With the O.K. Corral killings and the murders that followed, few folks have really paid attention to what the dentist/gunfighter/gambler Doc Holliday did after leaving Arizona in May of 1882.
For those who don't know the story, infamous names from the O.K. Corral incident should be researched. As for Holliday himself, he left Arizona Territory and like hundreds of miners, gamblers and gunfighters came to Colorado, first to Denver, still swearing vengeance on Ringo, Clanton, Spencer and Swilling if he could ever find them, (not knowing that they were hiding out in Mexico, near Fronteras, Sonora). It was on July 14, 1882 when Doc Holliday was allegedly still in Colorado that John Yoast, a teamster in Arizona Territory, discovered a body intertwined among the branches of an oak tree east of the Dragoon Mountains. A bullet had entered the head in the right temple and exited through the top of the head. Two questions ... was it a suicide? ... and if not, who was the killer?
The body turned out to be John Ringo, sworn enemy of Doc Holliday, and even though Bat Masterson, Warren Earp and some newspaper friends tried to create an alibi for Holliday, claiming he had never left Colorado, the truth is Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday had returned to Arizona and met up with some of their friends... Fred Dodge, Oregon Smith, Johnny Green, John Meagher and probably Lou Cooley. Ringo had been spotted by the group... But Ringo's death didn't mean an end to the killing, and even though Holliday arrived in Leadville, Colorado and started to lead a quiet and uneventful life, sure enough on the afternoon of August 19, 1884 he ran into some of his old enemies, Johnny Tyler and Billy Allen.
When Holliday learned Allen was in town, armed and making threats, he quickly placed himself at the end of the bar inside Hyman's Saloon. It wasn't long before Allen entered, Holliday fired his revolver and hit Allen in the right arm. Allen fell to the floor, with Holliday leaning over the cigar case and firing again, missing Allen's head by inches. Bystanders were able to seize Holliday and disarm him before Holliday could finish the job. Surprisingly, on March 28, 1885 a jury found him not guilty of the shooting or attempted murder.
The courthouse in Leadville today still shows the arrests of the infamous gunfighter and gambler, Doc Holliday in it's jail records, although Holliday's age is listed incorrectly in the register. How many men Holliday killed when he was alive is unknown, but we do know it wasn't a bullet that finally put Holliday down, but tuberculosis. The story of his death typifies his life... as he lay in the Glenwood Srings, Colorado Hotel hoping for better health from the Yampah hot springs, he was delirious for 14 of the 57 days he spent there. On November 8, 1887 he is said to have awakened, bright eyed, and asked for a glass of whiskey. He drank it down with great pleasure, commented, "This is funny.", and then died. The end had finally come for John Henry "Doc" Holliday.
Courtesy Universal Systems Inc producers, Colorado History video series - www.leadville.org