Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Doc Holliday


Dentist and gunfighter John H. "Doc" Holliday was baptized on this day in 1852 in Valdosta, Georgia.

Having received his D.D.S. degree from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in 1872, Holliday practiced dentistry in Atlanta for a year before discovering that he had contracted tuberculosis, whereupon he closed up shop and headed to the wild West. There he made his living principally by gambling, at which he excelled; but as a gambler in Texas in the 1870s, he found that being a crack shot with a pistol was also required, and he soon gained a reputation as a lightning gunfighter with a foul temper -- not the sort of fellow you'd want to cross. (One might suspect that the stress and strain of dentistry evident in the high rate of suicides among American dentists today manifested itself, in the 1870s in the American Southwest, in Doc Holliday's hair-trigger temper -- but that's surely a matter for further research and discussion.)

Frequently Holliday found himself being pursued by the law for his escapades, but in the famous gunfight at O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona in October 1881, he fought on the side of Wyatt Earp against the pesky Clanton boys. He was wounded in the battle, but later accompanied Earp in search of other outlaws.

Although he was arrested in 1882 for his part in Earp's unofficial police action at Tombstone, he was released by a Colorado judge. He died on November 8, 1887 in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

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