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John "Jack" McCall Trials: 1876

A Western Boomtown

In 1876, Hickok went to Deadwood in the Dakota Territory to find financial success and a way to a more quiet life. He had married earlier that year and needed a better way to earn a living than by playing cards as he had done since leaving Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1874. So, when gold was discovered in the Black Hills of Dakota, Hickok went off to strike it rich so he could return home and retire or, at least, enter a less dangerous profession.

Like thousands of others, Hickok headed towards Deadwood, a one-street mining town whose population sprang from nothing to over 15,000 in less than a year. But Deadwood was also an outlaw hangout where, like many places before, Hickok's fame preceded him. As a result, many of the community's seedier types were afraid that Hickok was really there to establish law and order.

Hickok did not find gold, so he returned to gambling. At about noon one day, he entered Carl Mann's No. 10 Saloon and joined a card game. Three hours later, a small, shifty 25-year-old named "Jack" McCall entered the room. While Hickok studied his hand, McCall quickly moved down the bar until he was a few feet behind Hickok's chair. Then, pulling out a gun, McCall shouted, "Damn you, take that!" and fired. Hickok died instantly. He was only 39.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882John "Jack" McCall Trials: 1876 - A Western Boomtown, The First Trial, A Federal Trial For Mccall