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Profile of the Day: Wild Bill Hickok

Profile of the Day: Wild Bill Hickok

Wild Bill Hickok

On this day in 1876, Wild Bill Hickok, one of the most famous gunfighters of the American Wild West, was killed while playing a game of poker. He was shot in the back of the head by Jack McCall.

“Wild Bill” was born James Butler Hickok on May 27, 1837 in Homer, Illinois. An outstanding marksman from a young age, Hickok gained notoriety when news spread of his role during the McCanles Massacre in 1861 in Rock Creek, Nevada. During the shootout, Hickok killed three men and was severely injured. As dime novels spread outlandish versions of the story, Hickok’s legendary status grew and more and more stories of his adventures spread.

On August 2, 1876, Hickok was playing poker at Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon in Deadwood in the Dakota Territory. It was during a game that Jack McCall shot Hickok in the back of the head. On the day before, McCall had lost heavily to Hickok during a game and was believed to have been insulted when Hickok gave him some money for breakfast. His first trial was before an informal “miners’ jury,” who acquitted McCall of the crime. However, after bragging about killing Hickok, McCall was re-arrested and tried again, where he was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Explore Wild Bill Hickok’s family tree on Geni and share how you’re related to the legendary gunfighter.

View Wild Bill Hickok’s Geni Profile


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