The Tales Of Wild Bill

by Dawn Graves


“Wild Bill” Hickok, famously skilled gunfighter, gambler, lawman and soldier, was shot in the head and killed in Deadwood in 1876 by Jack McCall. Hickok's exploits in life were legendary, and his death was a shock to many.

And the story of why he was killed might have started in Sidney.

Just over three months prior to being killed in Deadwood, it is said that Hickok was spending some a few weeks gambling in Sidney on his way to the Black Hills during the gold rush.

One day, wearing a long, black coat and his hair tucked under his hat to avoid recognition, he walked into Tim Dyer's roadhouse on Sidney's Front Street (now Hickory) to have a drink.

A man called “Big Jack” was at the bar, along with two buffalo skinners employed by a man called “Buffalo Curley.” They made fun of the stranger in the long coat and funny hat, calling him “Preacher.”

When Hickok wouldn't drink with them, Big Jack slapped him, knocking his hat off and causing his shoulder-length hair to tumble out. By the time they realized who they were taunting, it was too late. Hickok shot all three.

History says that Jack McCall, Hickok's killer in Deadwood, and “Buffalo Curley” were one and the same person. It is thought that McCall held a grudge about his two hide hunters being killed by Hickok, since good skinners were hard to find, given the low pay. This would have put a financial strain on McCall.

So when the opportunity arose three months later, in a saloon in Deadwood, McCall shot “Wild Bill” – ending the life of one of the most well-known shooters in the old West.