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Hickok, Wild Bill (27 May 1837–02 August 1876), western lawman and gambler, was born James Butler Hickok in Homer, Illinois, the son of William Alonzo Hickok and Polly Butler, farmers. As a young man, Hickok spent most of his time working on—and, after the death of his father in 1852, managing—the family farm. The availability of land in newly organized Kansas Territory was enticing to Hickok, and in June 1856 he and his brother Lorenzo moved westward. His mother’s illness soon prompted Lorenzo to return to Homer. Hickok remained, but he did not settle into an agrarian lifestyle. Various events offered other opportunities to him. In the pre–Civil War years, he served in General ...