|Name:||Wild Bill Hickok|
|Occupation:||Law Enforcement Officer|
|Birth Day:||May 27, 1837|
|Death Date:||Aug 2, 1876 (age 39)|
Western sheriff who brought law and order to Kansas towns and went on many adventures. Wild Bill Hickok also spied for the Union Army and gained fame as an actor after the war.
As per our current Database, Wild Bill Hickok died on Aug 2, 1876 (age 39).
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Wild Bill Hickok learned to handle a pistol in his youth and was a steady shot despite his age.
James Butler Hickok was born May 27, 1837, in Homer, Illinois, (present-day Troy Grove, Illinois) to William Alonzo Hickok, a farmer and abolitionist, and his wife, Polly Butler. James was the fourth of six children. His father was said to have used the family house, now demolished, as a station on the Underground Railroad. William Hickok died in 1852, when James was 15.
In 1855, at age 18, James Hickok fled Illinois following a fight with Charles Hudson, during which both fell into a canal; each thought, mistakenly, that he had killed the other. Hickok moved to Leavenworth in the Kansas Territory, where he joined Jim Lane's Free State Army (also known as the Jayhawkers), an antislavery vigilante group active in the new territory during the Bleeding Kansas era. While a Jayhawker, he met 12-year-old William Cody (later known as "Buffalo Bill"), who, despite his youth, served as a scout just two years later for the U.S. Army during the Utah War.
In 1857, Hickok claimed a 160-acre (65-ha) tract in Johnson County, Kansas, near present-day Lenexa. On March 22, 1858, he was elected one of the first four constables of Monticello Township. In 1859, he joined the Russell, Majors and Waddell freight company, the parent company of the Pony Express.
In 1860, Hickok was badly injured, possibly by a bear, while driving a freight team from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico. According to Hickok's account, he found the road blocked by a cinnamon bear and its two cubs. Dismounting, he approached the bear and fired a shot into its head, but the bullet ricocheted off its skull, infuriating it. The bear attacked, crushing Hickok with its body. Hickok managed to fire another shot, wounding the bear's paw. The bear then grabbed his arm in its mouth, but Hickok was able to grab his knife and slash its throat, killing it.
While in Nebraska, Hickok was derisively referred to by one man as "Duck Bill" for his long nose and protruding lips. He was also known before 1861 by Jayhawkers as "Shanghai Bill" because of his height and slim build. He grew a moustache following the McCanles incident, and in 1861, began calling himself "Wild Bill".
On July 12, 1861, David McCanles went to the Rock Creek Station office to demand an overdue property payment from Horace Wellman, the station manager. McCanles reportedly threatened Wellman, and either Wellman or Hickok, who was hiding behind a curtain, killed McCanles. Hickok, Wellman, and another employee, J.W. Brink, were tried for killing McCanles, but were found to have acted in self-defense. McCanles may have been the first man Hickok killed. Hickok subsequently visited McCanles' widow, apologized for the killing, and offered her $35 in restitution, all the money he had with him at the time.
After the Civil War broke out in April 1861, Hickok became a teamster for the Union Army in Sedalia, Missouri. By the end of 1861, he was a wagon master, but in September 1862, he was discharged for unknown reasons. He then joined General James Henry Lane's Kansas Brigade,and while serving with the brigade, saw his friend Buffalo Bill Cody, who was serving as a scout.
In late 1863, Hickok worked for the provost marshal of southwest Missouri as a member of the Springfield detective police. His work included identifying and counting the number of troops in uniform who were drinking while on duty, verifying hotel liquor licenses, and tracking down individuals who owed money to the cash-strapped Union Army.
Buffalo Bill claimed that he encountered Hickok disguised as a Confederate officer in Missouri in 1864. Hickok had not been paid for some time, and was hired as a scout by General John B. Sanborn by early 1865. In June, Hickok mustered out and went to Springfield, where he gambled. The 1883 History of Greene County, Missouri described him as "by nature a ruffian ... a drunken, swaggering fellow, who delighted when 'on a spree' to frighten nervous men and timid women."
Hickok used his late brother's name, William Hickok, from 1858, and the name William Haycock during the American Civil War. Most newspapers referred to him as William Haycock until 1869. He was arrested while using the name Haycock in 1865. He afterward resumed using his given name, James Hickok. Military records after 1865 list him as Hickok, but note that he was also known as Haycock. In an 1867 article about his shootout with Davis Tutt, his surname was misspelled as Hitchcock.
While in Springfield, Hickok and a local gambler named Davis Tutt had several disagreements over unpaid gambling debts and their mutual affection for the same women. Hickok lost a gold watch to Tutt in a poker game. The watch had great sentimental value to Hickok, so he asked Tutt not to wear it in public. They initially agreed not to fight over the watch, but when Hickok saw Tutt wearing it, he warned him to stay away. On July 21, 1865, the two men faced off in Springfield's town square, standing sideways before drawing and firing their weapons. Their quick-draw duel was recorded as the first of its kind. Tutt's shot missed, but Hickok's struck Tutt through the heart from about 75 yards (69 m) away. Tutt called out, "Boys, I'm killed", before he collapsed and died.
Two days later, Hickok was arrested for murder. The charge was later reduced to manslaughter. He was released on $2,000 bail and stood trial on August 3, 1865. At the end of the trial, Judge Sempronius H. Boyd told the jury they could not find Hickok acted in self-defense if he could have reasonably avoided the fight. However, if they felt the threat of danger was real and imminent, he instructed they could apply the unwritten law of the "fair fight" and acquit. The jury voted to clear Hickok, resulting in public backlash and criticism of the verdict.
In September 1865, Hickok came in second in the election for city marshal of Springfield. Leaving Springfield, he was recommended for the position of deputy federal marshal at Fort Riley, Kansas. This was during the Indian Wars, in which Hickok sometimes served as a scout for General George A. Custer's 7th Cavalry.
In 1865, Hickok recruited six Native Americans and three cowboys to accompany him to Niagara Falls, where he put on an outdoor demonstration called The Daring Buffalo Chasers of the Plains. Since the event was outdoors, he could not compel people to pay, and the venture was a financial failure. The show featured six buffalo, a bear, and a monkey, and one show ended in disaster when a buffalo refused to act, prompting Hickok to fire a bullet into the sky. This angered the buffalo and panicked audience members, causing the animals to break free of their wire fencing and chase audience members, some of whom were trampled. The incident helped contribute to the overall failure of the show.
Henry M. Stanley, of the Weekly Missouri Democrat, reported Hickok to be "an inveterate hater of Indian People", perhaps to enhance his reputation as a scout and American fighter, but separating fact from fiction is difficult considering his recruitment of Indians to cross the nation to appear in his own Wild West show. Witnesses confirm that while working as a scout at Fort Harker, Kansas, on May 11, 1867, Hickok was attacked by a large group of Indians, who fled after he shot and killed two. In July, Hickok told a newspaper reporter that he had led several soldiers in pursuit of Indians who had killed four men near the fort on July 2. He reported returning with five prisoners after killing 10. Witnesses confirm that the story was true to the extent the party had set out to find whoever had killed the four men, but the group returned to the fort "without nary a dead Indian, [never] even seeing a live one".
In December 1867, newspapers reported that Hickok had come to stay in Hays City, Kansas. He became a deputy U.S. marshal, and on March 28, 1868, he picked up 11 Union Army deserters who had been charged with stealing government property. Hickok was assigned to bring the men to Topeka for trial, and he requested a military escort from Fort Hays. He was assigned Buffalo Bill Cody, a sergeant, and five privates. They arrived in Topeka on April 2. Hickok remained in Hays through August 1868, when he brought 200 Cheyenne Indians to Hays to be viewed by "excursionists".
On September 1, 1868, Hickok was in Lincoln County, Kansas, where he was hired as a scout by the 10th Cavalry Regiment, a segregated African-American unit. On September 4, Hickok was wounded in the foot while rescuing several cattlemen in the Bijou Creek basin who had been surrounded by Indians. The 10th Regiment arrived at Fort Lyon in Colorado in October and remained there for the rest of 1868.
In July 1869, Hickok returned to Hays and was elected city marshal of Hays and sheriff of Ellis County, Kansas, in a special election held on August 23, 1869. Three sheriffs had quit during the previous 18 months. Hickok may have been acting sheriff before he was elected; a newspaper reported that he arrested offenders on August 18, and the commander of Fort Hays wrote a letter to the assistant adjutant general on August 21 in which he praised Hickok for his work in apprehending deserters.
The regular county election was held on November 2, 1869, and Hickok, running as an independent, lost to his deputy, Peter Lanihan, running as a Democrat; even so, Hickok and Lanihan remained sheriff and deputy, respectively. Hickok accused a J.V. Macintosh of irregularities and misconduct during the election. On December 9, Hickok and Lanihan both served legal papers on Macintosh, and local newspapers acknowledged that Hickok had guardianship of Hays City.
In September 1869, his first month as sheriff, Hickok killed two men. The first was Bill Mulvey, who was rampaging through town, drunk, shooting out mirrors and whisky bottles behind bars. Citizens warned Mulvey to behave, because Hickok was sheriff. Mulvey angrily declared that he had come to town to kill Hickok. When he saw Hickok, he leveled his cocked rifle at him. Hickok waved his hand past Mulvey at some onlookers and yelled, "Don't shoot him in the back; he is drunk." Mulvey wheeled his horse around to face those who might shoot him from behind, and before he realized he had been fooled, Hickok shot him through the temple.
On July 17, 1870, Hickok was attacked by two troopers from the 7th U.S. Cavalry, Jeremiah Lonergan and John Kyle (sometimes spelled Kile), in a saloon. Lonergan pinned Hickok to the ground, and Kyle put his gun to Hickok's ear. When Kyle's weapon misfired, Hickok shot Lonergan, wounding him in the knee, and shot Kyle twice, killing him. Hickok lost his re-election bid to his deputy.
On April 15, 1871, Hickok became marshal of Abilene, Kansas. He replaced Tom "Bear River" Smith, who had been killed while serving an arrest warrant on November 2, 1870.
Outlaw John Wesley Hardin arrived in Abilene at the end of a cattle drive in early 1871. Hardin was a well-known gunfighter, and is known to have killed more than 27 men. In his 1895 autobiography, published after his death, Hardin claimed to have been befriended by Hickok, the newly elected town marshal, after he had disarmed the marshal using the road agent's spin,ref name=bowen/> but Hardin was known to exaggerate. In any case, Hardin appeared to have thought highly of Hickok.
Hickok later said he did not know that "Wesley Clemmons" was Hardin's alias, and that he was a wanted outlaw. He told Clemmons (Hardin) to stay out of trouble in Abilene and asked him to hand over his guns, and Hardin complied.Hardin alleged that when his cousin, Mannen Clements, was jailed for the killing of two cowhands Joe and Dolph Shadden in July 1871, Hickok – at Hardin's request – arranged for his escape.
In August 1871, Hickok sought to arrest Hardin for killing Charles Couger in an Abilene hotel "for snoring too loud". Hardin left Kansas before Hickok could arrest him. A newspaper reported, "A man was killed in his bed at a hotel in Abilene, Monday night, by a desperado called 'Arkansas'. The murderer escaped. This was his sixth murder."
On October 5, 1871, Hickok was standing off a crowd during a street brawl when Coe fired two shots. Hickok ordered him to be arrested for firing a pistol within the city limits. Coe claimed that he was shooting at a stray dog, and then suddenly turned his gun on Hickok, who fired first and killed Coe. In another account of the Coe shootout: Theophilus Little, the mayor of Abilene and owner of the town's lumber yard, recorded his time in Abilene by writing in a notebook, which was ultimately given to the Abilene Historical Society. Writing in 1911, he detailed his admiration for Hickok and included a paragraph on the shooting that differs considerably from the reported account:
In 1873, Buffalo Bill Cody and Texas Jack Omohundro invited Hickok to join their troupe after their earlier success. Hickok did not enjoy acting, and often hid behind scenery. In one show, he shot the spotlight when it focused on him. He was released from the group after a few months.
In 1876, Hickok was diagnosed by a doctor in Kansas City, Missouri, with glaucoma and ophthalmia. Although he was just 39, his marksmanship and health were apparently in decline, and he had been arrested several times for vagrancy, despite earning a good income from gambling and displays of showmanship only a few years earlier.
On March 5, 1876, Hickok married Agnes Thatcher Lake, a 50-year-old circus proprietor in Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory. Hickok left his new bride a few months later, joining Charlie Utter's wagon train to seek his fortune in the gold fields of South Dakota.
Martha Jane Cannary, known popularly as Calamity Jane, claimed in her autobiography that she was married to Hickok and had divorced him so he could be free to marry Agnes Lake, but no records have been found that support her account. The two possibly met for the first time after Jane was released from the guardhouse in Fort Laramie and joined the wagon train in which Hickok was traveling. The wagon train arrived in Deadwood in July 1876. Jane confirmed this account in an 1896 newspaper interview, although she claimed she had been hospitalized with illness rather than in the guardhouse.
On August 1, 1876, Hickok was playing poker at Nuttal & Mann's Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. When a seat opened up at the table, a drunk man named Jack McCall sat down to play. McCall lost heavily. Hickok encouraged McCall to quit the game until he could cover his losses and offered to give him money for breakfast. Although McCall accepted the money, he was apparently insulted.
Jack McCall was hanged on March 1, 1877, and buried in a Roman Catholic cemetery. The cemetery was moved in 1881, and when McCall's body was exhumed, the noose was found still around his neck.
Hickok is known to have fatally shot six men and is suspected of having killed a seventh (McCanles). Despite his reputation, Hickok was buried in the Ingelside Cemetery, Deadwood's original graveyard. This cemetery filled quickly, and in 1879, on the third anniversary of Hickok's original burial, Utter paid to move Hickok's remains to the new Mount Moriah Cemetery. Utter supervised the move and noted that, while perfectly preserved, Hickok had been imperfectly embalmed. As a result, calcium carbonate from the surrounding soil had replaced the flesh, leading to petrifaction. One of the workers, Joseph McLintock, wrote a detailed description of the reinterment. McLintock used a cane to tap the body, face, and head, finding no soft tissue anywhere. He noted that the sound was similar to tapping a brick wall and believed the remains weighed more than 400 lb (180 kg). William Austin, the cemetery caretaker, estimated 500 lb (230 kg). This made it difficult for the men to carry the remains to the new site. The original wooden grave marker was moved to the new site, but by 1891, it had been destroyed by souvenir hunters whittling pieces from it, and it was replaced with a statue. This, in turn, was destroyed by souvenir hunters and replaced in 1902 by a life-sized sandstone sculpture of Hickok. This, too, was badly defaced, and was then enclosed in a cage for protection. The enclosure was cut open by souvenir hunters in the 1950s, and the statue was removed.
Two actors portrayed Hickok on the syndicated anthology series Death Valley Days. Charles Carlson was cast in the 1962 episode "The Truth Teller", which focuses on the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867. Rhodes Reason portrays Hickok in "A Calamity Called Jane", in which Calamity and Hickok argue over her masculine wardrobe and manners. The segment concludes with Hickok's assassination by Jack McCall in a saloon in Deadwood.
Lloyd Bridges portrayed Hickok in an episode of The Great Adventure titled "Wild Bill Hickok - The Legend and the Man", which aired on January 3, 1964. Bridges' son, Jeff, also played Hickok years later in the 1995 film Wild Bill.
Hickok's birthplace is now the Wild Bill Hickok Memorial and is a listed historic site under the supervision of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The town of Deadwood, South Dakota, re-enacts Hickok's murder and McCall's capture every summer evening. In 1979, Hickok was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
At the time of his death, Hickok was wearing a Smith & Wesson Model No. 2 Army revolver, a newly released, five-shot, single-action, .32-caliber weapon. Bonhams auction company offered this pistol at auction on November 18, 2013, in San Francisco, California, described as Hickok's Smith & Wesson No. 2, serial number 29963, a .32 rimfire with a six-inch barrel, blued finish, and varnished rosewood grips. The gun did not sell because the highest bid of $220,000 was less than the reserve set by the gun's owners.
Currently, Wild Bill Hickok is 185 years, 6 months and 1 days old. Wild Bill Hickok will celebrate 186th birthday on a Saturday 27th of May 2023.
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