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JULY 21, 2014

Wild Bill Hickok
click on pictures to enlarge

Wild Bill...

On May 27, 1837 James Butler Hickok was born...otherwise know as "Wild Bill HIckok". Bill grew up in Homer, Illinois and was the son of a preacher. His birthplace, now called Troy Grove, is listed by the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency as the "Wild Bill Hickok Memorial". From a very young age, Bill was recognized as an outstanding marksman with a pistol. Many photographs display him in dark hair; however, according to the townsfolk of the time, he actually had "golden blond hair".

Wild Bill...

In 1855 at age 18, Bill moved to Leavenworth in the Kansas territory. Bill got into a gun fight with Charles Hudson. Both of them fired and fell into a canal assuming that each person killed the other. Actually, both bullets missed and each of them were fine. Hickok fled the area and joined "general Jim Lane's "Free State Army", also known as the "Jayhawkers" which were a vigilante group. During this time he met 12 year old William Cody (later to be known as "Buffalo Bill") who despite his age was a scout for the US Army.

Wild Bill...

Bill Hickok was known by several names. In Nebraska he was called "Duck Bill" by his business friends because he was a good shot. His fellow Jayhawkers called him "Shanghai Bill" because of his height and slim build. Hickok went by "William Hickok" from 1858 and "William Haycock" during the Civil War. In 1861 close friends called him "Wild Bill" but the newspapers referred to him as William Haycock" until 1869. He went by thes alias's to avoid arrest since he was frequently getting into trouble.

Wild Bill...

Bill had many professions in his lifetime. In 1857 he became a landowner with 160 acres in Johnson County Kansas, now known as Lenexa. In 1858, he was elected along with 3 others as Constable of Monticello Kansas, a peace officer. In 1859 he joined "Russell, Waddel, & Majors Freight Company". This was the parent company of the "Pony Express" where he drove stagecoaches. One day a bear decided to stop his stagecoach. Bill hopped off and proceeded to rassle with the bear. He eventually slashed his throat, but not before the bear cushed his chest, shoulder and arms. While recovering from his injuries, Bill worked as a "stable hand".

Wild Bill...

When the Civil War erupted in April of 1861, Bill signed on as a "teamster", which was an outfitter and packer of clothing, guns, ammo, gear, etc for the Union Army. By the end of the year , he was a "wagon master". In September 1862, he was discharged from the Army for an "undisclosed reason". Durig this time he operated as a "Union Spy" in the Confederate Army. In 1863 he was hired as a member of the "Springfield Missouri Detective Police". After months of boring duties like arresting drunk troops on duty, checking hotel liquor licenses, and tracking down debtors, Hickok quit. He was hired on as a "scout" by a local general for $5.00 a day plus horse and equipment. He was eventually mustarded out in 1865 for being a " ruffian, drunken swaggering fellow, that loved gambling, chasing women, and terriorizing timid men" according to newpapers.

Wild Bill...

On December 16, 1861, Hickok was involved in a deadly shootout with "David Mccandles" at the Rock Creek Station in Nebraska. Mccandles was demanding payment for an overdue bill from the station manager Horace Wellman. After these threats, Mccandles was shot to death by either Hickok, who was hiding behind a curtain, or Wellman or JW Brink, an station employee. The 3 were tried for murder and acquitted for "firing in self-defense" Mccandles was the first man Hickok ever killed according to the times.

Wild Bill...

In 1865 Hickok became friends with Davis Tutt, a Confederate soldier. They hung out together for quite awhile..gambling, drinking, and such. That came to an end after Bill got caught chasing Tutt's sister, who many say was carrying Bill's child. Hickok refused to play cards with Tutt, who retliated by financing other players in an attempt to bankrupt Bill. The dispute came to a head when Tutt was coaching one of Hickok's opponents in a card game. Bill was on a winning streak. Tutt requested $40.00 for a previous loan which was promptly paid. Tutt then demanded an additional $35.00 owed from a previous card game. Bill refused and said it was only $25.00. Tutt grabbed Bill's watch from the table as "collateral". Bill warned him noth to wear it. The next day, after seeing Tutt wearing his watch, decided to have a drink and work it out.Now Tutt wanted $45.00 for it, but Bill said "no way" and left the saloon. At 6pm a few hours later, they faced off in the street. Both men fired at the same time. Tutt's shot missed, but Hickok's did not. The bullet pierced Tutt's heart from 75 yards away. Tutt screamed out " Boys, I'm Killed", before he collasped and died. Hickok was arrested for murder, was reduced to manslaughter, and eventually acquitted for "being a fair fight". THIS WAS THE FIRST RECORDED GUNFIGHT IN HISTORY AND OCCURED ON "JULY 21, 1865 WHICH IS 149 YEARS TODAY!!!

Wild Bill...

On August 2, 1876 Hickok was playing 5 card stud in Deadwood, part of the Dakota territory. He usually sat with his back against the wall, but after grabbing a drink, he decided to sit closer to the bar. "Jack Mccall" rushed in and shot Bill in the back of the head from behind--a cowards shot. On the table he was showing 2 pair..Aces and 8's which has been known as "a dead man's hand" ever since. There has been a lot of specualtion about the 5th card, but in 1979, Hickok was inducted into the "Poker Hall of Fame". James Butler Hickok killed 36 men in his life time and he was only 39. There are many other famous stories of "Wild Bill Hickok", but these are but a few.

Wild Bill...

Report presented by Gary "Col. Klink" Klinke
John A Sutter Historian