How Did Bill Hickok Really Die

On August 2, 1876, McCall walked into Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon #10 and point blank shot Wild Bill Hickok in the back of the head while Hickok was playing a hand of poker. McCall claimed he killed Wild Bill to avenge his brother’s death. At the time of the killing, Deadwood had no law so a group of miners held a trial in the McDaniel’s Theatre. Martha Jane Cannary (May 1, 1852 – August 1, 1903), better known as Calamity Jane, was an American frontierswoman.In addition to many exploits she was known for being an acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok.Late in her life, she appeared in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show and at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition.She is said to have exhibited compassion to others, especially to the sick and needy. Wild Bill Hickok, byname of James Butler Hickok, (born May 27, 1837, Homer now Troy Grove, Illinois, U.S.—died August 2, 1876, Deadwood, Dakota Territory now in South Dakota, U.S.), American frontiersman, army scout, and lawman who helped bring order to the frontier West.His reputation as a gunfighter gave rise to legends and tales about his life. The Colt Navy was Hickok’s favorite revolver. Wild Bill Hickok’s proficiency with a pistol is well known, but there remains some confusion concerning how he used his weapons and which ones he actually used. Before and during Hickok’s lifetime (1837–1876), the most.

  1. How Did Bill Hickok Really Die Away
  2. Why Did Wild Bill Hickok Die
  3. Wild Bill Hickok Pictures Of His Death
  4. How Does Bill Hickok Die

Was “Wild Bill” Hickok’s failing eyesight the result of a venereal disease?

David Durost
Lancaster, California

If James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok had an eye disease, present-day experts believe that, like many others of his time, he may have suffered from trachoma. Trachoma is often associated with poverty and poor hygiene that allows the bacteria to infect and re-infect eyes; if left untreated, it can cause blindness.

In turn, tales have been spun about Hickok having syphilis or gonorrhea. An ophthalmologist told me that going blind from the latter is rare, however, one can go blind from syphilis.

Could he have contracted syphilis? Hickok biographer Joseph G. Rosa suggested the gunfighter got a venereal disease from “brief affairs with the Cyprian sisterhood, both in the East and in the West….”

Some people don’t believe Hickok had an eye problem. Based on Hickok wearing dark glasses, however, Rosa speculated that the gunfighter could have had an “inflammation of the eyes that made them ‘photophobic’ (quite sensitive to light)…it is possible that he could have [had] attacks that seemed to blind him— and still have good vision between them.”


Bottom line: Whether Hickok had VD is pure speculation. Somewhat like when George Washington’s father asked him if he cut down that cherry tree. Little George replied, “Father, I cannot tell a lie. Maybe I did, and maybe I didn’t.”

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, e-mail him at [email protected]

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On August 2, 1876, Wild Bill Hickok was playing poker in Deadwood, South Dakota. Suddenly, a pistol fired. Hickok died instantly. His hand at the time, “aces and eights,” has become known as the Dead Man’s Hand. But is that a legend? Or is it real?

Wild Bill Hickok

James Butler Hickok was originally known as “Duck Bill,” apparently due to a large nose and an upper lip that jutted out from his face. Eventually, he grew a mustache and in 1861, adopted the moniker, Wild Bill.

His exploits in the Old West were legendary. He was a skilled scout and an expert marksman. He fought and killed a bear with his bare hands, suffering severe injuries in the process. He killed Davis Tutt in the first known “quick draw duel.” He acted in a play called Scouts of the Plains with Buffalo Bill Cody and Texas Jack Omohundro. Calamity Jane, the famous American frontierswoman, claimed to have married him.

In July 1876, Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane arrived in Deadwood, South Dakota via wagon train. Some say he had a premonition of sorts regarding his impending death.

“Well, as to that, I suppose I am called a red-handed murderer, which I deny. That I have killed men I admit, but never unless in absolute self-defense or in the performance of an official duty. I never in my life took any mean advantage of an enemy. Yet, understand, I never allowed a man to get the drop on me. But perhaps I may yet die with my boots on.” ~ Wild Bill Hickok to Mrs. Annie Tallent, Several months before his death, Pioneer Days in the Back Hills, John S. McClintock

On August 2, 1876, Wild Bill Hickok entered Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon No. 10. He usually sat with his back to the wall. However, the only available stool required him to put his back to the door. He sat down and started to play five-card-draw. But he was uncomfortable with the arrangement and twice, asked another player named Charles Rich to switch stools with him. Rich refused.

How Did Bill Hickok Really Die Away

Dead Man’s Hand

During the game, a former buffalo hunter named John McCall strode into the saloon. He parked himself a few feet away from Hickok and drew his pistol. “Take that!” he shouted as he fired it. The bullet careened through Hickok’s skull and Wild Bill died instantly.

According to popular legend, Hickok held two black aces and two black eights at the time of his death. The fifth card, or kicker, is a source of mystery. Some claim it was the queen of clubs. Others say it was the nine of diamonds, the jack of diamonds, the five of diamonds, or the queen of hearts. Still others say no fifth card ever existed, suggesting Hickok was in the middle of drawing a new card when he was murdered.

But what about the “aces and eights” part? Is that accurate? Well, no contemporary sources exist that indicate what cards Hickok was holding at the time of his death. “Aces and eights” was provided by Frank J. Wilstach in his 1926 book, Wild Bill Hickok: The Prince of Pistoleers. Wilstach quoted “Doc” Peirce, the town barber, who was asked to serve as an “impromptu undertaker.”

“Now, in regard to the position of Bill’s body, when they unlocked the door for me to get his body, he was lying on his side, with his knees drawn up just as he slid off his stool. We had no chairs in those days — and his fingers were still crimped from holding his poker hand. Charlie Rich, who sat beside him, said he never saw a muscle move. Bill’s hand read ‘aces and eights’ — two pair, and since that day aces and eights have been known as ‘the dead man’s hand’ in the Western country.” ~ Ellis T. “Doc” Peirce, Wild Bill Hickok: The Prince of Pistoleers

How Did Bill Hickok Really Die

This account was published 50 years after Hickok’s death. It has yet to be collaborated by any outside source. Play megaways slot free.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Take

If Peirce was right, then aces and eights was known as the dead man’s hand in “the Western country.” However, newspapers from that location and period tell a different story. The first known mention of a Dead Man’s Hand, a July 1, 1886 article in the Grand Forks Daily Herald, not only disagrees with the Hand itself but also its origin.

“I was present at a game in a Senator’s house one night and saw him win $6,000 on one hand. It was the dead man’s hand. What is the dead man’s hand? Why, it is three jacks and a pair of tens. It is called the dead man’s hand because about forty seven years ago, in a town in Illinois, a celebrated judge bet his house and lot on three jacks and a pair of tens…When his opponent showed up he had three queens and a pair of tens. Upon seeing the queens the judge fell back dead, clutching the jacks and tens in his hand, and that’s why a jack-full on tens is called the dead man’s hand.” ~ Grand Forks Daily Herald, July 1, 1886

Why Did Wild Bill Hickok Die

Later accounts show different versions, including jacks and eights, tens and treys (threes), and jacks and sevens. Regardless, none of these articles connect the Dead Man’s Hand to Wild Bill Hickok.

Wild Bill Hickok Pictures Of His Death

At this point, the definitive origin of the Dead Man’s Hand remains an unsolved mystery. If the Wild Bill Hickok story could be proved by contemporary sources, it would be the oldest known version of the legend. For those of you in the New York area, consider taking a trip down to the New York Public Library. That’s where Wilstach’s papers are located. Perhaps there’s some additional information in “Doc” Peirce’s letter. Or maybe, just maybe, there’s some other evidence waiting to be found. If you find anything, let us know and we’ll cover your discovery right here on Guerrilla Explorer. Who knows? You just might solve one of history’s most puzzling unsolved mysteries!

How Does Bill Hickok Die

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