doc holliday biography

All information about Doc Holliday (Other): Age, birthday, biography, facts, family, net worth, income, height & more. Doc Holliday (born John Henry Holliday, August 14, 1851—November 8, 1887) was an American gunfighter, gambler, and dentist. True bio of famous gunfighter Doc holliday. John Henry Holliday was born in 1851 to parents, Henry B. Holliday and Alice Jane McKey. doc holliday biography

Doc Holliday: One of the Most Famous, and Dangerous, Gunfighters of the Old West

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This is Phoebe Zimmermann. And this is Doug Johnson with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.  Many stories have been told about the old American West.  Some are true. Many more are just interesting stories.  Today we will try to tell the true story of one of the most famous and dangerous American gun fighters.  His name was John Henry Holliday.  He was better known as "Doc".

The little city of Glenwood Springs is deep in the Rocky Mountains in the western state of Colorado.  The mountains here rise sharply out of the ground and surround Glenwood Springs.

A small burial area in Glenwood Springs is called the Pioneer Cemetery.  You have to walk up a steep hill on an old dirt road to reach it. The walk takes about twenty minutes.  Visitors can stop at several places along this walk to look at the city far blow.

In the cemetery, large stones mark most of the burial places.  Some of the stones look new.  Many are more than one hundred years old.

A dirt path leads to the back of the cemetery and one, lone, burial place.  This one is the reason most people come to the Pioneer Cemetery.  The stone over the burial place is colored red, and larger than most of the others.  A small black metal fence surrounds the grave.

The name on the stone says "Doc Holliday… He died in bed."  This man's real name was John Henry Holliday.  He was called "Doc" because he was a doctor of dental surgery, a dentist. But he was best known as a gunfighter and gambler, a person who plays games of chance for money.  Many people who knew him considered him the most dangerous man in the Old West.

It is extremely difficult to separate truth from the false stories that were spread about some of the more famous people in the Old West.  Many of these famous stories are very interesting and exciting.  But they are not true.  Many of these made-up stories tell about the man who was Doc Holliday.

History experts say he was a very dangerous man because he was already dying when he came to the West.  He knew he had the lung disease tuberculosis that causes a slow death.  Many experts said he was not afraid of a gunfight. He thought a quick death from a bullet might be better than waiting to die a very slow, painful death from the disease.

Another interesting fact about Doc Holliday is that many history experts now believe he may have spread several of the stories that were told about him.  He may have done this because it caused people to fear him.  If they feared him, they would not cause him trouble.  It was not difficult to find trouble in many towns in the American West. And disputes about who had won a game of chance were always a possibility for a professional gambler like Doc Holliday.

John Henry Holliday was born in the southern state of Georgia in eighteen fifty-one.  He was born into a family that included several medical doctors and dentists.  Like most young men of the American South at that time, John Henry Holliday learned to ride a horse well.  He learned to shoot several kinds of weapons.

He also was well educated.  He learned math and science.  He learned to read, write and speak Greek, Latin and French.

A young black women who worked for his family taught him to play card games. John Holliday became a very good card player.  He could easily remember which cards had been played in a game. This was very difficult to do.  It helped him much later in life when he became a professional gambler.

In eighteen seventy, John became a student at the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in Philadelphia. He graduated in eighteen seventy-two.

John Holliday was a tall man.  He was thin and always dressed well. He was a quiet, friendly man who always smiled.  People liked him.  Doctor Holliday began working as a dentist in the southern city of Atlanta, Georgia.  He soon began to show the signs of tuberculosis, the same disease that had killed his mother. His doctor said he would live longer if he went to a warm, very dry place -- perhaps the American West.

In eighteen seventy-three, John Holliday said goodbye to his family and left Georgia on a train.  He began his new life in the western city of Dallas, Texas.

Doctor Holliday tried to work as a dentist for about four years.  He was not very successful.  Many people did not want to be treated by a dentist they knew had tuberculosis.  He spent a great deal of time drinking alcohol in a saloon.  It was here that be became known as "Doc" Holliday.

Holliday traveled in Texas and Colorado for the next several years.  He became a professional gambler. In eighteen seventy-seven, he was living in the small town of Fort Griffin, Texas.  Here he met a man who was to become one of his best friends.  That man was a former law officer, gunfighter and gambler.  His name was Wyatt Earp.  Soon after meeting Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday killed a man during a card game.

The man had reached for a gun.  Doc Holliday was much quicker using a long knife.  He had to leave Fort Griffin and Texas very quickly.

The friendship continued between Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp.  In Dodge City, Kansas, Holliday saved Earp's life late one night.  A man drew his gun behind Wyatt Earp.  Doc Holliday yelled a warning, drew his gun and shot the man.

Wyatt Earp had several brothers.  They were a close family.  Many experts believe that the Earp brothers were a replacement for the family Doc Holliday had left in Georgia.  Wyatt and his brothers Morgan and Virgil remained close friends with Doc Holliday for the rest of their lives.

Doc Holliday had become well known in the West.  He became even more famous after he followed the Earp brothers to the town of Tombstone, Arizona.  In Tombstone he took part in the most famous shooting incident in western history.

That shooting incident in Tombstone is known as "The Gunfight at the OK Corral."  It took place on October twenty-sixth, eighteen eighty-one.  It involved Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp and Doc Holliday.   Virgil Earp was an officer of the law.  He was on his way to arrest several men.  Wyatt and Morgan went with him to help.

Doc Holliday joined them as they walked down the street. The men they were going to arrest were also brothers -- Ike and Billy Clanton and Frank and Tom McLaury.

As the two groups came together, Virgil Earp demanded that the Clantons and McLaurys raise their hands and surrender.  They refused.  No one knows who fired the first shot.  All the men began shooting at once.

When it was over, Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury and Tom McLaury were dead.  Ike Clanton had run away.  Morgan and Virgil Earp were wounded, but they survived.  Neither Doc Holliday nor Wyatt Earp was hurt.

Political enemies of the Earp Brothers wanted a trial.  The Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday were arrested and tried.  The jury found them innocent.  It said they were trying to disarm a group of men who wanted a fight.

A few months later, an unknown gunman killed Morgan Earp.  Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday began to hunt the killers.  They killed several men known to have been involved in the murder of Morgan Earp.

No one really knows how many gunfights Doc Holliday took part in.  No one knows just how many people died as a result. Some books say he was responsible for the deaths of as many as thirty men.  But most experts say the number is closer to eight.

History books will tell you Doc Holliday was arrested several times.  Most of the time he was arrested for playing illegal games of chance.  He was also arrested after several shootings.  Often the charges were dismissed because he was only defending himself.  The few times he faced a criminal trial he was found to be innocent.

In the last years of Doc Holliday's life, the West had changed a great deal.  The people there no longer wanted gunfighters or gamblers.

Doc Holliday may have won in games of chance and in several gunfights.  However, he could not use his guns against tuberculosis.  He died in his bed, in the little city of Glenwood Springs, Colorado on November eighth, eighteen eighty-seven.  He was thirty-six years old.

This program was written by Paul Thompson.  It was produced by Mario Ritter.  This is Doug Johnson. And this is Phoebe Zimmermann.  Join us again next week for another EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.


Doc Holliday

John Henry "Doc" Holliday (August 14, 1851 – November 8, 1887) was an American gambler, gunfighter, dentist, and a good friend of Wyatt Earp. He is most well known for his role as a temporary deputy marshal in the events leading up to and following the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
At age 21, Holliday earned a degree in dentistry from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. He set up practice in Atlanta, Georgia, but he was soon diagnosed with tuberculosis, the same disease that had claimed his mother when he was 15. Hoping the climate in the American Southwest would ease his symptoms, he moved to that region and became tcf atm gambler, a reputable profession in Arizona in that day. Over the next few years, he reportedly had several confrontations that were inflated after his death to establish his reputation as a gunman. While in Texas, he saved Wyatt Earp's life and they became friends. In 1880, he joined Earp in Las Vegas, New Mexico and then rode with him to Prescott, Arizona, and then Tombstone. In Tombstone, local outlaw cowboys repeatedly threatened him and spread rumors that he had robbed a stage. On October 26, 1881, Holliday was deputized by Tombstone city marshal Virgil Earp. The lawmen attempted to disarm five cowboys, which turned into the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Following the Tombstone shootout, Virgil Earp was maimed by hidden assailants and Morgan Earp was murdered. Unable to obtain justice in the courts, Wyatt Earp took matters into his own hands. As the recently appointed Deputy U.S. Marshal, Earp formally deputized Holliday and others and as a federal posse, they pursued the outlaw cowboys they believed were responsible. They found Frank Stilwell lying in wait as Virgil boarded a train for California and killed him. The local sheriff issued a warrant for the arrest of five members of the posse, including Holliday. The posse killed three others during late March and early April, 1882, before they rode to New Mexico. Wyatt Earp learned of an extradition request for Holliday and arranged for Colorado Governor Frederick Walker Pitkin to deny Holliday's extradition. Holliday spent the remaining few years of life in Colorado and died in his bed at the Glenwood Springs Hotel of tuberculosis at age 36.
Holliday's colorful life and character have been depicted in many books and portrayed by well-known actors in numerous movies and television series. Since his death, researchers have concluded that, contrary to popular myth-making, Holliday only killed one or two men.

Early life and education

Holliday was born in Griffin, Georgia, to Henry Burroughs Holliday and Alice Jane (McKey) Holliday. He was of English and Scottish ancestry. His father served in the Mexican–American War and the Civil War (as a Confederate). When the war ended, he brought home an adopted son named Francisco and taught Holliday to shoot. Holliday was baptized at the First Presbyterian Church of Griffin in 1852. He had a sister, Martha Eleanora Holliday, born December 3, 1849, who died at the age of six months.

In 1864, his family moved to Valdosta, Georgia, where his mother died of tuberculosis on September 16, 1866. The same disease killed his adopted brother. Three months after his wife's death, his father married Rachel Martin.

Holliday attended the Valdosta Institute, where he received a strong classical education in rhetoric, grammar, mathematics, history, and languages—principally Latin, but some French and Ancient Greek.

In 1870, 19-year-old Holliday left home for Philadelphia. On March 1, 1872, at age 20, he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery (now part of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine). Holliday graduated five months before his 21st birthday, so the school held his degree until he turned 21, the minimum age required to practice dentistry.:50

Begins dental practice

Holliday moved to St. Louis, Missouri, so he could work as an assistant for a classmate, A. Jameson Fuches, Jr.:51 Less than four months later, at the end of July, he relocated to Atlanta, where he joined a dental practice. He lived with his uncle and his family so he could begin to build up his dental practice. A few weeks before his birthday, dentist Arthur C. Ford advertised in the Atlanta papers that Holliday would substitute for him while he was attending dental meetings.

Fight in Georgia

Holliday was reported to have been involved in a shooting on the Withlacoochee River, Georgia, in 1873. At age 22, Holliday went with some friends to their favorite swimming hole, but discovered it was occupied by a group of African-American youths. Holliday and his companions told them to leave, but they refused. Accounts of this event vary. Holliday left and returned carrying either a shotgun or a pistol and started shooting, either at or over the heads of the black youths. Some of the African-Americans may have shot back. There are no contemporary accounts of the incident. Some family members and friends allege that Holliday killed one to three of the youths, but other members of Holliday's family disputed those accounts.:64–67

Diagnosed with tuberculosis

Shortly after beginning his dental practice, Holliday was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He was given only a few months to live, but was told that a drier and warmer climate might slow the deterioration of his health. After Dr. Ford's return in September, Holliday left for Dallas, Texas, the "last big city before the uncivilized Western Frontier.":53, 55

Move to Dallas

When he arrived in Dallas, Holliday partnered with a friend of his father's, Dr. John A. Seegar. They won awards for their dental work at the Annual Fair of the North Texas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Blood Stock Association at the Dallas County Fair. They received all three awards: "Best set of teeth in gold", "Best in vulcanized rubber", and "Best set of artificial teeth and dental ware." Their office was located along Elm Street, between Market and Austin Streets. They dissolved the practice on March 2, 1874, and Holliday opened his own practice over the Dallas County Bank at the corner of Main and Lamar Streets.

His tuberculosis caused coughing spells at inopportune times, and his dental practice slowly declined. Meanwhile, Holliday found he had some skill at gambling, and he soon relied on it as his principal income source. On May 12, 1874, Holliday and 12 others were indicted in Dallas for illegal gambling. He was arrested in Dallas in January 1875 after trading gunfire with a saloon keeper, Charles Austin, but no one was injured and he was found not guilty. He moved his offices to Denison, Texas. But after being found guilty of, and fined for, gaming in Dallas, he decided to leave the state.

Heads farther west

Holliday headed towards Denver, following the stage routes and gambling at towns and army outposts along the way. During the summer of 1875, he settled in Denver under the alias "Tom Mackey" and found work as a faro dealer for John A. Babb's Theatre Comique at 357 Blake Street. While there, he got in an argument with Bud Ryan, a well-known and tough gambler. Drawing knives, they fought, and Holliday left Ryan seriously wounded.

Holliday left after hearing about gold being discovered in Wyoming, and on February 5, 1876, he relocated to Cheyenne. He found work as a dealer for Babb's partner, Thomas Miller, who owned a saloon called the Bella Union Saloon. In the fall of 1876, Miller moved the Bella Union to Deadwood (site of the gold rush in the Dakota Territory), and Holliday went with him.:101–103

In 1877, Holliday returned to Cheyenne, and then Denver, and eventually to Kansas where he visited an aunt. When he left Kansas, he went to Breckenridge, Texas, where he gambled. On July 4, 1877, he had a disagreement with gambler Henry Kahn, and Holliday beat him repeatedly with his walking stick. Both men were arrested and fined, but Kahn was not finished. Later that same day, he shot and seriously wounded the unarmed Holliday.:106–109 on July 7, the Dallas Weekly Herald incorrectly reported that Holliday had been killed. His cousin, George Henry Holliday, moved west to take care of him during his recovery.

Once healed, Holliday relocated to Fort Griffin, Texas. While dealing cards at John Shanssey’s saloon, he met Mary Katharine "Big Nose Kate" Harony, a dance hall woman and occasional prostitute. Her nose was a prominent feature. "Tough, stubborn and fearless," she was educated, but chose to work as a prostitute because she liked her independence. She is the only woman with whom Holliday is known to have had a relationship.:109

Befriends Wyatt Earp

In October 1877, outlaw Dave Rudabaugh robbed a Sante Fe Railroad construction camp and fled south. Wyatt Earp was given a temporary commission as Deputy U.S. Marshal, and he left Dodge City following Rudabaugh over 400 mi (640 km) to Fort Griffin, a frontier town on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River. Earp went to the Bee Hive Saloon, the largest in town and owned by John Shanssey, whom Earp had known since he was 21.:113 Shanssey told Earp that Rudabaugh had passed through town earlier in the week, but he did not know where he was headed. Shanssey suggested Earp ask gambler Doc Holliday, who had played cards with Rudabaugh. Holliday told Earp that Rudabaugh was headed back to Kansas.

Photo of the interior of the Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City, Kansas, taken between 1870 and 1885

After about a month in Fort Griffin, Earp returned to Fort Clark and in early 1878, he went to Dodge City, where he became the assistant city marshal, serving under Charlie Bassett. During the summer of 1878, Holliday and his common-law wife, Harony, also arrived in Dodge City, where they stayed at Deacon Cox’s boardinghouse as Dr. and Mrs. John H. Holliday. Doc sought to practice dentistry again, and ran an ad in the local paper:

John H. Holliday, Dentist, very respectfully offers his professional services to the citizens of Dodge City and surrounding county during the Summer. Office at Room No. 24 Dodge House. Where satisfaction is not given, money will be refunded.

According to accounts of the following event reported by John Flood in his unpublished manuscript and by Glenn Boyer in I Married Wyatt Earp, Earp had run cowboys Tobe Driscall and Ed Morrison out of Wichita earlier in 1878. During the summer, the two cowboys accompanied by another two dozen men rode into Dodge and shot up the town while galloping down Front Street. They entered the Long Branch Saloon, vandalized the room and harassed the customers. Hearing the commotion, Wyatt burst through the front door, and before he could react, a large number of cowboys were pointing their guns at him. In another version, there were only three to five cowboys. Holliday was playing cards in the back of the room and upon seeing the commotion, drew his weapon and forced the men to put their weapons down, rescuing Earp. No account of any such confrontation was reported by any of the Dodge City newspapers at the time. Whatever actually happened, Earp credited Holliday with saving his life that day, and Earp and he became friends.

Other confrontations

Holliday was still practicing dentistry from his room in Fort Griffin, Texas, and in Dodge City, Kansas. In an 1878 Dodge newspaper advertisement, he promised money back for less than complete customer satisfaction, but this was the last known time that he worked as a dentist.:113 He gained the nickname "Doc" during this period.:74

Holliday reportedly engaged in a gunfight with a bartender named Charles White. Miguel Otero, who would later become Governor of New Mexico Territory, said he was present when Holliday walked into the saloon with a cocked revolver in his hand and challenged White to settle an outstanding argument. White was serving customers at the time and took cover behind a bar, then started shooting at Holliday with his revolver. During the fight, Holliday shot White in the scalp. But there are no contemporary newspaper reports of the incident.:120

Bat Masterson, who was known to exaggerate, said that Holliday was in Jacksonboro, South Carolina, and got into a gunfight with an unnamed soldier whom Holliday shot and killed. Historian Gary L. Roberts found a record for a Private Robert Smith who had been shot and killed by an "unknown assailant", but Holliday was never linked to the death.:78–79

Move to New Mexico

Holliday developed a reputation for his skill with a gun, as well as with the cards.:186 In September 1879, Wyatt Earp resigned as assistant marshal in Dodge City and decided to join his brother Virgil in Arizona Territory.

A few days before Christmas in 1878, Holliday and Big Nose Kate arrived in Las Vegas, New Mexico.:18:30–31 The 22 hot springs near the town were favored by individuals with tuberculosis for their alleged healing properties. Doc opened a dental practice and continued gambling, as well, but the winter was unseasonably cold and business was slow. The New Mexico Territorial Legislature passed a bill banning gambling within the territory with surprising ease. On March 8, 1879, Doc was indicted for "keeping [a] gaming table" and was fined $25. The ban on gambling combined with extreme low temperatures persuaded Doc to return to Dodge City for a few months.

In September 1879, Wyatt resigned as assistant marshal in Dodge City. Accompanied by his common-law wife Mattie Blaylock, his brother Jim and his wife Bessie, they left for Arizona Territory.:18:30–31 Holliday and Big Nose Kate returned to Las Vegas where they met the Earps. The group arrived in Prescott in November.

Royal Gorge War

In Dodge City, Doc joined a team being formed by Deputy U.S. Marshal Bat Masterson. He had been asked to prevent an outbreak of guerrilla war between the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, which were vying to be the first to claim a right-of-way across the Royal Gorge, (one of the routes through the Rockies that high and inside pub citizens bank park the continental divide and would reach the Pacific Coast). Both were striving to be the first to provide rail access to the boom town of Leadville. Royal Gorge was a bottleneck along the Arkansas, too narrow for both railroads to pass through, and with no other reasonable access to the South Park area. Doc remained there for about two and a half months. The federal intervention prompted the so-called "Treaty of Boston" to end the fighting. The D&RGW completed its line and leased it for use by the Santa Fe. Doc took home a share of a $10,000 bribe paid by the Denver and Rio Grande to Bat Masterson to give up their possession of the Santa Fe roundhouse, and returned to Las Vegas, NM where Big Nose Kate had remained.

Builds saloon in Las Vegas, NM

The Santa Fe Railroad built tracks to Las Vegas, New Mexico, but bypassed the city by about a mile. A new town was built up near the tracks and prostitution and gambling flourished there. On July 19, 1879, Holliday and John Joshua Webb, former lawman and gunman, were seated in a saloon. Former U.S. Army scout Mike Gordon tried to persuade one of the saloon girls, a former girlfriend, to leave town with him. She refused and Gordon stormed outside. He began firing into the building, and a few hours later, Gordon was found mortally wounded outside. Some attribute the shooting to Holliday, but no conclusive evidence of who killed Gordon was ever found. The next day, Doc paid $372.50 to a carpenter to build a clapboard building to house Doc Holliday's Saloon with John Webb as his partner. While in town, he was fined twice for keeping a gambling device, and again for carrying a deadly weapon.:134

Move to Arizona Territory

Autographed photo of Holliday taken in 1879 in Prescott, Arizona

It appeared Holliday and Kate were settling in to life in Las Vegas when Wyatt Earp arrived on October 18, 1879, with news of the boom going on in Tombstone, Arizona Territory. Holliday and his wife Kate joined Wyatt and his wife Mattie, Jim Earp and his wife and step daughter, and they all left the next day for Prescott, Arizona Territory. They arrived within a few weeks and went straight to the home of Constable Virgil Earp and his wife Allie. Holliday and Kate checked into a hotel and when Wyatt, Virgil, and James Earp with their wives left for Tombstone, Holliday remained in Prescott, where he thought the gambling opportunities were better.:134 Holliday finally joined the Earps in Tombstone in September 1880. Some accounts report that the Earps sent for Holliday for assistance with dealing with the outlaw Cochise County cowboys. Holliday quickly became embroiled in the local politics and violence that led up to the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in October 1881.

Accused in stagecoach robbery

Holliday and Big Nose Kate had many fights. After a particularly nasty, drunken argument, Holliday kicked her out. County Sheriff Johnny Behan and Milt Joyce saw an opportunity and exploited the situation. They plied Big Nose Kate with more booze and suggested to her a way to get even with Holliday. She signed an affidavit implicating Holliday in an attempted robbery and murder of passengers aboard a Kinnear and Company passenger stage on March 15, 1881, carrying US$26,000 in silver bullion (about $645,248 in today's dollars). Three cowboys stopped the stage between Tombstone and Benson, Arizona.:180

Bob Paul, who had run for Pima County Sheriff and was contesting the election he lost due to ballot stuffing, was riding along as the Wells Fargo shotgun messenger. He had taken the reins and driver's seat in Contention City because the usual driver, a well-known and popular man named Eli "Budd" Philpot, was ill. Philpot was riding shotgun. Paul fired his shotgun and emptied his revolver at the robbers, wounding a cowboy, later identified as Bill Leonard, in the groin. Philpot and passenger Peter Roerig, riding in the rear dickey seat, were both shot and killed.

Holliday was a good friend of Leonard, a former watchmaker from New York.:181 Based on the affidavit sworn by Big Nose Kate, Judge Wells Spicer issued an arrest warrant for Holliday.

Rumors flew that Holliday had taken part in the shooting and murders. Tombstone saloon owner Milt Joyce disarmed Holliday one day when he got into an altercation with fellow gambler Johnny Tyler. Later that day, Holliday heard that Joyce was spreading rumors that Holliday had taken part in the robbery. Drunk, Holliday returned to Joyce's saloon, and insulting Joyce, demanded his firearm back. Joyce refused and threw him out, but Holliday came back carrying a "self cocker" and started firing. Joyce pulled out a pistol and Holliday shot the revolver out of Joyce's hand, putting a bullet through his palm. When Joyce's bartender Parker tried to grab his gun, Holliday wounded him in the toe. Joyce picked up his pistol and buffaloed Holliday, knocking him out.

The Earps found witnesses who could attest to Holliday's location elsewhere at the time of the stagecoach murders, and Kate sobered up, revealing that Behan and Joyce had influenced her to sign a document she did not understand. With the cowboy plot revealed, Spicer freed Holliday. The district attorney threw out the charges, labeling them "ridiculous". Doc gave Kate some money and put her on a stage out of town.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

On October 26, 1881, Virgil Earp was both Deputy U.S. Marshal and Tombstone's city police chief. He received reports that cowboys were armed in violation of the city ordinance that required them to deposit their weapons at a saloon or stable soon after arriving in town. The cowboys had repeatedly threatened the Earps and Holliday. Fearing trouble, Virgil temporarily deputized Holliday and sought backup from his brothers Wyatt and Morgan. Virgil retrieved a short messenger shotgun from the Wells Fargo office and the four men went to find the cowboys.

On Fremont Street, they ran into Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan, who told them or implied that he had disarmed the cowboys. To avoid alarming citizens and lessen tension when disarming the cowboys, Virgil gave the coach gun to Holliday so he could conceal it under his long coat. Virgil Earp took Holliday's walking stick. The lawmen found the cowboys in a narrow 15– to 20-ft-wide lot on Fremont Street, between Fly's boarding house and the Harwood house. Holliday was boarding at Fly's house and Holliday possibly thought they were waiting there to kill him.

Different witnesses offered varying stories about Holliday's actions. Cowboys witnesses testified that Holliday first pulled out a chrome-plated pistol he was known to carry, while others reported he first fired a longer, bronze-colored gun, possibly the coach gun. Holliday killed Tom McLaury with a shotgun blast in the side of his chest. Holliday was grazed by a bullet possibly fired by Frank McLaury who was on Fremont Street at the time. He supposedly challenged Holliday, yelling, "I've got you now!" Holliday is reported to have replied, "Blaze away! You're a daisy if you have." Frank died of a shot in his stomach and behind his ear. Holliday may have also wounded Billy Clanton.

One analysis of the fight gives credit to either Holliday or Morgan Earp for firing the fatal shot at Frank on Fremont Street. Holliday may have been on Frank's right and Morgan on his left, and Frank was shot in the right side of the head, so Holliday is often given credit for shooting Frank. However, Wyatt Earp had shot Frank in his torso, earlier, a shot that alone could have killed him. Frank would have turned away after having been hit and Wyatt could have placed a second shot in Frank's head. Morgan is highly unlikely to have fired the fatal shot, as he had been shot across both shoulder blades, possibly leaving him incapable of shooting accurately.

Big Nose Kate said she remembered Holliday's reaction after the gunfight. She reported that Holliday came back to his room, sat on the bed, wept, and said, "That was awful—awful",:169 although some historians dispute whether she was actually present. A 30-day-long preliminary hearing found that the Earps and Holliday had acted within their duties as lawmen, although this did not pacify Ike Clanton.

Earp Vendetta Ride

The situation in Tombstone soon grew worse when Virgil Earp was ambushed and permanently injured in December 1881. Then, Morgan Earp was ambushed and killed in March 1882. After Morgan's murder, Virgil Earp and many remaining members of the Earp families fled town. Holliday and Wyatt Earp stayed in Tombstone to exact retribution on Ike Clanton and the corrupt members known as the Cowboys. Several Cochise County Cowboys were identified by witnesses as suspects in the shooting of Virgil Earp on December 27, 1881, and the assassination of Morgan Earp on March 19, 1882. Some circumstantial evidence also pointed to their involvement. Wyatt Earp had been appointed Deputy U.S. Marshall after Virgil was maimed. He deputized Holliday, Warren Earp, Sherman McMaster, and "Turkey Creek" Jack Johnson. Although sick with tuberculosis, Holliday managed to ride with the posse into the badlands in search of the cowboys. In that time, Holliday said farewell to Kate for good.

The Earp party guarded Virgil Earp and his wife Allie on their way to the train for California. In Tucson, the group spotted an armed Frank Stilwell and Ike Clanton, whom they thought were lying in wait to kill Virgil. On March 20, 1882, Frank Stilwell's body was found at dawn alongside the railroad tracks, riddled with buckshot and gunshot wounds. Wyatt credited himself as the one who fatally shot Stilwell with a shotgun; other bullets placed into him may have been fired by Doc Holliday.

Tucson Justice of the Peace Charles Meyer issued arrest warrants for five of the Earp party, including Holliday. On March 21, they returned briefly to Tombstone, where they were joined by Texas Jack Vermillion and possibly others. Wyatt deputized the men who rode with doc holliday biography the morning of March 22, a portion of the Earp posse including Wyatt, Warren, Doc Holliday, Sherman McMaster, and "Turkey Creek" Johnson rode about 10 mi (16 km) east to Pete Spence's ranch and woodcutting camp off the Chiricahua Road, below the South Pass of the Dragoon Mountains.

According to Theodore Judah, who witnessed events at the wood camp, the Earp posse arrived t mobile pin and account number 11:00 am and asked for Pete Spence and Florentino "Indian Charlie" Cruz. They learned Spence was in jail and that Cruz was cutting wood nearby. They followed the direction Judah indicated and Judah soon heard a dozen or so shots. When Cruz did not return the next morning, Judah went looking for him, and found his body full of bullet holes.

Gunfight at Iron Springs

Two days later, Earp's posse traveled to Iron Springs located in the Whetstone Mountains, where they expected to meet Charlie Smith, who was supposed to be bringing $1,000 cash from their supporters in Tombstone. With Wyatt and Doc Holliday in the lead, the six lawmen surmounted a small rise overlooking the springs. They surprised eight cowboys camping near the springs. Curly Bill recognized Wyatt Earp in the lead and immediately drew his shotgun and fired at Earp. The other Cowboys also drew their weapons and began firing. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday left the only record of the fight. Earp dismounted, shotgun in hand. "Texas Jack" Vermillion’s horse was shot and fell on him, pinning his leg and wedging his rifle underneath. Lacking cover, Doc, Johnson, and McMaster retreated.

Wyatt returned Curly Bill's gunfire with his own shotgun and shot Curly Bill in the chest, nearly cutting him in half according to Wyatt's later account. Curly Bill fell into the water by the edge of the spring and lay dead.

The Cowboys fired a number of shots at the Earp party, but the only casualty was "Texas Jack" Vermillion's horse, which was killed. Wyatt's long coat was punctured by bullets on both sides. Another bullet struck his boot heel and his saddle horn was hit, as well, burning the saddle hide and narrowly missing Wyatt. Firing his pistol, Wyatt shot Johnny Barnes in the chest and Doc holliday biography Hicks in the arm. Vermillion tried to retrieve his rifle wedged in the scabbard under his fallen horse, exposing himself to the Cowboys' gunfire. Doc Holliday helped him gain cover. Wyatt had trouble remounting his horse because his cartridge belt had slipped down around his legs. He was finally able to get on his horse and retreat. McMaster was grazed by a bullet that cut through the straps of his field glasses.

Earp and Holliday part company

Holliday and four other members of the posse were still faced with warrants for Stilwell's death. The group elected to leave the Arizona Territory for New Mexico Territory and then Colorado. Wyatt and Holliday, who had been fast friends since Holliday saved Earp's life in Dodge City during how to add accounting number format in excel, had a serious disagreement and parted ways in Albuquerque. According to a letter written by former New Mexico Territory Governor Miguel Otero, Wyatt and Holliday were eating at Fat Charlie's The Retreat Restaurant in Albuquerque "when Holliday said something about Earp becoming 'a damn Jew-boy.' Earp became angry and left…. Wyatt was staying with a prominent businessman Henry N. Jaffa, who was also president of New Albuquerque’s Board of Trade. Jaffa was also Jewish, and based on the letter, Earp had, while staying in Jaffa’s home, honored Jewish tradition by touching the mezuzah upon entering his home. According to Otero's letter, Jaffa told him, "Earp’s woman was a Jewess." Earp's anger at Holliday's racial slur may indicate that the relationship between Josephine Marcus and Wyatt Earp was more serious at the time than is commonly known. Holliday and Dan Tipton arrived in Pueblo, Colorado in late April 1882.

Arrives in Colorado

On May 15, 1882, Holliday was arrested in Denver on the Tucson warrant for murdering Frank Stilwell. When Wyatt Earp learned of the charges, he feared his friend Holliday would not receive a fair trial in Arizona. Earp asked his friend Bat Masterson, Chief of Police of Trinidad, Colorado, to help get Holliday released. Masterson drew up bunco charges against Holliday.

Holliday's extradition hearing was set lexus rx 350 f sport 2020 May 30. Late in the evening of May 29, Masterson sought help getting an appointment with Colorado Governor Frederick Walker Pitkin. He contacted E.D. Cowen, capital reporter for the Denver Tribune, who held political sway in town. Cowen later wrote, "He submitted proof of the criminal design upon Holliday's life. Late as the hour was, I called on Pitkin." His legal reasoning was that the extradition papers for Holliday contained faulty legal language, and that there was already a Colorado warrant out for Holliday—including the bunco charge that Masterson had fabricated. Pitkin was persuaded by the evidence presented by Masterson and refused to honor Arizona's extradition request.:230

Masterson took Holliday to Pueblo, where he was released on bond two weeks after his arrest. Holliday and Wyatt met again in June 1882 in Gunnison after Wyatt helped to keep his friend from being convicted on murder charges against Frank Stillwell; and then again lastly Holliday was able to see his old friend Wyatt in the late winter of 1886, where they met in the lobby of the Windsor Hotel. Sadie Marcus described the skeletal Holliday as having a continuous cough and standing on "unsteady legs.”

Death of Johnny Ringo

On July 14, 1882, Johnny Ringo was found dead in the crotch of a large tree in West Turkey Creek Valley near Chiricahua Peak, Arizona Territory. He had a bullet hole in his right temple and a revolver was found hanging from a finger of his hand. In his book I Married Wyatt Earp, editor Glenn Boyer wrote that Josephine Marcus Earp said Wyatt Earp and Holliday returned to Arizona to kill Ringo. Josephine reported that Holliday killed Ringo with a rifle, but this contradicts the coroner's finding that Ringo committed suicide, dying by a pistol shot at close range. Boyer's book "is now recognized by Earp researchers as a hoax" that cannot be relied upon.:489

The newspaper in Salida, Colorado, reported that Holliday had arrived there on July 7, six days and 500 mi (800 km) from where Ringo died. However, district court records from Pueblo County, Colorado, document that both Holliday and his attorney appeared in court on July 11, 14, and 18, 1882, making it impossible for them to have been in Arizona at the same time. In her book Doc Holliday, A Family Portrait, author Karen Holliday Tanner noted that the court record for July 11 indicated that he appeared in person, using the Latin legal phrase in propria persona or "in his own person". She also described a writ of habeas corpus that was issued for Holliday on July 11. She speculated that he may not have been actually in Pueblo and that his attorney appeared on his behalf. Tanner asserts that the phrase was standard legal filler and does not prove that Holliday was physically present in court.:295–5

Death and burial

Holliday spent his remaining days in Colorado. After a stay in Leadville, he suffered from the high altitude. He increasingly depended on alcohol and laudanum to ease the symptoms of tuberculosis, and his health and his skills as a gambler began to deteriorate.:218

Holliday's last known confrontation took place in Hyman's saloon in Leadville. Holliday was down to his last dollar. He had pawned his jewelry, and then borrowed $5 from Billy Allen, a bartender and special officer at the Monarch Saloon, which enabled Allen to carry a gun and make arrests within the saloon. When Allen demanded he be repaid, Holliday could not comply. He knew Allen was armed, and when Allen appeared ready to attack him, shot him, wounding him in the arm. Holliday was arrested and put on trial. He claimed self-defense, noting that Allen outweighed him by 50 pounds and he feared for his life. A witness testified that Allen had been armed and in Hyman's earlier in the day apparently looking for Holliday. On March 28, 1885, the jury acquitted Holliday.

Final days

The records were lost of exactly where Holliday's body is located within the cemetery, so the City of Glenwood Springs erected a headstone, but it had the wrong birth year on it. This monument replaced the former monument.

In 1887, prematurely gray and badly ailing, Holliday made his way to the Hotel Glenwood, near the hot springs of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. (The Hotel Glenwood was not a sanatorium, as is popularly believed. The Glenwood Springs sanatorium was built in 1896, nine years after Holliday's death.) He hoped to take advantage of the reputed curative power of the waters, but the sulfurous fumes from the spring may have done his lungs more harm than doc holliday biography As he lay dying, Holliday is reported to have asked the nurse attending him at the Hotel Glenwood for a shot of whiskey. When she told him no, he looked at his bootless feet, amused. The nurses said that his last words were, "This is funny." He always figured he would be killed someday with his boots on.:372 Holliday died at 10 am on November 8, 1887. He was 36. Wyatt Earp did not learn of Holliday's death until two months afterward. Big Nose Kate later said that she attended to him in his final days, but it is also doubtful that she was present.:396


The Glenwood Springs Ute Chief of November 12, 1887, wrote in his obituary that Holliday had been baptized in the Catholic Church. This was based on correspondence written between Holliday and his cousin, Sister Mary Melanie, a Catholic nun. No baptismal record has been found in either St. Stephen's Catholic Church in Glenwood Springs or at the Annunciation Catholic Church in nearby Leadville.:300 Holliday's mother had been raised a Methodist and later joined a Presbyterian church (her husband's faith), but objected to the Presbyterian doctrine of predestination and reconverted to Methodism publicly before she died, saying that she wanted her son John to know what she believed.:14, 41 Holliday himself was later to say that he had joined a Methodist church in Dallas.:70 At the end of his life, Holliday had struck up friendships with both a Catholic priest, Father E.T. Downey, and a Presbyterian minister, Rev. W.S. Randolph, in Glenwood Springs. When he died, Father Downey was out of town, and so Rev. Randolph presided over the burial at 4 pm on the same day that Holliday died. The services were reportedly doc holliday biography by "many friends".:370, 372


Holliday is buried in Linwood Cemetery overlooking Glenwood Springs. Since Holliday died in November, the ground may have been frozen. Some modern authors such as Bob Boze Bell speculate that it would have been impossible to transport him to the cemetery, which was only accessible by a difficult mountain road, or to dig a grave because the ground was frozen. Author Gary Roberts located evidence that other bodies were transported to the Linwood Cemetery at the same time of the month that year. Contemporary newspaper reports explicitly state that Holliday was buried in the Linwood Cemetery, but the exact location of his grave is uncertain.:403–404

Public reputation

Publicly, Holliday could be as fierce as was needed for a gambling man to earn respect, and his reputation as a skilled gunfighter is generally agreed upon by historians.:410 According to Tombstone resident George W. Parsons, Holliday told Johnny Ringo in January 1882, "All I want of you is ten paces out in the street." Ringo and he were prevented from a gunfight by the Tombstone police, who arrested both. During the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Holliday initially carried a shotgun and shot at and may have killed Tom McLaury. Holliday was grazed by a bullet fired by Frank McLaury, and shot back. The coroner's inquest found that Frank had been shot in the stomach and under his ear, which killed him. Holliday was also part of a group of men led by Wyatt Earp guarding Virgil Earp, who had been maimed in an ambush in January. Once in Tucson, they found Frank Stilwell in the rail yard, and Holliday may have been one of several men who shot him. Holliday joined Wyatt and other men as part of a federal posse who killed three other outlaw Cowboys during the Earp Vendetta Ride. Holliday reported that he had been arrested 17 times, four attempts had been made to hang him, and that he survived ambush five times.


Throughout his lifetime, Doc was known by many of his peers as a tempered, calm, Southern gentleman. In an 1896 article, Wyatt Earp said,

I found him a loyal friend and good company. He was a dentist whom necessity had made a gambler; a gentleman whom disease had made a vagabond; a philosopher whom life had made a caustic wit; a long, lean blonde fellow nearly dead with consumption and at the same time the most skillful gambler and nerviest, speediest, deadliest man with a six-gun I ever knew.

In a newspaper interview, Holliday was once asked if his conscience ever troubled him. He is reported to have said, "I coughed that up with my lungs, years ago.":189

Stabbings and shootings

Much of Holliday's violent reputation was nothing but rumors and self promotion. However, he showed great skill in gambling and gunfights. His tuberculosis did not hamper his ability as a gambler and a marksman. Holliday was ambidextrous.:96

No contempory newspaper accounts or legal records offer proof of the many unnamed men whom Holliday is credited with killing in popular folklore. The only men he is known to have killed are Mike Gordon in 1879; probably Tom McLaury in Tombstone; and possibly Frank Stilwell in Tucson. Some scholars argue that Holliday may have encouraged the stories about his reputation, although his record never supported those claims.:410

In a March 1882 interview with the Arizona Daily Star, Virgil Earp told the reporter,

There was something very peculiar about Doc. He was gentlemanly, a good dentist, a friendly man, and yet outside of us boys I don't think he had a friend in the Territory. Tales were told that he had murdered men in different parts of the country; that he had robbed and committed all manner of crimes, and yet when persons were asked how they knew it, they could only admit that it was hearsay, and that nothing of the kind could really be traced up to Doc's account.

Arrests and convictions

Biographer Karen Holliday Tanner found that Holliday had been arrested 17 times before his 1881 shootout in Tombstone. Only one arrest was for murder, which occurred in an 1879 shootout with Mike Gordon in New Mexico, for which he was acquitted. In the preliminary hearing following the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Judge Wells Spicer exonerated Holliday's actions as those of a duly appointed lawman. In Denver, the Arizona warrant against Holliday for Frank Stilwell's murder went unserved when the governor was persuaded by Trinidad Chief of Police Bat Masterson to release Holliday to his custody for bunco charges.

Among his other arrests, Holliday pleaded guilty to two gambling charges, one charge of carrying a deadly weapon in the city (in connection with the argument with Ringo), and one misdemeanor assault and battery charge (for his shooting of Joyce and Parker). The others were all dismissed or returned as "not guilty".

Alleged murder of Ed Bailey

Wyatt Earp recounted one event during which Holliday killed a fellow gambler named Ed Bailey. Wyatt and his common-law wife Mattie Blaylock were in Fort Griffin, Texas, during the winter of 1878, looking for gambling opportunities. Earp visited the saloon of his old friend from Cheyenne, John Shannsey, and met Holliday at the Cattle Exchange.

The story of Holliday killing Bailey first appeared nine years after Doc Holliday’s death in an 1896 interview with Wyatt Earp that was published in the San Francisco Enquirer. According to Earp, Holliday was playing poker with a well-liked local man named Ed Bailey. Holliday caught Bailey "monkeying with the dead wood" or the discard pile, which was against the rules. According to Earp, Holliday reminded Bailey to "play poker", which was a polite way to caution him to stop cheating. When Bailey made the same move again, Holliday took the pot without showing his hand, which was his right under the rules. Bailey immediately went for his pistol, but Holliday whipped out a knife from his breast pocket and "caught Bailey just below the brisket" or upper chest. Bailey died and Holliday, new to town, was detained in his room at the Planter's Hotel.:115

In Stuart Lake's best-selling biography, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal (1931), Earp added to the story. He is quoted as saying that Holliday's girlfriend, Big Nose Kate, devised a diversion. She procured a second pistol from a friend in town, removed a horse from its shed behind the hotel, and then set fire to the shed. Everyone but Holliday and the lawmen guarding him ran to put out the fire, while she calmly walked in and tossed Holliday the second pistol.

However, no contemporary records have been found of either Bailey's death or of the shed fire. In addition, Big Nose Kate denied that Doc killed "a man named Bailey over a poker game, nor was he arrested and locked up in another hotel room." She laughed at the idea of "a 116-pound woman, standing off a deputy, ordering him to throw up his hands, disarming him, rescuing her lover and hustling him to the waiting ponies.":87

Author and Earp expert Ben Traywick doubts that Holliday killed Bailey. He could find no newspaper articles or court records to support the story. He found evidence to support that Holliday was being held in his hotel room under guard, but for "illegal gambling", and that the story of Big Nose Kate starting a fire as a diversion to free him was true. The story about Bailey as told in San Francisco Enquirer interview of Earp was likely fabricated by the writer. Years later, Earp wrote:

Of all the nonsensical guff which has been written around my life, there has been none more inaccurate or farfetched than that which has dealt with Doc Holliday. After Holliday died, I gave a San Francisco newspaper reporter a short sketch of his life. Apparently the reporter was not satisfied. The sketch appeared in print with a lot of things added that never existed outside the reporter’s imagination…

Photos of Holliday

Three photos of unknown provenance are often reported to be of Holliday, some of them supposedly taken by C.S. Fly in Tombstone, but sometimes reported to have been taken in Dallas. Holliday lived in a rooming house in front of Fly's photography studio. Many individuals share similar facial features, and the faces of people who look radically different can look similar when viewed from certain angles. Because of this, most museum staff, knowledgeable researchers, and collectors require provenance or a documented history for an image to support physical similarities that might exist. Experts rarely offer even a tentative identification of new or unique images of famous people based solely on similarities shared with other known images.

  • Cropped from a larger version, Holliday's graduation photo from the Pennsylvania School of Dental Surgery in March 1872, age 20, known provenance and authenticated as Holliday

  • Cropped from a larger version, Holliday in Prescott, Arizona in 1879, age 27, known provenance and authenticated as Holliday

  • Uncreased print of supposed 1882 Tombstone photo of Holliday, left side is upturned, detachable shirt collar toward camera, no cowlick, unknown provenance

  • Creased and darker version of photo at left, unknown provenance

  • Individual most often reported to be of Holliday with a cowlick and folded-down collar, heavily retouched, oval, inscribed portrait, unknown provenance

  • Individual with a bowler hat and open vest and coat, unknown provenance


Life-sized statues of lawman Wyatt Earp and deputy Doc Holliday at the Historic Railroad Depot

Doc Holliday is one of the most recognizable figures in the American Old West, but he is most remembered for his friendship with Wyatt Earp and his role in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Holliday's friendship with the lawman has been a staple of popular sidekicks in American Western culture, and Holliday himself became a stereotypical image of a deputy and a loyal companion in modern times. He is typically portrayed in films as being loyal to his friend Wyatt, whom he doc holliday biography with during the duo's greatest conflicts, such as the Gunfight at the OK Corral and Earp's vendetta, even with the ensuing violence and hardships which they both endured. Together with Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday has become a modern symbol of loyalty, brotherhood, and friendship.

A life-sized statue of Holliday and Earp by sculptor Dan Bates was dedicated by the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum at the restored Historic Railroad Depot in Tucson, Arizona, on March 20, 2005, the 122nd anniversary of the killing of Frank Stilwell by Wyatt Earp. The statue stands at the approximate site of the shooting on the train platform.

"Doc Holliday Days" are held yearly in Holliday's birthplace of Griffin, Georgia. Valdosta, Georgia held a Doc Holliday look-alike contest in January 2010, to coincide with its sesquicentennial celebration. It was won by local resident Jason Norton.

In popular culture

Holliday was nationally known during his life as a gambler and gunman. The shootout at the O.K. Corral is one of the most famous frontier stories in the American West, and numerous Western TV shows and movies have been made about it. Holliday is usually a prominent part of the story.


  • In Search of Doc Holliday (2016)

In film and television

Actors who have portrayed Holliday include:

  • Cesar Romero in Frontier Marshal (1939)
  • Walter Huston played a very old Holliday in The Outlaw (1943)
  • Victor Mature in My Darling Clementine directed by John Ford, with Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp (1946)
  • Harry Bartell in the 13th episode of the CBS radio program Gunsmoke (July 19, 1952)
  • Kim Spalding in the syndicated television series Stories of the Century (1954)
  • Barry Atwater in "The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" CBS TV "You Are There" Nov. 6 1955.
  • Kirk Douglas in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) with Doc holliday biography Lancaster as Wyatt Earp
  • Douglas Fowley in The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp with Hugh O'Brian as Wyatt Earp (1955–1961)
  • Myron Healey in ten episodes of The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.
  • Arthur Kennedy played Holliday opposite James Stewart as Earp in director John Ford's Cheyenne Autumn. (1964)
  • Adam West in three different ABC television series, Colt .45, Lawman, and Sugarfoot
  • Gerald Mohr and Peter Breck each played Holliday in the ABC/WB series Maverick (1957)
  • Christopher Dark in an episode of the NBC series Bonanza (1963)
  • Anthony Jacobs Doctor Who in the episode "The Gunfighters" (1966)
  • Jason Robards in Hour of the Gun, James Garner played Wyatt Earp (1967)
  • Jack Kelly in The High Chaparral (1967)
  • Sam Gilman in Star Trek episode "Spectre of the Gun" (1968)
  • Stacy Keach in Doc (1971)
  • Bill Fletcher in two episodes of the TV series Alias Smith and Jones: "Which Way to the OK Corral?" (1971) and "The Ten Days That Shook Kid Curry" (1972)
  • Dennis Hopper in Wild Times (1980) based on Brian Garfield's novel
  • John McLiam in Bret Maverick (1981)
  • Jeffrey DeMunn in I Married Wyatt Earp (1983)
  • Willie Nelson in Stagecoach (1986)
  • Val Kilmer in Tombstone (1993)
  • Dennis Quaid in Wyatt Earp (1994)
  • Randy Quaid in Purgatory (1999)
  • Warren Stevens in the episode "Doc Holliday's Gold Bars" of the syndicated Western series, Death Valley Days (1966)
  • Shane O'Loughlin in Legends and Lies: The Real West on the Fox News Channel series that explores famous figures from the American West
  • Tim Rozon in the SyFy TV Series Wynonna Earp (2016)

In fiction

  • Epitaph: a Novel of the O.K. Corral by Mary Doria Russell, 2015 ISBN 978-0-06-219876-1
  • A Wicked Little Town: Book One of The Doc Holliday Series by Elena Sandidge, 2013 ISBN 978-0-9928070-0-9
  • Southern Son: The Saga of Doc Holliday by Victoria Wilcox, 2013 ISBN 978-1-908483-55-3
  • Holliday, Nate Bowden and Doug Dabbs, 2012 ISBN 978-1-934964-65-1
  • Doc: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell, 2011 ISBN 978-1-4000-6804-3
  • Merkabah Rider: The Mensch With No Name by Edward M. Erdelac, a novel in the Weird West genre, 2010, ISBN 978-1-61572-190-0
  • The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick, 2010, ISBN 978-1-61614-249-0
  • Territory by Emma Bull, 2007 ISBN 978-0-8125-4836-5
  • The Last Ride of German Freddie by Walter Jon Williams, a novella in Worlds that Weren't 2005, ISBN 978-1-101-21263-9
  • The Once and Future Dentist by D. Richard Pearce, 2005, audio published by Escape Pod
  • Bucking the Tiger: A Novel by Bruce Olds, 2002 ISBN 978-0-312-42024-6
  • The Fourth Horseman by Randy Lee Eickhoff, 1998 ISBN 0-312-85301-7
  • Deadlands a tabletop role-playing game produced by Pinnacle Entertainment Group in Law Dogs, 1996, ISBN 978-1-889546-26-1
  • Wild Times by Brian Garfield, 1978 ISBN 978-0-671-24374-6
  • The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry, 2014 ISBN 978-0-87140-786-3
  • At Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost, 2008 ISBN 978-0061583070

In song

  • "Linwood", written and performed by Jon Chandler on The Grand Dame of the Rockies – Songs of the Hotel Colorado and the Roaring Fork Valley; winner of the 2009 Western Writers of America Spur Award for Best Song
  • Danish metal band Volbeat performs the song "Doc Holliday" on their album Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies.
  • The song "Doc Holliday" is featured on the 2010 album Suffocation by Latent Anxiety.
  • The band Doc Holliday
  • The band Doc Holliday Takes the Shotgun
  • The song "Tombstones" from the album Larry Keel Experience [written by Larry Keel]

Spartacus Educational

Primary Sources

(1) Paul Trachtman, The Gunfighters (1974)

On a blustery day toward the end of October, 1881, the town of Tombstone, Arizona, witnessed the most notorious shoot-out in the history of the West. In a vacant lot at the rear of the O.K. Corral, City Marshal Virgil Earp and his brothers Wyatt and Morgan, joined by a gambler friend, Doc Holliday, exchanged gunfire with four local cowboys, the Clanton and McLaury brothers. "Three Men Hurled into Eternity in the Duration of a Moment," blared the headline over the first report of the affair in The Tombstone Epitaph. The duration, in fact, was slightly more than half a minute, although a deadly staccato of vengeful gunfire echoed for months afterward.

The clash was not unique. Possession of firearms was far more commonplace on the frontier than back East, and newspapers across the West carried accounts of gunfights of every variety - saloon brawls, outlaw raids, vigilante wars and even an occasional face-off in the style of European duels. But the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral was better documented than most, and its fame as a classic confrontation of gunfighters was well deserved, for it embodied some basic frontier animosities - lawman against outlaw, cardsharp against cowboy, citified carpetbagger against weather-beaten settler.

Yet these divisions were far from clear-cut, as the shoot-out also made plain. Though some Western gunfight participants represented the law, the line between bad men and good was, at best, blurred. The facing foes usually had more in common than they cared to admit. Most were men of bristling spirit and minimal compassion or scruple. When they had scores to settle, it hardly mattered which side of the law they were on; their law was the can you order groceries online from walmart Ford County Globe (26th October, 1881)

A Tombstone, Arizona, dispatch says: Four cowboys, Ike and Billy Clanton and Frank and Tom McLaury, have been parading the town for several days drinking heavily and making themselves obnoxious. On Wednesday last the city marshal Virgil Earp arrested Ike Clanton. Soon after his release the four met the marshal, his brother Morgan and Wyatt Earp, and a citizen named (John H. "Doc") Holliday. The marshal ordered them to international student bank account barclays up their weapons, when a fight commenced. About thirty shots were fired rapidly. Both the McLaury boys were killed. Bill Clanton was mortally wounded, dying soon after. Ike was slightly wounded in the shoulder. Wyatt Earp was slightly wounded, and the others were unhurt.

(3) Ford County Globe (8th November, 1881)

The Earp boys, who had the fight with the cowboys, at Tombstone, Arizona, which resulted in the killing of three cow boys, have been arrested by the friends of the men who were killed. The Earp boys were acting as peace officers, and from all reports were justified in doing what they did. Wyatt Earp was formerly city marshal of Dodge City, and a paper setting forth his good qualities was circulated last week and signed by all the prominent citizens.

(4) Dodge City Times (8th December, 1881)

Wyatt Earp, formerly a city marshal in this city, was recently under trial before a magistrate in Tombstone, Arizona, charged with homicide. Great interest was taken in trial which lasted four weeks. From the voluminous testimony taken the Justice makes a long review of the case and discharges the defendant. The following is an extract from his decision: "In view of all the facts and circumstances of the case; considering the threats made the character and position of the parties, and the tragical results accomplished in manner and form as they were, with all surrounding influences bearing upon the res gestae of the affair, I cannot resist the conclusion that the defendants were fully justified in committing these homicides; that it was a necessary act done m the discharge of an official duty."

(5) Judge Wells Spicer, statement at the trial of Wyatt Earp, Morgan Earp, James Earp and Doc Holliday (December, 1881)

When we consider the condition of affairs incidental to a frontier country, the lawlessness and disregard for human life; the existence of a law-defying element in our midst; the fear and feeling of insecurity that has existed; the supposed prevalence of bad, desperate and reckless men who have been a terror to the country, and kept away capital and enterprise, and considering the many threats that have been made against the Earps. I can attach no criminality to his unwise act.

(6) Dodge City Times (5th January, 1882)

A Tombstone, Arizona, dispatch of Dec. 29, to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says when the Clanton and McClary gang were shot by the Earps and Doc Holliday, about six weeks ago, the friends of the cowboys vowed they would have revenge for what they called the cold-blooded murder of their friends. Only a fortnight ago, Mayor John P. Clum, of Tombstone, was shot at in a stage near the city and one bullet grazed his head. Clum was a warm sympathizer with the Earps, and did much to secure their acquittal at the preliminary examination. Wednesday night, just before midnight, an attempt was made on the life of United States Deputy Marshal Earp, as he was crossing the street, between the Oriental Saloon and the Eagle Brewery. When in the middle of the street he was fired upon with double-barreled shotguns, loaded with buckshot, by three men concealed in an unfinished building diagonally across on Alien street. Five shots were fired in rapid succession. Earp was wounded in the left arm just above the elbow, producing a longitudinal fracture of the bone. One shot struck him above the groin, coming out near the spine. The wounds are very dangerous, and possibly fatal. The men ran through the rear of the building and escaped in the darkness

Nineteen shots struck the side of the Eagle Brewery, three going through the window and one passing about a foot over the heads of some men standing by a faro-table. The shooting caused the wildest excitement in the town where the feeling between the two factions runs high.

(7) Ed Colborn, Dodge City Times (23rd May, 1882)

Wyatt Earp arrived here some days ago and will remain awhile. Wyatt is more robust than when a resident of Dodge, but in other respects is unchanged. His story of the long contest with the cowboys of Arizona is of absorbing interest. Of the five brothers four yet live, and in return for the assassination of Morgan Earp they have handed seven cowboys "over to the majority."

Of the six who actually participated in the assassination they have killed three - among them. Curly Bill, whom Wyatt believes killed Mike Meagher, at Caldwell, last summer. Frank Stillwell, Curly Bill and party ambuscaded the Earp party and poured a deadly fire into them, Wyatt receiving a charge of buckshot through his overcoat on each side of his body and having the horn of his saddle shot off. Wyatt says after the first shock he could distinguish David Rudebaugh and Curly Bill, the latter's body showing well among the bushes. Wyatt lost no time in taking him in, and will receive the reward of $1,000 offered. From what I could leam, the Earps have killed all, or nearly all of the leaders of the element of cow boys, who number in all about 150, and the troubles in Arizona will, so far as they are concerned, be over.

Wyatt expects to become a candidate for sheriff of Cochise county this fall, and as he stands very near to the Governor and all the good citizens of Tombstone and other camps in Cochise county he will without doubt be elected. The office is said to be worth $25,000 per annum and will not be bad to take.

(8) Topeka Daily Commonwealth (5th June, 1883)

Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and all the sports in the country, held a meeting at Silverton and decided to take Dodge City by storm. Short is at Caldwell but will meet the party at Cimarron, 18 miles west of Dodge, perhaps Sunday night or soon after. Horses will be taken at Cimarron and the whole party will rendezvous at Mr. Oliver's, two miles west of Dodge. Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp are now secretly in Dodge City, watching matters. When the time for action comes a telegram will reach them worded as follows: "Your tools will be there at ____," giving the time agreed upon. The plan is to drive all of Short's enemies out of Dodge at the mouth of the revolvers.

(9) Kansas City Evening Star (7th June, 1883)

The much talked of band of noted killers who were to congregate here and accompany Luke Short, the exile, back to Dodge City, Kansas are in part at least, at that place now. Advices from there state that Luke Short, Bat Masterson, Charley Bassett and Doc Holliday at present hold the fort and that trouble is liable to ensue at any moment. Mr. Bassett was here for quite a time and with Colonel Ricketts at the Marble Hall. He is a man of undoubted nerve and has been tried and not found wanting when it comes to a personal encounter. But Masterson and Doc. Holliday are too well known to need comment or biography. A notice has been posted up at Dodge ordering them out and, as they are fully armed and determined to stay, there may be hot work there tonight.

(10) Bat Masterson, interviewed in the Daily Kansas State Journal (9th June, 1883)

I arrived here yesterday and was met at the train by a delegation of friends who escorted me without molestation to the business house of Harris & Short. I think the inflammatory reports published about Dodge City and its inhabitants have been greatly exaggerated and if at any time they did 'don the war paint,' it was completely washed off before I reached here. I never met a more gracious lot of people in my life. They all seemed favorably disposed, and hailed the return of Short and his friends with exultant joy. I have been unable as yet to find a single individual who participated with the crowd that forced him to leave here at first. I have conversed with a great many and they are unanimous in their expression of love for Short, both as a man and a good citizen. They say that he is gentlemanly, courteous and unostentatious - 'in fact a perfect ladies' man.' Wyatt Earp, Charley Bassett, McClain and others too numerous to mention are among the late arrivals, and are making the 'Long Branch' saloon their headquarters. All the gambling is closed in obedience to a proclamation issued by the mayor, but how long it will remain so I am unable to say at present. Not long I hope. The closing of this legitimate calling has caused a general depression in business of every description, and I am under the impression that the more liberal and thinking class will prevail upon the mayor to rescind the proclamation in a day or two.

(11) Ford County Globe (12th June, 1883)

Our city trouble is about over and things in general will be conducted as of old. All parties that were run out have returned and no further effort will be made to drive them away. Gambling houses, we understand, are again to be opened, but with screen doors (probably ornate oriental type door shields designed to obscure the view from one room to another rather than fly screens) in front of their place of business. A new dance house was opened Saturday night where all the warriors met and settled their past differences and everything was made lovely and serene. All opposing factions, both saloon men and gamblers met and agreed to stand by each other for the good of their trade. Not an unlocked for result.

The mayor stood firm on his gambling proclamation, but as his most ardent supporters have gone over to his enemies, it will stand without that moral support he had calculated upon to help him in enforcing it. We have all along held that our mayor was over advised in the action he has taken and had he followed his own better judgment, and not the advice of schemers and tricksters who had selfish interests at stake, and not the best interests of this community, he would have fared much better. No one knows this now any better than himself. He has freed himself from that cropped-winged moral element and stands on the side of the business interests of Dodge.

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Doc Holliday

Doc Holliday was born John Henry Holliday in Griffin, Georgia on August 14, 1851. It's a little South of Atlanta. His ancestral roots were Scottish and English.

His mother was born Alice Jane McKey. His father was Henry Burroughs Holliday, who served in the military as a Major. First in the Mexican-American war, and then in the Confederate Army of the Civil War. They married on January 8, 1849, both natives of South Carolina.

The Mexican American War ended in 1848. When father Henry returned to Griffin after the war, he brought a war-orphan boy home with him. Named Francisco Hidalgo, he adopted as a son.

Doc Holliday, ca 1880Doc Holliday, ca 1880

This image of Doc Holliday is believed to be from around 1880.

Henry and Alice had their first-born child on December 3, 1849. A daughter named Martha Eleanora. She died when just over 6 months old.1

John Holliday's Early Years

Doc Holliday baptized at this Presbyterian ChurchWhere Doc Was Baptized

Soon after John Henry came into the family, he was baptized at the local First Presbyterian Church, on March 21, 1852.

He'd had a birth defect, a cleft palate. His parents obtained corrective surgery for him.4

John lived in Griffin with his adopted brother, Francisco. Plus three of his mother's siblings.3 When John Henry "Doc" Holliday was old enough, his father taught him to shoot and handle a gun. His mother taught him piano, and worked with him on speech and manners.4

In 1864 the family moved to Valdosta, Georgia. John spent adolescent school days there. Attending a private school, the Valdosta Institute. No longer there, a marker notes the historic interest.2 It's where he received classical education that stayed with him through life.

Yes - Doc Holliday Knew Latin

He studied French and Latin, also a bit of Greek. A course he enjoyed was Rhetoric. It involved advanced English language usage. It sure influenced the way he spoke throughout his life!

On September 16, 1866 his mother, Alice, died from tuberculosis (then known as consumption). We don't know what young John thought, when three months later his father remarried. A young woman from down the street, Rachel Martin, became his wife. She was much younger than Henry Holliday!3

Less than a year later, John was sent to North Georgia, spending a summer with relatives. Southern post-civil war reconstruction was ongoing at that time. Perhaps factoring into his visit.

Robert Kennedy Holliday was John's uncle in Jonesboro GA. His daughter, Doc's cousin Mattie, was about 1-1/2 years older than Doc. They hit it off well together. A lasting "kissing cousin" kind of friendship.3

Doc Holliday Dentist

In 1870 John "Doc" Holliday went to Philadelphia, enrolling in the Pennsylvania School of Dentistry. Entailing two years' coursework, plus dental labs and clinicals. His father paid his tuition and books. But he helped, working summer jobs in Valdosta.

He was 20 years old upon his education completion in March 1872. But he couldn't get his diploma for authorization as a dentist by his school, until age 21. So then ineligible for a Georgia dentist's license. 

His solution was collaboration with fellow graduate Auguste Jameson Fuches. They went to his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, and practiced together there until John's birthday.3 

When he reached 21, John Henry returned to Georgia. He received his inheritance, through his mother's side. And gained a Dentist position in Atlanta, working alongside Doctor Arthur C. Ford. There, he roomed with his uncle, Doctor John Stiles Holliday.3

Doc Holliday Dental OfficeDoc Holliday Griffin Dental Office Property

His adopted brother Francisco had married, had six children. They lived East of Griffin, in Jenkinsburg. 

He'd contracted tuberculosis (TB). Francisco died January 13, 1873. Doc Holliday probably attended his funeral, as the next day he returned to Griffin completing a property sale.3

Nine months later, Doc was in Dallas Texas. Before that, many buzzes circulate of his activities:3

  1. He left the Atlanta practice, opening his own office in Griffin with inheritance funds
  2. His relationship with cousin Mattie was troublesome. She had affection for him. As a Catholic, she didn't want more involvement. They were too closely related. He tried overcoming her objections.
  3. His TB symptoms began. He'd had regular exposure to his mother and brother over time. John (Doc) Holliday contracted tuberculosis from one them. He was thinking about solutions.
  4. He had an incident requiring him to avoid the law. Local boys used a swimming hole on Holliday land along the Withlacoochee River. Doc chased some black kids from the river one day, firing a shotgun. Some say he killed two, wounded a few. Others say he shot over their heads. No charges were filed. The family asked him to leave town until the event memory faded.

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Doc Holliday Goes West

Doc Holliday & Partner DentistsAd in The Dallas Daily Herald - Satuday, October 4, 1873 - Page 4

In Dallas, John "Doc" Holliday began a dental practice. He moved here for the drier climate. His doctors advised that may ease his TB symptoms.

His father arranged a meeting with John A. Seeger, a local dentist. They partnered together, opening a practice on Elm.5 Together they won dental awards at the Dallas County Fair.6

On March 2, 1874 a Dallas newspaper reported the two dentists went their separate ways. Doc Holliday opened his own practice in an office over a bank in suntrust cash manager small business login. It didn't go well. His bedside manner suffered with continuous coughing spells. That lost him patients. He began losing interest in the practice which he couldn't maintain.

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Doc Holliday - Gambler & Gun-Fighter

The Old West Barrooms in Dallas attracted more and more of his attention. He enjoyed card games and was good at gambling. Alcohol eased the pain of his illness. That initiated his new lifestyle. He began relying on gambling for income.

He started promoting and embellishing tales of his own gun-play experiences. Establishing a virile reputation, needed since he appeared rather sickly.

Doc was arrested after a "minor" gunfight with a barkeep in a Dallas saloon. It wasn't long after this he left town. Some say after shooting and killing an important local. Next stop was West Texas.5

Doc Holliday arrested in DallasFrom The Dallas Weekly Herald - Saturday, January 2, 1875 Page 3

Doc's Wild West

In Fort Griffin Texas, Doc Holliday continued gambling. In June 1875 he found himself in court there. The Grand Jury indicted him for illegal gaming in a saloon. He paid a fine and moved on.7

His next destination was Denver Colorado by winter 1876. Along the way he stopped in Jacksboro TX. It's rumored his reputation here gave him the name: Deadly Dentist.5 In Denver more tall tales of his menacing ways developed. During the year, he also spent a little time in Cheyenne Wyoming, Dodge City, Deadwood and then Breckenridge Colorado.7

He returned to Fort Griffin in late 1877. It was a momentous trip.

He met two individuals who played a large part in his life. In John Shanssey’s saloon he met Mary Katherine Harony, well known as Big Nose Kate. Doc Holliday also first met Wyatt Earp there, beginning a life-long friendship. So did Wyatt Earp actually write about their friendship, publishing a book called "My Friend Doc Holliday by Wyatt Earp"?

After leaving Texas, Doc and Kate headed for Dodge City, Kansas.

Big Nose KateMary Katherine Harony at 40 Years Old

Dentistry in Dodge City

Big Nose Kate entered Dodge with Doc Holliday at the beginning of June 1878. Doc tried an honest living at his dental profession again. Renting an office at Dodge House, he'd often work an entire day. But his evenings at gambling.

Doc Holliday Dentist in Dodge CityFrom the Dodge City Times - Sat., June 8, 1878 - Page 3
Long Branch, Dodge CityFrom: Dodge City Times - Saturday, June 22, 1878 - Page 4

Wyatt Earp turned up in town. He and Doc renewed their friendship. Wyatt introduced him to brothers Morgan and Virgil. Wyatt found Doc useful in some of his activities.

In September that year, someone crept up behind Wyatt to shoot him in the back. Doc Holliday saw this, warning his friend, shooting Wyatt's assailant. He saved his life and Wyatt never forgot this!7 Wyatt would tell the story throughout his life.

Doc also met others there in Dodge City. Men who've made historical notoriety: Bat & Ed Masterson, Luke Short, Charlie Bassett, Dog Kelly (city mayor), Creek Johnson, Chalk Beeson (Long Branch Saloon co-owner) and entertainer Eddie Foy.7

IPA at Dodge City says ad in the 1800sDodge City Times - 1878 - Page 4

In November 1878, Doc Holliday left Dodge for dryer climes again. His health had taken a downturn with pneumonia. He traveled to recover in Trinidad, Colorado. Then went south, ending up in Las Vegas, New Mexico.7 

Doc Holliday Goes to Arizona

Doc began working with another dentist in Las Vegas NM. But regularly at his sideline: gaming tables. He partnered with former Dodge City deputy, John Joshua Webb, opening a saloon. That's when he heard of Tombstone Arizona's silver strike.

Stories of Doc Holliday in gunfights and killings surfaced during those years. Especially in New Mexico. Little truth of them can be confirmed.8 Probably it's bluster to maintain the Doc Holliday reputation.

But What Guns Did Doc Holliday Carry?

Because of his gambling "occupation" Doc wanted protection with him. As a child, his father trained him well in gun handling. But his disease sapped his strength. Doc chose weapons for practicality, with his health status in mind.

What he liked best were two double action Colt pistols, which worked well for him. Doc Holliday carried either the nickel-plated .41 caliber Thunderer, or else the .38 caliber Lightening.

Doc Holliday in Prescott AZ

Doc Holliday signed PortraitTaken in Prescott, AZ - 1879 - And Signed

About October 1879 Wyatt told Doc he was heading to Prescott AZ. Wyatt's brother Virgil Earp was there, but was going to Tombstone AZ for a lawman position. He and his brothers also had interest in silver mining there.

They left for Prescott in November. Doc started gambling there. He stayed, since his winnings were good and regular. He met John Behan and John Clum, while gaming. He'd meet up with them again later in Tombstone.

Kate and Doc lived in a Prescott hotel room together. Some arguments arose between them. She wasn't fond of Wyatt Earp, who was trying to convince Doc to come to Tombstone. Both Doc and Kate were intelligent, strong personalities, leading to clashes. Still their strong attraction kept them together. Doc finally decided to join Wyatt in Tombstone.

Kate refused to go with him. Instead she moved to Globe, Arizona.

Doc Holliday in Tombstone

Doc Holliday's Room in Tombstone AZRe-Creation of Doc's Room at Fly's Boarding House

Doc Holliday got to Tombstone AZ in September 1880. He took a room at Fly's Boarding House. Big Nose Kate joined him from time to time, staying awhile. Probably she was with him at Fly's three times when he lived in Tombstone. Each time they eventually got into a bad argument. He'd throw her out or she'd leave.7

While in Tombstone, Doc consistently gambled. He dealt the games and played. All along Doc was drinking (his favorite is said to be Old Overholt Whiskey). To ease TB's pain and coughing spasms. With consistent drinking, one gets tolerance for alcohol. Thus over time he could imbibe a quantity, without showing obvious effects.

Doc Holliday Faro TableSign on His Faro Table in The Bird Cage Theatre

His reputation began circulating in town. Locals frequenting saloons and gambling dens knew him. He interacted with ranch-hands and cow-boys coming into town. Local lawmen learned his name. He often gambled at the Oriental Saloon, at the Northeast corner of Allen and 5th Streets. The owner, Milton Joyce, wasn't fond of him, helping lead to an incident.

Lovin' Doc Holliday

Doc's Tombstone Troubles Begin

News reports Doc Holiday Accused of Stagecoach murderThe Weekly Arizona Miner - Fri. July 15, 1881 Page 3

On March 15, 1881, a Stagecoach robbery occurred north of Tombstone. Someone killed the shotgun rider and a passenger. The injured stage driver managed to shoot one of the culprits. Lawmen determined one of the bandits: a friend of Doc Holliday's.

Doc felt Oriental Owner, Milton Joyce was spreading rumors of his guilt around town. Holliday was drinking all day, and entered the Oriental. Arguing with Joyce, he got thrown out.

Doc got his gun, and returned. He unsteadily fired at Joyce, who pulled out his own pistol. Doc fired again, his bullet piercing Joyce's hand. The Oriental bartender tried grabbing Doc's gun, which fired into the barkeep's foot. Joyce retrieved his own gun, clunking Doc's head, knocking him out. A lawman entered ending the situation.5

Subsequently, Sheriff John Behan and Milton Joyce encountered Big Nose Kate drinking in a saloon. Grumbling about a recent argument with Doc Holliday: He'd told her to get out!

Behan and Joyce talked to her, bought her more drinks. In her drunken, angry state, she signed an affidavit stating Doc had been in on that stage robbery. A warrant for Doc's arrest was issued.

Big Nose Kate recovered from her alcohol binge. She remembered signing something bad about Doc Holliday. She heard plans to arrest Doc, and stood witness to manipulation by John Behan and Milton Joyce. With that and Doc Holliday's alibi, he was exonerated of the stage robbery. Doc was angry at Kate, what she'd done. He gave her money to take a stagecoach out of town.

Tensions Flare

Doc Holliday, a friend to Wyatt EarpControversy: Is It An Authentic Portrait?

Wyatt Earp still involved his good friend, Doc Holliday, in law enforcement and posse efforts. Whenever he needed extra men to help, he asked Doc. On August 13, 1881, Doc was probably with some Earp brothers on a Posse. It was formed by Marshal Crawley Dake to go after Cow-boy rustlers at the Mexican border. Clanton gang boss, Old Man Clanton, was killed during the posse's raid.

There's evidence that both Warren Earp and Doc were involved in that posse. Other Earp brothers conceivably were there. Doc seemed out commission awhile after that.5 Doc appeared around town again in October, using a cane.

Locals witnessed a clash between Holliday and Ike Clanton the evening of October 25th. They'd both been drinking all day. They ended up at the Alhambra Saloon, started insulting each other.7 Doc finally challenged Ike to try shooting him! Ike said he wasn't armed (as was the city law!). But Doc said Ike should go get a gun.5

Doc ended it by claiming he killed Ike's father, Old Man Clanton, blaming Ike. Threatening the same for Ike. Both left for the night. Ike to the Grand Hotel. Doc home to Fly's, to the comfort of Big Nose Kate.

The next day, October 26, 1881, Doc and Kate went out. Ike knocked at their door that morning looking for Doc. Mrs. Fly sent him off, since they weren't there. Later she informed Kate that Ike came by. When Doc found out, he stated "If God will let me live long enough, he will see me!"5

Doc heard about Ike roaming town that morning threatening the Earps. One of Ike's stops was Kelly's Wine House, boasting: "The Earps and Doc Holliday are about to be shot." Doc threatened Billy Clanton on the street: "Glad to meet you. Hope to kill you soon."7 

Doc Holliday in the OK Corral Gunfight

Doc went to Hafford's Saloon, meeting Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan Earp to discuss Ike.7 He realized there was more to it. The Clanton brothers were with the McLaury brothers. They'd been to Spangenberg's gun shop and then went to a lot off Fremont Street, next to the O.K. Corral.

Virgil said they must disarm these Cowboys. Wyatt turned to Doc, saying "Doc, this isn't your fight." Doc felt rather insulted, somewhat hurt that his good friend would say such a thing. He replied "That's a hell of a thing to say to me." Virgil Earp deputized Doc for this foray.7

Doc Holliday described at the O.K. Corral gunfight in the newsFrom the Arizona Weekly Citizen - Sunday October 30, 1881 Page 3

The four of them walked up 4th, turned the corner, walking West on Fremont Street. John Behan tried heading them off, saying he'd already disarmed those Cow-boys. Holliday and the Earps just brushed him aside.

When they got to the lot behind the O.K. Corral, they saw Ike & Billy Clanton, Frank & Tom McLaury, and Billy Claibourne. Claibourne ran off. Virgil requested their guns. His phrasing is conjectural. A few seconds later gunshots commenced. It's also unclear who shot first. 30 shots rang out in 30 seconds - that's how fast it went!

As the shooting started, Ike ran off. Both McLaury brothers were mortally wounded, dead within minutes. Billy Clanton was dead. Doc Holliday did lots of damage. He killed Tom McLaury, struck Frank McLaury with a slug, and probably hit Billy Clanton with a bullet. Doc Holliday himself was barely grazed.

For the Whole Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Story - Click Here

Tombstone Shooting's Aftermath

O.K. Corral Shootout ArrestsFrom the Tombstone Nugget - Mon., Oct. 30, 1881

Ike Clanton soon filed a complaint with the court. A warrant was issued to arrest Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. The other Earps were seriously injured, and weren't then charged.

Witnesses presented testimony during November 1881. Judge Spicer gave his decision: "the defendants were fully justified in committing these homicides." It was needed in their job as deputies.5

Cowboys After the OK Corral GunfightArizona Weekly Citizen -Sun., Nov. 27, 1881 - Page 3, Heading: Tombstone Topics

Virgil Attacked - Arm Incapacitated

Ike and his fellow Cow-boys didn't take the judgment well. One response came the night of December 28th at Virgil Earp. Walking on Allen Street, near the Crystal Palace Saloon after leaving the Oriental. Bullets struck his left arm, side and back. He survived, but was handicapped thereafter. Frank Stilwell was named among the shooters, but got off with an alibi.

Ringo Confronts Doc

In mid January 1882, Johnny Ringo, friend of the Cow-boys, accosted Doc Holliday. Ringo was pretty drunk, and Doc wasn't that sober! Ringo challenged Doc to a shoot-out. Doc's good friend Wyatt was near-by. He interceded, along with Marshal James Flynn. The two were separated. Doc holliday biography ended it for the time being.5

Morgan Earp Murdered

Morgan Earp Gravestone

Another retribution that shook Wyatt Earp to his soul happened March 18, 1882. Morgan Earp was killed, playing pool in Campbell & Hatch's on Allen Street. Doc found out, reacting with his heart and gut. He searched Tombstone, breaking down doors where he thought offenders may be.

A coroner's jury determined the murderers. Frank Stilwell, among those listed, even boasted of delivering the fatal shot.5 Wyatt Earp resolved to get justice for Morgan, in his own way. His friend Doc always supported him. Doc and Wyatt traveled by train escorting Virgil and Allie Earp to Tucson AZ. The couple caught the train to the Earp family home in Colton California, for Morgan's burial. 

Wyatt and Doc got off the train in Tucson, now March 20, 1882. Suddenly Frank Stilwell appeared, a chase ensued. Wyatt blasted off shots at Stillwell, killing him. Doc appeared, firing twice more at the dead Stillwell. A warrant named Doc and Wyatt in his death, plus others in their party that day.5

Wyatt Earp's Vendetta Posse

Wyatt aimed to get everyone behind the murder of his brother Morgan. His friends stood with him, including Doc Holliday. They formed a posse. Cochise County Sheriff John Behan had his warrants. So Behan tried to arrest Wyatt and Doc as they left town. But they refused to be detained.

A possee is forming it looks like here. Wyatt Earp's included Doc Holliday

On March 22, 1882 they rode into the Dragoon Mountains to locate Pete Spence. At Spence's camp was Florentino Cruz. As he ran from the posse, they shot him down.

Next they went to Iron Springs in the Whetstone Mountains. Nine Cow-boys were there waiting in ambush. Wyatt allegedly killed Curly Bill Brocius and Johnny Barnes. The others escaped. Curly Bill's body was never recovered.

Since John Behan didn't arrest Wyatt and Doc, he secured a posse to get it done. After Iron Springs, Wyatt's vendetta ride went Northwest to Henry Hooker's Sierra Bonita Ranch. That's Southwest of Safford, Arizona. Hooker gave them food and shelter. He protected them from Behan's posse when they followed.

Wyatt & Doc's Posse Leave Arizona

Silver City NM Old West era cabinSilver City NM Historic Area

About the first week of April 1882, Doc Holliday headed out of Arizona. Wyatt Earp's posse was along. They knew their best interests were to leave Arizona Territory.

They entered New Mexico Territory. Spending their first night in Silver City.

Then Deming and on to Albuquerque. Witnesses reported an argument between Wyatt and Doc Holliday at a restaurant there. Concerning Wyatt's relationship with Josephine Marcus. Doc made a racial slur about her Jewish heritage.5,7

They each went their separate ways. Wyatt went to Gunnison Colorado, while Doc Holliday went to Denver.7 In late May, Arizona put an extradition effort through to Colorado. Doc Holliday was arrested.

Doc Holliday arrested in Denver.Arizona Daily Star, Friday: May 19, 1882 - Page 4
Doc Holliday not returned to ArizonaColorado Denies Holliday Extradition Reported in Arizona Daily Star Friday: May 19, 1882 - Page 4

But Doc wasn't released back to Arizona for technical reasons. Therefore he wasn't extradited, and remained in Colorado.

Sheriff Paul and Doc Holliday in Tombstone AZHumorous News Report: Tombstone Epitaph, Sat., June 3, 1882 Pg. 2 - Commenting on Doc Holliday Not Extradited

Doc went to Gunnison the month after, meeting with Wyatt. Josie was there, too. Doc's health was now failing more. He was very thin, pretty weak, lacking energy. His cough was quite bad. Now, looking much older than his 31 years. Still he carried on, stopping in a few Southern Colorado towns. Finally ended up in Leadville at the end of 1882.

Doc Holliday in Leadville CO

Leadville Colorado 1880Leadville in 1880s

The elevation there wasn't good for his lungs. Tuberculosis had probably damaged half his lung tissue by now = useless for absorbing oxygen. Mucus from TB encouraged pneumonia. Plus clogged up decent lung area, further blocking oxygen absorption.

Plus remaining passable lung area was hampered in absorbing oxygen because of elevation. The air pressure there is lower. Good air pressure is needed to press oxygen molecules into the bloodstream for body usage.

So his brain wasn't getting needed oxygen. For all those reasons! That would affect his gambling skills. And it did.

He also self-medicated with drinking and regular laudanum doses. His thinking was fuzzy. His winnings were down. In fact, losses were so bad he started pawning jewelry he owned. And borrowing small amounts of money from various friends and enemies. And not quick to pay it back. That lead to another notorious life incident.9

Doc Holliday frequented Hyman's Saloon

His hang-out in Leadville was Hyman's Saloon.

Two old foes were in town. On edge, Doc heard they'd threatened him. Billy Allen demanding his $5 loan be repaid, or else! 

As Allen entered the saloon, Doc fired his gun. He hit him with his first shot, fired again and missed. Saloon patrons disarmed him.

Doc was arrested. A jury trial found him not guilty March 28, 1885: self defense. Part of his defense was his weak condition.5,9

Maybe You'd Like These Old West Memorabilia Collectibles. 

Doc Holliday: Dying Days & Death

Doc Holliday made his way to Glenwood Springs, Colorado in May 1887. Spring waters there were reputed to have healthful properties. Actually, with sulfurous odors, not really a good inhalant for tuberculin lungs! 

Doc took a room in Hotel Glenwood. It specialized in people visiting town for these local springs. In particular they went to the Yampah Hot Springs. A man he'd known from his past days in Tombstone, Charlie Smith, was in town at the time. It's from him we fortunately have a look at Doc's last days.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Origen Charles Smith's writings surfaced. They went through many narrow escapes! Descendants of a Smith associate preserved them through the years. A recent descendant, Clifton Brewer, collaborated with a descendant/relative of Doc Holliday. She's Karen Holliday Tanner. They presented a historical work of Smith's notes. She also authored an authoritative book on the life of John Henry Holliday.

Here are details of Doc's experiences, based on memorandums by Charlie Smith.10

Doc Holliday Historical Sign in Glenwood COHistorical Sign in Glenwood CO - With Info on Hotel Glenwood

Charlie had a room across the hall from Doc at the Hotel Glenwood. Mr. Smith kept journals, and wrote letters detailing the events. He said Doc took the narrow gauge railway from Leadville. It was a difficult for him. He continually coughed, constantly bringing up bloody mucus. He needed a cane to walk. His hair was silvery gray.

From the train station, he took the stagecoach, arriving at the Hotel Glenwood on May 24, 1887. At first he tried to earn cash by dealing Faro. But he couldn't do it. Big Nose Kate came to town to help take care of Doc. He contacted her in Globe, letting her know his plans as he left Leadville.

Doc Holliday's Last Words

By October Doc had another bout of pneumonia. He hadn't gotten out of bed, sat up, or spoken a word in many days. Any activity was just delirium. A doctor told Kate he'd done all he could do.

On November 8, 1887 Charlie Smith went to Doc's room. The bellhop let him know Doc had sat up that morning! The maid entered the room to find him that way. Was that an improvement?

When Charlie entered, Kate was there. So were a few friends, and his doctor. It was obvious to Charlie that the Doctor was telling Kate the end was near. Now Doc's breathing was very shallow. The Doctor gave him a shot of whiskey. Doc smiled at Kate. With his last breath Doc said "This is funny."

The Doctor recorded the time and date of Doc's death: Nine fifty-five, November 8, 1887. He was 36 years old.

In Memorium: The Doc Holliday Grave

Glenwood Springs CO gravesiteRIP Doc Holliday

Charlie Smith continued his notes. To include information on the funeral arrangements.10

They planned it quickly, 2 p.m. the same day. Held in Linwood Colorado. Reverend Rudolph performed the ceremony. Local friends donated his adorned coffin. Undertakers lifted his body and took it to the hearse. People on the streets offered condolences to Kate, as the hearse headed out.

He was buried in Linwood Cemetery. Some controversy exists about the exact grave-site. But there's evidence that it's probably right where the grave marker stands, or pretty close to it. 

Kate sent Doc's possessions to his family in Georgia. She returned to Globe Arizona the day after the funeral. Charlie Smith left Glenwood on November 10th.

Doc Holliday Legend Lives On

Doc Holliday remains a memorable name in the annals of the Old West. His name and life, short though it was, will continue to be of interest to many. How do we know?


1 "John Henry Holliday Family History". Kansas Heritage Group. Archived from the original on November 16, 2017. Retrieved January 4, 2018.

2 Siebert, D. (2018). Valdosta Institute. Digital Library of Georgia. Retrieved from Georgia Info, an Online Georgia Almanac on January 4, 2018.

3 Wilcox, V. (2001). Mischievous minor: From lad to Luger. True West: History of the American Frontier. Retrieved January 5, 2018 from

4 Doc Holliday (April 27, 2017). The website published by A&E Television Networks. Retrieved January 4, 2018 from

5 Traywick, B. (October 1997). Doc Holliday. Wild West Magazine. Archived from the original on May 11, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2018.

6 Ballard, S. (n.d.). Facts any good Doc Holliday aficionado should know (and probably doesn't). Tombstone Times. Retrieved January 4, 2018 from

7 Gillen, P. (2017). I am John H. Holliday DDS: You may call me Doc. Bloomington IN: Authorhouse.

8 Traywick, B. (n.d.). The infamous Doc Holliday. The Tombstone News. Retrieved January 5, 2018 from

9 Jay, R. (August 14, 2006). Spitting lead in Leadville: Doc Holliday's last stand. HistoryNet. Wild West Magazine. Retrieved January 6, 2018 from

10 Holliday Tanner, K. & Brewer, C. (November 1, 2001). Doc Holliday’s last days: The Origen Charles Smith memoir. True West Magazine. Retrieved January 6, 2018 from

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John Henry "Doc" Holliday (14 August 1851-8 November 1887) was an American gambler, gunfighter, and dentist of the Wild West. He was best known for his friendship and partnership with Wyatt Earp during his war with the Cochise County Cowboys in Tombstone, Arizona.


John Henry Holliday was born in Griffin, Georgia on 14 August 1851, and he became a dentist at the age of 21, earning himself the nickname "Doc". However, he was soon diagnosed with tuberculosis, the same disease which had killed his mother when he was 15, and he decided to move to the American Southwest to find more suitable weather for his condition. He took the HungarianprostituteBig Nose Kate as his wife and became a reputed gambler in Prescott, Arizona, having several confrontations over the next few years. He saved Wyatt Earp's life during his confrontation with Dave Rudabaugh in 1878, and they became lifelong friends. In 1879, Holliday joined Earp in Tombstone, where the Cochise County Cowboys spread rumors that Holliday was a stagecoach robber. However, Wyatt's brother Virgil deputized Holliday, and an attempt to disarm the Cowboys in Tombstone led to the 30-second Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Following this shootout, the Cowboys crippled Virgil and killed Morgan Earp, and Wyatt deputized Holliday and embarked on a "Vendetta Ride" against the Cowboys. Wyatt then arranged for Colorado Governor Frederick Walker Pitkin to waive an extradition order for Holliday, and Holliday died of tuberculosis in Glenwood Springs, Colorado in 1887 at the age of 36.


The World of Doc Holliday: An Illustrated Biography

Victoria Wilcox is Founding Director of Georgia's Holliday-Dorsey-Fife House Museum (the antebellum home of the family of Doc Holliday, now a site on the National Register of Historic Places), where she learned the family's untold stories of their legendary cousin. Her work with the museum led to two decades of original research, making her a nationally recognized authority on the life of Doc Holliday. She is the author of the documentary film In Search of Doc Holliday and the award-winning historical novel trilogy Southern Son: The Saga of Doc Holliday, for which she twice received Georgia Author of the Year honors and in 2016 was named Best Historical Western Novelist by True West Magazine. She has lectured across the country, appeared in local and regional media, guested on NPR affiliates, and was featured in the Fox Network series Legends & Lies: The Real West. She is a member of the Western Writers of America, the Wild West History Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Writer's Guild of the Booth Museum of Western Art and has been a featured contributor to True West Magazine. In the summer of 2017, she joined actor Val Kilmer (Tombstone) as pinnacle financial services careers historian at the inaugural "Doc HolliDays" in Tombstone, Arizona, site of the legendary OK Corral gunfight.


Doc Holliday: A Family Portrait

John H. Holliday, D. D. S., better known as Doc Holliday, has become a legendary figure in the history of the American West. In Doc Holliday: A Family Portrait, Karen Holliday Tanner reveals the real man behind the legend. Shedding light on Holliday’s early years, in a prominent Georgia family during the Civil War and Reconstruction, she examines the elements that shaped his destiny: his birth defect, the death of his mother and estrangement from his father, and the diagnosis of tuberculosis, which led to his journey west. The influence of Holliday’s genteel upbringing never disappeared, but it was increasingly overshadowed by his emerging western personality. Holliday himself nurtured his image as a frontier gambler and gunman.

Using previously undisclosed family documents and reminiscences as well as other primary sources, Tanner documents the true story of Doc’s friendship with the Earp brothers and his run-ins with the law, including the climactic shootout at the O. K. Corral and its aftermath.

This first authoritative biography of Doc Holliday should appeal both to historians of the West and to general readers who are interested in his poignant story.

"Doc Holliday: A Family Portrait will be considered the definitive Holliday biography and will supplant all doc holliday biography published works on the man’s life as a complete and authoritative account. This book will undoubtedly take a place among the foremost books in the Western gunfighter genre." - Robert K. DeArment, author of Alias Frank Canton


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