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James Butler Hickok May 27 1837 - August 2 1876 Better known as "Wild Bill" Hickok

James Butler Hickok Better known as "Wild Bill" HickokBorn in Homer, Illinois, of English ancestry. His birthplace is now the Wild Bill Hickok Memorial, a listed historic site under the supervision of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Hickok was a good shot from a very young age and was recognized locally as an outstanding marksman with a pistol. Photographs of Hickok indicate he had dark hair. However, further descriptions confirm he was, in fact, golden blond.

In 1955 at age 18, he moved to Leavenworth in the Kansas Territory following a fight with Charles Hudson, which resulted in both falling into a canal. Mistakenly thinking he had killed Hudson, Hickok fled the area and joined General Jim Lane's "Free State Army" (or Jayhawkers), a vigilante group then active in the Kansas Territory. During this time, he met 12-year-old William Cody (later known as "Buffalo Bill") who, despite his age, was a scout for the U.S. Army during the Utah War.

Hickok used the name William Hickok from 1858 and William Haycock during the Civil War. Arrested as Haycock in 1865, he afterward resumed using his real name of James Hickok.

In 1857, he claimed a 160-acre tract in Johnson County, Kansas (in what is now Lenexa). On March 22, 1858, he was elected as one of the first four constables of Monticello Township, Kansas. Then in 1859, he joined the Russell, Waddell, & Majors freight company, the parent company of the Pony Express. The following year, he was badly injured by a bear while he was driving a freight team from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe, Texas. According to Hickok's own 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 from its skull, infuriating it. The bear attacked, crushing Hickok with its body. he managed to fire another shot, disabling a paw. The bear then grabbed his arm in its mouth, but he was able to grab his knife and slash its throat, killing it. Badly injured with a crushed chest, shoulder and arm, he was bedridden for four months before being sent to Nebraska to work as a stable hand while he recovered. The station was built on land which the company had recently purchased from a local, David McCanles.

Later he was involved in a deadly shootout with David McCanles at the Rock Creek Station, near Fairbury, Nebraska, an event the veracity of which is still the subject of debate. Forty-year-old David McCanles, his 12-year-old son William Monroe McCanles and two farmhands, James Woods and James Gordon, called at the station's office to demand payment of the overdue, second installment on the property. David McCanles allegedly threatened the station manager, Horace Wellman and was shot by either Hickok (who was hiding behind a curtain) or Wellman.

Hickok, Wellman, and an employee, J.W. Brink, were tried for murder, but judged to have acted in self-defense. McCanles was the first man Hickok was reputed to have killed in a fight.

In late 1863 he was openly employed by the provost marshal of southwest Missouri as a member of the Springfield, Missouri detective police.

Hickok's duties as a police detective were mostly mundane and In 1864, Hickok, along with several other detective police, had not been paid for some time and so he either resigned or was reassigned. He was hired by General John B. Sanborn that year as a scout (at five dollars a day plus a horse and equipment). In June 1865, Hickok was mustered out and afterward spent his time in and around Springfield gambling.

On July 21, 1865, in the town square of Springfield, Missouri, Hickok met and killed Davis Tutt in a "quick draw duel" –the first of its kind. Fiction later popularized Hickok's "quick draw gunfight" as typical, but Hickok's is the first one on record to fit the portrayal. During the duel, rather than the face-to-face fast-draw as is commonly shown in movies, the two men faced each other sideways in the historic dueling stance, drawing and aiming their weapons before firing.

Hickok first met Davis Tutt in early 1865, while both were gambling in Springfield. Hickok often borrowed money from Tutt and they were originally friends, but they had a falling out over a woman. Hickok refused to play cards with Tutt, who retaliated by financing other players in an attempt to bankrupt him.

The dispute came to a head when Tutt was coaching an opponent of Hickok's during a card game. Hickok was on a winning streak, and the frustrated Tutt requested he repay a $40 loan, which Hickok immediately did. Tutt then demanded another $35 owed from a previous card game. Hickok refused, as he had a "memorandum" proving it to be for $25. Tutt then took Hickok's watch, which was lying on the table, as collateral for the $35, at which point Hickok warned him not to wear it or he, Hickok, would shoot him. The next day, Tutt appeared in the square wearing the watch prominently, and Hickok tried to negotiate the watch's return. Tutt stated he would now accept no less than $45, but both agreed they would not fight over it and went for a drink together. Tutt left the saloon, but returned to the square at 6 p.m., while Hickok arrived on the other side and warned him not to approach him while wearing the watch. Both men faced each other and fired almost simultaneously. Tutt's shot missed, but Hickok's did not, piercing Tutt through the heart from about 75 yards 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 gave the jury two contradictory instructions. He first instructed the jury that a conviction was its only option under the law. He then instructed them that they could apply the unwritten law of the "fair fight" and acquit. The jury voted for acquittal, a verdict that was not popular.

It is reported that Hickok had a premonition that Deadwood would be his last camp, and expressed this belief to his friend Charlie Utter (also known as Colorado Charlie) and the others who were traveling with them at the time. On August 2, 1876, Hickok was playing poker at Nuttal & Mann's Saloon in Deadwood, in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory. Hickok usually sat with his back to a wall. The only seat available when he joined the poker game that afternoon was a chair that put his back to a door. Twice he asked another player, Charles Rich, to change seats with him, and on both occasions Rich refused.

A former buffalo hunter, Jack McCall (better known as "Crooked Nose Jack"), entered the saloon unnoticed by Hickok. McCall walked to within a few feet of Hickok, drew a pistol and shouted, "Damn you! Take that!" before firing at Hickok point blank. McCall's bullet hit Hickok in the back of the head, killing him instantly. The bullet emerged through Hickok's right cheek, striking another player, Captain Massie, in the left wrist.

When shot, Hickok was playing five card stud, and was holding a pair of aces and a pair of eights. (The final card had been discarded and its replacement had possibly not even been dealt yet.) The fifth card's identity has been the subject of debate to this day. In 1979, Hickok was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame

Charlie Utter, Hickok's friend and companion, claimed Hickok's body and placed a notice in the local newspaper, the Black Hills Pioneer, which read: "Died in Deadwood, Black Hills, August 2, 1876, from the effects of a pistol shot, J. B. Hickock (Wild Bill) formerly of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Funeral services will be held at Charlie Utter's Camp, on Thursday afternoon, August 3, 1876, at 3 o'clock P. M. All are respectfully invited to attend."

Almost the entire town attended the funeral, and Utter had Hickok buried with a wooden grave marker reading:

"Wild Bill, J. B. Hickock killed by the assassin Jack McCall in Deadwood, Black Hills, August 2, 1876. Pard, we will meet again in the happy hunting ground to part no more. Good bye, Colorado Charlie, C. H. Utter."

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