John Henry Holliday

Doc Holliday

Blog Highlights:

  • John Henry Holliday, or Doc Holliday, was actually a dentist who had a booming practice in Atlanta
  • He was forced to leave his practice because he had tuberculosis
  • When he was young, his father taught him how to shoot
  • He studied dentistry at the age of 19 and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at the age of 20

John Henry Holliday is popularly known as Doc Holliday, an associate of the lawman, Wyatt Earp. But did you know that he is referred to as “Doc” because he was actually a dentist? Trained in Pennsylvania, Doc Holliday was able to set up a booming practice in Atlanta. He contracted tuberculosis during this time and was forced to leave his practice. He then moved to the West, and became a renowned character in American History especially when it comes to the gunfight at O.K. Corral.

Born in Griffin, Georgia, John Henry Holliday was of English ancestry. His parents were Henry Burroughs Holliday, a Confederate in the Civil War and a soldier who served in the Mexican-American War, and Alice Jane McKey Holliday. His father adopted a boy named Francisco, and he also had a sister, Martha Eleanora Holliday, who died at the age of six months. John Henry was baptized at the First Presbyterian Church of Griffin in 1852. His father taught him and his brother how to shoot.

The Holliday family moved to Valdosta, Georgia in 1864. This is where his mother died of tuberculosis in 1866. His brother Francisco, also died of tuberculosis. Three months after the death of his mother, his father married Rachel Martin.

Holliday attended the Valdosta Institute where he got education in History, Mathematics, Grammar, Rhetoric, and languages – mainly Latin, as well as some Ancient Greek, and French.

When he was 19 years old, Holliday left for Philadelphia and by the age of 20, he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. This institution is known today as the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Dental Medicine. Holliday actually graduated five months before he reached 21, so the school held his degree since 21 is the required age for one to practice dentistry.