"Doc" Holliday was born John Henry Holliday in 1851 in Georgia. He
received a strong classical secondary education in rhetoric, grammar,
math, history and languages. In 1870 when he was 19 years old he left home and began dental
school in Philadelphia. In 1872 he received a degree of Doctor of
Dental Surgery from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. Later
that year he opened an office in Atlanta. While in Atlanta, Holiday
lived with his uncle and began his career as a dentist.
Shortly after beginning his dental practice, Holliday was diagnosed
with tuberculosis (consumption). His mother died when he was 14 from
tuberculosis and it is possible he contracted the disease from her,
because it was not known to be contagious until 1882. Holliday was
given only a few months to live but believed moving to the southwester
United States would slow the process.
For sometime he lived in Dallas, Texas and operated a dental office.
Soon he began to gamble and discovered it was much more income since
his patients feared him as a dentist because of the tuberculosis.
Holliday was well known for disagreements with other people based on
gambling and this lead to a much worse reputation than he deserved.
After several fights in Texas he decided to leave the state. Many
people beleived "Doc" would die by gun or knife before tuberculosis.
In 1877 Holliday returned to Texas and met Wyatt Earp. The two become
friends and were especially close after Earp defended Holliday in a
saloon. The two would continue to be friends in Tombstone, AZ.
It was in 1880 that Holliday made his way to Tombstone, Arizona. The
Earps arrive a few months before him. Holliday quickly became part of
the war that was
building between the Earps and the "Cowboys". And on October 26, 1881
he was involved in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Holliday had
accompanied the Earp brothers to take away the weapons the McLaury and
Clanton brother and Billy Claiborne were reported to have. Some believe
that Holliday poked out his pistol to threaten a "Cowboy" but no facts
have ever been completely agreed upon. Holliday survived the gunfight
sustaining only a grazed hip injury.
Holliday was arrested for the murder of Stillwell
who the Earps believed planned to kill Virgil at his departure from
Tucson, but he was never convicted. After several
ambushes that attempted to kill the Earps, the brothers and Holliday
fled town. While they left Tombstone, they did not leave Arizona.
Holliday accompanied Wyatt Earp on his Vendetta Ride. After the
Vendetta Ride, Holliday never returned to Arizona. Instead, he lived
the rest of his life in Colorado. However, high altitudes of his first
home in Colorado and fumes from water probably did "Doc" more harm than
help. In November of 1887, Holliday died at the age of 36, with his
boots off in bed, as no one suspected. His gravestone is located in
Glenwood Springs, Colorado but based on the timing it is speculated
that he owuld not have really been buried there. There has been no
attempt to exhume the gravesite and figure out if his body really lies