I also wrote a bit about his firearms in my sketch on rugerforum.com
October 1, 2012, 11:23 PM
Thanks > Great information!!!
October 1, 2012, 11:24 PM
I bet Hickock45 from youtube would love to have those.
October 2, 2012, 12:47 AM
No real editing or proofreading; forgive the typos.
The Death of Wild Bill: Yet another legend falls to a back shooter
We have discussed some, certainly not all, of the events that make up the legendary figure, James Butler Hickock's life. Our next sketch will tell of his death. The first thing I want to do is to post up a short but exemplary account of the man known forever as Wild Bill in a gunfight in 1869 in Hays City, Kansas. It is from Governor Otero who was there. Admittedly he was given to flights of fancy but I suspect the Governor is giving us the straight on this episode, maybe not.
A rare eyewitness account:
"'Don't shoot him in the back; he is drunk.'
In 1869 thirty-two-year-old Wild Bill Hickok was marshal of Hays City Kansas. Miguel Otero witnessed one of the exploits that would make Wild Bill a legend:
"I was an eye-witness to Wild Bill's encounter with Bill Mulvey, and shall relate the details as they linger in my mind:
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. He had just enough red liquor in him to be mean and he seemed to derive great amusement from shooting holes into the mirrors, as well as the bottles of liquor behind the bars, of the saloons in that section of the street. As was usually the case with such fellows, he was looking for trouble, and when someone told him that Wild Bill was the town marshal and therefore it behooved him to behave himself, Mulvey swore that he would find Wild Bill and shoot him on sight. He further averred that the marshal was the very man he was looking for and that he had come to the 'damn' town' for the express purpose of killing him.
The tenor of these remarks was somehow made known to Wild Bill. But hardly had the news reached him than 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."
The very first newspaper account of Wild Bill's murder:
"ASSASSINATION OF WILD BILL HE WAS SHOT THROUGH THE HEAD
BY JOHN MC CALL
WHILE UNAWARE OF DANGER
ARREST, TRIAL, & DISCHARGE
OF THE ASSASSIN
WHO CLAIMS TO HAVE AVENGED
A BROTHER'S DEATH
IN KILLING WILD BILL
The text read: "On Wednesday about 3 o'clock the report stated that J.B. Hickok (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, "damn 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. "
On August 2, 1876 at 3 pm in the afternoon James Butler Hickok, The Prince of Pistoleers, would depart this earth. As Wild Bill himself expected, he died of lead poisoning. However, it was not in a fight but in an assassination by a lowly coward whom just the day before had been given meal money by Wild Bill. So many of these characters died by violence but were actually victims of worthless acts of cowardice. Wes Hardin, Jesse James, Wild Bill, spring right to my mind. J.B. Hickok however was no outlaw in the common sense of the term. Of course, he lived a bit on the edge in money matters and was no doubt involved in a bit of graft here and there but overall, especially if you read his letters, he was a God fearin' man with reasonable ethics given his era of life. And as I have said before, he was the real deal and had indeed engaged in more than one straight up gunfight. And in multiple gun-battles. We will later examine his fight with Davis "Dave" Tutt in 1865, a matter of honor.
Of course, hyperbole has been heaped upon Wild Bill, indeed even in his lifetime much exaggeration of his daring deeds has been splashed onto the printed page. But then we get the inevitable cretins who roll in to correct the record and set things straight. These panty waists inevitably send the pendulum about a mile too far. Look at Hickok at Pea Ridge. "Hickok worked for the Union during the Civil War. At various times he acted as a scout, a spy, a detective, a special policeman and a sharpshooter. He served the Union well, especially at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Ark., March 6-8, 1862, when his accurate sharpshooting from a post high above Cross Timber Hollow snuffed out several Confederates." Yep. These debunkers should asked Dave Tutt, McCanles, Phillip Coe, Bill Mulvey, Samuel Strawhun, etc. if Hickok stories were totally false. He killed them all and more in gun battles. I suspect he killed no less than seven men, maybe more.
(The more I type here, the more I recall, and the more I despise the writers who have set out on a course to show the clay feet of old time gunmen/outlaws/lawmen. Bloodless cowards, the lot of them. I spent countless days sitting in musty old archives, craphole courthouses, visiting with VERY old folks who recounted stories handed down from ancestors. I am telling you that Pink Higgins, Commodore Perry Owens, Kid Curry, J.W. Hardin, etc., etc., etc. fought aplenty. I have never claimed that the Gary Cooper in High Noon battles were fought but the battles of a different sort took place. No doubt. If ever queried about such battles by these human turnips, bring up the "Newton General Massacre" and ask them if they know much about it and its aftermath. (Remember the duel to the death between a brother of a victim there and a perpetrator?)
It seems appropriate to begin with a note on Bill's weapons in Deadwood, D.T.
"Besides Hickok's obvious liking for Colt Navy revolvers, at various times he was armed with, or proficient in the use of, Colt's Model 1848 Dragoon. By the early 1870s, however, the introduction of centerfire and rimfire revolvers to replace the still popular percussion, or cap-and-ball, arms was led in the United States by Smith & Wesson. That company's No. 3 model in .44 rimfire, which broke open to load or eject its cartridges, was superseded by Colt's New Model Army revolver, the 'Peacemaker.' Hickok did not get his hands on the latter, but when, in March 1874, he left Buffalo Bill's theatrical Combination, William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody and Texas Jack Omohundro presented him with a pair of Smith & Wesson No. 3 'American' revolvers. Later that year it was reported from Colorado that Hickok carried them, but by the time he reached Deadwood in Dakota Territory, they had disappeared and he either had the old cap-and-ball Navy revolvers or perhaps a pair of Colt's transitional rimfire or centerfire revolvers known as 'conversions' ."
My guess is both. I think he probably had his old Colt's Navy revolvers and his newer Colt's cartridge conversion revolvers. The fact is, as noted by multiple folks, that Wild Bill put on regular displays of outstanding marksmanship. He did this before witnesses and in the camp of his dear friend Colorado Charley Utter. Udder would forever refer to Bill as "Pard'".
James Butler Hickok showed up in the absolutely marvelous Black Hills at Deadwood, D.T. on or around July 11, 1876. He came with a large party to prospect, so he wrote his wife. I do not see Bill as much of a prospector. I suspect it was much the same as other the other characters of the old west variety. He loved the action of the raucous towns that sprang up from the gold camps. They were filled with all kinds of vice. Gamblers, grifters, soiled doves, gunmen, thieves, were all accounted. The issue that quickly presented itself involved Wild Bill's presence and the possibility of a group wanting to draft him as a lawmen. This struck fear into the crooked businessmen of the town. Bill set up his camp with Colorado Charlie and as mentioned earlier put on regular displays of his marksmanship despite slightly dimming eyesight. He prospected little although maybe just a bit, as he wrote his wife of so doing.
"A week before Wild Bill's death he was heard to remark to a friend, I feel that my days are numbered; my days are sinking fast; I know I shall be killed here, something tells me I know I shall never leave these Hills alive; somebody is going to kill me. But I don't know who it is or why he is going to do it. I have killed many men in my day but I have never killed a man yet but what is was kill or get killed with me. . ."
He wrote to his wife a week or so before his death:
"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."
It seems he indeed lover her.
In late July a new arrival showed up in Deadwood, "Jack (John) McCall, also known as "Crooked Nose” Jack, would probably have never been remembered in history if he hadn’t shot Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood, South Dakota. Not specifically an "outlaw," McCall was more notorious for his drunkenness and stupidity, and perhaps as a scoundrel. "
Death followed with him.
"Soon after his arrival in Deadwood, he was drinking at the bar at Nuttall and Mann’s No. 10 Saloon on August 1, 1876. Getting steadily drunk, he watched as Wild Bill Hickok played poker at a full table. When one of the players dropped out, McCall quickly took his place. Drunk and overmatched, McCall lost hand after hand until he had not a dime left in his pocket. Hickok then gave McCall some money to buy himself something to eat and advised him not to play again until he could cover his losses. Though McCall accepted the money, he felt insulted."
While old Bill was no longer the sharp gambler he had been in the past he could easily outmatch a 'punk', like McCall. (Bill was not making much of living at gambling anymore, just getting by.) It is my belief that either this "insult" or the very real possibility of his being a paid assassin, paid by the town's vice lords, are the two most likely reasons for his cowardly murder.
"Deadwood Gulch was filling to the brim with humanity that summer, all looking for the same thing: gold. Main Street rang with the sounds of the constant construction of retail stores, saloons, brothels, and hotels. The breeze was sweet with the smell of fresh cut pine and the sweat of hard work. The street, a trail blazed along the creek where miners and prospectors toiled long hours, was a muddy path cut deep by the ruts of heavy wagons and horse hoofs. The town was rife with lawlessness and home to several noted killers of the time. The lower section of town, the north end, became known as the badlands as the seedier establishments congregated together to attract those searching for “recreation.”
Wild Bill was known to frequent those establishments that summer, in particular to join a card game on a regular basis. He was always careful to sit with his back against the wall as there was always someone looking to make a name for himself by ending the famous gunman’s life. On August 2nd, shortly after noon, Bill made his way down from the covered wagon he called home to the No.10 Saloon where he greeted the bartender, Harry Young, and made his way to a table where a game was already in progress. He was wearing his typical black frock coat and hat, his mustache and long brown hair flowing in fine fashion. Around the table sat Carl Mann, Captain Massie and Charles Rich, leaving one seat open, back to the door.
Bill asked Charlie Rich to change places, but he laughed and refused as he was winning and had no desire to change his luck, so Bill sat down on the fated stool. He hadn’t been playing long [actually it was around 3pm, so it must have been around 3 hours] when a drifter by the name of Jack McCall entered the room. Jack circled the table and then as he made his way around Bill’s back he swiftly drew a pistol and shouting “Damn you, take that!” shot him in the back of the head. Wild Bill Hickok, Prince of the Pistoleers, folded forward onto the table splaying his cards, black aces and eights, forever known as the “deadman’s hand.” [For those who might be interested, that fifth card was most likely a jack-of-diamonds.]
The bullet traveled through Bill’s head and struck Massie in the left wrist. McCall waved his gun wildly and attempted to shoot others in the bar but his gun wouldn’t fire so he backed out the rear entrance." He cursed the patrons as he left. "Come on ye sons of b--ches!"
He ran out and out and jacked a horse but it's saddle had been loosened in the heat and it shifted dumping him right on his head. He ran down the street gasping for air widly and followed fast by a mob screaming "Will Bill is shot!" "Wild Bill is dead!". He dove headlong into Jacob Shroudy's butcher's shop. A frontiersman with a big Sharp's rifle jammed its muzzle into McCall mug and he decided giving up was the proper move.
Wild Bill was killed instantly, a table mate stated how that he never moved a muscle.
While likely not 100% accurate, the following was written by Leander P. Richardson, in his article "A Trip to the Black Hills," in 1877. He was a contemporary who was there, it seems fitting:
"I had been in town only a few moments when I met Charley Utter, better known in the West as "Colorado Charley," to whom I had a letter of introduction, and who at once invited me to share his camp while I remained in the region. On our way to his tent, we met J.B. Hickock, "Wild Bill," the hero of a hundred battles. Bill was Utter's "pardner," and I was introduced at once. Of course I had heard of him, the greatest scout in the West, but I was not prepared to find such a man as he proved to be. Most of the Western scouts do not amount to much. They do a great deal in the personal reminiscence way, but otherwise they are generally of the class described as "frauds." In "Wild Bill," I found a man who talked little and had done a great deal. He was about six-feet two inches in height, and very powerfully built; his face was intelligent, his hair blonde, and falling in long ringlets upon his broad shoulders; his eyes, blue and pleasant looked one straight in the face when he talked; and his lips, thin and compressed, were only partly hidden by a straw-colored moustache. His costume was a curiously blended union of the habiliments of the borderman and the drapery of the fashionable dandy. Beneath the skirts of his elaborately embroidered buckskin coat gleamed the handles of two silver-mounted revolvers, which were his constant companions. His voice was low and musical, but through its hesitation I could catch a ring of self-reliance and consciousness of strength. Yet he was the most courteous man I had met on the plains. On the following day I asked to see him use a pistol and he assented. At his request I tossed a tomato can about 15 feet into the air, both his pistols being in his belt when it left my hand. He drew one of them, and fired two bullets through the tin can before it struck the ground. Then he followed it along, firing as he went, until both weapons were empty. You have heard the expression "quick as lightning?" Well, that will describe "Wild Bill." He was noted all over the country for rapidity of motion, courage, and certainty of aim. Wherever he went he controlled the people around him, and many a quarrel has been ended by his simple announcement "This has gone far enough." Early in the forenoon of my third day in Deadwood, word was brought over to camp that he had been killed. We went immediately to the scene, and found that the report was true. He had been sitting at a table playing cards, when a dastardly assassin came up behind, put a revolver to his head and fired, killing his victim instantly. That night a miner's meeting was called, the prisoner was brought before it, his statement was heard, and he was discharged, put on a fleet horse, supplied with arms, and guarded out of town.* The next day, "Colorado Charley" took charge of the remains of the great scout, and announced that the funeral would occur at his camp. The body was clothed in a full suit of broad cloth, the hair brushed back from the pallid cheek. Beside the dead hero lay his rifle, which was buried with him. The funeral ceremony was brief and touching, hundreds of rough miners standing around the bier with bowed heads and tear-dimmed eyes, -- for with the better class "Wild Bill" had been a great favorite. At the close of the ceremony the coffin was lowered into a new made grave on the hill-side -- the first in Deadwood. And so ended the life of "Wild Bill," -- a man whose supreme physical courage had endeared him to nearly all with whom he came in contact, and made his name a terror to every Indian west of the Missouri." *He added this footnote: 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 trail 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 murdered 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 saved from being hung on the spot by a great curiosity. Picture this:
An angry mob has him and is dragging the frightened beyond words coward down the "street" toward a loan tree with a large and already knotted rope. They are closing in on the tree when outta nowhere riding leisurely toward them comes a sight that had to be sen to be believed, a Mexican vaquero, in full mexican regalia, riding along brandishing the severed head of an Indian. Clotted blood and all. . . He is riding along swinging the head by the hair, neck and all! The mob is dumbstruck. Stopped in their tracks by this sight. Apparently the Mexican misunderstood the $50 bounty on Indian scalps offered and took head, neck, and all. . . so the story purveyed by Kuykendall, goes. . . McCall is secured in a cabin and quickly brought before a hastily drawn "miner's court", before which he claims Wild Bill killed his brother in Abilene. Very likely BS, as it seems he had no brother. (Although a Lew McCall was killed in Kansas by a lawman, nothing proves it was his brother or even that the lawman was Bill.) As I stated, I suspect vice lords or his hurt feeling lead to his cowardly action. Anyway, he was set free and shortly left the area, later officials in Yankton took him in and dismissed the miner's court verdict as invalid. They put him on trial, properly. From the news accounts, here is a representation of what occurred:
This is the text from The Press and Dakotan Newspaper (Yankton – Dakota Territory) reporting on the trial of Jack McCall for the murder of William “Wild Bill” Hickok.
From December 6, 1876
A CALL FOR McCALL
The Authorities Want Him to Show why he Killed Wild Bill
The First Murder case in the Black Hills
Yesterday’s Proceedings Before the United States Court
The case of the United States against Jack McCall, charged with the murder of Wm. Hickock (Wild Bill) in the Black Hills on the 2nd day of August 1876, came on in the United States court at ten o’clock yesterday morning. Judge Shannon presiding. Col. Pound is counsel for the prosecution and Oliver Shannon and Gen. Beadle for the defense. At the appointed hour a small crowd, largely witnesses and jurors, had assembled in the court room, but no unusual interest seemed to be manifested in the case. The prisoner was brought into court by Marshal Burdick and a couple of deputies, with irons upon his wrists, which were, however removed after he had taken his seat within the bar. He manifested no excitement or emotions, though there was a trace of anxiety exhibited in his general demeanor when first brought into court. The prisoner does not appear to be over twenty-five years of age, is about the medium height and of slender build. His face is one which wouldn’t not recommend him to a casual observer as a man free of guilt, while his actions made it manifest that he is possessed of a fair share of animal courage. After he had been in court long enough to become accustomed to his new situation he put on a bold frost and careless air, conversing freely with his attorneys and carrying the manner of one who was arraigned for a trifling offense against the law. As the examination of the jury proceeded and the box began to fill with those who were to decide the questions of life or death for him, McCall began to exhibit symptoms of nervousness. He scanned closely with his sharp, eager eyes the face of each juror, as he took his seat and then anxiously awaited the appearance of the next candidate for examination as to his qualifications to act in the case.
The clerk read to the jury the following indictment:
United States of America,
Territory of Dakota
In District Court in and for the Second Judicial District. October Term 1876.
The Untied States vs. John McCall, alias Jack McCall.
The petit jurors of the United States of America, within and for the second judicial district of Dakota territory, upon their oaths present, that on the 2nd day of August, in the year of our Lord 1876, in the Sioux Indian reservation set apart under the treaty proclaimed Feb. 24th 1869, at a place in said reservation called Deadwood in said district and territory, said reservation, then and there being, in the Indian country, and a place within the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the Untied States and within the jurisdiction of this court, one John McCall, alias Jack McCall, late of said district and territory, yeoman, with force and arms in and upon one William Hickock, alias Wild Bill, feloniously, will fully and of his malice afore thought did make assault; and that the said John McCall, with a certain revolver pistol, then and there charged with gunpowder and a leaden bullet, which said revolver pistol he the said John McCall in his right hand then and there had and held at and against the said William Hickock, then and there feloniously and willfully and with malice aforethought did shoot off and discharge and that the said John McCall, with the leaden bullet aforesaid, by means of shooting off and discharging, the said revolver pistol so loaded, to, and against the said Wm. Hickock as aforesaid, did then and there feloniously and willfully and of his malice aforethought strike and penetrate and wound the said Wm. Hickock in and through the head of him, the said William Hickock, giving him, the said Wm. Hickock, then and there, with the leaden bullet aforesaid, by means of shooting off and discharging the said revolver pistol so loaded to, at and against the said Wm. Hickock, and by such, striking, penetrating and wounding the said William Hickock as aforesaid one mortal wound in and through the head of him, the said Wm. Hickock, of which said mortal wound the said Wm. Hickock did then and there instantly die, and so the jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the said John McCall the said Wm. Hickock in the manner and form aforesaid, feloniously, willfully and of his malice aforethought, did kill and murder, contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided against the peace and dignity of the Untied States.
Witness – H.H. Reed, J.J. Jenkins, George M. Shingle
The jury being duly sworn, the court gave them into the hands of the U.S. Marshal, remanded the prisoner to jail and recess was taken until 2 o’clock p.m.
There was a large attendance of spectators in the court in the afternoon and a quiet interest in the proceedings was manifested.
THE TESIMONY OF THE PROSECTION.
George M. Shingle testified:
I reside in Cheyenne and have lived there nine months. On the 2nd of August I was at Deadwood in the Black Hills. I knew a man named Wild Bill and had known him since 1866 by that name and by his right name, Hickock. He was best known by the name of Wild Bill. He is dead. He died in Deadwood on the 2nd day of August, 1876. Deadwood is on Whitewood creek I think. It was at that time a place of 4000 population, I should think. On the 2nd day of August in a saloon at Deadwood kept by Carl Mann and Jerry Lewis, Wild Bill was there playing cards. There was a party of 3 or 4 others sitting at the same table. I was in the room at the time. I saw a man come in the saloon who is here now. It is the defendant here present. He walked towards the back door of the saloon. When within 3 or 4 feet of the door he turned and came up behind Wild Bill. He put a pistol within 2 or 3 feet of Wild Bill’s head and fired. As he fired he said, “take that.” The ball entered the back part of Wild Bill’s head and came out of the right cheek entering the left wrist of Captain Massey. The shot killed Wild Bill almost instantly. He did not move and said nothing. He sat in the chair a couple of minutes and then fell over backwards. I made an examination of Wild Bill and found him dead. The saloon stood nearly the same as this court house, with a door in each and and bar and tables inside. The table where Bill sat was nearly in the middle of the room. He was facing the bar. When the defendant came in I was weighing out gold dust.
The council for the defense here requested that the witness for the prosecution who are not on the stand leave the court room while any one of their number is being examined. The request was granted so far as it applied to witnesses to the main facts.
Shingle continued – After firing the defendant walked backward toward the back door, with his revolver in his hand hold it up. As I went to look at Bill, McCall pointed the revolver at me and snapped it. I got out of the house. Carl Mann was the only one left in the house, and McCall. Saw the defendant a half an hour later, when he was arrested. Was present at the trial, which was held in a theater building in Deadwood on the third day of August. McCall said to the court that he had killed Wild Bill and that he was glad of it, and if he had to do over he would do the same thing – that Bill had killed a brother of his and he did it for revenge. The weapon used was a Sharps improved revolver 18 inches long with a piece of buckskin sewed around the stock.
Cross Examined – I said I was weighing out gold dust. The room where the bar was was twenty four feet wide. The bar took up about 8 feet of the room and was twenty feet long. I was standing at the end of the bar. The room was about eighty feet long. Bill was sitting with his back to the back door and fronting the bar. McCall got around alongside of this partition and came up behind Bill. Captain Massey and Wild Bill were having a dispute about the game and I looked up, when I saw McCall in the act of shooting. Wild Bill was prospecting most of the time in the Hills. He did not keep a faro bank. I know of Bill killing three men, but in self defense and was tried and acquitted. He was a constant drinker. I saw the defendant in Deadwood, but was not acquainted with him. Wild Bill was sober when this shooting occurred. Could not say that McCall was drunk. I do not know that he was staggering from drunkenness after the shooting. I saw him going up the street with his pistol in his hand clearing his way, I don’t know he was drunk. The killing occurred about three or four o’clock p.m. Eight persons were in the room when the shooting occurred. The affair caused great excitement and a crowd gathered. McCall was acquitted on his trial in Deadwood. There were lawyers and a Judge present and a jury of twelve men. I was there through the whole trial. There was an attorney for the prosecution and for the defense. I don’t know that there were any inducements held out to cause McCall to say that he had killed Wild Bill.
Carl Mann testified.
I reside at Deadwood and was there August 2nd of this year. The place was then a town of two hundred houses, and perhaps two thousand or more people. It is on White Wood creek. Gayville is about a mile and a half west of Deadwood gulch. Crook City is very nearly east of Deadwood – a little north of east. Bear Butte is a little north of east from Crook City. Deadwood may be about eight miles farther west than Bear Butte. On the second of last August I had a house in Deadwood. There was a saloon there that some of them said that I was keeping. I do not know as I ought to answer questions about my keeping a saloon as it might get me into trouble. There was a building there which I had an interest in and I knew a man named Wild Bill. Saw both him and defendant that day at that building. Know of a shooting affair there that day. It was after dinner, about three o’clock probably. Three of us were playing cards with Wild Bill. I heard some body walking on the floor and as I looked up I saw defendant raise a pistol and fire it at Wild Bills head. It kind of knocked Bill’s head forward and then he fell gradually back. I saw where a bullet came out on his face before he fell. The pistol was from one foot to eighteen inches from Bill’s head. It was a navy size revolver. The same ball hit Capt. Massie in the arm. I slipped off to get something to defend myself with. All went out of my house. McCall pointed his pistol on me and head it on me all the time. He went out before I did. Do not know of any inducements to defendant to confess. Heard men said that if McCall got up and said Wild Bill killed his brother the jury would clear him. Did not hear anybody say so to McCall. McCall said Wild Bill had killed his brother and he had killed Bill. Did not hear him say anything about doing it again. Saw McCall only twice before this happened and in this house. Bill was there and McCall weighed out some gold dust to get some chips to play poker with Bill and others. McCall won $23 or $24. Am not certain of the amount. He then went out doors and came back and played again. After playing a short time he took a purse from his pocket and bet five or six dollars and Bill bet twenty or twenty five more McCall shoved his purse further onto the board and says “I call you.” Bill won and they came to the bar and asked me to weigh out $20 or $25. The purse was $16.50 short. Bill said “you owe me $16.25.” McCall said “yes,” and went out. He came back shortly after and Bill said “did I break you?” McCall said “yes.” Bill gave him all the change he had, 75 cents, to buy his supper with and told him that if he quit winner in the game he was playing he would give him more. McCall would not take the money and went out in fifteen or twenty minutes.
The cross examination developed nothing new.
Court adjourned until this morning at 9 o’clock, at the conclusion of Mr. Massie’s testimony, and the jury was placed in charge of the proper officers.
This is the text from the Press and Dakotan Newspaper (Yankton – Dakota Territory) reporting on the trial of Jack McCall for the murder of William “Wild Bill” Hickok.
From December 7, 1876
THE VERDICT IS MURDER
And Wild Bill’s Slayer Must Give His Life for His Deed.
Yesterday morning in the United States court the case of the people against Jack McCall, charged with the murder of Wild Bill, was resumed.
The motion made the day previous by the counsel for the defense, that the prisoner be discharged, on the ground that a true copy of the indictment had not been furnished by the prosecuting attorney was overruled by the court. A further motion to the effect that the case was outside the jurisdiction of this court was also overruled.
In the afternoon Col. Pound opened with his argument and was followed by Messrs Shannon and Beadle, counsel for the defense. At seven o’clock last evening, Judge Shannon delivered his charge to the jury. The jury then retired and remained out until nearly midnight, when they reentered the court room and announced their verdict to be that the prisoner was guilty of murder. The penalty in this case is death by hanging. No time has yet been fixed for sentencing the convicted man.
McCall was hanged in short order, his last words were, "could ya tighten the rope, sheriff".
[Addendum: no idea what "a Sharps improved revolver 18 inches long with a piece of buckskin sewed around the stock", is.]
October 2, 2012, 01:06 AM
The 1851 Navy revolver pictured in this post was one of a pair given to "Wild Bill," and is presently in the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum in Los Angeles, CA. The location of its mate is unknown. He apparently was not carrying either when he was killed.
October 2, 2012, 01:36 AM
Well, the inscription pointed out could be a clue. Hickock/Hickok. Somehow after that photo was taken and before it landed at the Gene Autry Museum, the inscription lost the extra "c".
Such is the contention of Rosa in the article I linked, above. He even writes of having Colt expert Larry Wilson tell him that it was expertly changed and that only by running his finger across the back strap could he detect a slight bump.
I cited the article in post #3. Rosa goes into great detail about the gun's original engraving, he has a photo ~1936-37 that is the same as the one above and then he contrasts that photo with a later one.
[Edit to add: Rosa goes on to speak of the possible "mate" after detailing that the serial number on the cylinder of the old Colt's Navy is numbered 13 digits apart from the rest of the gun. Then he states that if the "mate" is ever found and has a misspelled engraving and a mismatched cylinder, then we might have something. . .]
October 2, 2012, 03:47 PM
OK, trivia question of the day.
How did James Butler Hickok come to be called "Wild Bill"? (One of the accounts above calls him "Wm. 'Wild Bill' Hickock" but that makes two errors - his first name was not William and his last name had no second "c".)
October 2, 2012, 05:21 PM
my favorite story (among the many competing explanations for the name) is the decidedly unfavorable nature of his reaction to being called 'Duck Bill' (in reference to his very prominent hooter). It certainly explains the 'Bill' appelation, and the 'Wild' part seems obvious.
Anyway, I like it. If it isn't true, it oughta be.
PRD1 - mhb - Mike
October 2, 2012, 05:57 PM
Wonder what happend to the murder weapon?
October 2, 2012, 08:09 PM
There are multiple legends vis-a-vis "Willd", "Bill", "Wild Bill", as a nom de plume for J.B. Hickok. The "accounts above" issue from me. There are tons of errors in NAME and SPELLING of name. Haycroft, IIRC, is used by the U.S. military in a document. They later refer to him as "alias Haycroft". Hell, in my own commentary I may have slipped. But if one quotes contemporary sources, one is stuck with the source. Now to the name. . .
One could lay it at the feet of David McCanles, maybe. . .
"Hickok had a variety of nicknames and pseudonyms over the years. By 1861, he was known in Nebraska as "Dutch Bill." On some of the court records relating to the McCanles fight Dutch Bill is rendered as "Duch Bill," which was interpreted by later writers to be "Duck Bill." These same later writers also claimed that he got the latter nickname because of the shape of his nose, when in fact it was simply a mistake in transcribing the court records.
The firsr known published reference to Hickok as "Wild Bill" appeared in the Springfield Missouri WEEKLY PATRIOT, July 27, 1865, where in an account of Hickok's fight with Dave Tutt, the paper reported that he "was better known in Southwest Missouri as Wild Bill.""
[Edit to add: James was known as "Bill" or "William" as early as 1856. His family claims he was known early on as "Billy Barnes". No account that I can dig up tells why.]
October 2, 2012, 10:13 PM
It wasn't the shape of his nose, it was the shape of his lips, which were of the type called "pursed lips" (this can be seen in his pictures, although he tried to hide it with a mustache. Apparently he had been called "Duck Bill", because of a fancied resemblance between his lips and a duck's bill or beak. After some of his exploits, that became "Wild Bill", a nickname he carried to his death and beyond.
BTW, might I suggest that your valid research would be better received if you refrained from calling other people "cretins" and "panty waists" and other nasty names. Those who are truly knowledgeable should have enough self-confidence that they don't need to insult and vilify others.
October 2, 2012, 11:07 PM
The sketches are a sort of "Par pare refero "
You have no idea as to the context of my post.
It is a copy and paste from somewhere else. The idiom was something that I thought at the time I wrote it was necessary to fully convey my meaning, to MY audience. The verbiage is what it is. It was used as a sort of vernacular toward the audience I was addressing. But, of course, you could not know that. However, I honestly do not care, as I posted the "sketch" for a different audience. It amounted an understood polemic vis-a-vis a longstanding issue. I fail to see how anyone could mistake it for serious writing. As best I could decipher, the details are accurate. But it's rife with typos, etc. The audience I wrote it for, and I, dialoged in a given manner.
It was in certain distinct ways meant to employ argumentum ad hominem. . .
It was posted here because I thought the OP might find some useful background. I neither solicited advice nor had in mind anyone but the OP. As for insulting and vilifying, I am uncertain as to how it is a measure of intellect or self-confidence. I have average self-confidence and below average intellect but certainly I can cite counterexamples of extreme intellects that vilify scoundrels and their perceived evils. Mine usage is polemic.
You are, of course, WRONG to give ANY dogmatic answer. See my post above or I can find an image from a court document that puts the moniker as "Dutch Bill".
By the way, might I suggest you have some semblance of qualification for your Q&A, without the obvious far flung dogmatism? It would at least bear the resemblance of someone who had a glimmer of understanding of the discourse. As anyone who wanted to search could find glaring holes in my "sketch", 'tis the nature of such enigmatic stories and even conflicting contemporary evidence.
I will not post any further from my old "sketches". They are long preceded by explanations of who and what they are in response to. It is lacking here.
Yours is an oft repeated tale attributed to McCanles' creativity. . . Here, read this closely:
There are several Navy Colts attributed to Hickok. I recall reading that more than once he was gifted engraved guns, Colts Navies at least once after he was already known for carrying them (and I beleive it was known that the name was mispelled on the gifted guns). I see no reason to believe he did not own more than one pair, especially when people gave them to him. He was also known to own and use other guns. For some reason, some folks believe he only used the Colts Navies.
You could certainly be correct about the knowing misspelling. The correction likely was not done by the original engraver as Rosa points out he'd likely be over 100 years old.
It would be nice if the known one is legit but Rosa's masterful detective work makes it seem a dubious contention, in his mind. However, the story of the revolver is more convoluted than just this simple doubt because Rosa later goes on to state that indeed the possibility exists that it is authentic! Perhaps the error was ignored at the time and only later changed by someone skilled in engraving. The link I linked goes into full detail.
White Eye Anderson swears he had a pair of Colt's Navies with him on the way to Deadwood and at Deadwood. They were probably conversions to (likely) .38 rim-fire metallic ammunition, either factory made or converted.
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