“The Life of Doc Holliday” On January 8, 1849, Henry Burroughs Holliday, a future Confederate Major and a druggist , and Alice Jane McKay were married. They had two kids. The first child was Martha Eleanora Holliday, she died on June 12, 1850, six months after birth. Their second child, born on August 14, 1851 in Griffin, Georgia, was John Henry Holliday. Better known by the nickname he would earn later in life: ‘Doc’ Holliday.
That year, this entry was entered into the local church for record keeping: “John Henry, infant son of Henry B. and Alice J. Holliday, received ordinance of baptism on Sunday March 21, 1852, at he First Presbyterian Church in Griffin.” During his youth, the young Holliday was very close to his mother, and her death in September 16, 1866 was a very traumatic event for him. This experience was made even worse for the younger Holliday when, within three months of his wife’s death, the elder Holliday remarried. This second wife was named Rachel Martin and they were wedded on December 18, 1866.
The Holliday family moved to Valdosta, Georgia (where some erroneously think Doc was born) soon after this marriage. In 1870, Doc Holliday enrolled in the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. While there he wrote a thesis on “Disease of the Teeth” and served his required time as an apprentice with Dr. L.F. Frank.
Doc graduated with a degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery on March 1, 1872. After graduation, Doc entered into dental practice in Atlanta with a Dr. Arthur C. Ford as can be seen by this ad from the July 26, 1872 edition of The Atlanta Constitution: “I hereby inform my patients that I have to attend the session of the Southern Dental Association in Richmond Virginia and will be absent until about the middle of August, during which time Dr. John H. Holliday will fill my place in office.
Office: 26 Whitehall Street – Arthur C. Ford, D.D.A.” WESTWARD, HO! While practicing as a dentist, Doc was diagnosed with tuberculosis. The diagnosis of all the doctors he visited was that he had just a few months to live, but he might live longer if he moved to a drier climate. After he heard that, Doc headed west to the end of the railroad, Dallas, Texas. Once in town, he became aquinted with Dr. John A.
Seeger. It was October 1873. Doc’s stopped practicing as a dentist soon because of the the horrible coughing spells brought upon by his TB. OFTEN ON THE RUN Since he could no longer support himself through a dental practice, Doc turned to something that he discovered he was a natural at, gambling. Since this was the old west, and gambling was a dangerous profession, Doc practiced daily with his pistol and knife. While in Dallas, Holliday had his first gun fight.
The opponent was a saloonkeeper named Austin and the date was January 2, 1875. They didnt hit eachother and were both released after their arrest. Within a few days, Doc was again involved in a violent shoot out. This timehe killedf a prominent local citizen. He left Dallas with the local law chasing him.
He ended up dealing Faro in Jackson , a town very close to the Army base of Fort Richardson. The closeness to the fort was a problem after Doc killed a solider from there. This time Holliday fled town with both local, federal and military law after him. He ended up in Colorado and spent time in the towns of Central City, Leadville, Georgetown, and Pueblo. Doc killed another man in a fight with a local gambler and fled again. This time he went through Wyoming and New Mexico and finally ended up in Fort Griffin, Texas.
“BIG NOSE” KATE ELDER AND WYATT EARP “Big Nose” Kate Elder was a prostitute and dancehall girl. She was very individualistic. She mat Doc while he was dealing cards at John Shanssey’s salon. Their relationship would be a difficult one. Kate had a short temper and was prone to binge drinking and the results were usually violent arguments. However, she and Doc usually ended up together again after the break-ups that usually followed these arguments.
Wyatt Earp and Doc met and became friends when Earp came into town searching for a train robber. Their friendship would be a strong bond for the rest of their lives and would influence them until their deaths. DODGE CITY After Doc ran into some trouble in Griffin where he killed Ed Bailey, he and Kate fled to Dodge City. Kate had helped save Doc from what was sure to be a place on the end of a rope, she broke him out of prison. Doc once again tried dentistry and Kate gave up prostitution.
Neither of them lasted long. Kate’s return to prostitution led to one of their many split-ups. One day, a large group of rowdy Texas cowboys entered Dodge City. After a long time on the trail, they were ready to paint the town red (in a manner of speaking). Unfortunately, some of them wanted to use Wyatt Earp’s blood. They had ganged up on Wyatt in the Long Beach saloon.
In response to his friend’s situationt, “Holliday coolly stepped up to the gun rack, removed his revolver, and broke up the party by shooting one of the rustlers in the shoulder. He then helped herd the outlaws across the street to the jail.” This episode only helped to increase the bond between the two friends and Wyatt never forgot that Doc had saved his life that night. VARIOUS WANDERINGS Doc eventually left Dodge City for a while. He first landed in Trinidad, Colorado where he encountered a young gambler (and aspiring gunfighter) named “Kid Colton”. When Colton encountered Doc, he riled him into a gunfight. Doc made quick work of the “Kid” and, not wanting to hang around for a probable hangman’s noose, hit the trail for New Mexico. Once in Las Vegas, New Mexico, Doc made a half-hearted attempt at dentistry (the year was 1879).
He soon rid himself of his practice and bought his own saloon on Center Street. Within a few weeks, Doc got into an argument with Mike Gordon, a popular local gunman. Gordon ended up dead and Doc ended up back on the run. Since he really had no friends elsewhere, Doc headed back for Dodge City and Wyatt Earp. TOMBSTONE When Doc arrived in Dodge City, he discovered that Wyatt had left for Tombstone (as all his brothers would soon do), the site of a new silver strike. Without Wyatt, there was no reason for Doc to stick around in Dodge City, so he took off after his friend. Doc first wound up in Prescott, where Wyatt’s brother, Virgil, was a newly appointed Deputy Marshall.
Virgil left for Tombstone without Doc, who was having fabulous luck at the poker tables. “Big Nose” Kate was also headed for Tombstone through Prescott and found Doc there during his lucky streak. They finally left Prescott with about $40,000 in Doc’s pockets and reached Tombstone in early summer of 1880. TOMBSTONE (BEFORE THE GUNFIGHT) When they arrived in Tombstone, Doc and Kate took up residence in a room between a funeral parlor and a winery. Kate soon set up her own “sporting” house and made a sizable income from it. Meanwhile, the local outlaws, or “Cowboys”, (consisting of Ike, Phin, Billy, and Newman “Old Man” Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury, Curly Bill Brocius, Johnny Ringo, and others) were becoming very unhappy with the new arrivals of the Earps (Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan) and Doc.
In early October 1880, Doc had a confrontation with Johnny Tyler while in the Oriental Saloon. Johnny quickly left, but Doc and the saloon owner (Milt Joyce) began to argue. Luckily for Joyce, Doc was drunk …