Wild Bill HICKOK

Family tree of Wild Bill HICKOK


AmericanBorn James Butler HICKOK

Folk hero of the American Old West

Born on May 27, 1837 in Troy Grove, Illinois, USA , United States

Died on August 02, 1876 in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, USA

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Hickok was born in Homer, Illinois (now Troy Grove, Illinois) of English ancestry. 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 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.


Because of his "sweeping nose and protruding upper lip", Hickok was derisively called "Duck Bill" (especially by David McCanles). In 1861, he grew a mustache following the McCanles incident, and began calling himself "Wild Bill". When later recounting his exploits to audiences, he claimed that his nickname until 1861 had been "Shanghai Bill", a name given to him, he said, by The Red Legs (because of his height and slim build). Although Hickok photographs seem to indicate he had dark hair, all contemporary descriptions confirm he was, in fact, golden blond (as reddish shades of hair appeared black in early photographic processes).

Hickok used the name William Hickok from 1858 and William Haycock during the Civil War. Arrested as Haycock in 1865, he afterward resumed using his real name of James Hickok. Most newspapers continued to use the name William Haycock when referring to "Wild Bill" until 1869. Military records after 1865 used his correct name, although acknowledging he was also known as Haycock.

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Geographical origins

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