Wild Bill Hickok
(May 27, 1837 - August 2,1876)
Born in Troy Grove, Illinois, Wild Bill met Buffalo Bill and Jack Slade early in his life. With Jack Slade, Bill tracks indians who had stolen horses from a Pony Express Station. During the Civil War, Hickok supposedly earned his moniker, but many stories, rumors and contradictory things have been written about his Civil War adventures.
His "gunfight" at the Rock Spring Station with David McCanles has, also, been overblown. The news of this gunfight made him nationally famous.
Wild Bill became a scout guiding military and civilians across the plains states. He became sheriff of Hay City, Kansas, killed three people and wounded a fourth. Bill moved on becoming the sheriff of Abilene, Kansas. It was here he mortally wounded Phil Coe and accidentally killed his deputy.
Wild Bill appeared briefly in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, married, tried to start various expedition projects and ended up in Deadwood, South Dakota.
On August 2, 1876, a person named Jack McCall walked up behind Wild Bill and fired. Hickok was dead. Jack McCall was hanged for the killing.
James Butler Hickok is buried in the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood, South Dakota.
Hickok has been portrayed in many movies the most recent being Wild Bill with Jeff Bridges as Wild Bill. The movie started out fine, but the silly historically inaccurate ending ruined the whole movie.
Even though a lot of Wild Bill's adventures have been exaggerated, Hickok does deserve a lot of the legendary treatment pasted on him. He was good with a gun, rarely fired unless provoked, cool, collective and self-assured.
Information compiled by Steve Grimm
Drawing by Richard Florence
Books About Wild Bill
Wild Bill Hickok - Gunfighter by Joseph G. Rosa
Joseph Rosa's new installment in his Wild Bill library. This book reflects a historian's life long commitment to one subject. It provides details on Wild Bill's guns and his gunfights through maps and eyewitness accounts. A book worth savoring.
Wild Bill Hickok - The Man and His Myth by Joseph G. Rosa
Rosa does a fantastic job separating fact and fiction related to Wild Bill's life. At times Rosa expends a lot of energy justifying some of Wild Bill's action when he should admit Wild Bill goofed. However, you will see this method used by many dedicated biographers.
Wild Bill Hickok by Richard O'Connor
One of those books written in the 1950s when author's relied primarily on fireside stories. Still if you find a reprinted version (Barns and Noble has reprinted this book), it is worth the $7.00. Treat it as historical fiction - some incidents based on fact - others just hearsay.
Wild Bill and Deadwood by Mildred Fielder
A picture book for Wild Bill and Deadwood, it has the drawing by N.C. Wyeth on the front with guns pointing forward and follow you from every angle.
Jack McCall - Assassin by Joseph Rosa
A small booklet which provides new information on the trial and plea by Wild Bill's killer.