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Doc Holliday
baptized March 21, 1852, Griffin, Ga., U.S.
-d. Nov. 8, 1887, Glenwood Springs, Colo.

by name of JOHN HENRY HOLLIDAY , gambler, gunman, and sometime dentist of the American West.

"He was the most skillful gambler, and the nerviest, fastest, deadliest man with a six-gun I ever saw." This was the tribute paid to Doc Holliday by Wyatt Earp, who was something of a tough character himself.

"Doc" Holliday was born in Griffin, Georgia, to Henry Burroughs Holliday and Alice Jane Holliday. His father served in both the Mexican-American War and the Civil War.In 1864, his family moved to Valdosta, Georgia. Holliday's mother died of tuberculosis on September 16, 1866, when he was 14 years old. Three months later, his father married Rachel Martin.

Holliday was reared in Georgia in the genteel tradition of the Old South, graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in 1872, and, already consumptive, moved west for drier climes. He practiced dentistry briefly in Atlanta and Dallas but soon discovered his prowess as a gambler, a poker and faro player, and began drifting throughout the West--Jacksboro, Texas; Pueblo and Denver, Colo.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Deadwood, S.D.; Dodge City, Kan.; Trinidad and Leadville, Colo.; and Las Vegas, N.M., ending up in Tombstone, Ariz., in 1880. During the period he gained a reputation as a drinker, fighter, and killer; he also probably married one Kate Elder.

In the summer of 1876 Holliday killed a soldier from Fort Richardson and hit the road, as he did most of his life, being pursued by the Army, U.S. Marshals, Texas Rangers, and local lawmen and citizens, who were anxious to collect the reward offered for him. He headed straight into Apache country for Colorado, eight hundred miles away. Stopping for short periods at Pueblo, Leadville, Georgetown and Central City, three more men went down before his guns before he reached Denver. There he went by the name of Tom Mackey and was practically unknown until he was involved in an argument with Bud Ryan, while dealing Faro at Babbitt's House. Holliday came to close to Killing him and had to run again, to Wyoming, then to New Mexico, and from there to Fort Griffin, Texas.

It was there that Doc met "Big Nose" Kate, a frontier dance hall woman and prostitute, while he was dealing cards in John Shanssey's saloon (it was also at Shanssey's that he met Wyatt Earp). She was the only woman who was ever to come into his life. Another dead man in a poker game meant Holliday was arrested, escaped with the help of Kate, and they both moved on to Doge City.

An incident in September 1878 had Wyatt Earp, at the time a deputy city marshal, surrounded by men who had "the drop" on him. Holliday, who currently owned a bar in the town and was dealing faro (as he did throughout his life), left the bar, approached from another angle to cover the group with a gun, and either shot or threatened to shoot one of these men. Earp afterward always credited Holliday with saving his life that day. Many other accounts of Holliday's involvement in gunfights, however, are sometimes exaggerated. He had several documented saloon altercations involving small shootings, where he was accounted to be as fast as Wild Bill Hickok.

In the summer of 1879, Doc tried his hand as a dentist for the last time in Las Vegas, New Mexico. It was a very weak attempt and ended in a short time when he bought a saloon on Center Street. A few weeks later, he got into an argument with a local gunman, named Mike Gordon, who, by all evidence, was rather popular with the locals. Not one to mince words, Doc politely invited him to start shooting whenever he felt like it and then shot him three times in the stomach. Doc ran back to Doge City but he discovered that Wyatt had gone to a new silver strike, in a place called Tombstone, Arizona. There was nothing to hold him in Dodge City with Wyatt gone, so Doc headed West, bound for Tombstone.

"Big Nose" Kate, also enroute to the new boom town of Tombstone, caught up with Doc in Prescott while he was still winning at poker. The two of them reached Tombstone in the early summer of 1880 and Doc, with $40,000 of the gamblers money in his pockets, found Kate very happy to be in his company. In Tombstone, Doc found Kate's living quarters sandwiched between a funeral parlor and the Soma Winery on the North side of Allen Street, at Sixth Street. Kate was quick to realize opportunity and, soon after her arrival in Tombstone, went into business and was soon making a sizable income. She purchased a large tent, rounded up several girls, a few barrels of bad, cheap whiskey and operated Tombstone's first "sporting house".

In 1880 Holliday was becoming an embarrassment for the lawman who arrested him on several occasions. Regardless, Holliday stood by Wyatt Earp during the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the subsequent vendetta that followed. He left Tombstone in 1882 along with Earp. Holliday drifted for several years, living the life of a frontier gambler while his disease steadily worsened. In 1887, his tuberculosis progressed to the point that he was forced to enter a sanitarium.

Doc Holliday claimed he almost lost his life a total of nine times. Four attempts were made to hang him and he was shot at in a gunfight or from ambush five times. In May , 1887, Doc went to Glenwood Springs to try the sulfur vapors, as his health was steadily growing worse, but he was too far gone. He spent his last fifty-seven days in bed and was delirious fourteen of them. On November 8, 1887, he awoke clear-eyed and asked for a glass of Whiskey. It was given to him and he drank it down with enjoyment. Then he said, "This is funny", and died.

Doc Holliday had come West years before, knowing his days were numbered. Long before his death he had maintained that he would not die in bed coughing his guts out. He always believed that he would be killed by a quicker, easier death than that planned for him by destiny. He often said that his end would come from lead poisoning, at the end of a rope, a knife in his ribs, or that he might drink himself to death. That's why he considered it funny when he died peacefully in bed. Doc was the best of the Western gamblers and he lost his biggest bet when he died of tuberculosis. The greater part of his years had been lived on borrowed time. His remains were buried in their final resting place in the Glenwood Cemetery (Old Hill Cemetery), Colorado.
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