Friday, January 6, 2012

Dead Man's Hand


James Butler Hickok (May 27, 1837 – August 2, 1876), better known as Wild Bill Hickok, was a folk hero of the American Old West.

Hickok came to the West as a stagecoach driver, then became a lawman in the frontier territories of Kansas and Nebraska. He fought for the Union Army during the American Civil War and professional gambler after. Between his law-enforcement duties and gambling, Hickok was involved in several shootouts.

He was shot and killed on August 2, 1876 while playing poker in the Number Ten Saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory (now South Dakota).

Wild Bill had a premonition Deadwood would be his last camp, and expressed this belief to his friend Charlie Utter, and the others who were traveling with them at the time. Hickok, as a precaution, usually sat with his back to the wall. The only seat available when he joined the poker game was a chair that put his back to a door. Twice he asked another player, Charles Rich, to change seats with him, and on both occasions Rich refused.

A former buffalo hunter named John McCall walked in unnoticed. Jack McCall walked to within a few feet of Wild Bill and then suddenly drew a pistol and shouted, “Take that!” before firing.

The assassin's bullet hit Hickok in the back of the head, killing him instantly.
McCall was acquited on his first trial but was subsequently hanged on March 1, 1877 after a second.

The gravesite was moved in 1881 and his body was exhumed and found to have the noose still around his neck.