Did You Know? “Wild” Bill Hickok was an Illinois nativeJames Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, historic scout, lawman, soldier and gunfighter was born in Troy Grove, Illinois (formerly known as Homer, Ill.) to William and Polly Hickok. He was recognized as an outstanding shot with a pistol from a very young age. By the age of 18, following a gunfight, he joined a vigilante group known as the “Jayhawkers”, where he met then 12-year-old army scout William Cody, popularly known as “Buffalo Bill.”

In the following years, Hickok served as an army scout for the Union Army, as well as a wagon master and police detective. One account even points to his service as a Union spy in Confederate territory between the years of 1862 and 1863. Hickok was mustered out of service in 1865, and spent much of his time near Springfield, Missouri gambling. It was during this time that one of Hickok’s most famous shootings took place.

In the town square of Springfield, Missouri, Hickok met Davis Tutt in what would be forever fictionalized as a high noon, quick draw standoff.  In reality, it was more akin to a classic duel, the two men facing each other from a distance, turning to the side to present a smaller target. The two men drew their weapons and took aim. Both men fired. Tutts shot missed, but Bills .36 caliber ball, fired from his Colt 1851 Navy revolver, found its mark, striking Tutt between the fifth and seventh rib on his left side. The incident was sparked over the loss of Bills prized pocket watch during a card game.

Wild Bill’s last days would be spent in Deadwood, in the Dakota Territories. While playing cards at Nuttel & Mann’s Saloon, he was shot in the back of the head by Jack McCall.  The cards he held would later be known as a “dead man’s hand,” or aces and eights.

Learn more:
Wild Bill Hickok & The Deadman's Hand
Wild Bill Hickok at HISTORYnet.com
Birthplace of Wild Bill Hickok