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.