Dr. John Henry 'Doc' Holliday

On August 14, 1851 in Griffin, Georgia, John Henry Holliday was born to Henry Burroughs and Alice Jane Holliday. Their first child, Martha Eleanora, had died on June 12, 1850 at six months of age. When he married Alice Jane McKay on January 8, 1849, Henry Burroughs was a druggist by trade and, later became a wealthy planter, lawyer, and during the War between the States, a Confederate Major. Church records state: "John Henry, infant son of Henry B. and Alice J. Holliday, received the ordinance of baptism on Sunday, March 21, 1852, at the First Presbyterian Church in Griffin." Alice Jane died on September 16, 1866. This was a terrible blow to young John Henry for he and his mother were very close. To compound this loss, his father married Rachel Martin only three months later on December 18, 1886. Shortly after this marriage, the Holliday family moved to Valdosta, Georgia. Major Holliday quickly became one of the town's leading citizens, becoming Mayor, the Secretary of the County Agricultural Society, a Member of the Masonic Lodge, the Secretary of the Confederate Veterans Camp, and the Superintendent of local elections.
Because of his family status, John Henry had to choose some sort of profession and he chose dentistry. He enrolled in dental school in 1870 and attended his first lecture session in 1870-1872. Each lecture session lasted a little over three months. He served his required two years apprenticeship under Dr. L.F. Frank. On March 1, 1872, the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in Philadelphia conferred the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery upon twenty-six men, one of whom was John Henry Holliday. Upon completion of his training and graduation, Dr. Holliday opened an office with a Dr. Arthur C. Ford in Atlanta in 1872. Then, because of the session of the Southern Dental Association, Dr. Arthur C. Ford, D.D.A. was unable to serve patients, until the middle of August. Taking his place was Doc Holliday.
John was a good dentist, but shortly after starting his practice, he discovered that he had contracted tuberculosis. Although he consulted a number of doctors, the consensus of all was that he had only months to live. However, they all concurred that he might add a few months to his life if he moved to a dry climate. Following this advice, Doc packed up and headed West. His first stop was in Dallas, Texas, the end of the railroad at the time. The date was October 1873, and Doc soon found a suitable position as an associate of Dr. John A. Seegar. He hung out his shingle and prepared for business, but his terrible illness was not through with him. Coughing spells wracked his thin frame and often occurred at the most embarrassing times, such as in the midst of filling a tooth or making an extraction. As a result, his dental business gradually declined. John soon had to find other means of earning a livelihood.


It became apparent that he possessed a natural ability for gambling and this quickly became his sole means of support. In those days, a gambler in the west had to be able to protect himself, for he stood alone. Holliday was well aware of this and faithfully practiced with six-gun and knife. His next stop was Jacksboro over in Jack's County, where he found a job dealing Faro. Jackson was a tough town situated near an army post. Not to be outdone, Doc now carried a gun in a shoulder holster, one on his hip and a long, wicked knife as well. Reports confirm the fact that he was becoming an expert with these weapons as he was involved in three gunfights in a very short span of time. One of these left another dead man to Doc's credit. Since this was a pretty wild section of the West at that time, no law action was taken against him. During the summer of 1876, Holliday again became a participant in a gunfight. On this occasion, he was careless enough to kill a soldier from Fort Richardson.


Since the US Marshals, Texas Rangers, and local lawmen were on Doc's tail, he drifted on to Wyoming, then to New Mexico and from there to Fort Griffin, Texas. It was there that Doc met the only woman who was ever to come into his life. She was known as