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By now Hickok's staff included Tom Carson, a nephew of Kit
Carson; James Gainsford; and J. H. McDonald.

On June 28, 1871, another source of income was added to Wild
Bill's salary when the city council authorized the city treasurer to
pay him 50 cents for each unlicensed dog that he killed.

"A committee was appointed," on July 8, 1871, "to confer with
the City Marshall defining him certain duties to be performed;" on
July 15 he was "instructed to stop dance houses and the vending of
Whiskeys Brandies & in McCoys addition to the town of Abilene;"
and on July 22 he was "instructed to close up all dead & Brace
Gambling Games and to arrest all Cappers for the aforesaid
Games." 15

Mrs. Agnes Lake's "Hippo-Olympiad and Mammoth Circus"
showed in Abilene on July 31, 1871, and it was probably on this
occasion that Wild Bill met the widow who was to become his wife
five years later. "The attendance was large at each performance,"
said the Chronicle, August 3.

Further instructions were issued the marshal by the city council
in late summer. On September 2 Hickok was "to suppress all Dance
Houses and to arrest the Proprietors if they persist after the notifi-
cation," on September 6 he was "instructed to inform the proprietor
of the Abilene House to expell the prostitutes from his premises


under the pain and penalties of prosecution," and on September 23
he was told to "notify all prostitutes and gamblers to come forward
and pay fines." 16

The only recorded Abilene shooting scrape in which Hickok was
involved occurred on October 5, 1871. One of the victims was Phil
Coe, who up until August had been part owner of an Abilene saloon.
It has been said that his partner in that business was Ben Thompson.
At the time of the shooting Coe was a gambler. On October 12.
1871, the Abilene Chronicle reported the incident:

On last Thursday evening a number of men got on a "spree," and compelled
several citizens and others to "stand treat," catching them on the street and
carrying them upon their shoulders into the saloons. The crowd served the
Marshal, commonly called "Wild Bill," in this manner. He treated, but told
them that they must keep within the bounds of order or he would stop them.
They kept on, until finally one of the crowd, named Phil. Coe, fired a revolver.
The Marshal heard the report and knew at once the leading spirits in the crowd,
numbering probably fifty men, intended to get up a "fight." He immediately
started to quell the affair and when he reached the Alamo saloon, in front of
which the crowd had gathered, he was confronted by Coe, who said that he
had fired the shot at a dog. Coe had his revolver in his hand, as had also other
parties in the crowd. As quick as thought the Marshal drew two revolvers
and both men fired almost simultaneously. Several shots were fired, during
which Mike Williams, a policeman, came around the corner for the purpose
of assisting the Marshal, and rushing between him and Coe received two of
the shots intended for Coe. The whole affair was the work of an instant. The
Marshal, surrounded by the crowd, and standing in the light, did not recognize
Williams whose death he deeply regrets. Coe was shot through the stomach,
the ball coming out through his back; he lived in great agony until Sunday
evening; he was a gambler, but a man of natural good impulses in his better
moments. It is said that he had a spite at Wild Bill and had threatened to kill
him which Bill believed he would do if he gave him the opportunity. One of
Coe's shots went through Bill's coat and another passed between his legs
striking the floor behind him. The fact is Wild Bill's escape was truly mar-
velous. The two men were not over eight feet apart, and both of them large,
stout men. One or two others in the crowd were hit, but none seriously.

We had hoped that the season would pass without any row. The Marshal
has, with his assistants, maintained quietness and good order and this in face
of the fact that at one time during the season there was a larger number of
cut-throats and desperadoes in Abilene than in any other town of its size on the
continent. Most of them were from Kansas City, St. Louis, New Orleans, Chi-
cago, and from the Mountains.

We hope no further disturbances will take place. There is no use in trying
to override Wild Bill, the Marshal. His arrangements for policeing the city are
complete, and attempts to kill police officers or in any way create disturbance,
must result in loss of life on the part of violators of the law. We hope that all,


strangers as well as citizens, will aid by word and deed in maintaining peace
and quietness.

The Junction City Union reported on October 7, 1871:

Two men were shot at Abilene, Thursday evening. The circumstances were
about as follows, so our informant says: Early in the evening a party of men
began a spree, going from one bar to another, forcing their acquaintances to
treat, and making things howl generally. About 8 o'clock, shots were heard
in the "Alamo," a gambling hell; whereupon the City Marshal, Haycock, better
known as "Wild Bill," made his appearance. It is said that the leader of the
party had threatened to kill Bill, "before frost." As a reply to the Marshal's
demand that order should be preserved, some of the party fired upon him,
when, drawing his pistols 'Tie fired with marvelous rapidity and characteristic
accuracy," as our informant expressed it, shooting a Texan, named Coe, the
keeper of the saloon, we believe, through the abdomen, and grazing one or
two more. In the midst of the firing, a policeman rushed in to assist Bill, but
unfortunately got in the line of his fire. It being dark, Bill did not recognize
him, and supposed him to be one of the party. He was instantly killed. Bill
greatly regrets the shooting of his friend. Coe will die. The verdict of the
citizens seemed to be unanimously in support of the Marshal, who bravely did
his duty.

The Saline County Journal, Salina, October 12, 1871, concluded
its report of the shooting with the statement that Coe had "resided
in Salina a short time during the past summer, and was regarded by
those who knew him as a quiet and inoffensive man."

On October 28, 1871, the Union reported that "one of Wild
Bill's recent victims gets a handsome eulogy in a Texas paper;
Wild Bill never hurts any one who behaves himself."

Another attempt to kill Marshal Hickok was reported in the
Chronicle, November 30:



Previous to the inauguration of the present municipal authorities of Abilene,
every principle of right and justice was at a discount. No man's life or property
was safe from the murderous intent and lawless invasions of Texans. The
state of affairs was very similar to that of Newton during the last season. The
law-abiding citizens decided upon a change, and it was thought best to fight
the devil with his own weapons. Accordingly Marshal Hickok, popularly
known as "Wild Bill," was elected marshal. He appointed his men, tried and
true, as his assistants. Without tracing the history of the great cattle market, it
will suffice to say that during the past season there has been order in Abilene.
The Texans have kept remarkably quiet, and, as we learn from several citizens
of the place, simply for fear of Marshal Hickok and his posse. The Texans,
however, viewed him with a jealous eye. Several attempts have been made to
kill him, but all in vain. He has from time to time during the last summer
received letters from Austin, Texas, warning him of a combination of rangers
who had sworn to kill him. Lately, a letter came saying that a purse of $11,000


had been made up and five men were on their way to Abilene to take his life.
They arrived in Abilene, but for five days they kept hid, and the marshal, al-
though knowing their presence, was unable to find them. At last wearied with
watching and sleepless nights and having some business in Topeka, he con-
cluded to come here and take a rest. As he stood on the platform of the depot
at Abilene he noticed four desperate looking fellows headed by a desperado
about six feet four inches high. They made no special demonstrations, but
when the marshal was about to get on the train, a friend who was with him
overheard the big Texan say, "Wild Bill is going on the train." He was in-
formed of this remark and kept a watch upon the party. They got on the
same train and took seats immediately behind the marshal. In a short time,
he got up and took his seat behind them. One of the party glanced around
and saw the situation, whereupon they left the car and went into the forward
car. The marshal and his friend, then, to be sure that they were after him,
went to the rear end of the rear car. The marshal being very tired, sought
rest in sleep, while his friend kept watch. Soon the Texans came into the
car, and while four of them stood in the aisle, the leader took a position behind
the marshal, and a lady who was sitting near, and knew the marshal, saw
the Texan grasping a revolver between his overcoat and dress coat. The
marshal's friend, who had been a close observer of the party, went to him
and told him not to go to sleep. This occurred about ten miles west of Topeka.
When the train arrived at Topeka, the marshal saw his friend safely on the
bus and re-entered the car. The party of Texans were just coming out of the
door, when the marshal asked them where they were going. They replied,
"We propose to stop in Topeka." The marshal then said, "I am satisfied that
you are hounding me, and as I intend to stop in Topeka, you can't stop here."
They began to object to his restrictions, but a pair of 'em convinced the mur-
derous Texans that they had better go on, which they did. While we cannot
justify lawlessness or recklessness of any kind, yet we think the marshal wholly
justifiable in his conduct toward such a party. Furthermore, we think he is
entitled to the thanks of law-abiding citizens throughout the State for the
safety of life and property at Abilene, which has been secured, more through
his daring, than any other agency.

With the end of the cattle season, Abilene no longer needed the
expensive services of Wild Bill Hickok. In December the city clerk
noted the council's action in the minute book:

Be it resolved by Mayor & Council of City of Abilene That J. B. Hickok
be discharged from his official position as City Marshall for the reason that the
City is no longer in need of his services and that the date of his discharge take
place from and after this 13th day of December A D 1871. Also that all of his
Deputies be stopped from doing duty. On motion . . . that Jas. A.
Gauthie be appointed City Marshall of the City of Abilene, for the period of
one month commencing this 13th day of December A D 1871, at a salary of

Thus ended the Abilene career of James Butler Hickok.

In 1876, Hickok, married now to Mrs. Lake, was in Cheyenne.
A correspondent of the Ellis County Star, Hays, reported seeing
him there in June:



FT. LARAMIE, June 18th, 1876.

We loaded lip and left Denver for Cheyenne about 6 p. m., of the 7th,
and after considerable tugging and pulling arrived at the latter place, on the
morning of the 8th about 7 o'clock. I took a good look at the town and was
indeed astonished to see the substantial improvements made in it since I was
there last. The town is at least four times as large as in 1870. The notorious
Wild Bill is stopping here, and I have been told from a pretty reliable source
that he was arrested on several occasions as a vagrant, having no visible means
of support. . . , 18

A few weeks later Wild Bill was dead shot from behind by
Jack McCall. The report of his death in the Star, August 17, 1876,
erroneously named his assassin Bill Sutherland:


We learn from recent dispatches that Mr. J. B. Hickok, (Wild Bill), well
known to the older citizens of Hays City, was shot in the head and instantly
killed, by a man named Bill Sutherland, while playing cards in a saloon in
Deadwood Gulch, Wyoming [Dakota territory]. From the report it seems
that Bill had killed a brother of Sutherland's in this city, several years ago,
and in revenge the latter shot Bill, taking him unawares.

This is the long-looked for ending of the career of one who deserved a
better fate. For nearly his whole life time Bill was on the frontier, a portion
of the time acting as scout, and then as an officer of the law in some frontier
town. He was elected Sheriff of this county in 1868 [1869], and did good
service in keeping order. While here he killed several men; but all their
acquaintances agreed that he was justified in so doing. He never provoked
a quarrel, and was a generous, gentlemanly fellow. In person he was over
six feet tall, broad-shouldered, and a specimen of perfect manhood throughout.
He was a dead shot, wonderfully quick in drawing and shooting, the latter
faculty filling his enemies with a very wholesome respect, when in his presence.
Living as he did in constant fear of his life, he always kept his revolvers with
him, and had the fellow that shot him given him a fair fight, and not taken
the cowardly advantage that he did, Wild Bill would not have been killed.

1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and
Confederate Armies (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1880-1901), Series I, v. 48,
pt. 1, pp. 810, 819. 2. Some contemporary information concerning the Hickok-McCanles
fight has been reprinted in Nebraska History Magazine, Lincoln, April-June, 1927 (v. 10,
No. 2). The original "Wild Bill" article by G. W. Nichols has also been reprinted in this
volume. 3. Henry M. Stanley, My Early Travels and Adventures in America and Asia
(London, 1895), pp. 5-8. 4. Ibid., p. 97. 5. "Records of the War Department, Office
of the Quartermaster General; Reports of Persons and Articles Hired, 1861-1868," National
Archives. 6. Leavenworth Daily Conservative, December 11, 1867. 7. "Governors' Cor-
respondence," archives division, Kansas State Historical Society. The petition was signed by
many persons including Jack L. Bridges; A. J. Peacock, later a prominent Dodge City resi-
dent; A. B. Webster, several times mayor of Dodge City in the cowtown days; and Samuel
Strawhim, a victim of Wild Bill's marksmanship. It was from the petition signature that the
compilers of this sketch determined the correct spelling of Strawhim's name. 8. See, also,
the Junction City Weekly Union, October 2, 1869, and the preceding footnote. The Union
spelled the name "Strangham." 9. "Governors' Correspondence," archives division, Kansas
State Historical Society. 10. Pages 256, 257. 11. Manuscripts division, Kansas State His-


torical Society. 12. "City Council Minute Book," Records of the City of Abilene, p. 55;
Junction City Weekly Union, April 22, 1871. 13. Abilene Chronicle, May 18, 1871.
14. Page 64. 15. "City Council Minute Book," Records of the City of Abilene, pp. 73, 77,
79, 81. 16. Ibid., pp. 87, 88, 94. 17. Pages 107, 108. 18. June 29, 1876.


(1845?- )

George T. Hinkle was the third man to serve as sheriff of Ford
county, Kansas. In 1877 he had been a candidate for the office
against Bat Masterson and L. E. Deger, but shortly before the elec-
tion he withdrew and threw his support to Deger. Despite this,
Masterson won and became Ford county's second sheriff.

In 1879 Hinkle again ran for sheriff. He received early mention
in the Ford County Globe, September 16, 1879:



EDITOR GLOBE: Will you be kind enough to let the farmers of the east end
of Ford county know through the columns of your paper who the candidates
are that are seeking the office of Sheriff this fall, besides Masterson? We have
enough of the Masterson rule. SUBSCRIBER.

For the information of our subscriber we will say that as yet we have heard
the name of but one man mentioned, aside from the present sheriff, and that is
George T. Hinkel, of this city, who would make an excellent officer. He is not
seeking the office, but would certainly make a strong candidate.

Apparently Hinkle did not campaign actively. The Globe, Octo-
ber 28, 1879, said:

Geo. T. Hinkel hasn't made much of a boom during his canvass; but in his
quiet way he has made many a strong vote.

No person will regret casting a vote for Hinkel for Sheriff. Let all his friends
come out on election day and give him their united support. He is worthy and

At the election on November 4, 1879, Hinkle defeated Bat Master-
son in all of the Ford county precincts and racked up a majority of
136 votes, beating the incumbent 404 to 268. 1

Sheriff Hinkle assumed the duties of his office on January 12, 1880.
The Dodge City Times, January 17, 1880, reported the new sheriff's


The county officers elected in November last, assumed their duties on Mon-
day last. George T. Hinkle as Sheriff, G. W. Potter as County Clerk, and
W. F. Petillon as Register of Deeds. F. C. Zimmerman does not take hold of
the office of Treasurer until October next. Chas. Van Tromp was re-elected to
the office of Surveyor, and John W. Straughn was re-elected to the office of


Sheriff Hinkle has appointed Fred Singer under Sheriff, and John W.
Straughn Deputy Sheriff, and Jailor. Mr. Hinkle is to be congratulated upon
these appointments. Both gentlemen make excellent officers.

One of Hinkle's first official acts was to deliver Arista H. Webb to
the state penitentiary. The Ford County Globe, January 27, 1880,

Sheriff Hinkle and Chas. E. Bassett on last Friday evening departed for the
State Penitentiary with A. W. [H.] Webb, who received his death sentence at
the last term of court in this county. Mr. Webb was charged with the murder
of Barney Martin, and found guilty on said charge.

The newspaper article which described Webb's crime was re-
printed in the section on Charles E. Bassett.

On January 31, 1880, the Times reported that "Sheriff Geo. T.
Hinkle, and Chas. E. Bassett returned from Leavenworth Tuesday
morning, where they safely lodged A. H. Webb, convicted of mur-

In June, 1880, Hinkle was enumerated in the 10th United States
census, his occupation being listed as "saloon liquor dealer" and his
age as 35 years. He had been married to Miss A. C. Robinson, of
Chillicothe, Mo., on May 7, 1879. 2

More prisoners were taken to the penitentiary in July. The Globe,
July 6, 1880, reported:

Sheriff George T. Hinkel and under-sheriff Fred Singer returned yesterday
from their trip to Leavenworth, to which place they took Pat York and Frank
Wilcox, who were sentenced to the penitentiary at the last term of court.

The same type of activity was recorded by the Globe again on
January 25, 1881:


Sheriff Hinkel and Under-Sheriff Fred Singer started for the State Peniten-
tiary last Saturday evening with two prisoners in their charge, to- wit: John Gill,
alias "Concho," convicted of the murder of Henry Heck, and sentenced to 15
years; William Chapman, convicted of Grand Larceny, sentenced to 15 months.
We trust the boys will have ample time for serious reflection during their stay
in the penitentiary.

On March 3 the Dodge City Times reported:

Sheriff Hinkle is slowly recovering. Under Sheriff Singer has been on the
sick list also. We trust they will be all right soon. A. B. Webster has been
acting sheriff for some weeks past, during the sickness of the above named

Whatever the nature of his illness, Hinkle was still not fully re-
covered in May. The Times, May 12, 1881, said that "Sheriff Hinkle
and wife have gone to the Arkansas Hot Springs for the benefit of
Mr. Hinkle s health."


The Ford County Globe, September 27, 1881, reported a Hinkle


Last Sunday night a party gained admittance to the Grand Central Hotel
and interviewed the various sleeping apartments, relieving the occupants of
sundry articles of clothing, pocket change, watches, etc., and escaped as quietly
as he had gained admittance, without detection or hindrance. J. Bambridge,
an occupant of one of the rooms, was interviewed by the petty thief and re-
lieved of a $97 check and $15 in cash. Frank Smith was the next victim, being
relieved of his coat and vest. The proprietor, T. J. Draper, was hunted up
and had his pants pockets turned inside out and the contents taken charge of,
which consisted of articles of no particular value, and relieving him of his vest
and suspenders. From the proprietor's room, he took in nearly every room in the
house, and it is reported that in the grand round-up the party had secured about
$300 in money and checks, several good watches, pocket knives, and numerous
articles of clothing. Sheriff Hinkel was at once informed of the robbery and
was soon on the track of a party by the name of J. H. Gould, who was arrested
on suspicion.

In November, 1881, Sheriff Hinkle, running on the "Peoples' "
ticket against independent Michael Sughrue and three other minor
party candidates, was re-elected by a majority of 35 votes. 3

On December 19 the sheriff received a telegram which stated that
Edward F. Hardesty, formerly a prominent Dodge City attorney,
had killed a man. The Globe, December 20, 1881, reported:

The following dispatch, fully explanatory of itself, came over the wire:

COOLIDGE, Dec. 19.

GEORGE HINKEL, sheriff of Ford county,
Dodge City, Kansas:

Edward Hardesty killed a man named Barney Elliott at six o'clock this morn-
ing. Bring the coroner and come on the first train.

Sheriff Hinkel and Attorney Gryden started on the afternoon train for Cool-
idge, in response to the above telegram.

The Dodge City Times, December 22, described the crime in
more detail:

THE KILLING AT COOLIDGE. A man by the name of Barney Elliott, who was
in the employ of Ed. F. Hardesty, at Coolidge, on the State Line, 125 miles
west, was killed by the latter early on Tuesday morning last. Hardesty was
absent from home Monday night, and returned at daylight. About four o'clock
in the morning Elliott, who in physical appearance resembles Hardesty, entered
Mrs. Hardesty 's room and crept into her bed, leaving the room before daylight.
Upon the arrival of the husband the outraged wife realized the terrible mistake
that had been made and was thrown into hysterics. The husband smarting
under this outrage, procured two revolvers and sought the man who inflicted
this shame and disgrace upon him. When charged with the outrage, Elliott
neither denied nor affirmed it, making no reply. Hardesty avenged the honor


of his wife by firing eleven shots at Elliott, killing him almost instantly. Mrs.
Hardesty is within a few weeks of confinement, and is now in poor condition.
Sheriff Hinkle and Attorney Gryden were summoned to Coolidge. An inquest
was held. From them we gathered the above narrative of circumstances. Har-
desty was brought to this city. Owing to the feeble condition of Mrs. Hardesty
the trial has been postponed. E. F. Hardesty and wife formerly resided in this
city. This sad affair is much regretted.

Elliott was a temperate man and was highly regarded by his acquaintances.
He had been in Hardesty 's employ about five or six days. There was some
indignation in Coolidge over the killing, and mob violence was reported threat-
ened, but Sheriff Hinkel experienced no trouble in bringing the prisoner here.
H. E. Gryden is employed as attorney for Hardesty.

Hardesty was acquitted at the June, 1882, term of the Ford county
district court. 4

Giving no names, the Ford County Globe came out with this
article on January 3, 1882:


Although of common occurrence with the verdant tenderfoot, it is seldom
that an old timer that glorious relic of the halcyon days of yore is unwary
enough to be caught betting on what he considers a sure thing, as was the case
during the late political contest in this county. Unlike the t. f., who, when he
drops his bullion on the above idea, seeks some sequestered nook on the bound-
less prairie in which to weep unseen at his innocence and folly, the o. t. proceeds
to replevin the ingots of gold thus placed in jeopardy and tries to compel the

Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 26) → online text (page 50 of 59)