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Wild Bill Hickok

Life and career

Early life

Hickok was born in Homer, Illinois (what is now Troy Grove) on May 27, 1837. His birthplace is now the Wild Bill Hickok Memorial, a listed historic site under the supervision of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. While he was growing up, his father’s farm was one of the stops on the Underground Railroad, and he learned his shooting skills protecting the farm with his father from slave catchers. Hickok was a good shot from a very young age and recognized locally as an outstanding marksman with a pistol.

In 1855, at the age of 18, Hickok moved to Kansas Territory following a fight with Charles Hudson, which resulted in both falling into a canal. Mistakenly thinking he had killed Hudson, Hickok fled and joined General Jim Lane’s vigilante “Free State Army” (The Red Legs) where he met 12-year-old William Cody, later to be known as “Buffalo Bill,” who at that time was a scout for Johnston’s Army.

Because of his “sweeping nose and protruding upper lip,” Hickok was nicknamed “Duck Bill.” In 1861, after growing a mustache following the McCanles incident, he began calling himself Wild Bill. Despite all Hickok photographs indicating he had dark hair, all contemporary descriptions confirm he was in fact golden blonde. Reddish shades in hair appeared black in early wet and dry plate photography.

For unknown reasons, Hickok used the name William Hickok from 1858 and then William Haycock during the Civil War. Arrested as Haycock in 1865, he then resumed his real name of James Hickok. Interestingly, most newspapers continued to use the name William Haycock when referring to “Wild Bill” until 1869 despite military records after 1865 using his correct name while acknowledging he was also known as Haycock.


In 1857, Hickok claimed a 160-acre (65 ha) 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. In 1859 he joined the Russell, Waddell, and Majors freight company called the Pony Express. The following year he was badly injured by a bear and sent to the Rock Creek Station in Nebraska (which the company had recently purchased from David McCanles) to work as a stable hand while he recovered. In 1861 he was involved in a deadly shootout with the McCanles Gang at the Rock Creek Station after 40-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 an overdue second installment on the property, an event that is still the subject of much debate. David McCanles “called out” Wild Bill from the Station House. Wild Bill emerged onto the street, immediately drew one of his .36 caliber SA Navy revolvers, and, at a 75-yard stand-off distance, fired a single shot into McCanles’s chest, killing him instantly (ref. Am. Handgunner). Hickok and his accomplices, the station manager Horace Wellman, his wife, and an employee, J.W. Brink, were tried but judged to have acted in self-defense. According to Joseph G. Rosa, a Hickok biographer, the shot that felled the elder McCanles came from inside the house, a tale Wild Bill’s friends invented to keep the “heat” of both the law and McCanles’ extended family off Wild Bill (extended generational member). It remains unknown who actually fired it. Rosa conjectures that Wellman had far more of a motive to kill McCanles, a belief supported by McCanles’s son’s own account. There were also women in the house, conceivably armed with shotguns. McCanles was the first man Hickok was reputed to have killed in a fight. On several later occasions, Hickok was to confront and kill several men while fighting alone.

Civil War and scouting

When the Civil War broke out in April 1861, Hickok signed on as a teamster for the Union Army in Sedalia, Missouri, and by the end of the year he was a wagonmaster. In September 1862 he was discharged for an undisclosed reason and there are no records of his whereabouts until late 1863, when he was employed by the Provost Marshal of South-West Missouri as a member of the Springfield detective police. It has been speculated that during the “missing year”, Hickok may have been operating as a spy in Southern territory.

Hickok’s duties as a police detective were mostly mundane and included counting the number of troops in uniform drinking while on duty, checking hotel liquor licenses and tracking down individuals in debt to the Union to facilitate repayment. In 1864 Hickok and the other detectives had not been paid for some time, and Hickok either resigned or was reassigned as he was hired as a scout by General John B. Sanborn at five dollars a day plus a horse and equipment. In June 1865, Hickok was mustered out and spent his time in and around Springfield gambling.

Lawman and gunfighter notoriety

Hickok 1869. Because a knife would not have been worn unsheathed, it is likely a photographer’s prop. Although buckskins are often seen in movies depicting earlier periods, Hickok was one of the first to wear them.

On July 21, 1865, in the town square of Springfield, Missouri, Hickok killed Davis Tutt, Jr. in a “quick draw” duel. Fiction later typified this kind of gunfight, but Hickok’s is in fact the first one on record that fits the portrayal.

Hickok first met former Confederate Army soldier Davis Tutt in early 1865, while both were gambling in Springfield, Missouri. Hickok often borrowed money from Tutt. They were originally good friends, but they eventually fell out over a woman, and it was rumored that Hickok once had an affair with Tutt’s sister, perhaps fathering a child. This was likely exacerbated by the fact that there was a long-standing dispute over Hickok’s girlfriend, Susannah Moore. Hickok refused to play cards with Tutt, who retaliated by financing other players in an attempt to bankrupt him.

According to the accepted account, 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 Tutt, frustrated, requested that he repay a $40 loan, which Hickok did. Tutt then demanded another $35 owed from a previous card game. Hickok refused, as he had an “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 that he would now accept no less than $45, but both agreed that 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 sideways in the dueling position and both fired almost simultaneously. Tutt’s shot missed, but Hickok’s didn’t, piercing Tutt through the side from about 75 yards away. Tutt called out, “Boys, I’m killed” and ran onto the porch of the local courthouse and then back to the street, where he collapsed and died.

Hickok was arrested for murder two days later; however, 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 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 at the time.

Several weeks later, Hickok was interviewed by Colonel George Ward Nichols, and the interview was published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. Using the name “Wild Bill Hitchcock” (sic), the article recounted the hundreds of men whom Hickok supposedly personally killed and other exaggerated exploits. The article was controversial wherever Hickok was known, and it led to several frontier newspapers’ writing rebuttals. As can be seen in this account, not counting Indians, Hickok killed five men (one by accident), was an accessory in the deaths of three more, and wounded one. Hickok was reported to be an inveterate hater of Indians, but it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. Witnesses confirm that while scouting from Fort Harker Kansas on May 11, 1867, Hickok was attacked by a large group of Indians, who fled after Hickok shot and killed two. In July, Hickok told a newspaper reporter he had led several soldiers in pursuit of Indians who had killed four men near the fort on 2 July. He reported returning with five prisoners after killing ten. Witnesses confirm the story was true in part: The party did set out to find those who had killed the four men, but the group returned to the fort without nary a dead Indian, neither even seeing a live one.

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 United States Marshal at Fort Riley Kansas. This was at the time of the Indian Wars that counted the Great Plains as a battleground, and Hickok sometimes served as a scout for George A. Custer’s 7th Cavalry.

In 1867, Hickok took a break from the west and moved to Niagara Falls, where he tried his hand at acting in a stage play called “The Daring Buffalo Chases of the Plains.” He proved to be a terrible actor and returned to the West, where he ran for sheriff in Ellsworth County, Kansas, on November 5, 1867, but was defeated by former soldier E.W. Kingsbury.

In December 1867, newspapers reported Hickok’s arrival in Hays, Kansas. On 28 March 1868, he was again in Hays as a deputy U.S. Marshall, picking up 11 Union deserters charged with stealing government property to be transferred to Topeka for trial. He requested a military escort from Fort Hays and was assigned William F. Cody, a sergeant and five privates, with the group arriving in Topeka on 2 April. Hickok was still, or again, in Hays in August 1868 when he brought 200 Cheyenne to Hays to viewed by excursionists. On September 1, Hickok was in Elkhorn township in Lincoln County, Kansas, where he was hired as a scout by the 10th Calvary Regiment, a segregated African-American unit. On 4 September, Hickok was wounded in the foot while rescuing several cattlemen in the Bijou Creek Basin who were surrounded by Indians. The 10th arrived at Fort Lyon, Colorado, in October and remained for the rest of 1868.

In July 1869, Hickok was back in Hays and was elected sheriff and city marshal of Ellis County, Kansas, in a special election, on August 23, 1869.. The county was having particular difficulty holding sheriffshree had quit over the previous 18 months. It is likely that Hickok was already acting sheriff when elected as a newspaper reported him arresting offenders on 18 August and the commander of Fort Hays praised Hickok for his work in apprehending deserters in a letter he wrote to the Assistant Adjutant General on 21 August. However, the “special election” may not have been legal, as a letter dated 17 September to the Governor of Kansas noted that Hickok had presented a warrant for an arrest which was rejected by the Fort Hays commander because when asked to produce his commission Hickok admitted he never had one. Ellis county elections were held on 2 November 1869, and Hickok (Independent) lost to his deputy Peter Lanihan (Democrat). Hickok and Lanihan remained, respectively, sheriff and deputy as Hickok accused J.V. Macintosh of irregularities and misconduct during the election. On 9 December, Hickok and Lanihan both served legal papers on Macintosh and local newspapers acknowledged that Hickok had guardianship of Hays City.

In his first month as sheriff in Hays, he killed two men in gunfights. The first, on 24  was Bill Mulvey, who “got the drop” on Hickok. Hickok looked past him and yelled, “‘Don’t shoot him in the back; he is drunk,” which was enough distraction to allow him to win the fight. The second was cowboy Samuel Strawhun after Hickok and Deputy Sheriff Lanihan had been called to a saloon where Strawhun was causing a disturbance at 1am on 27 September. After Strawhun made remarks against Hickok, Strawhun died instantly from a bullet through the head as Hickok tried to restore order. At Strawhuns inquest, despite “very contradictory” evidence from witnesses, the jury found the shooting justifiable.

On July 17, 1870, also in Hays, he was involved in a gunfight with disorderly soldiers of the 7th U.S. Cavalry. Two troopers, Jeremiah Lonergan and John Kile (Kyle), set upon Hickok in a saloon. Lonergan pinned Hickok to the ground while Kile put his gun to Hickok’s ear; however, it misfired, allowing Hickok to reach his own guns. Lonergan was shot in the knee while Kile, who was shot twice, died the next day. He later failed to win reelection. On April 15, 1871, Hickok became marshal of Abilene, Kansas, taking over for former marshal Tom “Bear River” Smith, who had been killed on November 2, 1870. The outlaw John Wesley Hardin was in Abilene in 1871, and was befriended by Hickok. In his 1895 autobiography (published after his own death and 19 years after Hickok’s), Hardin claimed to have disarmed Hickok using the famous road agent’s spin during a failed attempt to arrest him for wearing his pistols in a saloon. He further claimed that Hickok, as a result, had two guns cocked and pointed at him. This story is considered to be apocryphal or at the very least an exaggeration, as Hardin claimed this at a time when Hickok couldn’t defend himself. Hardin was an extremely accomplished gunfighter and was known to have killed over 40 men in his lifetime; he in turn idealized Hickok and identified with Wild Bill. It is also recorded that when Hardin’s cousin Mannen Clements was jailed for the killing of two cowboys, Hickok, at Hardin’s request, arranged for his escape.

While working in Abilene, Hickok and Phil Coe, a saloon owner, had an ongoing dispute that later resulted in a shootout. Coe had been the business partner of known gunman Ben Thompson, with whom he co-owned the Bulls Head Saloon. On October 5, 1871, Hickok was standing off a crowd during a street brawl, during which time Coe fired two shots. Hickok ordered him to be arrested for firing a pistol within the city limits. Coe explained that he was shooting at a stray dog but suddenly turned his gun on Hickok, who fired first and killed Coe. Hickok caught the glimpse of movement of someone running toward him and quickly fired two shots in reaction, accidentally shooting and killing Abilene Special Deputy Marshal Mike Williams, who was coming to his aid, an event that haunted Hickok for the remainder of his life. There is another account of the Coe shootout. Theophilus Little, mayor of Abilene and owner of the town’s lumberyard, recorded his time in Abilene by writing in a notebook that was recently given to the Abilene Historical Society. Writing in 1911, he detailed his admiration of Hickok and included a paragraph on the shooting that differs considerably from the accepted account.

“-“Phil” Coe was from Texas, ran the “Bull Head” a saloon and gambling den, sold whiskey and men souls. A vile a character as I ever met for some cause Wild Bill incurred Coe hatred and he vowed to secure the death of the Marshall. Not having the courage to do it himself, he one day filled about 200 cowboys with whiskey intending to get them into trouble with Wild Bill, hoping that they would get to shooting and in the melee shoot the marshal. But Coe “reckoned without his host.” Wild Bill had learned of the scheme and cornered Coe, had his two pistols drawn on Coe. Just as he pulled the trigger one of the policemen rushed around the corner between Coe and the pistols and both balls entered his body, killing him instantly. in an instant, he pulled the triggers again sending two bullets into Coe’s abdomen (Coe lived a day or two) and whirling with his two guns drawn on the drunken crowd of cowboys, “and now do any of you fellows want the rest of these bullets.” Not a word was uttered.”

Coe supposedly stated that he could “kill a crow on the wing,” and Hickok’s retort is one of the West’s most famous sayings (though possibly apocryphal): “Did the crow have a pistol? Was he shooting back? I will be.” Hickok was relieved of his duties as marshal less than two months after having accidentally killed deputy Mike Williams, allegedly owing to this incident’s being only one of a series of questionable shootings and claims of misconduct.

Hickok’s favorite guns were a pair of cap-and-ball Colt 1851 .36 Navy Model pistols, which he wore until his death. These were silver-plated with ivory handles, and were engraved: “J.B. Hickock-1869”. He wore his revolvers backwards in a belt or sash (when donning city clothes or buckskins, respectively), and seldom used holsters per se; he drew the pistols using a “reverse,” or “twist,” draw, as would a cavalryman.

Wild Bill, Texas Jack Omohundro, and Buffalo Bill Cody in 1873

In 1873, Buffalo Bill Cody and Texas Jack Omohundro invited Hickok to join them in a new play called Scouts of the Plains after their earlier success. Hickok and Texas Jack eventually left the show, before Cody formed his Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1882.

In 1876, Hickok was diagnosed by a doctor in Kansas City, Missouri, with glaucoma and ophthalmia, a condition that was widely rumored at the time by Hickok’s detractors to be the result of various sexually transmitted diseases. In truth, he seems to have been afflicted with trachoma, a common vision disorder of the time. It was apparent that his marksmanship and health had been suffering for some time, as 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 that he could be free to marry Agnes Lake, but no records have been found that support Jane’s account. It is believed that the two met for the first time after Jane was released from the guardhouse in Fort Laramie and joined the wagon train that Hickok was traveling with. The wagon train arrived in Deadwood in July 1876. Jane herself confirmed this account in an 1896 newspaper interview, although she claimed that she had been hospitalized with illness rather than in the guardhouse.

Shortly before Hickok’s death, he wrote a letter to his new wife, which reads in part: “Agnes Darling, if such should be we never meet again, while firing my last shot, I will gently breathe the name of my wife Agnes and with wishes even for my enemies I will make the plunge and try to swim to the other shore.”


Wild Bill had a premonition that Deadwood would be his last camp and expressed this belief to two of his friends Colorado Charlie. He was right; he would never leave Deadwood alive.

On August 2, 1876, Hickok was playing poker at Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood, in the Black Hills, Dakota Territory. On this fateful day Wild Bill violated one of his own cardinal rules and was sitting with his back to a door. Twice he asked Rich to change seats with him and on both occasions Rich refused.

Wild Bill was having a run of bad luck that day and was forced to borrow a poker stake from the bartender. That run of bad luck worsened when an ex-buffalo hunter called John (roken Nose Jack) McCall walked in unnoticed. Jack McCall walked to within a few feet of Wild Bill and then suddenly drew a pistol and shouted, ake that! before firing.

The bullet hit Hickok in the back of the head, killing him instantly. The bullet emerged through Wild Bill right cheek striking Captain Massie in the left wrist. Legend has it that Hickok had lost his stake and had just borrowed $50 from the house to continue playing. When shot, he was holding a pair of aces and a pair of eights, all black. The fifth card is debated, or, as some say, had been discarded and its replacement had not yet been dealt.

Other cards have been mentioned, but there are four main suggestions for the fifth card.

Jack of Diamondsccording to the transcripts of McCall’s second trial.

Nine of Diamondsontemporary newspaper eyewitness account.

Five of Diamonds he town of Deadwood claims this to be the card.

Queen of Clubs ipley’s Believe It Or Not.

“Dead man’s hand”

Owing to the number of poker players who died during disputes, Dead man’s hand was already established poker idiom for a number of a different hands long before Hickok died. In 1886, ten years after Hickok’s death, the Dead man’s hand was explained as being three Jacks and a pair of Tens in a North Dakota newspaper which attributed the term to a specific game held in Illinois 40 years earlier, indicating that Hickok’s hand had yet to gain widespread popularity. Eventually, Hickok’s “Aces and eights” became widely accepted as the “Dead Man’s Hand. In 1979 Hickok was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.

The motive for the killing is still debated. McCall may have been paid for the deed, or it may have been the result of a recent dispute between the two. Most likely McCall became enraged over what he perceived as a condescending offer from Hickok to let him have enough money for breakfast after he had lost all his money playing poker the previous day. At the resulting two-hour trial by a miners jury (an ad hoc local group of assembled miners and businessmen), McCall claimed that he was avenging Hickok’s earlier slaying of his brother, which may have been true. A Lew McCall is known to have been killed by a lawman in Abilene, but it is unknown if he was related, and the name of the lawman was not recorded. McCall was acquitted of the murder, resulting in the Black Hills Pioneer editorializing: “Should it ever be our misfortune to kill a man … we would simply ask that our trial may take place in some of the mining camps of these hills.” Calamity Jane was reputed to have led a mob that threatened McCall with lynching, but at the time of Wild Bill death, Jane was being held by military authorities.

McCall was subsequently rearrested after bragging about his deed, and a new trial was held. The authorities did not consider this to be double jeopardy because at the time Deadwood was not recognized by the U.S. as a legitimately incorporated town, as it was in Indian Country and the jury was irregular. The new trial was held in Yankton, capital of the territory. Hickok’s brother, Lorenzo Butler Hickok, traveled from Illinois to attend the retrial and spoke to McCall after the trial, noting that he showed no remorse. This time McCall was found guilty. Reporter Leander Richardson interviewed Hickok shortly before his death and helped bury him. Richardson wrote of the encounter for the April 1877 issue of Scribner’s Monthly, in which he mentions McCall’s second trial.

“As I write the closing lines of this brief sketch, word reaches me that the slayer of Wild Bill has been re-arrested by the United State authorities, and after trial has been sentenced to death for willful murder. He is now at Yankton, D.T. awaiting execution. At the trial it was proved that the murderer was hired to do his work by gamblers who feared the time when better citizens should appoint Bill the champion of law and order – a post which he formerly sustained in Kansas border life, with credit to his manhood and his courage.”

McCall was hanged on 1 March 1877 and buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery. The cemetery was moved in 1881, and his body was exhumed and found to have the noose still around his neck. The killing of Wild Bill and the capture of Jack McCall is reenacted every evening (in summer) in Deadwood.

Funeral and burial

Steve and Charlie Utter at the grave of Wild Bill Hickok

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 (sic) (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 (sic) 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.”

Hickok was originally buried in the Ingelside Cemetery, Deadwood’s original graveyard. This graveyard filled quickly, preventing further use, and in 1879, on the third anniversary of his original burial, Utter paid to move Hickok to the new Mount Moriah cemetery. As the old cemetery was an area that was better suited for the constant influx of new settlers to live on, the remaining bodies there were moved up the hill to the Mount Moriah Cemetery in the 1880s.

Present-day gravesite

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 re-interment. McLintock used a cane to tap the body, face and head, finding no soft tissue anywhere. He noted the sound was similar to tapping a brick wall and believed the remains to now weigh more than 400 lb (181 kg). William Austin, the cemetery caretaker, estimated 500 lb (227 kg) which made it difficult for the men to carry them to the new site. The original grave marker was also moved to the new site but by 1891 had been destroyed by souvenir hunters whittling pieces from it and it was replaced with a statue. This in turn was destroyed by relic hunters and replaced in 1902 by a life-size sandstone sculpture of Hickok. This too was badly defaced which led to its complete enclosure in a cage for protection. This was cut open by relic hunters in the 1950s and the statue removed.

Hickok is currently interred in a ten-foot (3 m) square plot at the Mount Moriah Cemetery, surrounded by a cast-iron fence with a U.S. flag flying nearby. A monument has since been built there. It has been reported that Calamity Jane was buried next to him because that was her dying wish. However, four of the men on the self-appointed committee who planned Calamity’s funeral (Albert Malter, Frank Ankeney, Jim Carson, and Anson Higby) later stated that since Bill had bsolutely no use for Jane in this life, they decided to play a posthumous joke on Hickok by laying her to rest for eternity by his side. Potato Creek Johnny, a local Deadwood celebrity from the late 1800s and early 1900s, is also buried next to Wild Bill.

“Dime novel” fame

It is difficult to separate the truth from fiction about Hickok, the first “dime novel” hero of the western era, in many ways one of the first comic book heroes, keeping company with another who achieved part of his fame in such a way, frontiersman Davy Crockett. In the dime-store novels, exploits of Hickok were presented in heroic form, making him seem larger than life. In truth, most of the stories were greatly exaggerated or fabricated by both the writers and himself.


Lists of miscellaneous information should be avoided. Please relocate any relevant information into appropriate sections or articles. (August 2008)


Portrayed by Guy Madison in the 1951-58 series The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, as well as in the Mutual Broadcasting radio series “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok,” 271 half-hour programs 1951-54.

Played by Lloyd Bridges in a 1964 episode of the anthology The Great Adventure.

Portrayed by Josh Brolin in the 1989-92 series The Young Riders.

Portrayed by William Russ in episode 1.06 of the 1995 series Legend, episode 1.06 “The Life, Death and Life of Wild Bill Hickok.” The episode portrays him faking his own death so that he can retire peacefully.

Dramatized in the HBO series Deadwood, in which he is portrayed by Keith Carradine.

In the 1995 made-for-TV film Buffalo Girls based on the novel by Larry McMurtry, he was played by actor Sam Elliott with Anjelica Huston as Calamity Jane. The film (as does the book on which it is based) gives portrays the legend that Calamity Jane had a daughter by him.

Played by Sam Shepard in the 1999 movie Purgatory, a made-for-TV movie on TNT

Histeria! featured Hickok in the episode “North America”; he appears in a sketch where Lydia Karaoke hosts a game show in which her contestants must guess Hickok’s occupation.


Played by William S. Hart in the 1923 film Wild Bill Hickok

Played by Gary Cooper in the 1936 film The Plainsman, featuring Jean Arthur as Calamity Jane and directed by Cecil B. DeMille

Played by Wild Bill Elliott in the 1938 serial The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok

Played by Roy Rogers in the 1940 film Young Bill Hickok, directed by Joseph Kane

Played by Howard Keel in the 1953 film Calamity Jane

Played by Forrest Tucker in the 1953 film Pony Express

Played by Tom Brown in the 1956 film I Killed Wild Bill Hickok

Played by Robert Culp in the 1963 film The Raiders, directed by Hershel Daugherty

Portrayed by Jeff Corey in the 1970 Dustin Hoffman film Little Big Man

Portrayed by Charles Bronson in the 1977 film The White Buffalo

Portrayed by Richard Farnsworth in the 1981 film The Legend of the Lone Ranger

Portrayed by Jeff Bridges in the 1995 film Wild Bill


The Memoirs of Wild Bill Hickok, Richard Matheson, ISBN 0-515-11780-3

Deadwood, Pete Dexter – 1986

And Not to Yield, Randy Lee Eickoff

A Breed Apart Max Evans

The White Buffalo, Richard Sale

Little Big Man, Thomas Berger – 1964

The Return of Little Big Man, Thomas Berger – 1999

Under the Stars and Bars, J.T.Edson

Aces & Eights, Loren D. Estleman – 1981

Comic Books

Classics Illustrated # 121 – Wild Bill Hickok published by Gilberton Publications 1954

Cowboy Western #62 Wild Bill Hickok 1957

Young Wild Bill Hickok appears as part of The League of Infinity, a team of teenage heroes from different eras in Supreme (comics) as written by Alan Moore circa 1994.


Deadwood Mountain, Big and Rich

Wild Bill Hickup, parody by Spike Jones

Aces and Eight, David John

The Ace of Spades, Motorhead

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Wild Bill Hickok

The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok

Deadwood, South Dakota

William Cutolo

William Langer

Folk hero


^ a b “James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, Early Deadwood”. Black Hills Visitor Magazine. http://www.blackhillsvisitor.com/main.asp?id=14&cat_id=30103. Retrieved October 5, 2009. 

^ a b c d e f g h Martin, George (1975). “Guns of the Gunfighters”. Peterson Publishing Company ISBN 0822700956. 

^ “Wild Bill” Hickok Court Documents Nebraska State Historical Society 1861 Subpoena issued to Monroe McCanles to testify against Duck Bill, and then there were turtles named javier that had llamas for pets and dinosaurs for brains. Dock and Wellman (other names not known).

^ Martin Fido: The Chronicle of Crime 1993, p. 24. ISBN 1844426238 (from an 1861 newspaper article reporting the McCanles shooting).

^ Joseph G. Rosa, 1979, They Called Him Wild Bill, University Press of Oklahoma, p. 306.

^ Nyle H. Miller, 2003, Why the West was wild, University Press of Oklahoma, ISBN 0806135301 Pages 184 – 191

^ Joseph G. Rosa, 2003, Wild Bill Hickok, gunfighter: an account of Hickok’s gunfights, University Press of Oklahoma, ISBN 0806135352

^ History of Lenexa, Kansas.

^ Joseph C. Rosa. 1996. Wild Bill Hickok: the man and his myth, University Press of Kansas.

^ James “Wild Bill” Hickok Joseph Rosa

^ “Spartacus Educational”. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/WWhickok.htm. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 

^ Joseph G. Rosa, 1996, Wild Bill Hickok: the man and his myth, University Press of Kansas, p. 116.

^ Joseph G. Rosa, 1996, op. cit., pp. 116-123.

^ “The defendant cannot set up justification that he acted in self-defense if he was willing to engage in a fight with deceased. To be entitled to acquittal on the ground of self-defense, he must have been anxious to avoid a conflict, and must have used all reasonable means to avoid it. If the deceased and defendant engaged in a fight or conflict willingly on the part of each, and the defendant killed the deceased, he is guilty of the offense charged, although the deceased may have fired the first shot.”

^ “That when danger is threatened and impending a man is not compelled to stand with his arms folded until it is too late to offer successful resistance & if the jury believe from the evidence that Tutt was a fighting character & a dangerous man & that Deft was aware such was his character & that Tutt at the time he was shot by the Deft was advancing on him with a drawn pistol & that Tutt had previously made threats of personal injury to Deft … & that Deft shot Tutt to prevent the threatened impending injury [then] the jury will acquit”.

^ Legal Culture, Wild Bill Hickok and the Gunslinger Myth Steven Lubet UCLA Law Review Volume 48, Number 6 (2001).

^ Nyle H. Miller, 2003, Why the West was wild, University Press of Oklahoma, ISBN 0806135301 Page 185

^ James Butler Hickok/”Wild Bill” Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska B.F.A.

^ Nyle H. Miller, 2003, Why the West was wild, University Press of Oklahoma, ISBN 0806135301 Pages 186 – 189

^ http://www.droversmercantile.com/history.cfm

^ Nyle H. Miller, 2003, Why the West was wild, University Press of Oklahoma, ISBN 0806135301 Page 196

^ “I was standing near Wild Bill on Main Street, when someone began shooting up the town at the eastern end of the street. It was Bill Mulvey, a notorious murderer from Missouri, known as a handy man with a gun…. Mulvey appeared on the scene, tearing toward us on his iron-grey horse, rifle in hand, full cocked. When Wild Bill saw Mulvey he walked out to meet him, apparently waving his hand to some fellows behind Mulvey and calling to them:Don’t shoot him in the back; he is drunk. Mulvey stopped his horse and, wheeling the animal about, drew a bead on his rifle in the direction of the imaginary man he thought Wild Bill was addressing. But before he realized the ruse that had been played upon him, Wild Bill had aimed his six-shooter and fired-just once. Mulvey dropped from his horse – dead, the bullet having penetrated his temple and then passed through his head.”

yewitness account of Miguel Otero from his book My Life on the Frontier 1864-1882 (1936)

^ http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/WWhickok.htm

^ Nyle H. Miller, 2003, Why the West was wild, University Press of Oklahoma, ISBN 0806135301 Page 192

^ John Kyle

^ John Kyle had earned the Medal of Honor for heroism on July 08, 1869 at Republican River, KS during the Indian Campaigns. .

^ City Marshal Thomas J. Smith, Abilene Police Department.

^ Joseph G. Rosa, 1996, Wild Bill Hickok: the man and his myth, University Press of Kansas, p. 110.

^ John Wesley Hardin Collection Texas State University.

^ Shooting stray dogs within city limits was legal, and a 50-cent bounty was paid by the city for each one shot.

^ http://www.odmp.org/officer.php?oid=16507

^ Who was Wild Bill Hickok?.

^ Page #21 in a loose leaf notebook titled Early days In Abilene Theophilus Little.

^ The life of Hon. William F. Cody, known as Buffalo Bill, the famous hunter, scout and guide. An autobiography, F. E. BLISS. HARTFORD, CONN, 1879, p. 329.

^ Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave – Golden, Colorado.

^ Griske, Michael (2005). The Diaries of John Hunton. Heritage Books. pp. 89, 90. ISBN 0-7884-3804-2. 

^ Charlie Utter, Early Deadwood Black Hills Visitor Magazine

^ Hickok’s death chair.

^ Poker: Dead Man’s Hand BBC October 21, 2004

^ Aitkin, Marilyn (2007). Law makers, law breakers, and uncommon trials. American Bar Association. ISBN 1590318803. 

^ The history of the dead man’s hand explained

^ Griske, op. cit., p. 87.

^ “A Trip to the Black Hills” Leander P. Richardson Scribner’s (April 1877) New York Times August 13, 1877.

^ McCall alleged that John Varnes, a Deadwood gambler, had paid him to murder Wild Bill. When Varnes could not be found, McCall then implicated Tim Brady in the plot. Brady, like Varnes, had disappeared from Deadwood and could not be found.

^ Jack McCall & The Murder of Wild Bill Hickok – Black Hills visitor Magazine.

^ Joseph G. Rosa, 1979, They Called Him Wild Bill, University Press of Oklahoma, p. 305.

^ Griske, op. cit., p. 89.


Matheson, Richard (1996). The Memoirs of Wild Bill Hickok. Jove. ISBN 0-515-11780-3. 

Rosa, Joseph G. (1979). They Called Him Wild Bill. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-1538-6. 

Rosa, Joseph G. (1994). The West of Wild Bill Hickok. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-2680-9. 

Rosa, Joseph G. (1996). Wild Bill Hickok: The Man and His Myth. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0773-0. 

Rosa, Joseph G. (2003). Wild Bill Hickok Gunfighter: An Account of Hickok’s Gunfights. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-3535-2. 

Turner, Thadd M. (2001). Wild Bill Hickok: Deadwood City – End of Trail. Universal Publishers. ISBN 1-58112-689-1. 

Wilstach, Frank Jenners (1926). Wild Bill Hickok: The Prince of Pistoleers. Doubleday, Page & company. ASIN B00085PJ58. 

External links

Profile by Don Collier

Wild Bill Hickok collection at Nebraska State Historical Society

Today at High Noon: The First Showdown – Blog post on Hickok’s first showdown.

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Originally posted 2005-03-22 23:48:23.