCanles gang, through the use of a ruse.

After the American Civil War, Hickok became an army scout and a professional gambler. In 1867, his fame increased from an interview by Henry Stanley. In 1871, Hickok became marshal of Abilene, Kansas. He toured with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show in 1872-1873, where he was romantically linked to Calamity Jane. He was fired from the show due to drunkenness.

In 1876, while playing poker at Nuttal and Mann's "Saloon No. 10" in Deadwood (then part of the Dakota Territory but on Indian land), Hickok was shot dead from behind by Jack McCall. The motive for the killing is still debated. (McCall may have been paid for the deed, he may have suspected Hickok of an earlier slaying of his brother, or it may have just been the result of a recent dispute.) The saloon proprietor claimed that, at the time of his death, Hickok held a pair of aces and a pair of eights, with all cards black, and this has since been called a "dead man's hand".

See also: The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok

Last updated: 08-07-2005 21:08:21
Last updated: 08-16-2005 03:55:23