> 1854-1894 Illinois State Association History

Wild Bill Hickok

Wild Bill Hickok

Gun fighter and lawman Wild Bill Hickock was born in the small town Homer, Illinois in LaSalle County (now Troy Grove, Illinois) on May 27, 1837. His birthplace is now the Wild Bill Hickok Memorial, a listed historic site under the supervision of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Hickok was a good shot from a very young age and was recognized locally as an outstanding marksman with a pistol.

In 1855, at age 18, Hickok moved to Leavenworth in Kansas Territory following a fight with Charles Hudson, which resulted in both falling into a canal. Mistakenly thinking he had killed Hudson, Hickok fled and joined General Jim Lane's vigilante "Free State Army" (or Jayhawkers, also known as the "Red Legs"). While a Jayhawker, he met 12-year-old William Cody (later known as "Buffalo Bill") who, despite his age, was a scout for the U.S. Army during the Utah War.[

About 1861 Hickok grew a mustache and began calling himself "Wild Bill". When later recounting his exploits to audiences, he claimed that his nickname until 1861 had been "Shanghai Bill." Hickok might have killed 100 men during his life in gun fights.

On August 2, 1876, Hickok was playing poker at Nuttal & Mann's Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood, in the Black Hills, Dakota Territory. 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. A former buffalo hunter named "Broken Nose Jack" McCall walked in unnoticed to within a few feet of Wild Bill and then suddenly drew a pistol and shouted, "Take that!" before firing a bulet that killed Wild Bill instantly.

When he was shot, Hickock was holding a pair of aces and a pair of eights, all black. That hand ever after became known in poker and wesern folk lore as "the dead man's hand" of aces and eights. In 1979, Hickok was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.

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