Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Hickok, 'Wild Bill' (James Butler) from Philip's Encyclopedia

US frontiersman. A renowned marksman, he was a scout first with the Union Army during the American Civil War, and then with George Custer. He served as US marshal in Kansas (1869-71), and later toured with the Wild West show of 'Buffalo Bill'. He was shot dead while playing poker.


Summary Article: Hickok, Wild Bill
From Britannica Concise Encyclopedia

Wild Bill Hickok. Credit:Culver Pictures

(born May 27, 1837, Troy Grove, Ill., U.S.—died Aug. 2, 1876, Deadwood, Dakota Territory) U.S. frontiersman. He left home in 1865 to farm in Kansas, where he became involved in the Free State (antislavery) movement. He later served as a constable in Monticello, Kan. While working as a stage driver in 1861, he shot and killed the outlaw Dave McCanles; legends of his marksmanship probably began in the exaggerated accounts of his role in this incident. He was a Union scout and a spy in the American Civil War (1861–65); after the war, he was appointed deputy U.S. marshal (1866–67). His ironhanded rule as sheriff of Hays City (1869–71) and as marshal of Abilene (1871) helped tame these Kansas towns. While seated at a poker table in a saloon, he was shot dead by a drunken stranger, Jack McCall.

Birth Place: Troy Grove, Illinois, United States

Death Place: Deadwood, South Dakota, United States

Name: Hickok, Wild Bill or Wild Bill Hickok

Gender: male

Nationality: American

Activity: American frontiersman

Keywords: Hickok, Wild Bill, West, the, Troy Grove, American, pioneer, South Dakota, Illinois, Wild Bill Hickok, law enforcement, Deadwood

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Copyright 1994-2017 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc

Related Articles


Full text Article Wild Bill Hickok 1837-1879
The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English

A gunman who became famous for his skill with a pistol. James Butler Hickok worked variously as a gambler, wagonmaster, spy during the...

Full text Article Hickok, Wild Bill
Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

James Butler Hickok (1837-76), US soldier and scout, was called Wild Bill. As a renowned pistol shot in his early days, he served as a stage driver

Full text Article Hickok, Wild Bill
Chambers Biographical Dictionary

originally James Butler Hickok 1837-76 US frontier marshal Born in Troy Grove, Illinois, he became a stagecoach driver on the Santa Fe and Oregon tra

See more from Credo