Hickok, Wild Bill

Hickok, Wild Bill, 1837–76, American frontier marshal, b. Troy Grove, near Ottawa, Ill., as James Butler Hickok. He took part in the Kansas struggle preceding the Civil War, was a driver of the Butterfield stage line, and gained fame as a gunfighter, his skill increased by the fact that he was ambidextrous. He served as a Union scout in the Civil War. After the war he became deputy U.S. marshal at Fort Riley (1866), marshal of Hays, Kans. (1869), and marshal of Abilene (1871). His reputation as a marksman in desperate encounters with outlaws made him a figure of frontier legend, and he joined (1873) Buffalo Bill and toured the East, returning to the West in 1874. In 1876 Hickok went to the Black Hills goldfields, where he was murdered in Deadwood (S.Dak.) by Jack McCall.

See biographies by R. O'Connor (1959), J. G. Rosa (1964), and T. Clavin (2019).

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