Wild Bill Hickock and Crooked Nose McCall.
A Captain Jack Crawford a friend of Wild Bill Hickok wrote, :
Wild Bill was gentle as a child, unless aroused to anger by intended insults. Colonel George Ward Nichols...Let me at once describe the personal appearance of the famous Scout of the Plains, William Hitchcock, called "Wild Bill," who now advanced toward me, fixing his clear gray eyes on mine in a quick, interrogative way, as if to take "my measure."
The result seemed favorable, for he held forth a small, muscular hand in a frank, open manner. As I looked at him I thought his the handsomest physique I had ever seen. Hays City Sentinel, During his residence in Hays, Hickok was one of the best citizens of the town... All concede that he was a kindhearted, gentle mannered gentleman, and only when aroused was he dangerous. Many of his old friends now reside in Hays, and all express great sorrow at his untimely end.
James Butler Hickock was born in Illinois on May 27th 1837. His parents were Baptists who helped smuggle slaves out of the Southern States. They had a family of five sons and two daughters who scraped an existence out of a farm.
Like other Baptists they attended church on Sundays and naturally expected their children to do the same. Wild Bill, as we will call him and his father had a collision with the law and when they were chased were fired on.
This seemed the beginning of Wild Bills interest in fire arms and began to practice on targets. Soon he became a recognised marksman in the locality. His father William was killed for his abolitionist beliefs when Wild Bill was just 14. At the age of 17 he worked as a driver on the Illinois and Michigan Canal.
The next year he moved to Monticello as a stage coach driver on the Santa Fe line. It was then he met William Cody who would become known as Buffalo Bill. Stage coaches were a ready target for banditry and Bill's marksmanship and determination began to develop.
Once the stage broke down in Colorado and Bill was forced to sleep under bushes while allowing the passengers to sleep on board. One of the passengers heard a noise and lit a lamp to find Wild Bill struggling with a Bear. Within minutes the bear was dead killed by his knife. At Monticello Kansas in 1858 he became a town constable and he then joined the Overland Express in Nebraska.
Wild Bill began courting Sara Shull,mistress of David McCanles. It was not long after McCanles had insulted him. He had been called Duck Bill and to add to the injury named as a person of questionable sex.
McCanles lived nearby and on a July morning in 1861 visited Wild Bills workplace. McCanles was accompanied with James Gordon, James Wood and the young Monroe McCanles.
An argument began between them and the Station Manager, Wellman. A quarrel assumingly about a debt.
On seeing Wild Bill peer from behind a curtain McCanles made a threat of dragging him outside. Wild Bill replied. "There will be one less son-of-a-bitch when you try that." After a series of insults it turned to gun fire. McCanles was killed and the others wounded. James Gordon later died of his wounds. The fight became known as the McCanles Massacre. Wild Bill was not charged as he pleaded self defense. By the time the story did its rounds of the western town it was blown up to Wild Bill against a dozen well armed men. In truth he had shot McCanles as he walked towards them and did the same to Woods. A stable hand called Brink, shot and killed Gordon with a shotgun while he was running away.
In the Harper's monthly magazine Colonel Nichols called James Butler Hickok the name that would stick. Wild Bill: At least that was one story. The other was when Bill went to Missouri and signed as a wagon master and scout for the Union Army in October 1861. Bill came upon a drunken mob who were out to hang the bar tender. The bar tender had shot one of them in a fight and the mob were out for revenge. Bill was in agreement with the barman and fired two shots over their heads. He determinedly stood his ground until the mob left. Nearby a lady who had watched the proceedings called out. "Good for you Wild Bill." What ever the truth the name stuck.
While in the army Wild Bill met General George Armstrong Custer both enjoyed gambling, especially poker. Wild Bill was then a scout and later expressed, 'he would have known Custer better had he not gone to the Little Big Horn.' Strangely, it is said they looked like each other and were sometimes mistaken for each other.
Wild Bill lost heavily in a card game to David Tutt and could not pay his debts. Tutt took Wild Bills watch on security who said, 'if you so much as use it he would be killed.' A women was once more involved as both men had an eye for Suzanna Moore. In July of 1865 both men met in Springfield Missouri main street. Tutt wore the watch so that everyone could see it. A gun duel ensured with Tutt firing first. Wild Bill shot Tutt in the right side and the bullet pierced his heart and came out the left side. In that instant Tutt fell dead.
January 1867 Wild Bill enlisted in the Seventh Cavalry under Custer on $100 per month. He was badly wounded by a Cheyenne war lance during a fierce fight and his scouting days ended.
In the same year he was asked the number of men he had killed by a New York Herald Correspondent and answered, "I would be willing to take my oath on the Bible that I have killed over a hundred." Wild Bill was well known for his exaggerations and often told the story how he shot someone over his shoulder while shooting someone in front of him. He seemed to have had a proclivity for acting and went to Niagara Falls to play in 'The Daring Buffalo Chases of the Plains.' Sadly, he was not very successful and came back West. It would be wrong to suggest there was not some truth in his gun fighting stories. When he was a lawman in a Wild town he was responsible for shooting four bad men.
In1869 he was sheriff of Ellis County Kansas where he met the outlaw Bill Mulvey and gang and in the course of his duty shot Mulvey and anyone who moved. Late one night Wild Bill and his deputy arrived at John Bitter Saloon to find a drunken mob destroying the place. One them was Samuel Strawhun who encountered Wild Bill and paid the usual price. The towns people were not happy with his willingness to use his gun and elected his deputy as Sheriff. In the following year he had a fight with five men of the 7th Cavalry killing one and wounding another.
Wild Bill was hired as Marshal of Abilene in 1871.The notice put up by the local populace hoped for a sheriff, ' who would rather kill four or five whisky-drinking, gambling hoodlums before breakfast than to eat without exercise.' When the James brothers visited his town, he warned that, 'he had arranged for Jesse's funeral if it came to trouble.' Wild Bill liked to gamble and spent a great deal of time in the Saloons. They became his place of business, in Abilene it was the Saloon, Alamo, were he conducted his affairs in an easy fashion. When he walked down the street people would cry, 'Wild Bill is on the street.' This was often enough to quell the drunken cattle men.
A gambler Phil Coe led a wild mob refusing to disarm. Coe fired at Wild Bill twice with one shot hitting the floor and the other passing though Wild Bill's coat. Returning fire Wild Bill's hit Coe in the stomach killing him. When an armed man ran towards him out of the shadows he instinctively fired. But this time he happened to kill a an unfortunate jailer Mike Williams.
This was the last man Wild Bill killed anyone in a gunfight. He was again fired and drifted into becoming a drunken gambler and was arrested himself several times. Later, Wild Bill acted in Buffalo Bills traveling troupe and on 1872 along the Cody and Custer were in a Buffalo hunt with Prince Alexis of Russia. Two years later he was diagnosed as having problems with his eyes effecting his shooting skills and left the Cody show.
This dilemma was apparently brought on by a dose of Gonorrhea. Despite this, he married Agnes Lake a middle aged circus proprietor.
Legend has it he was first married to Calamity Jane who divorced him to allow him to marry Agnes. Like so many others Dakota and its gold called and Wild Bill was no exception. In 1879 the West was an unruly lawless place. Abilene where Wild Bill had been the Lawman was now a rowdy cattle town that has as its marshal a grocer. The cattle men caused havoc which included tearing down the new jail and ignoring the hopeless marshal. Deadwood in Dakota was just as unruly when Wild Bill arrived.
In 1879 the town of Deadwood in Dakota was full of people looking for the yellow gold. The sounds of building stores, saloons and brothels filled the air.
Down the trails miners were sweating and toiling in the muddy creeks. Deadwood was lawless attracting killers and outlaws alike. Wild Bill had been there about three weeks.
Jack McCall was a man sure that Wild Bill had shot his Brother and while Wild Bill played Cards in the Number Ten Saloon he came up behind him and shot him in the back of his head.
Wild Bill's killer was Known as Crooked Nose Jack ( Jack McCall). A well known drunk and rascal who had many names in his life. It is assumed he was born in 1850 in Jefferson County Kentucky along with three sisters. He traveled west as a Buffalo Hunter in 1869 moving to Deadwood in 1876, under an assumed name of Bill Sunderland. He was described as having a crooked nose, double chin with a light brown moustache, chestnut hair and cross eyed. He wore a blue flannel shirt and brown overalls with heave shoes.
McCall went to the number 10 Saloon and steadily became inebriated. Wild Bill at that time was playing Poker and when a space was created at his table McCall quickly sat in. Soon he was completely broke loosing $110 and Wild Bill kindly gave him some money to buy a drink. McCall felt he had been insulted by this act of generosity. The nest day as Wild Bill entered the Number 10 Saloon he noted the Charlie Rich had taken his usual place at the gambling table, but decide to play anyway. In his new seat he had his back to the door. McCall entered the saloon drunk as usual and saw the opportunity to have his revenge. He sneaked up behind Wild Bill and produced a Colt 45. As he fired he called out, "Damn you, take that." Wild Bill fell to the floor dead. McCall ran to the door and tried to steal someone's horse. The saddle was loose and he fell to the hard ground. Quickly he got up and ran down the street and hid in a butchers shop. A mop of towns people found him.
The following day a miners court was held at the theatre. At that time Deadwood had no legal jurisdiction. Still, a Judge, Defense and Prosecutor was installed. Within two hours McCall was found not guilty as he maintained Wild Bill had Killed his brother in Abilene. The local rag complained that, 'should it ever be our misfortune to kill a man. We would simply ask that our trial may take place in some mining camp of these hills.'
McCall stayed in Deadwood for several days until California Joe hinted it would be unhealthy for him to stay. He then headed out for Wyoming bragging all the way. It was found that Deadwood was in Indian Territory and therefore the trial had no legal standing. A U.S. Marshal from Laramie heard of this braggart and promptly arrested him. McCall was charged with murder and was taken to Yankton for trial. Wild Bill's brother Lorenzo came to the trial in December 4th 1876. Two day later McCall was found guilty. He was executed by hanging on March 1st 1877. After being tied wrist and ankle, he rose to his feet to have a black hood placed over his head. He was given a minute to pray and it is said that he murmured, "Draw it tighter, Marshal."
He now had the dubious fame of being the first person to be hanged in Dakota Territory.
It was later discovered McCall never had a brother. He was buried at Yankton Catholic Cemetery. When the cemetery was removed to make way for an Insane Hospital in 1881his body was exhumed. They found the noose still around his neck. The location of his new resting place is unknown.