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The Poker Joker Forum >> Legends of Gambling >> Hall of Fame: 'Wild Bill' Hickock
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Message started by Five Fingers on May 28th, 2003, 9:40am

Title: Hall of Fame: 'Wild Bill' Hickock
Post by Five Fingers on May 28th, 2003, 9:40am

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James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickock was killed by Jack Mc Call in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, on August 2, 1876. Hickock was shot in the back of the head while playing poker and holding black Aces and black eights (two pairs), ever since known as the "dead man's hand."

The first newspaper report of Hickock's death was published in Deadwood's only newspaper, the Black Hills Pioneer, on August 5, 1876

"On Wednesday about 3 o'clock the report stated that J.B. Hickock (Wild Bill) was killed. On repairing to the hall of Nuttall and Mann, it was ascertained that the report was too true. We found the remains of Wild Bill lying on the floor. The murderer, Jack Mc Call, was captured after a lively chase by many of the citizens, and taken to a building at the lower end of the city, and a guard placed over him. As soon as this was accomplished, a coroner's jury was summoned, with C.H. Sheldon as foreman, who after hearing all the evidence, which was the effect that, while Wild Bill and others were at a table playing cards, Jack Mc Call walked in and around directly back of his victim, and when within three feet of him raised his revolver, and exclaiming, "darn you, take that," fired; the ball entering at the back of the head, and coming out at the centre of the right check causing instant death, reached a verdict in accordance with the above facts "

As a professional gambler Wild Bill operated on the very edge of propriety.  There were many competitors in this shifty and nefarious trade, and the bulk of them operated on the wrong side of any form of law. Such a man was one James "Dog" Kennedy. Ignorant of whom he was accusing, he fingered Wild Bill as playing a bad fast game.  The confrontation escalated as accusations passed back and forth, the result being that a classic duel with six-guns was demanded in the public square of Springfield, Missouri, on September 21, 1869. Hickok had his pair of Colts, while Kennedy had a single Smith & Wesson double-action. Though it was dangerous, Hickok had cocked both his single-action revolvers as they sat in their holsters. Kennedy drew first and fired, but he missed Hickok and his bullet hit the dust 30 yards beyond Hickok's left shoulder. At almost the same moment Hickok drew both his guns at once and fired them simultaneously. One hit Kennedy just above the right knee, but the other shot struck his upper chest, killing him instantly. Since it was seen that Kennedy had drawn first, Hickok was judged by those present to have acted in self-defense and no charges were laid.

In his escapades as a "professional gambler," what Wild Bill had really accomplished was to become a profound drunk.

"Mr. Bill, that is Mr. Wild, or rather Mr. Hickok, are you willing to mention how many men you have killed, to your precise and certain knowledge?" Flatly, Wild Bill said, "I assume you mean white men.  Well, I am perfectly willing to swear a solemn oath on the Bible, tomorrow, that I have killed substantially over a hundred."


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