Doc Holliday: Deadly Killer?

Doc Holliday

A recent television series referred to Doc Holliday as a “vicious killer” but Doc’s reputation as the “deadly dentist” is greatly exaggerated. One account said he “won more than thirty duels to the death” and another claimed he killed sixteen men. Best guess is he only killed two by himself; Tom McLaury in the Tombstone street fight and the evidence is strong that he killed Mike Gordon in Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1879. It’s possible, even likely he fired some of the shots that killed Frank Stilwell in Tucson. Other reputed killings are more circumstantial.

Bat Masterson said that Doc killed a black soldier in Texas, and a black soldier named Jake Smith was killed by an “unknown person” at Fort Griffin in 1876, about the time that Doc took off for Denver and other towns. His other shooting encounters–Charles Austin, Charlie White (actually Charlie Wright), Johnny Tyler/Milt Joyce, and Billy Allen–were all non-lethal.

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