A Party from Utah Have an Interesting Tour.

Brother Junius F. Wells, editor and proprietor of the Contributor, returned yesterday from a five-weeks tour of the Rocky Mountains, about the head waters of the great rivers flowing to the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico.  The party consisted of Apostle Moses Thatcher, Pres. Wm. S. Preston, Elders W.H. Apperly, Lucius Farr, Bishops Amos Wright and M.L. Greenwell, Moses Thatcher, Jr., Oscar Greenwell and James Brown, (Indian from the Malad Farm.) . . . .

A short distance this side of the Agency at the North Fork of the ***** River at a blacksmith shop, where the party stopped to have some horse shoes set, a rough pine coffin was being made by the wagon maker for the notorious "Bill" Hickman, who died in a log cabin near by, where he had been living for two or three years . . . .

--Deseret Semi-Weekly News, 28 August 1883.
(This one was discovered and provided by Ardis Parshall).


Death of William Hickman:---In a letter from R.H. Gillespie we learn that William, better known as "Bill," Hickman, died at Lander City, Sweetwater County, Wyoming Territory, at 3 o'clock on the morning of Monday, August 21st, after an illness of 15 days, from diarrhoea.  At the time of his demise he was surrounded by a number of his friends and relatives.

--Deseret Evening News, Friday Aug 24 1883.


  NEWS is received that Bill Hickman the notorious died in Lander City Sweetwater county, Wyoming, last Monday.  He was one of the old Avenging Angels or Danites, whom the church authorities having used for deeds of blood and atrocity for many years, found it convenient to slight and ignore in his old age.  He published a book of confessions some years ago.  If he did the things he therein professed to have done, he was a fiend incarnate; if he didn't do them, he was the hungriest villain for the reputation of an outlaw that ever went unhung.

--Salt Lake Tribune, Saturday Aug 25 1883.

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The Closing Hours of the "Famous Danite Chief."


His Skeleton Said to Ornament the Office of a Leading Eastern Doctor.

   LANDER, WYO., August 23.--The last days of Bill Hickman, the Danite chief and red-handed destroying angel, were spent in this immediate vicinity, and his body lies, or is supposed to lie in our cemetery.  *  *  *  Near here, surrounded by a numerous connection, he bred for two years, horses and cattle, engaging in nothing more violent than an occasional drunken squabble at the Lander whisky bars.  In August, 1883, he was taken ill, the disease clinging to him until October, when it became evident that the lurid spark that had lighted an infamous life was about to be quenched in death.  He retained consciousness until the last, and died as boldly and wickedly as he had lived.  *  *  *

   Hickman was a man of powerful and robust physique.  His sixty odd years sat lightly upon him, albeit burdened with crimes probably never equaled.  His death was due solely to habits of gross intemperance, whisky and opium being his sole articles of diet for days together.  He carried numerous marks of his desperate encounters, his body being seamed and scarred all over.  His atrocious record and dangerous character made him a man shunned and avoided by all classes here, and he lived and died among the people at the Pappoagin Valley a stranger.  His personal appearance, his neighbors were familiar with, but the horrible creeping feeling of repulsion his presence always inspired, even among men themselves stained with crimes of dark hue, made anything more than a slight acquaintance impossible.

  After his death his kindred gathered up their possessions and took the back trail for Mormondom.  Among them were the Gillespie brothers, sons-in-law of the dead terror.  The moving community, for its numbers made it a little less, passed quickly through the country until it reached what is known as the Big Sandy River, fifty miles on their way.  Here the Gillespies took possession of a band of six hundred sheep running on the range of, and belonging to John Lanore, a prominent sheep-raiser of the section.  This stolen stock they drove coolly along the high road with their other animals, selling a few now and then, and butchering as the needs of appetite demanded.  Finally, they were overtaken by a pursuing party, and what was left of the booty recovered, though the Gillespies succeeded in making their escape.  These brothers had established for themselves very hard names in the Lander country, the theft of more than one horse being laid at their door, though the proof was wanting.  Indeed, it can be truly said that their departure, as referred to, was in obedience to that thrifty instinct that warns its owner that a certain locality is getting too hot for him.

  A warrant was sworn out against Frank Gillespie, the only one of the two against whom certain evidence could be brought, and at the division last year of Sweetwater County, the warrant, still in the Sheriff's office unserved, was left in the hands of the Sweetwater officials.  This was unfortunate, as who should put in an appearance, ban and baggage, a short time since, but Mr. Frank Gillespie himself in blissful ignorance that the law was still lying in wait for him.  The warrant and authority from the old county was instantly telegraphed for, but when they arrived the bird had taken the alarm and flown.

   Bill Hickman was buried in the country here in October, 1883.  The winter snows fell upon his grave, and when spring came the rumor was rife that the body had been dug up and taken out of the country.  No examination of the grave was made, no one feeling sufficiently interested to investigate the matter, especially as there had been a strong feeling against the interment of the corpse amid the bones of honest men.  Be as it may, the story goes that a young physician made the journey from the railroad amply prepared for his purpose, exhumed the body, and that the skeleton of the assassin and outcast, divorced even in death from the common lot of humanity, now grimly presides over the private collection of a leading eastern practitioner.  --St. Louis Globe Democrat.

--Reprinted in the Salt Lake Herald, 20 Sep 1885

To learn more about Bill Hickman, click here.
To read more accurate accounts of his death, click here, here or here.
To return to the Hickman Family Index page, click here.