Nebraska State Historical Society Blog

Weird Wednesday: "Wild Bill" James Hickok Legend is born

 

On this day in 1861, one man shoots another and a legend is born.

Before the Civil War, James Butler Hickok was a driver for Russell, Majors, & Waddell, who operated freighting and stagecoach lines.  While in their employ, he came to Rock Creek Station in Jefferson County, Nebraska Territory, which the company had agreed to purchase from David McCanliss.  It was here that what became known as the Hickok/McCanliss affair occurred on July 12, 1861.  During a dispute over funds from the sale of the station, Hickok killed McCanliss.  His indictment at Beatrice for murder, and the subsequent sensationalization of the tale by pulp writers, launched the "Wild Bill" Hickok legend.

 

 

 David McCanliss                   

 "Wild" Bill Hickok       

 

Rock Creek Station        

 

 Bill of Costs from trial

 

Hickok/McCanliss affair illustration

 

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