Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Deadwood, South Dakota.

Deadwood, South Dakota.
Mr. Hawthorne and I are playing tourist in Deadwood today.
We took the Boot Hill Tour Bus for an interesting trip through the city (basically one main street) and up to Mount Mariah cemetery.
I had to take pics of the signs on the bus.
They meant Wild Bill.
This bothers me. Why hasn't someone fixed this typo?
Actor Kevin Costner owns this restaurant, hotel, and gambling casino - The Midnight Sun. Costner's movie, Dances With Wolves, was filmed in Dakota's Black Hills. He played Lt. John Dunbar who was exiled to a remote western Civil War outpost and befriended wolves and the Lakota Sioux Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military. From what I've read, in 1993 the Costner Brothers (Kevin and Dan) wanted the bet limit raised to $100 in order to accommodate their proposed 320-room, $100 million Dunbar Resort in Deadwood. The project hinged on a change in state gaming laws. The state of South Dakota voted to raise the betting limit at Deadwood casinos from $5 to $100 and has given the brothers $14 million to develop their Dunbar Resort plan. Integral to the resort was the acquisition of 630 acres of adjacent Black Hills National Forest land that would allow construction of a golf course and a railroad right of way. Native American groups view the Black Hills as sacred, the resort as desecration, and rightfully believe the land was deeded to the Lakota in treaties. The dispute over the Black Hills land sought by the Costners dates back to the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. Under that agreement, the United States recognized the Sioux Nation as a sovereign and separate entity. Under the terms of the treaty, the Sioux Nation consisted of the land west from the Missouri River in South Dakota to the Bighorn Mountain in Wyoming. In exchange for the undisturbed use of this territory, the Lakota Sioux agreed to vacate vast sections of the Great Plains. After an illegal army expedition led by George Armstrong Custer found gold in the Black Hills in 1864, settlers from the east began to swarm into Deadwood's mineral-rich gulch, as well as other areas of the sacred land. In 1877, Congress annexed the Sioux Reservation and Black Hills, dividing the land into several small reservations. Many Sioux felt this was done in reprisal for the defeat of Custer's Seventh Cavalry in the Battle of Little Big Horn the previous year. The Supreme Court, in 1980, ordered the federal government to compensate the Lakota Sioux for the land. The Sioux, however, refused to accept the money, a sum that stands now at $380 million, insisting on the return of the Black Hills. Now, how did Costner repay the Indians whose language, culture, and history he freely employed, if not exploited, generating extreme wealth for himself, in Dances With Wolves? Did he build a hospital on one of four reservations in South Dakota? No. Did he set up any college funds for underprivileged Indian children? No. Did he give any part of the Black Hills back to the Sioux so they could perform their religious ceremonies? No. According to the US government census, South Dakota Indians are the poorest people in the entire United States. Maybe the Indians should be grateful that Costner invested $100 mill in the Dunbar Resort. They can now apply for minimum wage jobs. Apparently Costner can produce deeds of ownership for the land. But ditto, the Sioux. Their papers date from 1851 when the Fort Laramie Treaty was signed with the US government acknowledging the Indians' ownership of 60 million acres of the Great Plains and including the 7.3 million acres of the Black Hills. The White Man made many promises. The only one they kept was to take away the Indians' land.
From the bus. I liked the spray-painted "I <heart> U Pam." I'm sure Pam is damn impressed.
Mount Mariah Cemetery.
James Butler, aka Wild Bill, Hickok's grave. Wild Bill was a superb horseman and an excellent marksman who could shoot from the hip with deadly accuracy. He was hired as Sheriff of Abilene, Kansas, and was diligent in his efforts to bring law and order to this western cow town until he accidentally shot and killed his deputy while routing a gang of troublemakers. So remorseful was he over this event that he spent the remainder of his term of office at the poker tables in the Alamo Saloon. Concerned citizens questioned the propriety of their sheriff gambling and Wild Bill was eventually forced out by public opinion. Buffalo Bill Cody eventually talked Wild Bill into joining his Wild West Show, playing none other than himself. The show headed east in 1874 and Wild Bill was a star attraction. As an actor, however, he was a dismal failure. Wild Bill was a victim of stage fright and did not adjust to live on the road or in big cities. His acting career ended in Philadelphia, when blinded and frustrated by stage lights, he fired a volley of blanks into the orchestra. Cody let him go. The discovery of gold in the Black Hills presented new opportunities and Wild Bill arrived in Deadwood Gulch in June 1876 and staked out his claims. During the short time Wild Bill lived in Deadhead, he became a familiar figure in saloons and card parlors. He is remembered as an impeccably dressed gentleman who always sat with his back to the wall, pouring drinks with his left hand, keeping his right hand free for action. On August 2, 1876, Wild Bill joined a poker game at Saloon #10 in Deadwood. Contrary to his usual practice, he sat with his back to the door, taking the seat only after being cajoled and chided by his poker partners. While the game was in progress, local rogue, Jack McCall, entered the saloon and shot Wild Bill in the back of the head with a .45 pistol. He died instantly, slumping over the table and dropping his hand of cards - a combination of black eights and black aces- since known as the Deadman's Hand. By the way, the fifth card was the nine of diamonds. Wild Bill Hickok's close friend, "Colorado Charlie" Utter, claimed the body and placed a notice in the Black Hills Pioneer, the first newspaper in Deadwood, South Dakota (Still published but its offices have moved to Spearfish, SD.), reading: "Died in Deadwood, Black Hills, August 2, 1876, from the effects of a pistol shot, J. B. Hickok (Wild Bill) formerly of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Funeral services will be held at Charlie Utter's Camp, on Thursday afternoon, August 3, 1876, at 3 o'clock, P. M. All are respectfully invited to attend." Colorado Charlie had been a close friend of Hickok for quite some time, constantly watching him to ensure that Hickok's weaknesses of alcohol and gambling would not bring him to a bad end. Unfortunately, Colorado Charlie wasn't with Wild Bill at Saloon #10 on August 2, 1876. Hickok was originally buried in the Ingleside Cemetery, the predecessor of Mount Moriah Cemetery. Ingleside Cemetery was down the hill and to the left of the present Mount Mariah cemetery and is presently a residential section of Deadwood. Many buried in the Ingleside cemetery were later exhumed and reburied in Mount Mariah. However, some were missed. And even today, residents enlarging their homes or digging for other reasons may unearth remains from the old cemetery. Mount Mariah Cemetery was established in 1877-1878 because of the ever-increasing demands on the grounds at Ingleside. It's difficult to tell exactly when the use of Ingleside was discontinued, but according to records, by mid-1878, all burials, with the exception of those at the Catholic Cemetery, were at Mount Moriah. Wild Bill's original wooden headstone was painstakingly inscribed by Colorado Charlie: "Wild Bill, J. B. Hickock (sic) killed by the assassin Jack McCall in Deadwood, Black Hills, August 2d, 1876. Pard, we will meet again in the happy hunting ground to part no more." That headstone has long since disappeared, carried away in bits and pieces by those seeking to become some part of the legend. Colorado Charlie left for Colorado, but returned in 1879 to have Hickok reinterred, at Calamity Jane's request, in a ten foot square plot at Mount Moriah Cemetery.
"Custer was lonely without him."
Items left by tourons to the site.
Next to Wild Bill's grave is Calamity Jane's, just beyond it.
Martha "Calamity Jane" Canary (1850? - 1903) In her short 53 years, Calamity Jane lived more than most. She worked on a bull train, performed in a Wild West show, and was a prostitute of little repute. One story historians claim to be strictly a figment of Calamity Jane's imagination, was her insistence to have been Wild Bill's sweetheart. She did have a warm, soft side though, with her acts of charity and her willingness to nurse the sick. In 1903, Jane died in the mining camp of Terry from a variety of ailments, chief among which was alcoholism. Calamity Jane's dying wish was to be buried next to Wild Bill.
In 1896, Calamity Jane wrote:
"In 1865 we emigrated from our homes in Missouri by the overland route to Virginia City, Montana, taking five months to make the journey. While on the way, the greater portion of my time was spent in hunting along with the men and hunters of the party; in fact, I was at all times with the men when there was excitement and adventures to be had. By the time we reached Virginia City, I was considered a remarkable good shot and a fearless rider for a girl of my age. I remember many occurrences on the journey from Missouri to Montana. Many times in crossing the mountains, the conditions of the trail were so bad that we frequently had to lower the wagons over ledges by hand with ropes, for they were so rough and rugged that horses were of no use. We also had many exciting times fording streams, for many of the streams in our way were noted for quicksands and boggy places, where, unless we were very careful, we would have lost horses and all. Then we had many dangers to encounter in the way of streams swelling on account of heavy rains. On occasions of that kind, the men would usually select the best places to cross the streams; myself, on more than one occasion, have mounted my pony and swam across the stream several times merely to amuse myself, and have had many narrow escapes from having both myself and pony washed away to certain death, but, as the pioneers of those days had plenty of courage, we overcame all obstacles and reached Virginia City in safety. Mother died at Black Foot, Montana, 1866, where we buried her. I left Montana in Spring of 1866, for Utah, arriving at Salt Lake City during the summer."
Concerning her nickname, Martha Jane was involved in several campaigns in the long-running military conflicts with Native American Indians. Her unconfirmed claim was that:
"It was during this campaign that I was christened Calamity Jane. It was on Goose Creek, Wyoming where the town of Sheridan is now located. Capt Egan was in command of the Post. We were ordered out to quell an uprising of the Indians, and were out for several days, had numerous skirmishes during which six of the soldiers were killed and several severely wounded. When on returning to the Post we were ambushed about a mile and a half from our destination. When fired upon Capt Egan was shot. I was riding in advance and on hearing the firing turned in my saddle and saw the Captain reeling in his saddle as though about to fall. I turned my horse and galloped back with all haste to his side and got there in time to catch him as he was falling. I lifted him onto my horse in front of me and succeeded in getting him safely to the Fort. Capt Egan on recovering, laughingly said: 'I name you Calamity Jane, the heroine of the plains.' I have borne that name up to the present time."
Notice the urn at Calamity Jane's grave site.
It matches the urns/gargoyle columns stationed at each of the four corners of Dora DuFran's site. Madame DuFran was a sporting house proprietor and had a heart of gold. Dora's industry spread beyond Deadwood. Her brothels were in Lead, Rapid City, and Belle Fourche. Perhaps her most lasting claim to fame was that of befriending Calamity Jane, whom she occasionally employed as a maid. She lived 60 years in the Black Hills and Dora and her parrot, Fred, were laid to rest at Mount Moriah next to her husband, Joseph.
Potato Creek Johnny was one of Deadwood's most colorful characters. John Perrett was a familiar sight along the streams of the Deadwood area where he is said to have found one of the largest gold nuggets ever panned in the Black Hills.
Our guide, displaying Wild Bill's photograph.
Wild Bill's marriage certificate. Apparently, his wife, Agnes Thatcher, could hold her own.

Agnes Thatcher Lake: Equestrian Rider, Circus Performer, and Wild Bill’s Wife

By Phil Roberts, Department of History, University of Wyoming

Agnes Thatcher Lake was world renowned in the second half of the 19th century as a tightrope walker, lion tamer and equestrian. Western history buffs, however, remember her chiefly because she was Wild Bill Hickok’s wife—and they were married in Wyoming.

Writer/historian Nancy Thatcher Cerny states that Agnes was "born August 24, 1826, in Alsace, Eastern France, to the Mersman family. Her mother died shortly thereafter and the remainder of the family sailed to America in 1830, settling in Cincinnati, Ohio." At the age of 16 she met a circus clown performing at a “big top” near her home, they eloped and were married in Louisiana. Agnes and her husband, Bill Lake Thatcher (who was known professionally as Bill Lake), toured with the circus for 13 years. She mastered the high-wire and tamed lions. After she toured Europe in 1862 with another circus, she returned to work in a circus organized by Lake.

According to an article in the Cheyenne Daily Sun, published much later, Lake was killed in Granby, Missouri, in 1869 by a man who had tried to sneak into the show without paying. Lake was shot while attempting to evict the man.

Agnes took over management of the circus and it continued to tour America.. The circus visited Abilene, Kansas, in 1871, and Agnes met the town marshal of Abilene, Bill Hickok, during the short stand in town. In 1873 her circus was performing in Rochester, New York. Coincidentally, Wild Bill was there, too, in a “wild west show” with Buffalo Bill Cody and “Texas Jack.”

According to historian Cerny, Agnes continued to operate the circus until "her daughter Emma, the only surviving child of Bill and Agnes, eloped with Gilbert Robinson of the famous John Robinson Circus." Agnes sold the circus, making her wealthy.

Wild Bill and Agnes apparently kept up correspondence, but it wasn’t until February 1876 that they saw each other again. Agnes, returning from a visit to San Francisco, stopped to visit friends in Cheyenne. Wild Bill was in town preparing to leave for the gold fields of the Black Hills.

The result of the meeting is reported in the Cheyenne Daily Leader, March, 7, 1876: “Married: By the Rev W. F. Warren, March 5, 1876, at the residence of S. L. Moyer, Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, Mrs. Agnes Lake Thatcher of Cincinnati, Ohio, to James Butler Hickok, Wild Bill, of this city.”

Moyer operated a saloon in Cheyenne and he and Mrs. Moyer were witnesses to the ceremony.

The minister was not convinced that the marriage would go well. He wrote in the Marriage Record of the First Methodist Church of Cheyenne (a microfilmed copy of which is the collection of the Cultural Resources Division, Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources Department): “Don’t think he meant it.” Hickok gave his age as 46. In reality, he was 39 and his bride Agnes was 11 years his senior.

The Cheyenne Daily Sun in its first issue, March 8, 1876, noted: “Wild Bill of western fame has conquered numerous Indians, outlaws, bears and buffaloes, but a charming widow has stolen the magic wand. The scepter has departed and he is as meek and gentle as a lamb. In other words, he has shuffled off the coil of bachelorhood.”

Following the wedding, the couple honeymooned in Cincinnati for two weeks. Historian Cerny, in correspondence with this writer on March 2, 2008, noted that the couple traveled to Cincinnati "so James (Agnes always called him James) could meet the Mersman family. Agnes stayed on to care for Emma who was about to deliver her first and only child, Daisy Robinson."

Hickok left Agnes at home in Cincinnati and returned by train to Cheyenne in time to complete arrangements for his trip into the South Dakota goldfields. He did not leave until sometime in June.

He wrote letters to Agnes from time to time and several still survive. In the last one, he wrote, “Pet, we will have a home yet then we will be so happy.” Wild Bill was not a good prognosticator. Two weeks after the letter was mailed, he was shot in the back of the head by Jack McCall in a Deadwood saloon.

Little is known of Agnes’ activities in the next year. She came to Deadwood in September, 1877, and made arrangements for a fence around Wild Bill’s grave. On her return she stopped in Cheyenne and, possibly, married her escort, George Carson. The marriage certificate, a copy of which is in the Cultural Resource Division’s collections, listed Carson’s age as 29. Agnes was no longer 42 as she was listed the previous year on the Hickok marriage certificate. She was “38.” (While the certificate was issued, there is no record of an actual marriage ceremony).

An article in the June 29, 1887, issue of the Cheyenne Daily Sun includes extensive biographical information about Agnes, “now living in retirement in this city.” Carson is not mentioned. “Madame Hickok is temporarily located here but expects to visit friends and relatives at Cincinnati during the coming month,” the newspaper article concluded.

Wild Bill’s widow died in New Jersey at the home of her son-in-law, Gil Robinson, in 1907. More than 80 years old at her death, she was buried in Cincinnati, Ohio, next to her first husband, Bill Lake.

And what about Calamity Jane? Many historians question whether she and Wild ill were ever romantically connected. Yet, in the Deadwood cemetery, her body is buried next to Agnes Thatcher’s husband—Wild Bill Hickok.

Calamity Jane's photograph.
View from Mount Moriah Cemetery.
The cemetery overlooks the town of Deadwood.
The Franklin Hotel is to the left.
Franklin Hotel.
Mr. Ayers was a wealthy resident of Deadwood. The hole in his headstone dead-eyes to his home.
Preacher Smith's grave. Henry Weston Smith was Deadwood's first ordained minister. He truly lived his faith and was an outstanding citizen, loved by the entire community. He preached on Sundays and worked menial jobs throughout the week. On Sunday, August 20, 1876, while enroute from Deadwood to the nearby mining camp of Crook City, Smith was murdered, presumably by Indians. Wild Bill's death caused little stir in Deadwood, but the murder of Preacher Smith enraged the community and for a time, a bounty was placed on Indians. Preacher Smith was first buried in Ingleside Cemetery, then was exhumed and reburied at Mount Moriah.
This is Lead, South Dakota, as viewed from Mount Moriah Cemetery. Lead was founded during the great gold rush of 1876 and was sustained for 130 years by one of the richest gold veins ever unearthed.
Lead is building its future in the very same deep underground tunnels and caverns that sustained it until the closing of the Homestake Gold Mine in 2002. The Homestake, actively managed by the Hearst family for much of its history, is recognized as the oldest, largest, and deepest gold mine in the Western Hemisphere, reaching more than 8000 feet below the town. In 2007, Lead was selected by the National Science Foundation, because of its deep mining shafts, as the location for the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory. We're talking MAJOR science shit here.
A trip to Deadwood, South Dakota is not complete without a trip to Mount Mariah Cemetery.


Marilyn said...

All right, Rosie. I'm throwing down the gauntlet. You've talked about Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickock. Now you need to visit the birthplace of Annie Oakley (and also a relative of mine by my mother's marriage) - Greenville, Ohio.

Greenville is also home to the infamous Treaty of Greenville. Tecumseh refused to sign the accord. He probably knew the white man would not keep his word.

Having grown up in the area, I'd be glad to show you around.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

OK, Mar. I guess I'll have to pick up the gauntlet.

Marilyn said...

Late spring is a lovely time to visit Ohio and Indiana, Rosie.

Donna-FFW said...

Why were you not sitting on Wild Bill HiCOCKs lap??? WHY, lady, why!!! You missed the boat.

miss ur food when ya coming back?
I want to visit SD now. I wanna picture with the gun guy.