The Killing of Wild Bill Hickok

Illinois native, James Butler Wild Bill Hickok, was known as a frontiersman, Indian fighter, buffalo hunter, tracker, and sheriff of several rough western towns with a somewhat self-glorified image of himself.  He had at one time wowed audiences in “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s Wild West Shows with his shooting prowess.  He had been an excellent Army scout and the Marshall of Abilene, Kansas.  Many admired him, but along the way, he made many enemies, including those who wanted to challenge him to bolster their own reputations.

Wild Bill HickokAfter several controversial shootings in his official capacity, he left Kansas joining his friend Charlie Utter’s wagon train for the Black Hills gold fields of the Dakota Territory.  Gold had been discovered in the Black Hills in 1874 and Hickok, like many others, planned on getting rich. However, like many, this did not work out. At the age of 39, diagnosed with vision problems, Bill was trying to support himself by playing poker on a daily basis.

A Game of Poker

On the evening of 2 August 1876, “Wild Bill” Hickok entered Nuttall and Mann’s #10 Saloon on the main street of the Deadwood mining camp to join a poker game.  His usual habit was to sit with his back against the wall so he could watch any approaching adversary or enemy that might wish to harm or kill him.  He was even known to play cards with his left hand so that his right hand (gun hand) would always be able to defend himself.  When he approached the poker table a fellow Deadwood resident, Charlie Rich, was seated in Bill’s preferred seat against the wall.  Bill asked him to give up his seat but Mr. Rich refused.  Bill reluctantly took a seat at the side of the table where he could still have a good view of the front door.  However, the saloon also had a side entrance, which was to Bill’s back.

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Jesse James – a summary

Rick Mann writes about the life and death of the American outlaw, Jesse James.

Jesse James and the Civil War

Jesse Woodson James was born September 5, 1847 while Alexander Franklin James was born four years earlier on January 10, 1843. Both were born in Clay County, Missouri to the Reverend Robert James and his wife Zerelda. Robert, a Baptist minister and farmer, had moved there with his wife from Kentucky. However, in 1850, Mr. James passed away. Zerelda remarried to a doctor named Reuben Samuel in 1855, and he moved onto the James farm. In 1861 the American Civil War began. Frank was 18 and Jesse 14. Unlike many other states, Missouri was not clear-cut in its affiliation to either the Union or Confederate cause. Many wealthy and large landowners owned slaves and Missourians would serve on both the Union and Confederate sides depending on their convictions. The James family had acquired at one time as many as seven slaves to grow tobacco on their well-appointed farm, making their affiliation very pro-Confederate.

On May 4, 1861, Frank joined the Missouri State Guard, which opposed the Union troops. He was later injured and released from duty. He then joined a guerilla band of soldiers known as Quantrill’s Raiders and in 1863 Union forces came to the James farm attempting to obtain information on Frank’s whereabouts. The soldiers hung and tortured Dr. Samuel, but he survived. This infuriated the brothers and Jesse, now aged sixteen, went on to join Frank’s current guerilla band led by “Bloody Bill Anderson.”

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