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Wild Bill Hickok's Death

Wild Bill Hickok

The life and death of Wild Bill Hickok:

He's one of the legendary names of the American Wild West, best remembered for his days as a gunfighter, lawman and gambler. In fact, we was shot dead while playing poker in Deadwood, South Dakota, and the cards he was holding, a pair of aces and a pair of eights, came to be known as the "Dead Man's Hand."

pair of eights and pair of aces

James Butler Hickok was born in Homer, Illinois, and the spot is now the Wild Bill Hickok Memorial.

Wild Bill Hickok Memorial

His parents were named William and Polly and they were farmers. Young James learned to use a gun early, and became a noted marksman with a pistol.

Wild Bill Hickok holding a gun

As he grew older he headed west, a fugitive from justice at the age of 18. He met another Old West legend, a 12 year old named William Cody, while they were both in Kansas. Cody became known as Buffalo Bill.

Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill

That's Wild Bill on the left and Buffalo Bill on the right.

James got his nickname "Wild Bill" while using various aliases, including William Hickok and William Haycock.

He fought (and spied) on the side of the Union Army in the Civil War and later got into law enforcement in the Missouri territory and Kansas and Nebraska.

Wild Bill Hickok's gun

There were numerous shootouts and gunfights and Wild Bill was relieved of his duties as a marshal after accidentally killing a deputy.

By the summer of 1876 he was in the Dakota Territory and joined a card game. He usually sat with his back to a wall, but on this day Hickok was forced to sit facing the wall, the only seat left at the table. It was a deadly miscalculation.

Former Buffalo hunter, Jack McCall…

Jack McCall

…an unsuccessful rival gambler spotted him and shot him right through the head.

wax re-enactment of Wild Bill getting shot by Jack McCall

That's a wax museum depiction of Hickok's shooting at Saloon #10.

Wild Bill Hickok funeral notice

McCall was not charged immediately but was eventually tried, convicted and hanged.

The hanging of Jack McCall

Wild Bill was originally buried at Ingleside Cemetery, the victim of a gunshot wound, with 36 notches on his own gun of the people that he shot and killed. He was moved to Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood three years later.

Wild Bill grave

Several films have depicted the life of Wild Bill, including 1936's "The Plainsman"…

The Plainsman

…directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Gary Cooper as Hickok.

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