About Corazon

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Doc Holliday's Grave ("I'm your Huckleberry")

"You're no daisy...you're no daisy at all"

This weekend, my family took a brief trip to my home town (Grand Junction, Co) to see friends and family. During that trip, we decided to stop off in Glenwood Springs to pay a visit to a legend.

In the late 1800s, renowned gunman/gambler/dentist/scholar/drinker John "Doc" Holliday traveled to Glenwood Springs, Co. in the hopes that the air and hot springs would help to alleviate his severe case of tuberculosis. Sadly, Mr. Holliday did not find the relief he was looking for. He died and was buried on November 8, 1887.

Doc Holliday, who was originally born and raised in Georgia, was a southern gentleman who benefited greatly from both a generous family and a keen intellect. As a young boy, Holliday was given a strong classical education that centered on math, philosophy, rhetoric, grammar, Latin, French and literature. In addition, Holliday studied dentistry in Philadelphia, after which he returned to Georgia to begin a short but successful practice. With his education and family name behind him, Holliday was, by all accounts, the quintessential post-Civil War southern gentleman of his era. In fact, his cousin, Margaret Mitchell, allegedly used Doc Holliday as the inspiration for the character Ashley Wilkes in her little, tiny book she called Gone With the Wind.

Sadly (or perhaps thankfully depending upon your persuasion), fate would have a different path for the "good doctor." After contracting tuberculosis, Holliday found it hard to continue his dental practice. After all, who wants a sick doctor coughing into their mouth! In addition, Holliday discovered that he had both a gift and a love for a completely different art form: GAMBLING!

Of course Holliday is better known for his friendship with Wyatt Earp and his alleged prowess with a firearm. Legend (and I emphasize the word LEGEND) has it that Holliday was as fast, if not faster, than Wild Bill Hickok with a gun. And then of course there's the story of the OK Corral, where Holliday shot and killed Tom McLaury (one of his small handful of confirmed kills...and no, Holliday did NOT kill Johnny Ringo).

Anyway, years after his escapades with his buddy Wyatt Earp (though they were not as good of friends as many make them out to be) Holliday succumbed to his tuberculosis and died at the age of 36. Here are a few pics of our trip to his grave:

As you can see from this stone, this site is a MEMORIAL and not Holliday's actual grave. This will be discussed in more detail a little bit later.
Here you see that some guests have placed a few deck of cards (a royal flush no less) on Holliday's grave...an obvious tribute to his love of gambling.
As I mentioned before, the publicized memorial is NOT the actual resting place of Doc Holliday. In fact, there has been some speculation over the years as to the exact place where Holliday was buried. Some state that the ground was too frozen in November of 1887 to bury him at all and that he was placed in either a temporary grave and later moved, or that he wasn't buried at all, but later transported to Georgia where he was buried by family. Both theories hold very little water, as it has been proven that several burials took place around the same time as Doc's death. In addition, no record (or story) exists to support the allegation that Holliday was taken home to Georgia and buried there. In fact, most evidence suggests that Holliday was buried at the location of the following picture (located just a few feet from the memorial):
It is believed that this stone, which bears the marks "XXX" is the actual grave of Doc Holliday. Not only does the stone sit close to the location of his memorial but it also at one time carried an attached stone (that fit into the hole at the top) with an inscription that read "Died in his bed" and the exact dates of Holliday's birth and death. The "XXX" stone was meant to be a temporary marker, which was obviously never replaced. In addition, local spectators at the burial have long claimed that Holliday was buried at this location.

Here is a short video of our trip to Holliday's grave:

And finally, for your viewing pleasure, one of my favorite Doc Holliday clips from the movie Tombstone:

And yes, Doc Holliday really did use the expression "I'm your Huckleberry", which in his day meant, "I'll be your dance partner", but obviously was used by Holliday to signify that he'd be more than willing to fight.


Anonymous said...

I thought that Doc Holliday was at the bottom of the hill there was to much ice on the road to get his body up there so they keeped him at the bottom and never moved him I also herd he was laid to reast with both his guns

Hedra Jones said...
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Anonymous said...

Val Kilmer was the best Doc Holiday, bar none. I watched many of movies that portrayed the events that took place at the "Ok Corral", and while :Tombstoen took liberties like most of them, none of them had an actor portray Doc Holiday like Kilmer did.

Many supporting actors are remembered for roles they played where they out-shined the lead actors, kilmer did so in Tombstone. He should have won an Oscar. But for Hollywood politics, he would have.

Gary Newton said...

I had heard the reason Doc is buried up on the mountain was because of a flood that washed out the original cemetery at the bottom of the mountain. They had no way of identifying the bodies so they just buried them anywhere. I was told this by a custodian who took care of the cemetery.

Anonymous said...

I have always heard back in the day "Huckleberry" meant Undertaker....which to me made more sense than all the other reasons I have seen listed as being the meaning.

Anonymous said...

Huckleberry was used to describe someone being the right man for the task at hand. "I'm your huckleberry" was Doc's way of saying that Ringo had found the man that would best him. When Doc goes on to tell Ringo he's no daisy after Ringo was shot, Doc was saying " You aren't the best". "Daisy" was a short lived slang meant to mean the best.

Tonya Savage said...

I read somewhere that he actually says "I'm you're huckle bearer" which means he will carry the coffin. Huckles being the handles.
I don't know about you but I like this explanation better. It sounds bad ass!!

Anonymous said...

What you read is correct. Huckle bearer meant the same as pallbearer does today. It is widely quoted as huckleberry, but in truth, he is saying "I'll take you to your grave."

James Hudson said...

1. Dennis Quaid's Doc portrayal was the historical personification. It's like he actually channeled John Henry from the grave. He did get the oscar nomination for his portayal. He risked his own health by losing so much weight to look like a dying 'lunger'. Val's version is the fun entertaining one. Dennis' is like going back in time.
As a native southerner, Doc is my favorite character in both movie versions. He is an enigma. Most of the 'cowboys' were southern democrats, while the Earps were Missouri republicans. I believe Doc probably sympathized with his southern homeland, but his friendship with Wyatt and Morgan cemented his loyalty.
Thanks for the pictures, We hope to visit that sight someday.

James Hudson said...
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James Hudson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Hudson said...

2. The huckleberry quote is also Southern in origin. The saying was a huckleberry over a persimmon. Ie.. The huckleberry is just a tad bit better. I believe in Doc's mind, he was telling Ringo 'I'm just a bit better than you.

Anonymous said...

Huckle bearer? Really? Get a clue. It is "huckleberry."

Anonymous said...

Its is both. Huckleberry means to be the person for the job or challenge.

Hucklebearer is a pall bearer...means the one who carries your casket. Hucles were the hand holds on the old caskets.

Both words work in the context of the movie scene.

Huckle bearer seems more appropriate.

RankCanBleedToo said...

WELL.....What I heard was Doc Holiday didn't die at all and that he now lives just east of Apache Junction in a trailer park...