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by GiGi
Rated: E · Essay · Educational · #1413886
This is a research paper I am doing for school. Any feedback would be helpfull.


The Life of John Henry "Doc" Holliday

Doc Holliday

A Research paper by
Rebekah B.

Doc was a dentist whom necessity had made a gambler; a gentleman whom disease had made a frontier vagabond; a philosopher whom life had made a caustic wit; a long lean ash-blond fellow nearly dead with consumption, and at the same time the most skillful gambler and the nerviest, speediest, deadliest man with a gun that I ever knew.                                                                                                                                                                                                --Wyatt Earp


The life of John Henry Holliday better known as "Doc" Holliday is a fascinating one.  Known for his notorious shootouts and friendship with the Earp's, he has been labeled outlaw, and madman.  Was he really a mean and dangerous man?  Or does documented history show a different type of character?

Doc's Beginning

Henry Burroughs Holliday was a well respected military man, serving in both the Mexican-American War and the Civil War.  After his service, he settled down in Griffin Georgia.  Alice Jane McKey became his wife January 8, 1849.  On December 3, that same year Alice gave birth to the first Holliday, Martha Eleanora. Unfortunately, Martha was a frail child and died June 12 almost a year later.  In the same year following her death, the Hollidays welcomed a son on August 14th.  This child was delivered by Henry's younger brother, John Stiles. The couple decided to name the newborn John Henry, after both the uncle and father.  Due to circumstance, Doc was now an only child, until Henry assumed guardianship of a young orphan girl named Elisha Prichard, whom moved in with the family.

Doc's Child life
         Mary Cowperwaithe Fulton Holliday, the wife of Robert Alexander Holliday (Doc's cousin, who he would never remember).  According to and only her said that Doc was born with a cleft palate.  It was said that it was fixed when he was a baby, but if it had, that would have been a big operation then, and should have been in the papers.  It is highly doubted that he had one.  But some say it might have been a posterior cleft, because according to Mary Holliday it "extended to, but not through his lip".

Henry Holliday was the oldest in his family.  Next came John Stiles Holliday who, was a known doctor in Fayetteville, and a good businessman.  Robert Kennedy Holliday is Henry's next younger brother at the time was 14, became like a brother to the eight year old Doc.  Martha Holliday was their sister.  She married James Franklin Johnson, a lawyer, state senator, and planter. 
         Alice Jane McKeys mother passed away on January 26, 1853, and November 9, 1856, three years later her father died.  Henry was in trusted with her siblings, and the inheritance of them all, including Alices.  Thomas Sylvester who became Doc's boyhood hero, Melissa Ella, Eunice Helena, and Margaret Ann were all her siblings.
         Both sides of Doc's family, the McKeys, and Hollidays lived very close to him.  Doc grew close to his uncle Robert, but Doc would spend most of his time with his favorite uncle Thomas McKey in Griffin. 
When Doc was about eight, he had to start learning how to act like a southern man.  His father and uncles would teach him how to shoot, hunt, and ride a horse.  Doc's mother would teach him how to read, write, and speak properly.  Between August and September of 1861, when Doc was around 12 years old, nearly all of the older men in his family went off to join the Confederate army in the Civil War.  As can be imagined, Doc's life would begin to change.  John Stiles Holliday was the only one to stay close to them, because he was the doctor for the Confederate army at the Fayette hospital.
Now on his own for the rest of his learning, Doc would go off on his own into the woods to continue shooting, and hunting.  He did not stay out long though, because he was not suppose to.  When they would move to Valdosta Doc would learn about the feelings of growing up.  Being inside and around his mother and aunts, he was spoiled very much.  Alice and her sisters would let Doc slack on his chores, and learning. 
After spending so much time with her, Doc developed a close relationship with his mother, and became very protective of her.  Some who say because of the spoiling and closeness with his mother and aunts, it started off his rebellion toward his father. 
During this time Alice had become sick.  The doctors told her to stay inside and in bed mostly.  They believed she had what they called back then consumption.  Today, it is known as tuberculosis.  The disease was the leading cause of death in the 19th century, because no one knew it was contagious.  When Alice could not be out of bed for much time, Doc became the head of the household. 
In July 1862, Henry was discharged from the Confederate army after becoming ill himself.  When Henry heard of the war coming close to there town, he moved his family south to Valdosta, GA.  Valdosta was not a big or rich town, but it was a safe place for his family.  He had moved his family just in time, because the war had come to Griffin, and the surrounding areas. 
Robert Holliday had also moved his daughters to St. Vincent's Academy around that time.  He knew his wife, Mary, was out of town, so did not worry about her being around.  When she returned home she found her house destroyed by the Union army.  She got what was left and moved in with Doc and his family at Valdosta.  Henry soon built her a house on his land to live in.  Soon after Mattie and Lucy their two daughters would move in with her. 
When the war began to end Thomas Kennedy would be hospitalize for a little while, when he got out, no one could find him.  It is said that Doc, 16 now had taken a horse and a gun to look for him.  According to the story he found him and led him to Cat Creek, where Doc's house in Valdosta sat.  In the end of the war both sides of Doc's family made it out alright, and most returned to their hometowns to help rebuild.
1866 brought Doc hard times.  His favorite uncle would buy a plantation in Florida and move away.  Alice was becoming sicker, and his father would detach himself from the rest. 
Valdosta was starting to grow in people and prosperity.  The train lines were opened up again, and with that new businesses and a mill were opened up. along with cabins to house the mill workers. 
Since moving to Valdosta Doc was going to school for his learning.  The teachers were great and in 1865 Samuel McWhir Varnedoe came and took over the school.  He would take the students on trips to learn things and become more sociable.  Other teachers did not do that with them.
Doc fit in well going to school.  He learned fast and was good mannered from his upbringing of his mother and huge family.  According to neighbors Doc was liked by the girls and considered cocky. 
Doc had a great time in school, but on September 16, 1866 his mother passed away.  Customary in those times the men in the family wore black for nine months and the town would hold sociable activities to show respect.  Anyone that would not would be considered disrespectful. 
Shocking the whole town, three months later Henry married his neighbor's daughter.  Rachel Martin and she was 23 when she married Henry.  Because of this uncustomary act of a southern gentleman, the town wondered, with no courtship between Rachel and Henry, how long a relationship was there.
Doc was severely angry with his father for doing this, and resented his step-mother.  Not only did Henry pay no respect to his mother, but Rachel was only a few more years older then Doc.  To make matters worse Henry had moved the family onto the in-law's land.  Doc had coldness toward his father, and he would never forgive him.

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