John Henry "Doc" Holliday Biography
Over the span of Holliday's life he has been arrested and thrown in jail several times on accounts of illegal gambling, robbery, and murders. Who started out as a well-mannered Dentist from the South, turned into a violent outlaw of the Midwest.
Holliday's game of choice was poker, and he was actually a very-skilled player who used bluffing tactics to win. Always on the run, Holliday travelled all over the country as a gunfighter, somehow always finding time to play poker in the saloons along the way.
John Henry "Doc" Holliday was born on August 14th, 1851 in Griffin, Georgia to Henry and Alice Holliday. His father was a Major in the civil war, and his mother was a southern belle who was known for her loving nature. When Holliday was only fifteen years old she passed away of tuberculosis, leaving the family devastated.
When Holliday turned nineteen, he headed over to Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in Philadelphia. Less than two years later, Holliday had met all the requirements for the degree faster than any student had ever accomplished them before.
He then moved to Atlanta, Georgia to live with his uncle in hopes that he could open up his own private dental practice. He was successful there, but soon after arriving he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, the same disease that had killed his mother.
Determined to live as long as possible, Holliday moved to Texas in hopes that the warmer climate would help his condition. He teamed up with John Seeger and they ran a very successful dentistry practice together.
Gambling and Crime Affiliations
Holliday soon realized that this wasn't something he could do forever, as his constant coughing was hindering his work. To distract himself from his disease, Holliday started spending a lot of his free time gambling in the saloons, where he actually found great success while playing poker.
Holliday stopped dentistry altogether and used the proceeds from gambling to travel around the country. While on the road, he became known for his hot temper and his willingness to resort to violence to solve his problems, with his weapons of choice usually being a revolver or a knife.
He eventually ran into Wyatt Earp while playing poker at a saloon in Tombstone, when a group of outcast cowboys surrounded the saloon pointing guns at Earp claiming his family owned them money over a gambling dispute. Holliday supposedly took his pistol to the head of one of their leaders, forcing the group to flee town.
The cowboys threatened to kill the Earp family and Holliday which lead to a bloodbath between the two groups later known as the, "O.K Corral Gunfight," where many were injured and Frank and Tom McLaury along with Billy Clanton lost their lives.
From that point on, they always had each other's back. Earp and Holliday still had run-ins with that group of cowboys which lead to numerous more gunfights and deaths. In between their battles in Tombstone, Holliday travelled out West often with Earp by his side, wreaking havoc everywhere he went. To fund his travels, you would find him gambling at the saloons every town along the way.
While at a saloon in Fort Griffin, Texas, Holliday was playing poker against Ed Bailey who allegedly kept looking through the discard pile, which was highly illegal. Holliday and the other players warned him several times, but Bailey kept doing it anyways.
Holliday won the pot, after everyone folded on his bluff, and was unwilling to show his hand. Even though this move was legal, Bailey was irritated and pulled a revolver on Holliday. Holliday took out his knife, not allowing Bailey to fire a single shot before stabbing him to death.
Holliday was ruthless. While in Colorado, Holliday is said to have gotten into a debacle with two gamblers over whether or not a play he made in a hand of poker was legal. To settle the argument, he aggressively shot both of them in cold blood.
Holliday has been associated with many gambling related murders and robberies during his lifetime, allegedly being responsible for the deaths of Mike Gordon, Charley White, Johnny Ringo, and many more. He was ambidextrous and was often known for shooting two guns at the same time during fights, giving him a huge advantage against his foes.
His Final Days
Close to the time of Holliday's death, Santa Fe Railroad was building tracks near Las Vegas, Mexico, where gambling and prostitution became quite prominent. Holliday headed over to Las Vegas where he paid a carpenter $372.50 to build a saloon in his honor, so that he would always be remembered.
John Henry "Doc" Holliday lost his life to tuberculosis while staying at The Hotel Glenwood, in Colorado Springs, California. He was only 36 years old when he passed away. Holliday was known for having a relationship with a prostitute named Big-nosed Kate who supposedly visited him just days before his death.
Author: Nicole Miller
Updated: November 2016