AlreadyDead (psykoboy2) wrote,


HBO's "Deadwood" is turning into something really good. And really, it didn't start off too bad to begin with.

I wondered, however, of the validity of such a show. Having characters such as Calamity Jane & Wild Bill Hickok meant that either they were taking liberties with history or...they'd built a show around it. I think in part that it's both.

After the first episode aired, I did some research on the town, that still exists and is one (if not the only) city that is on the National Historic Register. The city itself is one big historic landmark...with it's own website.

It was during this research that I learned how Deadwood became a spot on the's the place where Hickok was murdered.

In June of 1876, Hickok left Agnes Thatcher, a circus performer, after a two-week Cincinnati honeymoon to claim his fortune and provide for his new bride. His fortune, he felt, was in the city of Deadwood, South Dakota.

Deadwood was lawless. And all Bill wanted to do, was settle down for a while, gambling with the fortunes of gold rush seekers who poured into the town on a daily basis. Bill was known for several habits...habits that had served him well in keeping him alive for the 39 years of his life. When imbibing, Hickok always poured his drinks with his left hand, which kept his best gun hand ready for any eventuality. When gambling, he always sat with his back to the wall and his face to the door, lest any friends or relatives of those he'd killed sneak up behind him. As a Western gunmen who traded on his ability to kill without hesitation or remorse, he had many enemies; he carried a pair of Colts and could draw and fight with both hands.

On August 2, 1876, Wild Bill wandered into Saloon No. 10, had a drink and talked with bartender Harry Young. A poker game was in progress, with the saloon's owner Carl Mann sitting in. Hickok noticed if he took the game's lone open seat, his back would be to the front door. When one of the gamblers near the wall, a gunman called Charles Rich, declined to switch seats with the better-known Hickok, Bill gave up and took the empty chair.

Enter Jack McCall, an odd-job man who loafed in the No. 10. Drunk as he was, McCall slipped into the saloon, walked to within three feet of Hickok and shot him in the back of the head with a .45 he pulled from his coat pocket. Wild Bill was killed instantly. As Hickok fell away from the table, he spilled his hand -- pairs of black aces and eights -- known forever after as the "deadman's hand."

Hickok's chair is still displayed at Saloon No. 10.

On the show, Hickok's was a great character, one you'd hope to see more of...unfortunately, this show seems to stick with history. I knew as I watched tonight's episode that they were focusing most of the attention on Hickok....I also knew how Hickok was to die. It was inevitable, I suppose, and tonight, history played out once again. No liberties taken.
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