It’s been several days, it is hotter than heck here in Southern California, and had to survive the 4th of July. It often feels like we are forted up in the Alamo whent the fourth rolls around, the illigeals in the area fire off all those illigal fire works , and the law enforcement community does no enforcement in regard to it. We simply hunker down and keep the windows closed to keep out the fumes as much as possiable. It is rough on our cats , they do not know what to make of it and our attempts to comfort them are mostly in vain. Our son reported that their dogs clawed the drywall so bad one year they need to repair it.
Any way enough of the bitching and on to the subject of the blog. The last entry I had included Doc Holliday in the title. The entry ran too long and by the time I had finished with Elfigo Baca I was weary and forgot to remove Doc’s name. Also I would like at this time to mention that at one time in the early 70’s I was a member of the Downey, Ca. JC’s. There were two brothers that were members named Baca, and some how the subject of Elfigo came up and they said they were decendants of old Elfigo.
John Henry Holiday, most commonly known ans Doc Holliday, was born near Griffin Georga in 1851. Doc Holliday became one of the most dangerious and fearless killers to ever carry a six shooter. Of course his most famious shootout occured at the OK Corall in the presence of his fast and true friend Wyatt Earp. But this merely puncuated a already tumultuous career.
Holliday spent most of his life just one cough away from permanate residence in the cemetary. Turberculosis killed his mother and struck John Henry at a early age, and gained ground on his lungs on a day-by-day basis. Because of the constant pain he drank to excess as much as two to three quarts a day. He is quoted as telling a friend that liquor would not cure him but made dying a lot more fun.
The nickname “Doc” came from a pratice of dentistry. In thise days no one could save a unhealthy tooth. If it hurt the only remendy was to pull it out. Barbers and traveling medicine men often pulled a tooth for the benifit of a paying crowd, often selling remedys for the prevention of tooth decay afterwards.
Some accounts of Doc’s history go to great length to prove that Doc has recieved a degree in dentistry, however the facts seem to be that he graduated from nowhere, but recieved his “skills” by observation. Afterwards buying himself a pair of pliers and a cheap shingle set himself up in business.
While he praticed his trade through most of his lifetime, he never earned a living as a dentist. He survived as a gambler at which he was quite good. He left Georgia in the early 1870’s and headed to Dallas. He left behind at least one, possiably three dead negroes. He caught the three splashing around in what he regarded as his private swimming hole on the Withlacoochee River. His pistol banged and the water ran red. The authorities declined to prosecute, but Doc left anyway.
Doc’s nasty temperment continued to get worse as the years progressed. On New Year’s in 1875 Doc exchanged shots with a saloon owner named Charles Austin. On that rare occasion Doc missed and was arrested, charged with disturbing the peace and fined.
Over the next few years Doc driftedto Fort Griffin and Fort Davis in Texas. In Jacksboro he fought with a Fort Richardson soldier who came out second best. After the funeral Doc prudently left town
In Fort Griffin (near Alilene, Texas), Holliday met Wyatt Earp and Katherine Elder, the later known around saloons as Big Nosed Kate Fisher. (see the chapter on old west prostitutes). She sometimes at this time used the name Kate Earp, a indication her relatonship with Wyatt Earp might have a little closer than thought at one time.
The relationship between Kate and Doc florishied off and on over the next few years. Doc’s expectitations of dying from his tuberculosis seemed to be somewhat premature. As custom, he and a fellow card player had a falling out. The opponent reached for his gun too slow, Doc stuck him with a knife. several of the other players thought Doc should be measured for a hemp necktie. They gathered in front of the jail demanding his presence at a special pary they had planed for him. The men guarding Doc showed no real intrest in protecting their charge, only marking time untill they could relent after giving a show of defending him.
Kate set fire to a barn distracting the crowd from the jail, releasing doc they fled on horses she had saddled and had waithing for them. Thereby saving doc from choling on somethimg more than his wasting lungs.
They tried Kansas City taking rooms at a bording house as Mr. and Mrs. John Holliday (they never officaly married). Doc hung out his shingle and kept out of trouble for awhile. However trouble loomed when Kate observed all the cowhands strolling the streets. She could see all the dollar signs going to waste. Doc and Kate fought over her returning to prostitution, however Kate had her own way. This was only the first of their many and stormy fights.
Later in Dodge, Holliday confineded his woes to Wyatt Earp who merely grinned and shook his head. Explaining to Doc, that in his long experences with women he did not under stand them either.
Not long after Texas ranchers Tobe Driskill and Ed Morrison brought their trail herd to Dodge. Killing Earp was high on the list of priortys of some to the hands and all they wanted was a opportunity. As wyatt only carried a six shooter he was trying to make it to the Longbranch Saloon where he kept a loaded shotgun stacthed. Just feet from the door the wadies caught up with him and cornered him against the wall.
It looked like Wyatt might not live to tell any tall tales to his biographers. At that instant the doors swung open and out stepped Doc with Wyatt’s shotgun. while Doc cowed the cowboys with the shotgun Wyatt slapped Driskill over the head with his long barrled pistol and the cowboys spent the night in jail.
Doc grew tired of Dodge and hired his services to the Colorado railroad war brewing between the Santa Fe and the Denver Rio Grande in the spring of 1879, finally the diffrences were worked out and Doc drifted to Las Vegas, New Mexico. Some where near Trinidad, Col. he adgedly killed two men and wounded a gambler named Kid colton.
In Las Vegas he purchased half interest in a saloon, he hired a waitress (among her other duties) who was the mistress of a Mike Gordon. In the afternoon of July 19, 1979, Mike fired a shot through the door of the saloon from across the street. No one paid much attention to the first round. Howerer when Mike sent a second ball through the walls, Doc thought enough was enough. Using a shotgun he blew too many holes in Mike for the local doctor to put corks in. Gordon dieded the next day and some of the towns people felt Las Vegas might be a better place to live if Doc was to relocate elsewhere.
Doc had tired of Las Vegas and was ready to move on. Also Kate had caught up with him and to his own admitted disgust he took her back. Hearing that Wyatt Earp has relocated to Toombstone, Arizona, Doc headed there.
The rest is history in the Wyatt Earp chapters of this blog. Also you might note that many times it was mentioned that Doc used a shotgun in his exploits, this seems a fair assesment of Doc that when he had the choice the shotgun was his prefered weapon. Also when once asked about his loyality to Wyatt Earp he is supposed to have said thet “Wyatt saved my life in dodge once”, I have found no record of this event in my readings, but who knows? It is often said Doc was fearless in the face of death. Was he hoping for a bullet to end the pain before the deadly illness that stalked him all his life?? Or was he just a deadly killer with no regarg for other life??
So once again it is time for me to rambel on.