James Butler Hickok
- (1837 - 1886)
Wild Bill Hickok began weaving his legend as an operative for the Union Army. In fact, on one such mission he was captured by a Confederate patrol, and tried as a spy. He was found guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad, but somehow talked his way out of the sentence. He then struck out to make his own way in the Wild West. He landed a position as a Deputy Sheriff and Marshall in Kansas from 1866 to 1871.
"Wild Bill"'s reputation as a fantastic gunslinger may have been fabricated by the media. The legend of "Bill" gunning down 10 men in one fight seems completely false. In truth, only 3 men died. And none are positively creditted to Hickok. All first hand accounts of anyone that ever met him describe him as knowledgeable, quiet, and pleasant. His reputation was a desperado who ate men for breakfast and spit their bones out for lunch. Hickok's own fame may have been his downfall. It seems, his legend was faster than he was.
Another interesting thing is, Hickok's mother is a direct descendant of George Washington. Meaning Hickok is Great times X Grandson of the first President of the United States.
"Wild Bill" Hickok's grave rests in Deadwood, South Dakota.