WILD BILL HICKOK – 1 TROY OUNCE – 39MM
On May 27, 1837, Wild Bill Hickok, byname of James Butler Hickok was born in Homer, Illinois, now known as Troy Grove. He was raised in Illinois in a time of rampant lawlessness and vigilante activity caused by the rise of the “Banditti of the Prarie.” The Banditti was a loose-knit gang of criminals that plagued Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio during the early-to-mid 19th century. Hickok was drawn to the ruffian lifestyle and headed west at the age of 18.
In 1856, he arrived in Kansas which was embroiled in a violent conflict over whether slavery should be permitted. Hickok joined the anti-slavery Free State Army of Jayhawkers and, having already become skilled as a youth with a gun, served as a bodyguard for a General. During this time, he prevented the beating of an 11-year-old boy, who grew up to become Buffalo Bill Cody, Hickok’s longtime friend.
In 1858, Hickok’s growing reputation of fairness and courage landed him the position of constable in Monticello, Kansas. It was at this time that Hickok became a teamster with the Pony Express. It was on a Pony Express trip that he came across a bear blocking the road and when he shot it, it became even more enraged. He wrestled the bear and slit its throat, but was almost crushed to death in the fight and was bedridden for months before he went to southern Nebraska to work the Pony Express station at Rock Creek.
In July 1861, shortly after the start of the Civil War, Hickok was guiding a Union Calvary detachment through southern Nebraska, when he stopped to visit an old friend at Rock Creek Station. There, he was warned about a Confederate gang led by David McCanles who was pursuing him. Almost immediately, they were confronted by the gang and McCanles attempted to shoot Hickok, but Hickok acted faster and shot McCanles in the chest. Hickok killed five more members gang members before being attacked by three others but killed them with a knife. There are many versions and discrepancies of this story, but an article was later published in Harper’s magazine which made Hickok an instant legend whose gunfighting prowess became legendary.
Hickok may have picked up the nickname “Wild Bill” for his courageous fighting for the Union Army during the civil war which included service as a spy, a scout, and a sharpshooter.
After the war, Hickok continued with his adventurous ways, involved in many gunfights, and in 1869 becoming the sheriff of Hayes, Kansas, where he killed several men in shoot outs. He was then appointed as Marshall of Abilene, Kansas where again, he killed several men, including the accidental killing of this deputy which later attributed to his dismissal.
In 1873, he joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s “The Scouts of the Prarie,” which was based in New York, and though it brought him much needed income, he was not happy and began to drink heavily. He returned to the West in 1874.
In Cheyanne, Wyoming, Hickok married Agnes Lake Thatcher in 1876. A month later he left his new bride in Cinncinatti and headed for the goldfields in the Dakota Territory where he planned to make enough money to send for her. He traveled west to Deadwood in a wagon train that included Jane Cannary (“Calamity Jane”), who later claimed she had secretly married Hickok. Deadwood was overrun with miners, gunmen, and gamblers and Hickok became a peace officer there in July of 1876. He relied much upon his reputation as on his diminishing gun skills, which were compromised by failing eyesight.
On August 2, 1876, during a poker game in a saloon that found him with his back uncharacteristically to the door, Hickok was shot in the back of his head by Jack McCall, who may have been hired to kill him.
- Contains 1 Troy Ounce .999 Fine Silver
- Obverse: A depiction of Wild Bill Hickok based on one of the most famous photos known. “WILD BILL HICKOK” above the portrait curved along the circumference.
- Reverse: The common reverse for the series, it includes many iconic images of the old west. Centered, a blank badge wrapped with a cowboy’s rope, a horned bull skull centered, with opposing six-shooters at 10 and 2 o’clock, and finally, two horseshoes at three o’clock, and a small badge at nine o’clock with the Intaglio mint mark. Hallmark at 6 o’clock curved on the lower circumference.