Day 75 of Colourisation Project – July 21
On this day July 21,1865, Wild Bill Hickok, shoots and kills Davis Tutt in what is regarded as the first western showdown in America’s Old West history in the market square of Springfield, Missouri.
This ‘gunfight’ is significant in that it is the first recorded showdown where two men slowly walk towards each other across a dusty town square, pull their guns and shoot. The odds of survival are 50/50. The superior gunman wins… great fodder for TV and Film.
Born James Butler Hickok on May 27, 1837 he was known as ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok—how, or when, he acquired this sobriquet is not known for certain however it enhanced the development of his legendary status as a folk character with a reputation as one of the greatest gunfighters of the America’s Old West. He was easily recognisable for his broad brimmed hat, long drooping mustache and long flowing shoulder length hair.
Hickok was involved in several notable shootouts. Ironically though, the most famous gunfighter in the history of the West met his death with his Smith & Wesson revolver still in his holster. He never stood a chance having never seen his murderer, who shot him from behind while he was playing poker in a saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory (now South Dakota). The card hand he held at the time of his death — a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights — has come to be known as the “Dead Man’s Hand”.
Hickok was only 39 years old when he died in 1876.
In death, Hickok’s fame has endured and Hollywood as we know embraced his legendary status and that of other legends of the Old West making Westerns a staple of small-screen entertainment in the 1950s and 1960s.
“Wild Bill was a strange character, add to this figure a costume blending the immaculate neatness of the dandy with the extravagant taste and style of a frontiersman, you have Wild Bill, the most famous scout on the Plains.” – General George Custer,