James Butler 'Wild Bill' Hickok Arrives in Deadwood, South Dakota

The arrival of Hickok in wide-open early Deadwood was viewed with a mix of curiosity and distrust by those already there.

What was the “famous” Wild Bill doing in Deadwood? Local bosses who made serious money on illegal and immoral activities guessed that local businessmen would ask Hickok to take on the position of marshal or at least a hired enforcer on their behalf . It is speculated that the criminal element was fearful due to his reputation, and may have decided to encourage somebody outside their group to “take care of Hickok” for them.

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.

The wagon train arrived in Deadwood in July 1876. Jane herself confirmed this account in an 1896 newspaper interview, although she claimed that she had been hospitalized with illness rather than in the guardhouse.

Shortly before Hickok's death, he wrote a letter to his new wife, which reads in part: "Agnes Darling, if such should be we never meet again, while firing my last shot, I will gently breathe the name of my wife — Agnes — and with wishes even for my enemies I will make the plunge and try to swim to the other shore."

Wild Bill had a premonition that Deadwood would be his last camp and expressed this belief to his friend Charlie Utter (also known as Colorado Charlie), and the others who were traveling with them at the time.