Who Did Doc Holliday Shoot?

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Who Did Doc Holliday Shoot?

Compiled by R.W. Boyle
© 2004 R.W. Boyle

Who Did Doc Shoot?
One of the most famous gunfighters in the West,
but how many men did he really kill?

 This is probably the most common question asked during the Q&A after Doc performances. Here is what my research tells me is most likely to be Doc’s “score”. I have left in a few of the most common reported incidents for which there is no solid evidence, and have left out most alleged shootings where there is no hard evidence (such as newspaper accounts, court records, or contemporaneous participant/witness verification) for the story.

Summer of 1866 or 67? – Doc’s first “shooting incident”.
Valdosta, GA.; Doc is 15 or 16 years old. Doc’s uncle’s Thomas H. McKey and William H. McKey owned land along the Withlacoochee River, east of Valdosta, GA; Doc and friends have built a swimming hole on the property and Doc (still John Henry) takes Uncle Tom out to see it. There, they find a group of Negro children swimming in the pool. Doc fires a shot or two (Dad’s ’51 Navy?) over their heads to drive them away. No one is injured. Local rumor mill eventually claims fatalities.

January 1, 1875 – Charles “Champagne” Austin.
Dallas, TX; ”Dr Holliday and Mr. (Charles W.) Austin, a saloon keeper, relieved the monotony of the noise of firecrackers by taking a couple of shots at each other yesterday afternoon. The cheerful note of the peaceful six-shooter is heard once more among us. Both shooters were arrested.” (Dallas Weekly Herald, January 2, 1875. Doc indicted for assault to murder in the above incident Jan. 18th; but both had missed and Doc was found not guilty Jan 25th.
see:
OWDRWk. 01, 01/01/1875 – Charles “Champagne” Austin gunfight

July 4, 1877 – Henry Kahn; He shot Doc!
Breakenridge, TX; Doc reported killed by The Dallas Weekly Herald (July 7, 1877)! Doc goes to the Transcontinental Hotel in Ft. Worth to rest and heal. The family sends older cousin George Holliday out from Georgia to assist in his recovery.
see:
OWDRWk. 27, 07/04/1877 – Henry Kahn fight

Fall 1877 – Ed Bailey, dead.
Ft. Griffin, TX; knifed by Doc. Wyatt said that Ed was, “monkeying with the deadwood”*. Doc arrested for illegal gaming, (drinking and gambling, not murder.) Threatened with lynching by the vigilantes of “The Tin Hat Brigade”. This leads to the great escape with Kate to Dodge City! A warrant for arson is issued for Kate in Shackleford County but it’s not served because she never returns. Bat Masterson and Wyatt were prone to tell this story on occasion, but it is most likely a compendium of several events. Something happened here, but other than the arson warrant, this one’s not confirmed by court records or newspaper accounts. Great legend material!
* “monkeying with the deadwood” Going back through (reviewing) the discard pile. A forbidden practice, calling for forfeiture of the hand by the offending party, without consideration of the value of players hands. Doc should not have been expected to reveal his cards.

Summer 1878 – Wounds one.
Dodge City, KS; Doc interrupts a winning card game with Cockeyed Frank Loving at The Long Branch to Save Wyatt from Tobe Driscoll, Ed Morrison and a gang of drunken Texas cowboys. Maybe? Wyatt was grateful for something about then. This story comes in several forms.

July 19, 1879 – Mike Gordon, killed.
Las Vegas, NM; Mike Gordon was drunk, belligerent and shooting up the town. Somebody did a public service and no one in the crowd in and around the saloons who may witnessed the shooting could/would say who did it.  He was found later in the night, shot, and died early the next morning. Doc Holliday had some trouble with Mike that night at his saloon, but he never owned up to killing him and no charges were ever brought against him. Hoodoo Brown’s records for that month seemed to have been mislaid so if there was any legal action, we don’t know. “Excusable homicide” as defined by the Coroner’s Jury. Two years later the Tombstone Nugget quoted the Las Vegas Optic describing Doc as, “the identical individual who killed poor inoffensive Mike Gordon”. In later years, Bat Masterson muddied the water on this one with a clear description of Doc’s actions.
see:
OWDRWk. 29, 07/19/1879 – Mike Gordon

March 12, 1880 – Charlie White, wounded.
Las Vegas, NM; Yup, he and Doc had words and shots at each other; charges dismissed. Charlie left town. Miguel A. Otero (later Governor of New Mexico) confirmed this event.
see:
OWDRWk. 11, 03/12/1880 – Charlie White shooting

Arizona Oct. 11, 1880 – Milt Joyce, shot in the hand, William Parker (shot in the left big toe).
Tombstone, Arizona Territory; Doc and Johnny Tyler argue, but are disarmed by friends before shots are fired. Milt tells both Doc and Tyler to leave and Tyler does. Doc and Milt argue about Doc causing a disturbance in the bar and Milt tosses Doc bodily out the door. Doc later returns and he and Milt get into an argument about the return of Doc’s gun from behind the bar. Milt refuses to return it and Doc leaves again but shortly returns with a “self cocker” and fires two shots at Milt. Milt and his partner are both hit and Milt whacks Doc on the head with a six gun. The next day, witnesses don’t show, Doc pleads to misdemeanor Assault and Battery and pays a $20.00 fine and $11.25 in Marshall fees.
see:
OWDRWk. 41, 10/11/1880 – Joyce and Parker shootings

OWDR Newman Hayes Clanton WebAug 12, 1881 – Newman Hayes “Old Man” Clanton, dead.
Guadalupe Canyon (more likely Skeleton Canyon); Doc claimed to have killed him with a Winchester rifle. Ten Eyck and James Earp backed up the claim. Jim Crane (Benson Stage robber) was also killed in this fight, unknown who got him. Doc was probably wounded in this fight and that was why he was using the cane that Virgil traded for the shotgun at Hafford’s just before “The Streetfight in Tombstone”. Wyatt said that Doc had taunted Ike Clanton on the street with the claim of shooting “Old Man” the day before the gunfight. Warren Earp was also wounded in this fight, likely the reason that he was not a participant at the OK. Several other lesser lights in the cowboy group were probably killed or wounded here. Photo: U.S. PD pre-1881 unknown.
see:
OWDRWk. 32, 08/12/1881 – Guadalupe Canyon

Gunfight at the OK Corral
October 26, 1881 – Tombstone, Arizona Territory

OWDR TombstoneFire Map 1886 WebThis 1886 Tombstone Fire Map is marked in yellow to show the OK Corral and in green to show the site of the gunfight.
Illustration: 1886 Sanborn Map and Publishing Company – New York

All over a blood feud and a misdemeanor arrest gone wrong. Doc Holliday, Virgil & Morgan Earp wounded, only Wyatt Earp escaped unscathed. Ike Clanton, Billy Claiborne, & Wes Fuller ran away.

OWDR Tom McLaury WebTom McLaury, dead.
Tom got both barrels in the right chest from the shotgun that Virgil Earp had traded Doc for the cane he was carrying when he arrived at Col. Hafford’s about 2 PM that day. Photo: pre-1881 unknown.

OWDR Frank McLaury WebFrank McLaury, dead.
Wyatt’s first shot gutshot Frank and he staggered out into Fremont street and sort of got ignored ‘til the end of the fight. Frank got it back together while everyone was shooting at Billy, then, he pulled down on Doc, whose gun was empty and said, “I’ve got you now you Son of a Bitch”. Doc responded, “You’re a daisy if you have!” Wounded himself, Morgan Earp, shot Frank dead before he could fire on Doc. Some accounts have Doc putting a bullet into Frank during the fight. No evidence or testimony exists to support this claim. Photo: U.S. PD pre-1881 unknown

Billy Clanton, dead.
Shot three times, Billy was brave and feisty, most likely he or Morgan fired the first shot in the fight. Everybody on the Earp’s side shot at poor Billy (hit three times). Doc should probably have an assist on this one. Photo: U.S. PD pre-1881.

OWDR JohnHarrisBehanWebWyatt Earp won’t let Sheriff Johnny Behan arrest the survivors that day. However, Wyatt and Doc (lightly wounded) were arrested, charged and held in jail by Sheriff John Behan on complaints sworn by Ike Clanton. Morgan and Virgil, shot in the fight and confined to bed, were to badly hurt to be held in jail. After a lengthy and hotly contested preliminary examination, Judge (JP) Wells Spicer determined that no charges should be brought before a grand jury (Nov 30). He does rule that Virgil had “committed an injudicious and censurable act” by using Wyatt, Morgan and [mostly] Doc to help him deal with the cowboys. “The Streetfight in Tombstone” as it was referred to locally, later came to be called “The Gunfight at the OK Corral”. No part of the actual fight occurred in any part of the corral it was in a vacant lot between Fly’s boarding house, his studio and the Harwood House; said to have been a colored brothel. (Inspect the map above). Still a very live topic today, there are hundreds of articles, books etc. Opinions and speculation galore! Enjoy! Photo: U.S. PD c. 1880’s unknown, John Behan.
see also:
Wk. 43, 10/26/1881 – Gunfight!
Wk. 48, 11/30/1881 – before Judge Wells Spicer
Timelines A-L – Morgan Earp, Virgil Earp & Wyatt Earp

Mclauriesclanton[1]
L to R, Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton laid out in style.
The “victims” of The Gunfight at the OK Corral. Photo: U.S. PD, via Wikipedia

_________________________

1882

OWDR Frank Stilwell WebMar 20, 1882 – Frank Stillwell, dead
Tucson, AZ; Wyatt got him but Doc claimed that he shot Frank twice more “for good measure”; both with shotguns. Frank was shot five times. Probably assisted by Warren Earp, Sherman McMasters and someone known only as Johnson (likely, Turkey Creek Jack). Photo: U.S. PD pre-1882 unknown, this might be Frank?
see:
OWDRWk. 12, 03/20/1882 – Frank Stillwell

The Vendetta – The Pestiferous Posse

March 22, 1882 – Florentino “Indian Charlie” Cruz, dead.
At Pete Spence’s wood camp in the South Pass of The Dragoon Mountains: Theodore Judah said that there were six men in the Earp’s Posse, Simion Acosta and Epiniania Vegas said there were eight. Everyone agreed that the posse chased and killed Florintino with ten or twelve shots. Four actually hit and at the coroners inquest in Tombstone, Dr. George E. Goodfellow who examined the body thought that either of two, of those, could have been fatal.Doc was a good shot, even so, at best, this is another assist. Legend has Sherman McMasters doing the shooting here.
see:
OWDRWk. 12, 03/22/1882 – “Indian Charlie”

OWDR Curly Bill BrociusWeb01March 24, 1882 – “Curly Bill” Brocius, dead.
Iron Springs in the Whetstone Mountains; shot by Wyatt point blank with both barrels from his shotgun. Johnny Barnes (whom Ike Clanton later claimed was the shooter of Virgil) also later dies at Charleston of wounds suffered in this shootout. Wyatt, alone and out front, did most of the shooting here. Doc was busy rescuing Texas Jack Vermillion (whose horse was down in the ambush at the beginning of the fight) and may not have shot anyone. Wyatt was unhappy with everyone for leaving him to do the fighting. Photo: U.S. PD pre-1882, unknown.
see:
OWDRWk. 12, 03/24/1882 – “Curly Bill” Brocius

1882

July 13, 1882 – “The tanks” near Morse Canyon, AZ. Based on information from Behan Deputy Billy Breakenridge and Buckskin Frank Leslie, the last leader of “the Cowboys”, Johnny Ringo, is hunted down by a posse led by Wyatt Earp and shot dead. Fred Dodge, Harry Goober, Johnny Green, Doc Holliday , John Meagher and Harelip Charlie Smith probably filled out the group (all debated).
see:
07/14 – below

1882

Johnny RingoJohn Ringo’s {30} body found dead, in a stand of white and black oaks, by teamster John Yost at the “tanks” in Morse’s Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains, AZ; locals had heard a shot around three the afternoon before. He is bootless, his pistol’s hammer caught on his watch chain over a fired round, with the top of his head blown off. (No powder burns were evident.) Johnny had been on a two-week drunk with Buckskin Frank Leslie and Billy Claiborne, and was on his way to the outlaw town of Galeyville. His horse was found at the Chiricahua Cattle Company Ranch ten miles away, boots and coat tied to the saddle, reins over the horn. Why was his cartridge belt on upside down? Buckskin Frank Leslie claimed the kill but Doc later said Wyatt had killed him with a single shot from a Winchester rifle. Wyatt and Fred Dodge wanted to be sure Ringo’s death was noted but not connected to them. Here is another of those wonderful controversies about what really happened and why… look it up and enjoy! Wyatt is still the best candidate. Photo: U.S. PD c. 1880’s unknown.
see also:
07/13 – above
OWDRWk. 28, 07/13/1882
OWDR Wk 28, 07/14/1882
OWDR – The Originals – Gunfighter Statistics

Further information leading up to this event:
see also:
OWDRWk. 52, 12/28/1881 – shotgunning of Virgil Earp
OWDRWk. 11, 03/18/1881 – murder of Morgan Earp

_________________________
End of OK Corral related events

Aug. 19, 1884 – William J. “Billy” Allen, wounded.
Leadville, CO; over a $5.00 debt. Allen had been threatening Doc before the incident, Doc pleads, “no duty to retreat” and is found not guilty. This was Doc’s last hurrah!
see:
OWDR – (Wk. 33, 08/19/1884 – Allen shooting

Unidentified, unverified “Border Incidents”
Mentioned in a New York Sun interview in 1886.
No other incidents, and there are several, show any documentation whatsoever.

_________________________

Well, there you have it. ONE for sure kill, one very likely and nine or ten wounded, depending on whether you think Doc got one into Frank McLaury at the OK. Much of it still under heavy debate after all these years! Ain’t HISTORY great!

Having said all of this, I report the listing for Doc Holliday in Bill O’Neal‘s famous Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters (© 1942); O’Neal ranks Doc 19th; with two kills and two assists in eight gunfights.
see:
*
The Originals Index – Gunfighter Statistics

If you can add to or disagree with items here please let me know by e-mail. Cite your reference material and I’ll check it out. I’m always trying to update my material for accuracy.

R.W. “Doc” Boyle
2004 (minor revisions 2016)

for further items related to Doc Holliday in Old West Daily Reader
see also:
PLAYERS – Timelines – Timelines A-L – Doc Holliday Timeline
PLAYERS – Timelines – Timelines A-L – Doc Holliday Timeline – Doc Holliday’s Guns
Photo Gallery Index – Doc Photos
Quotes Index – Doc Holliday Quotes
Photo Gallery Index – Lawmen Photos
Photo Gallery Index – Outlaw Photos
DictionaryPhotography in the Old West
ReferencesLinks to FriendsDoc Holliday LiveDoc Holliday Performance site.

OWDR-barbed-wire-divider2End: Who Did Doc Holliday Shoot?

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