Burial Of Wild Bill

Album: Mountain Ballads (1876)


  • According to Olive Woollet Burton in her 1958 Oxford University Press monograph American Murder Ballads And Their Stories, "Burial Of Wild Bill" was written by the poet and scout Captain Jack Crawford, and dedicated to Charley Utter, Hickok's closest friend.

    James Butler Hickok is one of the legendary figures of the Wild West, although along with many such figures it is difficult for the casual reader to sort the legend from the substance. Hickok was born in Illinois on May 27, 1837, and was originally known by the far less preposessing name Duck Bill Hickok, a fairly obvious allusion to his long nose. He appears to have chosen the nom de guerre Wild Bill himself, a name that he would soon earn. After a shoot out in 1861, he was tried for murder along with two other men and a woman, but all were cleared on the grounds of self-defense. Four years later he stood trial for manslaughter, having originally been arrested for murder.

    Hickok killed a number of other men, and himself came to a violent and infamous end. On August 2, 1876 he was shot in the back of the head by Jack McCall while engrossed in game of draw poker in a Deadwood saloon. He was holding two black aces and two black eights; aces and eights have long since become known as the Dead Man's Hand on account of this, although Hickok was not the first person to come to an untimely end at the poker table. McCall was hanged for the murder. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England


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