James Butler 'Wild Bill' Hickok Marries Agnes Thatcher Lake

Wild Bill of western fame has conquered numerous Indians, outlaws, bears and buffaloes, but a charming widow has stolen the magic wand. The scepter has departed and he is as meek and gentle as a lamb. In other words, he has shuffled off the coil of bachelorhood.”

— Cheyenne Daily Sun, March 8, 1876

Wild Bill and Agnes apparently kept up correspondence, but it wasn’t until February 1876 that they saw each other again. Agnes, returning from a visit to San Francisco, stopped to visit friends in Cheyenne. Wild Bill was in town preparing to leave for the gold fields of the Black Hills.

The result of the meeting is reported in the Cheyenne Daily Leader, March, 7, 1876: “Married: By the Rev W. F. Warren, March 5, 1876, at the residence of S. L. Moyer, Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, Mrs. Agnes Lake Thatcher of Cincinnati, Ohio, to James Butler Hickok, Wild Bill, of this city.”

Moyer operated a saloon in Cheyenne and he and Mrs. Moyer were witnesses to the ceremony.

The minister was not convinced that the marriage would go well. He wrote in the Marriage Record of the First Methodist Church of Cheyenne (a microfilmed copy of which is the collection of the Cultural Resources Division, Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources Department): “Don’t think he meant it.” Hickok gave his age as 46. In reality, he was 39 and his bride Agnes was 11 years his senior.

In 1876, Hickok was diagnosed by a doctor in Kansas City, Missouri, with glaucoma and ophthalmia, a condition that was widely rumored at the time by Hickok's detractors to be the result of various sexually transmitted diseases. In truth, he seems to have been afflicted with trachoma, a common vision disorder of the time. It was apparent that his marksmanship and health had been suffering for some time, as he had been arrested several times for vagrancy, despite earning a good income from gambling and displays of showmanship only a few years earlier. On March 5, 1876, Hickok married Agnes Thatcher Lake, a 50-year-old circus proprietor in Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory. Hickok left his new bride a few months later, joining Charlie Utter's wagon train to seek his fortune in the gold fields of South Dakota.