Thursday, July 12, 2012

There Has To Be A First time...!

No matter what you decide to do in life, there always has to be a first time.

This obviously applies to everyone, both famous and unknown. Often the first time was the beginning of a reputation that lasted forever.


Jul 12, 1861:
Wild Bill Hickok's first gunfight

Wild Bill Hickok begins to establish his reputation as a gunfighter after he coolly shoots three men during a shootout in Nebraska.

Born in Homer (later called Troy Grove), Illinois, James Butler Hickok moved to Kansas in 1855 at the age of 18. There he filed a homestead claim, took odd jobs, and began calling himself by his father's name, Bill. A skilled marksman, Hickok honed his abilities as a gunslinger. Though Hickok was not looking for trouble, he liked to be ready to defend himself, and his ability with a pistol soon proved useful.

By the summer of 1861, Hickok was working as a stock tender at a stage depot in Nebraska called Rock Creek Station. Across the creek lived Dave McCanles, a mean-spirited man who disliked Hickok for some reason. McCanles enjoyed insulting the young stockman, calling him Duck Bill and claiming he was a hermaphrodite. Hickok took his revenge by secretly romancing McCanles' mistress, Sarah Shull.

On this day in 1861, the tension between Hickok and McCanles came to a head. McCanles may have learned about the affair between Shull and Hickok, though his motivations are not clear. He arrived at the station with two other men and his 12-year-old-son and exchanged angry words with the station manager. Then McCanles spotted Hickok standing behind a curtain partition. He threatened to drag "Duck Bill" outside and give him a thrashing. Demonstrating remarkable coolness for a 24-year-old who had never been involved in a gunfight, Hickok replied, "There will be one less son-of-a-bitch when you try that."

McCanles ignored the warning. When he approached the curtain, Hickok shot him in the chest. McCanles staggered out of the building and died in the arms of his son. Hearing the shots, the two other gunmen ran in. Hickok shot one of them twice and winged the other. The other workers at the station finished them off.

The story of Hickok's first gunfight spread quickly, establishing his reputation as a skilled gunman. In 1867, Harper's New Monthly Magazine published a highly exaggerated account of the shoot-out which claimed Hickok had single-handedly killed nine men. The article quoted Hickok as saying, "I was wild and I struck savage blows." Thus began the legendary career of "Wild Bill."

For the next 15 years, Hickok would further embellish his reputation with genuine acts of daring, though the popular accounts continued to exceed the reality. He died in 1876 at the age of 39, shot in the back of the head by a young would-be gunfighter looking for fame.


Sometimes the tales being told after the action are really what builds the reputation. Sort of like the politicians of today, ya know?

Better have our coffee in the kitchen this morning. Rain is hanging around still!

12 comments:

thecottagebythecranelakeolof1 said...

I have an old book somewhere that tells lots of stories about Americas most famous gun men and sheriffs. There's a lot about Wild Bill Hickok but not this. I love ton read about these people!

Have a great day!
Christer.

HermitJim said...

Hey Christer...
We have certainly had our fair share of over-the-edge gunmen and lawmen in our history!

If nothing else, it makes for some good reading!

Thanks, my friend, for coming by today!

Phyllis (N/W Jersey) said...

Hubby loved this one - (and yesterday's, too). Thanks for posting!
How about some vanilla cookies to go with your good coffee?

Anonymous said...

Send some of that rain down to the Rio Grande Valley below you, we need a good amount to break even. 8^)

Thanks for the wild West lesson, it was a time when self reliance was a rule and not a trait. I'll bet most of those individuals today would be classified by our government as 'terrorists'.

linda m said...

Great article this morning. Always love reading stories about the "Old West". Sure wish there was some way for you to share your rain.

JOJO said...

You know I loved this story. I never knew how he began his life on his own the what started the legen. Thanks.

We get the clouds and a sprinkle but no real rain. So much water those veggies today.

Jim said...

I love the ole west and could read about all day. Thanks for the story.

Dizzy-Dick said...

As stated above, a great post. I, too, love reading about and watching movies about the old west, especially if they are true. The History channel has had a lot of old west stories on it which are supposedly true. Thanks for always entertaining us, Jim.

Bob Mc said...

Lots of stories about Wild Bill. I didn't realize he was that young when he was killed

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
Glad you and the hubby liked the post.

Some vanilla cookies would be great!

Thanks for coming over this morning.


Hey Anon 5:55...
The government doesn't seem to support self reliant folks any more!

Without a doubt, that would be the term used to describe those self reliant people in today's political clime!

Thanks for coming by this morning!


Hey Linda... It does make for some interesting reading, without a doubt!

I'd sure share some with you if I could! Getting fairly wet around here!

Thanks for the visit today!


Hey JoJo...
I figured you would like it. Always interesting to know what started the legends of the past!

I appreciate you dropping by, sweetie!


Hey Jim...
I think one of the things we all like about these stories, is that they are part of our history! Really not that long ago, either!

Glad you liked it and glad you could come by today!


Hey Dizzy...
I love the history channel and use it all the time! I can always seem to learn something!

Thanks, buddy, for coming over today!


Hey Bob...
So many of the early legends started young and died young! Usually pretty violently as well!

Guess in that aspect, things aren't that different than today, with so many young gangster types being shot by one another!

Many thanks for dropping by today!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

WIld Bill's gunfighting was aure short-lived, 24 to 39 years old. Sort of gives credence to the he who lives by the gun, die by it...

HermitJim said...

Hey Beatrice...
I'm sure that saying fit a lot of folks back in those days!

Hard way to build a reputation, I think!

Hey, thanks for coming by today!