The Bad Guys - "Doc" Holiday
Born on August 14, 1851, John Henry “Doc” Holiday became one of the most unusual of the Old West’s bad guys. A brilliant student, he studied Greek, Latin, and French at Valdosta Institute in Valdosta, Georgia. When he was fifteen, his mother died of tuberculosis, then known as consumption. In 1872 he graduated from college with the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery and soon began work as a dentist in the office of Dr. Arthur C. Ford in Atlanta.
Shortly after starting his dental practice, Doc Holliday discovered that he had contracted tuberculosis, probably from his mother. He consulted several physicians and was told he only had a short time to live. Hoping the move to a dryer climate would help, he moved to Dallas, Texas in 1873, but the terrible coughing spells wracked his body and ruined his practice.
Forced to find another profession, Holiday soon took up professional gambling. It was at John Shanssey’s Saloon in Dallas that he met Mary Catherine Elder Haroney, also known as "Big Nose” Kate. Much of the rest of his life was spent with this dance hall girl and prostitute. Though an educated and respected man, John Henry Holliday was hot-tempered and quick to use a gun.
U.S. Deputy Marshal Wyatt Earp once followed an outlaw from Dodge City to Dallas and went to John Shanssey’s Saloon looking for him. There he met Holiday, who had a known dislike for lawmen, but, for some unknown reason, gave Earp information that led to the capture of the outlaw. Through this incident, the unlikely pair formed a friendship that lasted for years.
Holiday never believed he would die from TB. He always said that bullets or a rope would get him in the end. He was shot at five times and there were four unsuccessful attempts to hang him. On November 8, 1887, he awoke acting normal and asked for a glass of whiskey. After drinking it, he looked down at his bare feet and said, “This is funny,” then died - with his boots off. The actual number of men he killed is unknown, but “Doc” Holiday went down in history as one of the bloodiest bad men the West ever knew.
Holiday was to be buried in the Glenwood Springs cemetery, which sits high on a steep hill. However, at the time of his death, the road was too icy, so they buried him at the bottom of the hill. Though they planned to move him later to the top, the plan never materialized. Today there is a marker in the cemetery, but his body lies beneath the sod at the foot of the hill in someone’s back yard.
It is of greatest importance that we live every day as though it is our last, for no matter what a life is like, at its end, death awaits us all. Then, after death, we will stand before God to account for that life. The Word of God declares, “…man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…” (Heb. 9:27).