The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976 Page: 120
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
went into the writing. Joseph G. Rosa and Harold Hutton could both be
termed "hobbiests" in the field of historical writing-and their hobbies
have been their respective subjects of these biographies.
The first edition of They Called Him Wild Bill (i964) was widely ac-
claimed, when it appeared in I964 as the best biography of Hickok. But
Joe Rosa did not rest on his laurels. He seized the opportunities opened up
by the appearance of his book, which he had researched entirely by cor-
respondence from his home in England, and he visited all the scenes of
Wild Bill's activities, gained the confidence of the Hickok descendents and
access to much previously unavailable material, and did additional research
in the historical archives of this country. An understanding publisher was
all that was then necessary for him to realize the dream of many a writer
to correct and expand his first effort. The result is a much fuller and more
accurate book than the first edition.
While many books have appeared over the years on Wild Bill, Harold
Hutton was treading on virtually virgin territory with Doc Middleton.
Hutton, a Nebraska rancher, in an interesting appendix to his book, says
he began his research in i953. And it was indeed "grassroots" research of
the best kind, for he has brought forth a biography which transforms Mid-
dleton from a shadowy, enigmatic character to a completely understand-
able, although complex, product of his time. Few individuals have been
cast as adequately in relation to their time, place, and family.
Both Hickok and Middleton found their fame, or notoriety if you prefer,
in the state of Nebraska. Wild Bill's legendary encounter with the "Mc-
Canles Gang" at Rock Creek in 1861, however garbled in history, sprung
him into his place of prominence in western history. After a turbulent
career as Civil War scout, Kansas cowtown lawman, plains scout, gambler
and showman, Wild Bill was killed by an assassin in Deadwood, South
Dakota in 1876. Rosa has explored every aspect of Hickok's life and no
statement is made without documentation. Some of the most valuable and
interesting material comes from the letters, documents, and photographs
in the possession of the Hickok family.
In the year of Hickok's death, James M. Riley helped drive a herd of
Texas steers to Nebraska, where he was to become the most famous horse
thief of the old west under the name of Doc Middleton. He became so
prominent that for years a large area of north central Nebraska was to be
known as "Doc Middleton's Country." Doc Middleton's story has much
to interest Texans, for it was here that he grew to manhood and learned
his future trade. The hard times of frontier Texas are vividly reconstructed
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976, periodical, 1975/1976; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101203/m1/138/: accessed November 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.