Happy New Year, y'all. I'm so pleased to be a new contributor to this blog. I love history, and one of my favorite parts about the writing process is doing the research required to ensure accuracy in my stories. I also try to find something that may not be widely known to keep the story interesting.
My family and I
share our hometown of Griffin, Georgia, with a notorious gambler and gunfighter
who’s also a dentist. I work only a block away from the location of his dental
Doc Holliday is
well known for his participation along with Wyatt Earp in the O.K. Corral
gunfight in 1881. The battle itself lasted less than a minute. After almost 140
years, what do we still find so intriguing about the man? Multiple movies
retell the story of lawman, Wyatt Earp. But strangely, the character we’re most
drawn to is a sickly dentist turned gambler and gunman known as Doc.
|Pictured left Doc Holliday with Wyatt Earp and his brothers.
complexity of his character is the reason for his lingering appeal. His vibrant
personality is rooted in contrast. Doc is critically ill but bold and gallant.
He’s a deadly gunslinger and gambler, yet smart, educated, flashy, witty,
compassionate, and loyal. Stir in a bit of vulnerability, a touch of vanity,
and don’t forget a healthy dose of gallant southern charm to describe this
critically ill man.
|Doc Holliday as a child
Born with a cleft
palate on August 14, 1851, John Henry Holliday was fed by his mother with an
eyedropper and a spoon.
The baby’s uncle,
Dr. John Stiles Holliday, performed surgery, assisted by Dr. Crawford Long, the
namesake of the Emory Hospital in Atlanta. The operation may have been the
first time in history that ether was used on an infant. He was schooled at home
by his mother, who spent years training him to conquer his speech impediment.
She also instilled in him Southern etiquettes, which would forever be part of
actors who played Doc Holliday, Stacy Keach and Jason Robards, were also born
with the same condition.
Jason Robards played Doc in Hour of the Gun in 1967.
|Doc Holliday age 10
Valdosta Institute, where he received a classical education, and in 1870, nineteen-year-old
Holliday left home to attend the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. He
graduated five months before his twenty-first birthday. He returned to Griffin,
Georgia, in 1872 to practice dentistry.
John Henry was soon diagnosed with consumption
and, in 1873, ended his career as a dentist. Some say he didn’t want his family
to see him deteriorate and die from the disease. Others suggest he went west hoping
that the climate would be beneficial to his lungs. Regardless, Doc took the
train to the literal end of the railroad line—Dallas, Texas.
Holliday understood the gravity of his disease and most likely considered himself a walking dead man. Though a realist, he remained hopeful for a cure. Doc found comfort in whiskey and gambling.
Texas was full of
guns, knives, and violent men, some of whom were suffering from post-traumatic
stress from the effects of war. Doc reinvented himself—from a southern
gentleman dentist to a dangerous gunman who’d killed more than a dozen men in
from town to town, following the money and gaining a reputation as both a
gambler and a gunman. In 1877, Doc was involved in an argument, but he used his
walking stick instead of going for his gun. His serious wounds, compounded by
worsening tuberculosis, spurred a change of scenery. His next stop
was Fort Griffin, where he met Wyatt Earp, who ultimately saved his life.
Earp and Holliday became fast friends. Eventually, Doc would join Earp in the wild boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona. Due to recent silver strikes, the town was flooded with merchants and cash but short on law and order. By the end of 1880, Tombstone was embedded with organized rustlers and thieves called the Cowboys.
Val Kilmer as Doc alongside Sam Elliott, Kurt Russell & Bill Paxton as Virgil, Wyatt & Morgan Earp in Tombstone, 1 1993 American Western film directed by George P. Cosmato.
On October 26, 1881. Tombstone City Marshal Virgil Earp deputized Holliday. Virgil asked Doc to carry his shotgun under his coat, and the four strode down the middle of the street to meet and disarm five members of the Cowboys near the O.K. Corral, which resulted in a thirty-second shootout.
Combining, History, Humor, and Romance with an emphasis on Faith, Friends, and Good Clean Fun, my stories are written to remind us how God can use adversity to strengthen us and draw us closer to Him and give us the desires of our heart in ways we may never expect.
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