Is Hard Knocks: A Life Story of the Vanishing West by Harry Young Accurate?

Marshall Trimble Harry Young Bartender True West Magazine

I’ve been reading Hard Knocks: A Life Story of the Vanishing West by Harry Young, the bartender who allegedly served “Wild Bill” Hickok his last drink. Is it accurate?

Brandon Rosenberg
Tustin, California

Records show that Harry “Sam” Young was a bartender at Nuttall & Mann’s saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, and he did pour “Wild Bill” Hickok’s last drink. He was one of the men Jack McCall misfired at as he ran out of the saloon after killing Hickok. Young testified at McCall’s trial.

Hickok researcher James McLaird wrote an introduction to a reprint of Young’s book that clarifies how readers should interpret the book. McLaird stated, “Although his story cannot be substantiated, it may be true,” and added that many events told by Young were “fanciful tales.”

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu.

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