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Tony Grist

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The Death Of Wild Bill Hickok [Oct. 13th, 2004|09:28 am]
Tony Grist
That's the third time I've seen Bill Hickcok shot. First time was in Little Big Man, second time was in Wild Bill, third time was in Deadwood.

Clearly there's something iconic about this particular death that we keep having to revisit it.

The facts are these. It was August 2, 1876. Hickok was playing poker in Nuttall and Mann's Number Ten Saloon in Deadwood when a loser called Jack McCall came up behind him and shot him in the back of the head. "Take that!" he grunted. McCall's motives are unknown. At the trial he defended himself by alleging that Wild Bill had killed his brother and he'd been executing frontier justice. It got him acquitted.

But McCall never had a brother.

Bill was killed on the spot. The combination of eights and aces he was holding has ever since been known as the Dead Man's Hand.

The grave marker read. A BRAVE MAN, THE VICTIM OF AN ASSASSIN. When the body was disinterred three years later it was found to be pale and hard and untouched by putrefaction- for all the world like that of a catholic saint.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-10-13 12:00 pm (UTC)
When the body was disinterred three years later it was found to be pale and hard and untouched by putrefaction- for all the world like that of a catholic saint.


This brings up all kinds of questions:

- Why was Wild Bill disinterred?
- What IS it about some bodies (I am thinking of the famous Bernadette of Lourdes) that keeps them from decaying?
- Is it a requirement of the Roman Catholic church that bodies be checked out for decay before granting sainthood?

I know very little about Wild Bill. I did know in childhood a girl, Ruthie Berg, whose great-great Aunt, she claimed, had married Frank James, the brother of the notorious Jessie.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-10-13 01:00 pm (UTC)
They were moving the body to another cemetery.

Why didn't he decompose? Maybe he was well pickled in alchol? The same thing happened with Napoleon and in that case it's been attributed to large amounts of arsenic in the body.

I think the Church sees the the non-putrefaction of the body as a sign of sanctity- but not a necessary one..

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[User Picture]From: kaysho
2004-10-13 06:36 pm (UTC)
One thing I've never heard, though ... if he hadn't been killed, would aces and eights have won the pot? :)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-10-13 07:22 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I haven't a clue. I'm completely innumerate and card games terrify me.
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