MURDER OF WILD BILL HICKOCK AT DEADWOOD
TRAVELER, AUGUST 30, 1876 - FRONT PAGE.
Murder of Wild Bill at Deadwood,
and the Trial of the Murderer.
[Special Correspondence of the Inter-Ocean.]
DEADWOOD, D. T., Aug. 3, 1876.
Yesterday afternoon about 4 o'clock the people of this city were startled by the report of a pistol shot in the saloon kept by Messrs. Lewis & Mann. Your correspondent at once hastened to the spot and found J. B. Hickock, commonly known as Wild Bill, lying senseless upon the floor. He had been shot by a man known as Jack McCall. An examination showed that a pistol had been fired close to the back of the head, the bullet entering the base of the brain, a little to the right of the center, passing through in a straight line, making its exit through the right cheek between the upper and lower jaw bones, loosening several of the molar teeth in its passage, and carrying a portion of the cerebellum through the wound. From the nature of the wound, death must have been instantaneous.
A jury was convened which decided that J. B. Hickock came to his death from a wound resulting from a shot fired from a pistol in the hands of Jack McCall.
THE TRIAL OF THE MURDERER.
A meeting was called during the evening at McDaniels' Theater, which was given up by Mr. Languishe for that purpose. Officers were elected to conduct the trial, which was set for 9 o'clock this morning. Three men were selected, one to go up Whitewood, another up Deadwood, and the third down Whitewood early this morning, for the purpose of informing the miners of the trial. At the time appointed, the prisoner was led into the theater by the guard, and in charge of Joseph Brown, who had been elected Sheriff, and placed upon the stage beside the table at which was seated Judge Kuykendall and other officers of the court. The Judge called the meeting to order, and, in a neat address asked the people to sustain him in the discharge of the duties which devolved upon him in the unenviable position which they had forced him to accept.
Never did a more forbidding countenance face a court than that of Jack McCall. His head, which is covered by a thick crop of chestnut hair, is very narrow as to the parts occupied by the intellectual portion of the brain, while the animal development is exceedingly large. A small sandy mustache covers a sensual mouth. The nose is what is commonly called "snub," cross eyes, and a florid complexion, and the picture is finished. He was clad in a blue flannel shirt, brown overalls, heavy shoes; and as he sat in a stooping position with his arms across his breast, he evidently assumed a nonchalance and bravado which was foreign to his feelings, and betrayed himself by the spasmodic heavings of his heart.
A hundred names were selected, each written upon a slip of paper and placed in a hat, from which they were taken by one of the committee who had been selected to draw the jurors. Nearly all the list was exhausted before the jury was declared full.
The first witness called was Charles Rich, who said he was in the saloon kept by Lewis & Mann on the afternoon of the 2nd, and was seated at a table playing a game of poker with Wild Bill and several others when the prisoner, whom he identified, came into the room, walked deliberately up to Wild Bill, placed a pistol to the back of the deceased, and fired, saying: "Take that." Bill fell from the stool upon which he had been seated without uttering a word.
Samuel Young testified that he was engaged in the saloon; that he had just delivered $15 worth of poker checks to the deceased, and was returning to his place behind the bar, when he heard the report of a pistol shot. Turning around, he saw the prisoner at the back of Wild Bill, with a pistol in his hand, which he had just discharged, and heard him say "Take that."
Carl Mann, who was one of the proprietors of the saloon, testified that he was in the poker game. He noticed a commotion and saw the prisoner (whom he identified) shoot Wild Bill.
The defense called for the first witness, P. H. Smith, who said he had been in the employ of the defendant for four months. He testified that Mr. McCall was not a man of a quarrelsome disposition, that he had always considered him a man of good character. The witness testified that he had been introduced to Wild Bill in Cheyenne, and drank with him, and that the deceased had a bad reputation, and had been the terror of every place in which he had resided.
H. H. Pickens said that he had known the defendant four years and believed him to be a quiet and peaceful man. Wild Bill's reputation as a "shootist" was very hard; he was quick in using the pistol and never missed his man, and had killed quite a number of persons in different parts of the country.
Ira Ford testified he had known the defendant about one year and stated: "Like a great many other men, he would go upon a spree like the rest of the boys." Wild Bill had the reputation of being a brave man, who could and would shoot quicker than any man in the western country, and who always "got away" with his antagonist.
The defense called several others, the tenor of whose evidence was but a repetition of the foregoing. No attempt was made to show that Wild Bill had ever seen the prisoner.
THE PRISONER'S STATEMENT.
The prisoner was called upon to make a statement. He came down from the stage into the auditorium of the theater, and with his right hand in the bosom of his shirt, his head thrown back, in a harsh, lewd, and repulsive voice, with a bulldog sort of bravado, made the following statement.
"Well, men, I have but few words to say. Wild Bill killed my brother, and I killed him. Wild Bill threatened to kill me if I ever crossed his path. I am not sorry for what I have done. I would do the same thing over again."
The prisoner then returned to his place on the stage.
WILD BILL'S CHARACTER.
The prosecution then adduced testimony to prove that Wild Bill was a much abused man; that he had never imposed on anyone, and that in every instance where he had slain men, he had done so either in the discharge of his duty as an officer of the law or in self defense. Bill's reputation as a gambler was bad.
THE VERDICT--NOT GUILTY.
The case having been placed in the hands of the jury, the theater was cleared, with the understanding that the verdict should be made known in the saloon where the murder was committed. The prisoner was remanded to the house where he had been imprisoned during the night. At 9 o'clock the following verdict was read to the prisoner.
Deadwood City, Aug. 3, 1876: We, the jurors, find the prisoner, Mr. John McCall, not guilty.
CHARLES WHITEHEAD, Foreman.
THE FUNERAL OBSEQUIES.
After the inquest the body of the deceased was placed upon a litter made of two poles and some boards; then a procession was formed, and the remains were carried to Charley Utter's camp, across the creek. Charles Utter, better known as Colorado Charley, had been the intimate friend of the deceased for fifteen years, and with that liberality, which is a feature among mountaineers, had always shared his purse with him. Charley was much affected by the death of his friend, and incensed at the villain who had murdered him. A tepee was pitched at the foot of one of the giant trees which rise so majestically above Charley's camp. Preparations were at once made for the funeral. The following notice was printed and sent out. "Funeral notice. Died, in Deadwood, Black Hills, August 2, 1876, from the effect of a pistol shot, J. B. Hickock (Wild Bill), formerly of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Funeral services will be held at Charley Utter's camp, on Thursday afternoon, August 3, 1876, at 3 o'clock. All are respectfully invited to attend."
SOMETHING FOR BRET HARTE.
At the time appointed a number gathered at the camp. Charley Utter had gone to a great deal of expense to make the funeral as fine as could be had in this country. Under the tepee, in a handsome coffin covered with black cloth and richly mounted with silver ornaments, lay Wild Bill, a picture of perfect repose. His long chestnut hair, evenly parted over his marble brow, hung in waving ringlets over the broad shoulders. His face was cleanly shaved excepting the drooping mustache, which shaded a mouth--which in death almost seemed to smile, but which in life was unusually grave. The arms were folded over the stilled breast, which enclosed a heart which had beat with regular pulsation amid the most startling scenes of blood and violence. The corpse was clad in a complete dress suit of black broadcloth, new underclothing, and a white linen shirt. Beside him in the coffin lay his trusty rifle, which the deceased prized above all other things, and which was to be buried with him in compliance with an often expressed desire.
A clergyman read an impressive funeral service, which was attentively listened to by the audience, after which the coffin lid hid the well known face of Wild Bill from the prying gaze of the world forever.
SCENES AT THE GRAVE.
A grave had been prepared on the mountain side, toward the east, and to that place in the bright sunlight, the air redolent with the perfume of sweet flowers, the birds sweetly singing, and all nature smiling, the solemn cortege wended its way and deposited the mortal remains of Wild Bill.
Upon a large stump at the head of the grave, the following inscription is deeply cut: "A brave man--the victim of an assassin--J. B. Hickock (Wild Bill), aged 48 years; murdered by Jack McCall, August 2, 1876."
The city is now exceedingly quiet, although the people are determined to have no more jury trials.
[JACK McCALL, KILLER OF WILD BILL, ARRESTED IN LARAMIE CITY.]
TRAVELER, SEPTEMBER 13, 1876 - FRONT PAGE.
Jack McCall, or Sutherland, the man who killed Wild Bill at Deadwood, has been arrested in Laramie City by Deputy Marshal Balcombe. He was taken to Cheyenne for examination before U. S. Commissioner Bruner, when, if the evidence against him be sufficient, he will be held to await a requisition from the governor of Dakota, and be taken to Yankton for trial for his crime.
McCall admits that Wild Bill never killed a brother of his, but that he killed Wild Bill because he snatched a card from him during the progress of a game between them.
[MORE ABOUT WILL BILL, KILLED BY JACK McCALL.]
TRAVELER, JANUARY 3, 1877.
More About Wild Bill.
[From the Black Hills Pioneer.]
A Deputy United States Marshal, with a posse of five men, has started in pursuit of John Varnes, now on the "new stampede," who is charged with having procured the death of Wild Bill by paying a sum of money to Jack McCall, alias Sutherland, for committing the deed.
It appears that some time ago, Wild Bill and Varnes had a difficulty in Denver, and the animosity between the two was augmented by a dispute over a game of poker at the Senate saloon, in this city, a short time previous to the death of Wild Bill, at which time Bill interfered in a dispute between Varnes and another man. Bill covered him with his pistol, and arrogated to himself the position of umpire, after which friends interfered and ended the difficulty.
It is not necessary to speak of the arrest and trial of the murderer McCall. Suffice it to say he was arrested by the United States authorities at Cheyenne and taken to Yankton for trial. It appears that he now desires to turn state's evidence, and charges Varnes with having paid him money to murder Wild Bill.
[DEADWOOD, IN THE BLACK HILLS, DESCRIBED.]
TRAVELER, JANUARY 24, 1877.
The Black Hills Pioneer says: "Five months ago where there was a tangled mass of pine and other brush, there stands the city of Deadwood, a city of three thousand inhabitants. The city is a mile long, has over two hundred business houses, a mayor, and a municipal government.
TRAVELER, JANUARY 24, 1877.
Some person or persons drove off Mr. Huff's team from the school house at Salt City Sunday evening, Jan. 14th, and at noon, Monday, he had no trace of them.
Jack McCall, the murderer of Wild Bill, is to be hanged on the first of next March. He says his name is not Jack McCall, but refuses to give his true name.
[TOPICS OF THE TIME.]
TRAVELER, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 1879 - FRONT PAGE.
If Reno had got himself killed at the Little Horn, he would have avoided no end of trouble.
Wild Bill has been killed again--this time in Texas. There cannot be more than two or three of him left alive now.
[ARTICLE ABOUT W. B. HICKOK, KNOWN AS WILD BILL.]
TRAVELER, JULY 25, 1877 - FRONT PAGE.
The murder of W. B. Hickok, known as Wild Bill, a frontiersman, whose fearlessness, skill, and manly beauty Gen. Custer has praised in a magazine article, attracted wide attention about a year ago.
A Cheyenne correspondent of the World gives this new account of the killing.
"Fate brought him to the same card table with Jack McCall, a gambling sharper. On the last hand McCall bet $10 and lost; and when he came to settle, found that he had only $7.50. Bill, remarking, "You oughten't to overbet your pile; that's no way to play cards," handed him back $5 to pay for his lodging and breakfast. Next morning Bill was in a saloon, when McCall came behind him noiselessly, placed the muzzle of his revolver to the back of his head, and killed him."
The same writer sketches the widow of Wild Bill. She has had two husbands, both public characters, and both doomed to a violent death. In 1847, at the age of 15, she married William Lake, a clown, of whose circus she became financial manager. In 1869, while the circus was at Granby, Missouri, a loafer named John Killion, slipped in without paying. Lake ejected the deadhead, who armed himself, returned to the tent, paid his way in, and seeking out Lake, shot him dead. After her husband's death, Mrs. Lake took the management of the circus, which she conducted for three seasons, visiting all parts of the Union. She then sold off her menagerie, apparatus, and stud [?], and in 1875 went to San Francisco. There she remained but a few weeks, going to Cheyenne a year ago last April, where a little afterwards she was married to Wild Bill.
[WILD BILL PETRIFIED.]
TRAVELER, SEPTEMBER 3, 1879.
Wild Bill Petrified.
The Atchison Globe says that the Black Hill Times gives an account of the exhuming of Wild Bill, the celebrated border desperado, on Sunday, the 3rd inst., to be transferred to Mount Moriah cemetery. It will be remembered by our readers that Wild Bill was killed by Jack McCall at Deadwood in 1876, McCall being hanged for the murder afterwards. The Times says that it gets information from Louis Schaenfiel, an old friend of Bill's and in whose memory Bill's many endearing qualities are still bright and green. Colorado Charlie, a partner of Bill at the time of his death, has purchased a lot in the new cemetery, and at his own expense produced a fitting monument of Italian marble that is now daily expected, which will be raised over his new resting place as soon as it arrives. At 4 o'clock Sunday morning the body was uncovered, and at 9 o'clock it was taken out of the grave. The body at interment weighed 180 pounds, but upon its removal it weighed not less than 390. There was no odor or no perceptible decay, and it is supposed by those who examined it that petrifaction had taken place, as it was hard as wood and returned the same sound as a log when struck with a stick. Everything in the coffin was found just as it was placed there, and the rumor that the grave had been rifled was all bosh. The only article buried with the body was a carbine, and that was in as good a state of preservation as ever. There was no knife and revolvers buried with him as reported, and those who should know say that he never owned a pistol in the Hills. His hair was as glossy and silky as when in life, and a lock of it is now in the possession of Wm. Leonard, musical director of the Gem theatre. His mustache was as hard and seemed like his body to have been petrified.