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Back in the Day: death of a Wild West icon

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Back in the Day: death of a Wild West icon


August 1, 1876. James Butler Hickok, better known as ‘Wild Bill Hickok’ is shot and killed in a saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota. Hickok rose to fame as a lawman and a feared gunfighter in the American West. Much of what has been said and written about Hickok has likely been exaggerated, although his prowess with a pistol is undisputed. He stopped gunfighting after accidentally shooting dead shooting a deputy in Abilene, Texas and instead turned to gambling. It was during a game of poker in Deadwood that ‘Broken Nose’ Jack McCall entered the saloon and shot Hickok in the back of the head, killing him immediately. Hickok had been playing five-card-draw and had two black aces and two black eights in his hand when he died. This hand is still known in poker as ‘Dead Man’s Hand.’

Also on August 2: Drunken Russian soldiers are slaughtered in the Battle of Pyana River (1377); Tower Subway, the world’s first underground tube rail, opens in London (1870); start of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (1990).

Born on August 2: Jack Warner (1892), Shimon Peres (1923), Wes Craven (1939).

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