Murder of Wild Bill Hickok
One of Yankton’s most infamous characters was “Crooked Nose” John “Jack” McCall (1852/1853 – March 1, 1877), the murder of beloved Wild West legend Wild Bill Hickock (May 27, 1837 – August 2, 1876). McCall shot and killed Hickok from behind as he played poker in the Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory on August 2, 1876.
Since there was no organized law in Deadwood at the time, an impromptu trial was held with the jury made up of local community members. McCall claimed his actions were in retribution for the slaying of his brother by Hickok in Abilene Kansas. McCall was found innocent after two hours of testimony and set free.
After the trial, McCall fled to Wyoming Territory fearing for his safety, where he audaciously bragged about killing Hickok in a “fair” gunfight. Wyoming authorities refused to recognize the legitimacy of McCall’s acquittal since the court in Deadwood had no legal jurisdiction and argued that McCall would need to be tried again in a federal court, in Yankton, South Dakota.
After almost three months in a Yankton jail, the trial began on Dec. 4, 1876, in a courtroom at what is now present-day Third and Capital Streets.
The location of the historical marker of his trial can be found here.
Two days later the jury found McCall guilty. McCall’s hanging took place on March 1, 1877 near the present-day intersection of Hwy 81 and Hwy 50. The hanging is remembered by a historical plaque, located in the parking lot on the south end of the Human Services Center.
The location of the historical marker of his hanging can be found here.
A proper headstone was set at the burial site in 2017. The gravesite can be found on the border of Sacred Heart Cemetery and the Yankton City Cemetery.
The location of the headstone can be found here.