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Local History

Wild Bill Hickok

 Springfield Daily Herald, May 30, 1883, page 1.

Wild Bill

Capt. Page’s recollections of the noted desperado.

The killing of Dave Tutt by Wild Bill – Wes York’s attempt to kill a well known citizen frustrated by Wild Bill – Other reminiscences.

“’Springfield is lively now but it has not got the desperadoes that it had along in 1865,’ said Captain Page of the police force yesterday to a Herald reporter.  ‘It was in ’65 that Bill Hickok (Wild Bill) held forth here and was the dread of everybody.’

"‘You knew Bill then?’ asked the Herald man.
‘Well I should day so,’ remarked the Captain; ‘Wild Bill was one of the first men that I became acquainted with.  I came here in ’64 as captain of a company of the Sixth Missouri Volunteers [Union] and shortly afterwards was released from the army and opened a saloon.  My saloon was situated where the McClure building now stands.  Wild Bill came around frequently then and that was how I became acquainted with him.  He was employed as a government scout.  Capt. Jinkins [sic] was chief of the scouts and wild Bill and Tom Martin were the most prominent members under him.  Wild Bill and the other scouts used to make this place their headquarters.  It was from here that they would make their expeditions.  Upon these expeditions Bill killed a number of men and it was in this way that he made a national reputation.’

"‘Did you ever know Bill to murder any one?’

"‘Yes, he killed a man named Dave Tutt.  This man Tutt was a gambler and one of the squarest gamblers that it was ever my pleasure to become acquainted with.  He came from Arkansas and belonged to a good family.  Tutt was a perfect gentleman not withstanding he was a gambler.  I don’t think he would take any great advantage of a man.  I have known him to give new beginners every advantage.  He was also a very peaceful man and while he would avoid a quarrel he was in no sense a coward.

"‘Tutt was apparently a great friend of wild Bill and if I remember right, they knew one another in Arkansas.  Anyway, Tutt and Bill got up a game of poker one day.  The game was played in a room in the Lyon House, now the Southern Hotel.  Bill lost all he had which was only a few dollars, he then put up his watch, which was a handsome gold one.  It was valued at something over a hundred dollars.  Tutt won the watch and Bill claimed that Tutt did not win it fairly.  Tutt claimed he did and said he proposed keeping it.  ‘Well you will never walk across the square alive with it,’ replied Bill.  Mr. Tutt paid no attention to the threat and left the room with the watch.  From the hotel he walked over across the square to the courthouse and sat down on the curbing in front.  The sidewalk was then about two feet lower than it is now, so that the curbing afforded a very good seat.  After sitting there a few minutes, Tutt got up and remarked to a person who was sitting beside him that he would go to dinner.  He walked to the corner of the square and College Street to the point where the lamppost with letter box attached now stands.  As he reached this point Wild Bill fired from in front of Morrow & Priest’s although it was a good distance so true was his aim that the bullet entered Tutt’s breast immediately above the heart.  Tutt turned and walked into the courthouse, through the arch next to College Street and back again to the sidewalk through the next arch.  As he reached the sidewalk, he fell dead, with his head facing College Street.  Wild Bill, knowing that Tutt had a number of friends, looked about after firing to see that none of them should fire upon him.

"‘Observing no one, he walked over to the Lyon House where he boarded and locked himself in his room.  At the time of the shooting I was standing in the portico in front of the Courthouse so that I witnessed the whole thing.

"‘Wild Bill was subsequently arrested and, being a Government scout, on some slight technicality his acquittal shortly followed.

"‘Directly after the war, Bill left here and remained out on the plains for some time where he achieved an extensive reputation as a scout.  He returned here about ’68 or ’69 and remained for some time.  He was a gambler and made his living by that occupation.

"‘Along about ’70 there was a man here named Wes. York, who was a member of the police force and who had considerable reputation for courage.  York and Jas. Kirby became engaged in an altercation in the latter’s saloon.  One word brought on another and a tragedy seemed imminent.  York was aware of Kirby’s courage and his ability to take care of himself under any ordinary circumstances.  Knowing this York drew a pistol upon Kirby and pulled the trigger just as Wild Bill marched up and placed his finger under the hammer, thereby preventing the weapon from being discharged and saving Kirby’s life.

"‘The next affair that Wild Bill figured in was with an ex-member of the British army named Herbert Innis.  This man Innis went through a large fortune here.  He had been a captain in one of the crack regiments of England and was a man of a splendid physique.  Innis and Bill were engaged in a row one day at North Springfield and Bill undertook to take a revolver away form Innis.  A desperate struggle ensued in which Innis proved more than an equal for Bill.  The latter afterwards said that Innis was the best man that he ever tackled.

"‘Soon after this, Bill left for good.  He went east and married the widow of Lake, the circus man, who was killed by a drunken man at Granby, where his circus was exhibiting.  I don’t think Mrs. Lake lived long after her marriage to Bill.  By the way, she has a daughter, Alice Lake, who married Gil. Robinson, a son of Uncle John Robinson the circus man.  Gil. Robinson is manager of the circus and is expected here this season so that we will see Alice, as she is one of the riders.  Of course you know Bill finally went to the Black Hills where he was killed while engaged in a game of cards.

"‘There was another very desperate character here towards the close of the war named Doar.  He was a Frenchman.  I have seen that man stand up before the muzzle of a cocked revolver and never flinch.

"‘Then we had Sam Orr and several others whose deeds are familiar to all Southwest Missourians.’"

Read more about Wild Bill in the book They called him Wild Bill; the life and adventures of James Butler Hickok  or online at Wikipedia.  You can also read another account of the shoot out in Holcomes History of Greene County. Read the court records on the Community and Conflict site.

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