Famous Gun of Notorious Western Gunslinger Comes Home At Last

John Henry Holiday, better known to the world as 'Doc Holiay', is one of the most infamous gunfighters of the old west. He was one of the fighters at the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corrall in 1881.

Just a few years later, in 1887, Holiday died of tuberculosis, and his famous 1866 Remington double-barrel .41 caliber derringer was used to pay for his funeral. Eventually the famous firearm disappeared, but it has now resurfaced and is making its way home to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, where Holiday spent the last days of his life.

Holiday got his title 'Doc' because he had a degree in dentistry. He earned his degree from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery at the age of 21, and set up a practice in Atlanta.

Life took a turn for Doc, however, when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. The dentist decided to pack everything up and head to Arizona, hoping the weather in the Southwest would be better for him.

Holiday moved to Arizona and became a professional gambler. Over the next few years he moved all over the west and took up with a woman named Mary Katharine "Big Nose Kate" Horony, a dance hall girl who occasionally earned money as a prostitute on the side. They remained together until the end of the Doc's life, eventually achieving common-law marriage status.

Holiday earned a reputation as a skilled gunfighter after many showdowns over gambling arguments. He was helpful to fried, U.S. Deputy Marshall Wyatt Earp, in the Gunfight at O.K. Corral, when Holiday joined a group of sheriffs in a fight against the Cowboys, a group of outlaws terrorizing the town. He also took part at the Earp vendetta ride against the Cowboys after two of the Earp brothers were attacked in retaliation, and was present for the subsequent Gunfight at Iron Springs.

There are rumors that Holiday was an outlaw. He's been accused of robbing stage coaches and of other crimes, but other than getting into some fights, there is no evidence that any rumors of crimes committed by Holiday were true.

Holiday and Horony settled in Glenwood Springs, Colorado when the disease became too much for Holiday to bear. The tuberculosis finally caught up with him after years of self-medicating.

When Holiday died, one of his most famous possessions was his derringer, which was given to him by Horony. The pearl handle even had an inscription that read, 'To Doc from Kate'.

After Holiday's death, Horory gave the pistol to the funeral director as a trade for services, and soon after that the weapon passed into the hands of a bartender. It remained in the bartender's family until 1968, when it was sold, but eventually it disappeared and got 'lost'.

Now the gun has been recovered and sold for $84,000 at auction. It was purchased by the Glenwood Springs Historical Society and will be placed on display for the public.

"It was so important to let the public know all along what we're doing because this is for Glenwood Springs," said society Executive Director Bill Kight. "I really appreciate the fact that the city of Glenwood Springs has gotten behind us on this."

"Our visitors are certainly intrigued by history, and Doc Holliday is our most well-known frontier resident, so this precious piece of memorabilia will go a long way in positioning us as a historic Western town," said Marianne Virgili, president and CEO of the Glenwood Chamber Resort Association.

Source: AGG
Photos: YouTube

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