James Butler Hickok was born in Troy Grove, Illinois, in 1837.Â In 1855, he left his fatherâ€™s farm to become a stage coach drive on the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail.Â
Afterward, he found employment in law enforcement in Kansas. Â When the Civil War began, he became a Scout for the Union Army.Â After the war, he continued to work for the Army as a Scout.Â While Scouting, he is perhaps most famous for a single rifle shot:Â he shot and killed Whistler the Peacemaker, preventing the Sioux from attacking a group of settlers.Â The shot, made on a windy day and at over 750 yards, earned him an instant reputation as a crack-shot.Â
This reputation served him well when he went back to law enforcement.Â Many criminals were too afraid to face him and left town.Â His prowess with a weapon earned him the nickname â€œWild Bill.â€Â
Hickok is also famous for the â€œhigh-noonâ€, quick-draw shoot out which was synonymous with the West.Â He however was the only historical figure on record to have fought this kind of duel, earning him a permanent place in history books.Â
It is rumored, but not known for sure, that he appeared in Buffalo Billâ€™s play, â€œScouts of the Plains.â€Â He then began working as a Scout again for a new stage coach line, where he met another figure of the Old West, Calamity Jane.Â Â
Hickok became a hero of legend, appearing in many of the â€œdime novelsâ€, which were becoming popular at the time.Â Like many heroes of the Old West, much of his legend is fiction only, but he really was a Scout and really did leave his mark on the West at a time when our country was expanding toward California, settlers bringing the dream of America with them.