DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Wild Bill Hickok (aged 39)
American folk hero and lawman
James Butler Hickok (May 27, 1837 – August 2, 1876), better known as “Wild Bill” Hickok, was a folk hero of the American Old West known for his work across the frontier as a drover, wagon master, soldier, spy, scout, lawman, gunfighter, gambler, showman, and actor. He earned a great deal of notoriety in his own time, much of it bolstered by the many outlandish and often fabricated tales that he told about his life. Some contemporaneous reports of his exploits are known to be fictitious, but they remain the basis of much of his fame and reputation, along with his own stories.
DEATH: On August 1, 1876, Hickok was playing poker at Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. When a seat opened up at the table, a drunk man named Jack McCall sat down to play. McCall lost heavily. Hickok encouraged McCall to quit the game until he could cover his losses and offered to give him money for breakfast. Although McCall accepted the money, he was apparently insulted.
The next day, Hickok was playing poker again. He usually sat with his back to a wall so he could see the entrance, but the only seat available when he joined the game was a chair facing away from the door. He twice asked another man at the table, Charles Rich, to change seats with him, but Rich refused.
McCall entered the saloon, walked up behind Hickok, drew his Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army .45-caliber revolver, and shouted, “Damn you! Take that!” before shooting Hickok in the back of the head at point-blank range.
Hickok died instantly. The bullet emerged through his right cheek and struck another player, riverboat Captain William Massie, in the left wrist. Hickok may have told his friend Charlie Utter and others who were traveling with them that he thought he would be killed while in Deadwood.