LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,,
I GIVE YOU THE ONE AND ONLY
Because of his family status, John Henry had to choose some sort of profession and he chose dentistry. He enrolled in dental school in 1870 . John was a good dentist, but shortly after starting his practice, he discovered that he had contracted tuberculosis. Although he consulted a number of doctors, the consensus of all was that he had only months to live. However, they all concurred that he might add a few months to his life if he moved to a dry climate. Following this advice, Doc packed up and headed West. His first stop was in Dallas, Texas, the end of the railroad at the time. The date was October 1873, and Doc soon found a suitable position. Coughing spells wracked his thin frame and often occurred at the most embarrassing times, such as in the midst of filling a tooth or making an extraction. As a result, his dental business gradually declined. It became apparent that he possessed a natural ability for gambling and this quickly became his sole means of support. In those days, a gambler in the west had to be able to protect himself, for he stood alone. On January 2, 1875, Doc and a local saloon keeper, named Austin, had a disagreement that flared into violence. Each man went for his pistol. Several shots were fired, but not one struck its intended target. According to the Dallas Weekly Herald, both shooters were arrested. Most of the local citizens thought such a gunfight highly amusing, but changed their views a few days later when Doc put two large holes through a prominent citizen, leaving him very dead. Feelings ran high over this killing and Doc was forced to flee Dallas a short distance in front of a posse. His next stop was Jacksboro over in Jack's County, where he found a job dealing Faro. Jackson was a tough cow-town situated near an armypost.
Doc now carried a gun in a shoulder holster, one on his hip, and a long, wicked knife as well. Reports confirm the fact that he was becoming an expert with these weapons as he was involved in three gunfights in a very short span of time. One of these left another dead man to Doc's credit. During the summer of 1876, Holliday again became a participant in a gunfight. On this occasion, he was careless enough to kill a soldier from Fort Richardson. The killing brought the United States Government into the investigation.
Doc hit the trail again, but this time his back trail was cluttered with the Army, U.S. Marshals, Texas Rangers, and local lawmen and citizens, who were anxious to collect the reward offered for him. Holliday knew that if he was captured, his neck would be stretched with very few preliminaries, so 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. In the ensuing fight, Doc came very near to cutting Ryan's head off. Ryan, who was a well-known gambling tough, survived the vicious slashing, but his face and neck were horribly mutilated. Although his victim did not die, public resentment forced Doc to flee again. He drifted on to Wyoming, then to New Mexico, and from there to Fort Griffin, Texas. It was there that Doc met the only woman who was ever to come into his life. She was known as "Big Nose" Kate, a frontier dance hall woman.
~Kate is sitting, her sister is standing~
Doc met her while he was dealing cards in John Shanssey's saloon. It was also at Shanssey's that he met Wyatt Earp. Holliday had already gained the reputation of being a cold-blooded killer. A bully boy of Fort Griffin sat down in a poker game with Holliday. His name was Ed Bailey and he had grown accustomed to having his way with no one questioning his actions. Doc's reputation seemed to make no impression on him whatever. In an obvious attempt to irritate Doc, Bailey kept picking up the discards and looking through them. This was strictly against the rules of Western poker, and anyone who broke this rule forfeited the pot. Holliday warned Bailey twice, but the erstwhile bad man ignored his protests. The very next hand Bailey picked up the discards again. Without saying a word Doc reached out and raked in the pot without showing his hand, Bailey brought a six-shooter from under the table, while a large knife materialized in Doc's hand. Before the local bully could pull the trigger, Doc, with one slash, completely disemboweled him. Spilling blood everywhere, Bailey sprawled across the table.
As he felt that he was obviously only protecting himself and in the right, Doc stuck around town and allowed the Marshal to arrest him. That was certainly a mistake, for once he had been disarmed and locked up, Bailey's friends and the town vigilantes began a clamor for his blood. "Big Nose" Kate knew that Doc was finished unless someone did something and quick. Likely as not, the local lawmen would turn the slim gunman over to the mob. Kate went into action by setting fire to an old shed. It burned so rapidly that the flames threatened to engulf the town. Everyone went to fight the fire with the exception of three people: Kate, Doc, and the Officer who guarded him. As soon as the lawman and his prisoner were left alone, she stepped in and confronted them. A pistol in each hand, she disarmed the startled guard, then passed a pistol to Doc and the two of them vanished into the night. All that night they hid in the brush, carefully avoiding parties of searchers. The next morning they headed for Dodge City, four hundred miles away, on "borrowed" horses.
September found Doc back dealing Faro in the Long Branch Saloon. A number of Texas cowboys had just arrived in Dodge City with a herd of cattle. After many weeks on the trail, they were a wild, salty bunch, ready to "tree" Dodge. Word was brought into the Long Branch that several of the trail drivers had Wyatt Earp cornered and were boasting that they intended to shoot him down. Doc leaped through the door, gun in hand. When he arrived, two cowboys, Morrison and Driscoll, were holding cocked revolvers on Wyatt, goading him to draw before they shot him down. About twenty of their friends also stood nearby, taunting and insulting the enraged, but helpless, Wyatt. Holliday loosed a volume of profanity and, as the self-styled bad men turned to face Doc, Wyatt rapped Morrison over the head with his long barrel Colt. Then he set about relieving the other cowboys of their guns. Wyatt never forgot the fact that Doc Holliday saved his life that night in Dodge City. A gambler, known as "Kid Colton", wishing to make himself a reputation, badgered Doc into a fight. Doc's gun roared twice and Colton collapsed in the dust of the street. Under such circumstances, Doc did not wish to linger around, and rode on into New Mexico. 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. A mob quickly gathered and began plans for decorating a hang tree, using Doc as an ornament. Wisely, Doc disappeared like smoke. Since he had to move on again, Doc knew the one place he would be safe in was Dodge City. After all, Wyatt Earp was his friend. But when he rode back into town, he discovered that Wyatt had gone to a new silver strike, in a place called Tombstone, Arizona. After getting back together with Wyatt Earp and enjoying the crime sprees it was time to leave and they both headed to Colorado, where they continued to do what they did best. Doc's illness finally got the best of him and he died peacefully in bed on November 8, 1887.