In recent years there have been many movies made that have had excerpts of Western Legend Doc Holliday. Most have had to do with his exploits with Wyatt Earp.
Holliday was born in Griffin, Georgia on August 14, 1851. In 1870 John entered Dentistry school. The lecture session each lasted three months. He attended school from 1870-72. He then served two years of apprenticeship under Dr. Arthur Ford in Atlanta, Georgia. Holliday was a good dentist but, early in his career he developed tuberculosis. the consensus of his doctors was that he only had a few months to live. With this in mind, he headed west. In 1873 he set up shop in Dallas, Texas. However, his disease kept after him.
He started gambling as way to live. He knew that with this type of living style, he would have to be able to defend himself, so he practice with a knife and six shooter. In a very short span of time he was involved in three gunfights. On one occasion he killed a soldier from Fort Richardson. this brought the government in to investigate. A reward was offered for him, so he moved on. He went to Colorado and changed his name to Tom Mackey. He drifted around the west going from Wyoming to New Mexico and back again to Texas.
Holliday mat the love of his life while dealing cards. Her name was “Big Nose Kate”. She was a madam at a local house. She had a mind of her own and belonged to no man. However, she had a fondness for Holliday and the two became very close.
Doc would best be considered a fatalist. condemned to a slow death by disease, Holliday feared no one or thing. In a poker game with Ed Bailey, Holliday completely disemboweled Bailey with a knife. Bailey would pick up doc’s cards that had been discarded to see if Doc was cheating. doc warned him twice. Bailey drew a six shooter but, it was too late. Doc’s knife made short work of Bailey.
Holliday first met Earp in Dodge City, Kansas. Earp became out numbered by a group of cowboys. Holliday dealing cards at the time, heard the commotion and stepped in to help Earp. Earp at the time was looking for Dave Rudabaugh. Wyatt never forgot that doc had saved his life. the two became close friends and moved from Dodge to Tombstone.
Holliday arrived in tombstone in the early summer of 1880. Prior to his arrival, he had won $40,000 in Prescott, Arizona. He was doing very well with his poker. the Earp’s and Holliday were on a collision course with the cowboys at the OK Corral. Throughout the summer, both the Earp’s and Holliday had had several skirmishes with the cowboys. Finally on January 17, 1882 the showdown became one of the most famous gun battles of the old west. For over a year after the famous battle, assassinations and gunfights occurred. However, within a year, most of the cowboys had been killed.
Doc moved on to Denver, Colorado and in early May of 1882 he was arrested by the brother of a man he had previously killed in Tombstone. On May 30, 1882, while awaiting extradition to Arizona, Doc’s case was expelled by Governor Pitkin. He simply refused to let Holliday go back to Arizona. He left Denver and went to Leadville. While there in Hyman’s Saloon. Around 5 pm on August 19, 1884, he ran into two old enemies from Tombstone. He shot Billy Allen numerous times. He would have kept firing but, was disarmed local people in the saloon. He was acquitted of all charges.
With his health failing, Doc went to Glenwwod Springs, Colorado. However, the sulfur vapors there did more harm to him than help. He spent the last 57 days of his life in bed 14 of them being delirious. A man who had survived four attempts to hang him, ambushed five times, shot in several gunfights, finally died from tuberculosis on November 8, 1887. He was only 36 years old. Right before he died he asked for a glass of whiskey, downed it in one gulp and said, “This is funny.”