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The Law in Hays

From the Burlington, Vermont, Burlington Free Press October 6, 1869.

We met at Fort Hays a somewhat notorious character named "Wild Bill." I recognized him at once from the picture of him which appeared in Harper's Magazine some time since. He is now Sheriff of Ellis County and Generals Sturgis and Custer tell me that it would be impossible to go into the town of Hays in the evening unarmed, except for the good order which "Wild Bill" preserves. But I must add that during a single night that I spent there, I heard several times the joyful" pop of the pistol.

Mr. Wild Bill, or Mr. Hickok, is one of the finest specimens of humanity, physically, that I ever saw; he stands, I should think, six feet and an inch; but such a pair of shoulders, and such depth of chest and breadth of hips are not often seen. He has a broad forehead, small clear blue eyes, a very sharply cut, small mouth, and a square, firm chin, altogether a very pleasant face for a friend. But one may easily imagine how that forehead could contract, those eyes snap, the lips form a straight line, the chin draw up slightly, making a face which would indicate a decidedly ugly customer.

I inquired particularly of General Sturgis in regard to the article in Harper's Magazine about "Wild Bill," and he told me that, though highly colored, it was substantially true. One thing Bill must have credit for, and that is being a very modest man. He is very indignant at being made a lion of, and uses rather strong language with regard to the man who wrote the Harper's article, and various other articles that appeared since then.


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