Doc Holliday

I just read a great article at  about John Henry “Doc” Holliday, “America’s most notorious dentist”.  “Wyatt Earp’s brother Virgil described Doc Holliday as ‘gentlemanly, a good dentist, a friendly man’ and a ‘slender, sickly fellow.'”

Written by Daniel Demers, the article takes us through Doc Holliday’s life starting with his cleft lip birth in Griffin, GA in 1851.  His father was a physician and served as an officer in the Confederate Army.  His mother died of tuberculosis a year after the war ended, when he was 15.  In addition to his upper Southern class education, he was schooled in the use of firearms by his father, and learned to play cards from a young servant named Sophie Wilson.

He became a dentist when he was 20 years old and continued to hone his shooting and card playing skills.  At 23, he was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis, which led him to travel to drier climates.  He moved from Texas (where he picked up drinking whiskey “as a palliative for his disease”) to Colorado to Wyoming to Dakota Territory then back to Texas, where he met both Wyatt Earp and the love of his life, “Big Nose” Kate Harony.  All along the way, he practiced dentistry, supplemented his income gambling, and got into a few skirmishes.  

Doc and Kate moved to Kansas to New Mexico and then to Tombstone, Arizona, on Wyatt Earp’s invitation.  “Wyatt Earp sent a letter to Doc stating that Tombstone was very lively and that Doc could do well there as there was no dentist there.”  In 1881, “Holliday’s days in Tombstone culminated in the legendary gunfight at the O.K. Corral.”

After being acquitted at the trials, he and Kate moved to Colorado, where he died in Glenwood Springs, CO in 1887.  Wyatt Earp summed up Holliday’s life best: “He was a dentist whom necessity had made a gambler; a gentleman whom disease had made a vagabond.”

(Excerpts from the article copied with permission- to read the full article, click here)

Dr. Steve

Roseville Family Dentist

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