Submitted by ub on Fri, 12/20/2013 - 05:30

City Island Images found a Christmas tree in Hays Kansas which was upstaged by Wild Bill Hickok.

Not surprising because Wild Bill Hickok is a superstar, who was remembered for his services in Kansas as sheriff of Hays, where his iron-handed rule helped to tame the frontier. He is also remembered for the cards he was holding when he was shot dead. They were a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights and since known as the dead man's hand.

A legend during his life and considered one of the American west's premier gunfighters, James Butler ("Wild Bill") Hickok was born May 27, 1837, in Illinois.

Hickok moved west in 1855 to farm and joined General James Lane's Free State antislavery forces in Kansas. He was later elected constable in Kansas.

For the next several years, Hickok worked as a stagecoach driver. During the Civil War he found employment as a teamster and spy for the Union Army.
Birth of a Legend

His story became newspaper and magazine fodder. Perhaps most famously, Harper's New Monthly Magazine printed an account of the story in 1867, claiming Hickok had killed 10 men.

Hickok himself did little to diminish the attention. His legend only grew further when other stories about his fighting prowess surfaced. One story claimed he killed a bear with his bare hands and a bowie knife. The Harper's piece also told the story of how Hickok had pointed to a letter "O" that was "no bigger than a man's heart." Standing some 50 yards away from his subject, Hickok "without sighting his pistol and with his eye" rang off six shots, each of them hitting the direct center of the letter.

Press reports increased after he met up with Buffalo Bill and was also romantically linked to Martha Jane, also known as "Calamity Jane," who'd become famous for her riding and shooting skills.