Imagine Wild Bill (James Butler) Hickok in his heyday – a commanding figure with a resolute expressive face, brown hair dangling far below his shoulder, a droopy mustache almost covering his mouth, and his reputation as a sniper and poker superstar player following him everywhere. His career took several strange turns and turns from border scouts to peacekeepers to professional gamblers.
Hickok was born in Illinois to a farming family in 1837. At an early age he felt the first shot when lawyers opened fire on his father who they were suspended from hiding fugitive slaves from the South under straw on his cart Agen judi pulsa.
Hickok became fascinated with weapons and practiced nonstop until he became an outstanding marksman. After his father’s death, he went to Kansas where he rode a horse-drawn carriage on the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails. Hickok’s skill with firearms is very useful because bandits often attack horse-drawn carriages, and he can drive them with accurate shots. He showed great courage when a big bear attacked him one night while he slept near a horse carriage. The bear almost clawed it to death, but Hickok won the battle by stabbing the bear with a knife.
While recovering in Nebraska from a bear attack, he had a fight with several settlers, fury flared, gunfire erupted, and when the smoke cleared, Hickok had killed three people. He claims to defend himself and no one has filed a lawsuit against him. When fiction writers and spice up violence in the West for news-hungry publics, they glorified this as a massacre and reported that Hickok had killed dozens of dangerous seamen.
In 1861 with the Civil War raging Hickok joined the Union Army as a scout and somehow earned the nickname “Wild Bill.” One legend had it after he scattered a crowd of drunks who could not be regulated by firing shots above their heads, someone shouted, “Good for you, Wild Bill,” and his name got stuck. Then Hickok served as a talent scout with General George Custer and they became gambling friends. Fortunately for Hickok, the two separated long before Custer survived and died in 1876 at the Battle of the Great Little Horn.
After the Civil War ended, Hickok exaggerated his life story by telling a gullible journalist that he had killed more than 100 people. His reputation as a murderer developed nationally. He became a peace officer in various cities in Kansas killing criminals and crooked gamblers, but he had a serious problem in Abilene in 1871 when he accidentally shot and killed a Special Deputy Marshal. Locals see this as the last straw – they are fed up with violence and murder, and the mayor kicks Wild Bill out of town.
Hickok roamed across the country playing lots of poker and eventually settled in Deadwood (now South Dakota, then the Dakota Territory). There Hickok played his last hand in 1876 at Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon. They always look for empty seats in the corner of the room so they can protect themselves from attacks from behind; but tonight he took the only chair available – his back was at the door. Jack McCall, who believes that Wild Bill killed his brother in Kansas, enters the saloon room and sees Hickok’s target behind his head killing him instantly. Hickok holds two pairs – aces and eight. And now you know why this hand is called “the hand of the dead.”
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