Make your own free website on

Doc Holliday


Home | Links | Contact Me | Photos | Credits

Doc was born 1851 in Griffin, GA. to a wealthy southern family. Doc's father, Major Henry Burroughs Holliday, participated in the Cherokee Indian War, Mexican War and Civil War. When the major returned from the Mexican War, he brought home a young Mexican boy who was orphaned by the war, his name was Francisco Hidalgo. After the major served the Confederate Army, he moved his family from Griffin, GA. to Valdosta, GA., to land that was given to him. Doc's mother, Alice Jane Mckey Holliday, died of tuberculosis in 1866, when Doc was 12, his step brother Francisco also died of tuberculosis a short time later, this is where it is believed that Doc contracted the disease.

In 1870, John Henry enrolled in the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in Philadelphia. On Friday, March 1, 1872, John Henry graduated with the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery.

In 1872, around Christmas time, John Henry began losing weight. The loss was barely noticable to begin with. Six months later, in the summer of 1873, he developed a nagging cough that forced him to take some time off. When the cough did not subside, he sought his uncle's assistance in diagnosing a possible ailment. His uncle confirmed John Henry's fears. Pulmonary tuberculosis. The elder Dr. Holliday advised John to seek out a climate of warm, dry air combined with a nutritious diet, a moderate amount of wine, and prolonged rest. John Henry would depart for Dallas, Texas in an effort to relieve the symptoms and hope for a recovery.

The earliest recorded gunfight of Doc Holliday was on January 1, 1875 in Dallas. He was gambling in a saloon owned by a man by the name of Austin. They got into an argument over a card game and both pulled the six shooters and firing, both missed, but they were both arrested for it and later released.

In 1877, John Henry pulled up stakes and headed to Kansas City. By June of 1877, he had returned to Denison and elsewhere in Texas. John Henry wound up in Ft. Griffin. Here, John Henry settled into a daily routine of cards at the Cattle Exchange Saloon. Here he encountered Kate Elder, an educated twenty-six-year-old of Hungarian descent. In 1874, Kate had been arrested and fined in Wichita, Kansas, for working in a "sporting house" run by Sallie and Bessie (Mrs. James) Earp. Here it is thought she also met Wyatt Earp. John Henry found Kate to be his equal in an intellectual sense. The two became a pair and they lived together off and on the rest of Doc's life.

According to Wyatt Earp, Doc and Kate left Ft. Griffin after an event in the Cattle Exchange Saloon. Doc was playing poker with Ed Bailey, a local resident. Bailey was sitting to Doc's right "monkeying" with the discarded pile of cards. Doc warned him a couple of times to "play poker". The next time Bailey looked at the discarded pile, Doc claimed the pot without showing his hand, an act well within the gamblers' code. Bailey started to "throw his gun" on Doc, who jerked out his knife and "caught Bailey just below the brisket." The Marshal placed Doc under "house arrest", confining him to his room, until he could determine if it was truly self defense on the part of Doc. Some of towns people, however, had a hanging in mind. Kate set a nearby shed on fire to divert attention and she and Doc quickly left Ft. Griffin.

In early 1878 Doc and Kate headed north toward Dodge City. As they made their way north, Doc wrote to his cousin Martha Anne Holliday from Texas, "I enjoyed about as much of this place as I could stand." He would maintain close ties to his cousin. Prior to leaving Ft. Griffin, Wyatt had informed Doc of Dodge City and the excitement it offered. Doc would now follow Wyatt's earlier destination to the same place. In the spring of 1878, Doc and Kate arrived in Dodge City, Kansas.

In the fall of 1878, Doc's health became more of a concern and Doc and Kate headed out of Dodge City to Las Vegas, New Mexico Territory, on the Santa Fe trail, well known as a haven for people with tuberculosis. Doc would establish a dental practice on arrival. He rented a room in a building shared by a jewler named William Leonard. Leonard and Holliday formed a friendship that Doc would have no way of knowing would cause him problems later on. The Territory passed a law banning gambling and on March 8, 1879, Doc was indicted under this new statute for "Keeping a gaming table". Doc plead guilty and paid a 25.00 fine and court costs. All things considered, Doc decided to leave las Vegas and head back to Dodge City. There is no record that Kate went with him at this time.

In 1879, Doc returned to Vegas and opened a saloon. Kate would again be with him. He called it the Holliday Saloon and Gaming Concession. Doc and Kate were happy in Vegas and had planned to stay awhile. That changed when on Oct. 18, 1879, Wyatt Earp arrived in Vegas and told Doc about a new strike in Arizona and invited him to join the Earp brothers and their families in trying out the boom town. Doc would go as far as Prescott, Arizona where Virgil Earp lived. But he found a run of luck at cards in Prescott and did not leave with the Earps. After things dried up in Prescott, Doc and Kate returned to their saloon in Vegas.

Back in Vegas, Doc would re-encounter Charlie White employed as a bar- tender. In 1878, the two had a confrontation and Doc had run White out town. White had not forgotten about the incident because when Doc came in the saloon, White drew his gun and started shooting. Doc returned fire and dropped White to the floor. Thinking he had killed White, Doc decided it was time to get out of town. Meanwhile, White had only been grazed by the bullet and headed out of town for Boston not wanting to chance another encounter with Doc.

In May of 1887, Doc, in his poorest health yet, went to Glenwood Springs, CO., where he heard that the sulphur springs might help his condition, but of course, they didn't. Doc spent the last days of his life there and the last two months before his death, he didn't even go out of his room. As the end came near, Doc had his bowie knife and six shooter on the table next to his bed. Doc Holliday died on November 8, 1887. He was to be buried in the Linwood Cemetery, but it being winter, the road up to the cemetery was iced over, so they buried him at the bottom of the hill with plans to rebury him later, although, they never did, so the story goes anyway.

... as seen through the eyes of one person.


Click below to have your Old West items appraised.

Appraisals Only $9.95