|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2010)|
|Born||1852 or 1853
Jefferson County, Kentucky
|Died||March 3, 1877
Yankton, Dakota Territory
|Cause of death||Execution by hanging|
|Other names||Crooked Nose Jack; Broken Nose Jack|
|Known for||Murder of Wild Bill Hickok, Deadwood, Dakota Territory|
John "Jack" McCall (1852 or 1853–March 3, 1877), also known as "Crooked Nose Jack" or "Broken Nose Jack", was the murderer of Old West legend James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok, shooting him from behind while he played poker at Nuttal & Mann's Saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory on August 2, 1876.
Many of the details of McCall's life are unknown. He was born in the early 1850s in Jefferson County, Kentucky. McCall was raised in Kentucky with three sisters, and eventually drifted west to become a buffalo hunter. By 1876, he was living in a gold mining camp outside Deadwood, under the alias "Bill Sutherland".
Murder of Hickok
McCall was drinking at the bar at Nuttal & Mann's in Deadwood on August 1, 1876. When one of the players dropped out of a card game, which included "Wild Bill" Hickok, the inebriated McCall quickly took his place. Simply out-matched by the regular players, McCall lost hand after hand, and was soon broke. Hickok offered McCall money to buy breakfast and advised him not to play again until he could cover his losses. Though McCall accepted the money, he reportedly felt insulted.
The killing of Hickok
On August 2, 1876 the poker game was once again on, but this time Hickok, in contrast to his normal habit of sitting in a corner to protect his back, had his back to the door. A resentful, and again drunken, McCall shot Hickok in the back of the head with a single-action .45-caliber revolver, shouting "Damn you! Take that!" Hickok died instantly with no chance of defending himself. McCall ran from the saloon and attempted to steal a horse to make good his escape, but fell from the excited animal. The fleeing McCall was soon apprehended, found hiding in the back of a local butcher shop.
An impromptu court was called to order in McDaniel's Theater. The prosecution, defense, and jury were made up of local miners and businessmen. On trial the next day, McCall now claimed his actions were in retribution for Hickok having previously killed his brother in Abilene, Kansas. McCall was found innocent after two hours. The verdict brought the Black Hills Pioneer to editorialize:
"Should it ever be our misfortune to kill a man... we would simply ask that our trial may take place in some of the mining camps of these hills."
Fearing for his safety, McCall soon left the area and headed into Wyoming Territory, where he repeatedly bragged about the details of how he had killed Hickok in a "fair" gunfight. Unfortunately for McCall, the Wyoming authorities refused to recognize the result of McCall's acquittal on the grounds that the court made up in Deadwood had no legal jurisdiction. Because Deadwood was not under a legally constituted law enforcement or court system, the Wyoming officials legally argued that McCall could be tried again. Agreeing, the federal court in Yankton, Dakota Territory, declared that double jeopardy did not apply, and set a date for a retrial.
McCall was tried again in Yankton for Hickok's murder, and was quickly found guilty. After almost three months in jail, he was hanged on March 1, 1877 at the age of 24. He was buried in the Catholic cemetery. The cemetery was moved in 1881, and McCall's body was exhumed and found to have the noose still around his neck. The killing of Hickok and the capture of McCall is reenacted every summer evening in Deadwood. McCall was the first person to be executed by federal officials in the Dakota Territory.
In popular culture
- McCall was portrayed by Porter Hall in the 1936 film The Plainsman.
- Jack McCall was portrayed by David Arquette in the 1995 Western Film, Wild Bill.
- He was portrayed by Garret Dillahunt in the 2004 HBO television series Deadwood.
- In the popular soap opera General Hospital, McCall is an ancestor of character Sam McCall.
- He was portrayed by Lon Chaney in the 1941 movie "Badlands of Dakota," with Frances Farmer and Robert Stack.
- Jack McCall - The Coward That Killed Wild Bill Hickok; Legends of America on-line; retrieved June 2012.
- Legends of America: Buffalo hunters.
- Black Hills Daily Pioneer Press; Sheldon, C. H.; August 05, 1876.
- Jack McCall & the Murder of Wild Bill Hickok; Deadwood online; retrieved June 2012.