Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Ducks and Docs (Holliday, That is) ([Mostly] Wordless Wednesday)

Remember that old preschool game? Duck, duck goose? Let's play!



GEESE! (close enough)

Now let's talk about...

oc Holliday!

Born on August 14, 1851, John Henry Holliday, aka Doc Holliday, was the son of a Confederate soldier and pharmacist. His mother died of tuberculosis (consumption) when he was fifteen. Seven years later, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, as well, and had to give up his dental practice when his coughing fits became so extreme that he could no longer do dental procedures without risk. He left Georgia for Texas, the end of the railroad, in order to get to a warmer, dryer climate.

Doc didn't really fit in, seeing as how he was an educated and cultured man, who'd had a wealthy upbringing. He took to gambling to make his way, using his intelligence to kill at the poker table. He often acted as a dealer, as well.

Gambling being a dangerous pursuit at the time, he frequently practiced with his six-shooter, becoming quite proficient with it. Doc was a short tempered man, though, and his ability with the gun made him quite deadly. His first documented gunfight was in January of 1875; neither man was wounded. However, a few days later he killed another man in a gunfight. The man he'd killed was a prominent citizen, and he was chased out of town by a posse, ending up in Jacksboro, Texas. Jacksboro was lawless, so the three gunfights that followed shortly behind his arrival didn't bring any punishment for him. He became a Faro dealer, wearing visible guns so troublemakers would steer clear.

In 1876 he killed his third man, a soldier, over a disagreement. The U.S. government put a bounty on his head, and he was once again run out of town. He fled to Denver City and started dealing Faro again, but another argument led to him attacking another man with a knife. The man was mutilated, though he lived, and folks forced Doc out yet again.

He ran back to Texas, where he met U.S. Marshall Wyatt Earp, who was chasing Dave Rudabaugh, a train robber. Doc had played cards with the man and spoke with Earp, telling him where he suspected he'd gone. Earp contacted Bat Masterson, a sheriff in Dodge City, and Rudabaugh was captured. Doc and Earp became friends, and everything was going well until a man started trouble at the card table. He pulled his gun on Doc Holliday, who gutted him with his knife. By this time, Doc was infamous for his kills, and the town turned on him, despite the fact that this time it was self defense. He was arrested and placed in a guarded hotel room (there was no prison in the town), but Big Nose Kate helped him to escape before the lynch mob arrived. Together, they fled to Dodge City, where Doc set up his dental practice again, and Kate promised to leave prostitution behind her.

Kate was bored with this life, though, and they broke up, going their separate ways for a time. In response, Doc returned to gambling, though he didn't kill anyone for quite some time, staying lawful out of respect to his friend, Wyatt Earp. It wasn't until a couple of troublemakers, some cowboys, busted into the saloon and threatened to kill Wyatt Earp. Doc snuck up behind them and held a gun to their leader's head, allowing Earp to disarm them.

Doc's next kill occurred in Trinidad, Colorado, when Kid Colton challenged him to a gunfight. Some say he wanted to make a name for himself. He did, but not the name he was looking for. Doc took him down with two bullets.

In a roundabout way, Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and Big Nose Kate all ended up together again in Tombstone, Arizona. Doc had killed one more man in a face-to-face gunfight, and been chased out of yet another town by a lynch mob.

Earp and his brothers had come out to mine for silver, but Wyatt ended up being deputized by his brother. A local outlaw gang, The Cowboys, resented the arrival of law, and went on a crusade against the Earps and Doc. When a stagecoach robbery was committed, with two people killed, The Cowboys pointed the finger at Doc. Big Nose Kate was plied with liquor by the sheriff and signed an affidavit saying Doc had been the shooter; she was angry with him for tossing her out (again). She took it back once she sobered up, but Doc had finally had enough and kicked her out for good, sending her away.

On October 25, 1881, Doc and Ike Clanton, one of The Cowboys, got into an altercation when Doc had enough of the threats against him and the Earps. They were split up by Virgil Earp, but Ike promised to see him the next day in a showdown. The next day, The Cowboys gathered to hijack Doc Holliday, a ways down from the O.K. Corral. The sheriff notified the Earps, who gathered Doc up and headed down to arrest the other men.

The actual gunfight lasted only about 30 seconds, with three of the Cowboys dead, and Virgil and Morgan Earp wounded. The sheriff showed up after the fact, having refused to be a part of the originally intended arrest, and arrested Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday for murder. They were ultimately found to have acted within the law.

This became an all-out war between the two sides, with several more altercations, including Morgan Earp being shot in the back while playing pool. Wyatt Earp sought revenge for his brother's death, and Doc Holliday stayed by his side the entire time. This posse killed nineteen men who had been involved in a little over a year. Several warrants were put out for their arrests, but no man dared confront them.

Wyatt and Doc headed up to Colorado, where Doc was arrested by a man who claimed to have witnessed one of their killings. Doc made public that those who had stood against them that day were all outlaws, and the governor eventually freed him. He and Wyatt headed back down to Arizona, killing one more of the Cowboys along the way.

Doc ended up in Leadville, Colorado, living peacefully until another member of the Cowboys showed up in town. He waited for the man in a saloon and fired over his head when he walked in. The man fled, Doc was tried for attempted murder, but he was let off. He moved back to Denver, his health worsening, and met up with Wyatt Earp. He then went to Glenwood Springs, hoping to heal in the famous springs, but he died November 8, 1887, his feet bare, much to his chagrin. He'd expected he'd die with his boots on, shot, knifed or hanged.

Not a bad run for a man who went west to die.

Was Doc Holliday a bad guy? Seen any of these Old West towns mentioned in this post? Do you get Canadian geese in your area?

May you find your Muse.

*Letter D courtesy of NanoMobile, via
**Headshot of Doc Holliday [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
***Big Nose Kate public domain via Wikimeida Commons
****Doc Holliday (standing) in Prescott, AZ by Tkandell at en.wikipedia [Public domain, Public domain or Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons


Libby said...

Wow. Just wow. That was long but it flowed so quickly! What a great way to start the day, even though it was full of killing and gun fights and mutilations and knives. Who am I fooling, that's exactly why I watch the news.

Unknown said...

Again, another story that could make such a great novel-- never heard of Doc either, but now I'm glad to make his acquaintance.

The duck, not so much, lol

Cherie Reich said...

Duck, duck, goose!

I love seeing ducks and geese. :)

And that's such great information about Doc Holliday.

Dani said...

Doc Holliday is one of my favs! I loved Val Kilmer in Tombstone. He played him perfect, I thought.

Gossip_Grl said...

I have enjoyed reading your posts and can't wait for more. :) I always thought that there was something romantic about the Old West and the tales that have been told, but have never been to an Old West Town, but would love to visit especially one of the old ghost towns. :)

Debra Harris-Johnson said...

Normally I'm not attracted to bad boys but Doc has always been hot to me. Don't tell my husband I said that sssh.

fidel said...

First of the ducks reminded of the pool game Marco Polo...We didn't play the one you mentioned.

One of the original serial killers with a mission...nice!

Unknown said...

I loved the picture of the duck's butt LOL, and thoroughly enjoyed the history lesson. It was well written and so interesting. Thank you for visiting my site and for the encouragement you gave!!


Annalisa Crawford said...

I've heard of this guy before, but not in context. That was really interesting.

Erin M. Hartshorn said...

Love the duck, duck, geese photos!

My first introduction to Doc Holliday was actually in the original Star Trek episode "Spectre of the Gun." I've read a little more since then, but never such a comprehensive biography. Thanks for the lowdown.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never knew the full story - just what I'd seen in the movie Tombstone. "I'll be your Huckleberry..."

Jenn said...

Another great story-- I never knew all this about Doc Holiday!!

As for the ducks and geese--they are every where here. I have a pic with the duck's rear sticking up too. I always get a kick out of that!!

Great post!!

Cheers, Jenn

Chuck said...

Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday in Tombstone is his finest performance. Sounds like the legend and the movie followed pretty close together. And it is my favorite western!

Christine Rains said...

Your duck game made me laugh! We get geese in the area, but nowhere close enough to walk to. Love your Doc post. I didn't know all that about him.

Monkey said...

WOW! I learned a lot..
~blog hopping from A to Z challenge~

Rebecca said...

cool post i learned a few things i didn't know about doc holiday

Unknown said...

I didn't know there really was a place called Tombstone!!! I remember stories of Doc Holliday and Earp - they led such colorful lives, didn't they? Not that I'd like to be in a face off. Seems like most of his killing was in self-defence though.
You know, I feel very deprived - I've never heard of duck, duck goose (sounds like fun though!)

Leslie S. Rose said...

Love the duck, duck, goose. Boy those Canadian Geese can be mean suckers. The Doc Holliday/Wyatt Earp story is one of my favorites.

Sonnia J. Kemmer said...

Very informative post! I love ducks and geese!

A Ladybug's Life


Andrew Leon said...

I think Doc was a good guy with a bad temper. Not one he couldn't control, though, until he thought he was going to die. At that point, what's the point? Why hold back?

Anonymous said...

Loved this post! Have to look up more on Big Nose Kate, did not know about her.

And yes on the geese, lots of them in Alberta now, making their way up north. Quite the thing to see flock after flock flying over head!

DL Hammons said...

Nope...not like he was portrayed in the movies at all! Thanks for raising my knowledge a notch! :)

DL @ Cruising Altitude 2.0
Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Precy Larkins said...

Hm, not familiar with Doc Holliday. But his story is fascinating!

Maryannwrites said...

I agree about Tombstone and Val Kilmer doing such a great job as Doc. Loved the history lesson.

Unknown said...

He sounds like a complete badass. I wouldn't want to mess with him!

Jamie Gibbs
Fellow A-Z Buddy
Mithril Wisdom

Corinne said...

Oooh, lots of interesting info. here on the Doc. Classic film fan here, so my favorite was Jason Robards' portrayal in Hour of the Gun.

Thanks for this fun and educational posting.

Onward E to Z.

Sue said...

Glad I didn't meet up with him! Sounds like a bit of an unhappy chap, maybe he missed having a secure job ;)

Sue: An A-Z of Climate Matters

A. K. Fotinos-Hoyer said...

Tombstone is one of my favorite movies. And Doc Holiday just makes that movie. Thanks for the history on him - loved it :)

mindthagap said...

Very fun history lesson. I had no idea there was so much of a story! Thanks

Jenny Woolf said...

Love the way ducks upend themselves. Thanks for your email, glad the items arrived safely. Happy Easter!

Lynn said...

I always find that old wild west history fascinating. Great D post!

Jessica L. Celaya said...

I'm learning so much and it's so interesting. Also, I loved duck duck goose! Thanks for posting.

Julie Flanders said...

Like some others have said I only knew about Doc Holliday from the Tombstone movie, the whole story here was fascinating. And, I loved the ducks and geese, especially the duck butt! :D

Shannon Lawrence said...

Libby, you cracked me up. Thanks for the laugh, and glad you enjoyed it!

Damyanti, you need to find a copy of Tombstone! I'm not sure if that one would have been popular overseas or not.

Cherie, I do love them. I know they're not uncommon or anything, but they sort of are around here.

Danielle, I definitely agree. Best Doc EVER!

Gossip Girl, I drove through Dodge City (I think it was) in Kansas on the way back to Colorado from Texas. Unfortunately, everything was closed and a massive hail storm hit us. I've always wanted to go back. We do have a neat touristy-type place with gunfights and old buildings and such. Can't wait to take my kids!

Debra, it'll be our little secret.

Fidel, haha, interesting way to see it! Duck, duck, goose is a preschool/kindergarten-type game where the kids sit in a circle and one walks around tapping their heads, saying "duck" for each head. When the child says "Goose" the child they've tapped has to get up to try to catch them before the runner settles into the tapped one's spot. The one left standing is "it." Boy, I never tried to explain that game before, and I'm not sure I made any sense!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Kathy, my pleasure! I'm glad someone appreciated the duck butt, LOL! I got suck a kick watching them all keep doing that while they ate.

Annalisa, thanks!

Erin, interesting! Sounds like that was a fun episode?

Alex, I kept waiting for that line to come up in real life, but was quite disappointed by it not being there. Haha!

Jenn, haha, me, too! We are somewhat lacking on lakes, so I don't get to see lake birds as much as I used to in Maryland. I'd love to see a swan again. Funny, how much one takes for granted until it's gone, you know? Given, I get to see many other amazing things, so I'm by no means complaining!

Chuck, he was fantastic in Tombstone! One of my favorite westerns, as well.

Christine, I'm glad! I find it a little funny that Colorado is the geese's winter place. Just a liiiiiittle bit farther south, guys...

Shannon Lawrence said...

Monkey, I'm happy to hear it!

Becca, me, too! LOL!

Susan, it's a cute kid's game. Preschool-type age. And, yes, it's a real place! They definitely read interesting and rather intense lives.

Leslie, and they kept eyeballing us! I kept the kids away from them. I remember a swan chasing my brother in Maryland. While hysterical (because he was unharmed), it did tell us to stay away from them.

Sonnia, thank you!

Andrew, it does seem he was a rather controlled man. Just not one to mess with at all.

Deb, that must mean ours are on the way out, though we get some who stay all year, I think. Now, Big Nose Kate, she was trouble!!

Shannon Lawrence said...

DL, I have to tell someone, because my kids aren't old enough to be into the west yet!

Cherie, he is one of the most colorful characters of the old west, I think.

Maryann, I think that is my favorite Val Kilmer role!

Jamie, nor I!

Corinne, I'm curious if I've seen that. I grew up on westerns (my mom was a John Wayne fan, and both parents were Eastwood fans), so I likely have, but don't remember it. I'll need to look that one up!

Sue, could be! ;-p

A.K., I agree that he made that movie. It may have been about Wyatt, but Doc was the one people left thinking about, I think.

Mindgap, thank you!

Jenny, Happy Easter to you, too! I think it's great fun when they do that, but think that, evolutionarily thinking, it's not the best way to stay safe while eating.

Lynn, thank you, me, too!

Jessica, thank you! I loved duck, duck, goose as a kid.

Julie, hee hee, I'm glad you appreciated the duck butt!

Sarah Tokeley said...

I love these posts, because I learn so much more about names I know :-)

Shannon Lawrence said...

Sarah, thank you! Very nice of you to say.