Pulp fiction invents the McCanles Gang

Bill Hickok's Gunfight at Rock Creek Station

A compilation of conflicting accounts

Link - James Woods character
Chronos Science Fiction Novels
Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters by Bill O'Neal
July 12, 1861, Rock Creek Station, Nebraska
For a short time Hickok had been working as a stock tender at the Rock Creek Stage Depot, which was operated by Horace Wellman, Wellman's common-law wife, and stable hand Doc Brink. The station attendants soon began to have trouble with Dave McCanles, who lived with family at a rach house across the creek and who kept a mistress, Sarah Shull, nearby. McCanles' financial difficulties with the freighting company of Russel, Majors & Waddel had originated the problems, but the greatest grew between McCanles and Hickok, who secretly had been seeing Miss Shull. A further aggravation was McCanles' persistence in calling Hickok Duck Bill, a slur upon his facial features, and ,hermaphrodite, a slur upon certain other of his features.

On the afternoon of July 12 McCanles appeared at the stage station and was met by Wellman's wife and then by Hickok, who refused to come outside. McCanles moved around to a side door, where he spotted Hickok lurking behind curtain partition. Come out and fight fair,demanded McCanles. He threatened to drag Hickok outside. There will be one less son of a bitch if you try that,challenged Hickok. McCanles then stepped inside and was promptly shot to death by Hickok. Hickok had already pulled his revolver, and from behind the curtain he placed a ball into McCandles heart.

At the sound of the shot McCanles' twelve year old son, Monroe; his cousin James Woods; and an employee on his ranch, James Gordon, ran toward the stage station. At the side door Monroe McCanles his father in his arms while Woods approcahed the kitchen door. Hickok shot Woods twice, then runed to wing Gordon, who suddenly appeared at the front door. Woods and Gordon then tried to flee, but Wellman and Brink armed with a hoe and a shotgun respectively, gave chase. Wellman easily caught Woods and hacked the life out of him, and Brink killed Gordon with a blast from his shotgun.
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Draw - The Greatest Gunfights of the American West by James Reasoner
.... he worked at the Rock Creek stagecoach station in Nebraska, which was on land purchased by the stagecoach company from a man named Dave McCanles. Some say that Hickok took the job at the stage station so that he would have something to do while he recovered from being mauled by a grizzly bear -- which he in turn killed with only a knife. Maybe there was some truth to that story; with Hickok, it's hard to be sure. What is certain is that Hickok and McCanles clashed over the affections of a woman, and when it came to a fight, Hickok shot the other man dead.

That reputation exploded with the publication of the February 1867 issue of Harper's New Monthly Magazine, which featured a long article by Colonel George Ward Nichols entitled Wild Bill


Nichol's article was a wildly exagerated version of what happeend at Rock Creek Station between Hickok and McCanles. Instead of a fight over a woman, Nichol's version of the story has Hickok defending from a large gang of outlaws led by McCanles, and credits Hickok personally with killing ten of the desperadoes. Shortly after that, Hickok began to show up as the hero of totally fictional dime novels published under the imprint Dewitt's Ten-Cent Romances, with titles such as Wild Bill, the Indian Slayer and Wild Bill's First Trail. Some readers surely recognized these stories as fiction, but many people believed them to be the gospel truth, just as they swalloed the equally fictional dime novel adventures of one of Hickok's acquaintances, William Buffalo Bill Cody.
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Wild Bill-1867 Harper's Weekly Article
Harper's Weekly Depiction of Wild Bill fighting the notorious McCanles Gang