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Seth Bullock’s Arrival


Seth Bullock arrived in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, on this day in 1876. Bullock’s history as a Deadwood Sheriff and U.S. Marsahal have been made popular by the HBO television series Deadwood, but his lasting legacy on Dakota Territory is much more legendary than even his character in the television show can portray. Bullock’s character was larger than life, and his legend is as real as the city he helped to create.

Bullock was born on July 23, 1847, in Amherstburg, Ontario. His father, British Major George Bullock, was actively involved in politics, and this influenced Bullock’s later career. At the age of sixteen, Bullock ran away from home and went to his older sister’s home in Montana. Although caught and forced to return home, he returned to the territory of Montana as soon as he turned eighteen. He went into politics, and was elected to the Territorial Senate of Montana in 1867. He introduced the resolution to create Yellowstone as a national park, and was only twenty-two when the park was established. Bullock also worked as an auctioneer and began a hardware business with his partner, Sol Star. He began his legendary career in law enforcement as a deputy sheriff, but was elected as the sheriff of Lewis and Clark County by the age of twenty-six. In 1876, Bullock and Star heard about the business boom in Deadwood and decided to move their hardware business east. The day after Bullock arrived in Deadwood though, Wild Bill Hickok was killed and the mining camp decided they needed a sheriff to enforce the law. The miners quickly appointed Bullock, who served until his appointement as a U.S. Marshal of western Dakota Territory in 1884. Although many people have heard of Seth Bullock’s career as a sheriff and marshal, few know that Bullock was close friends with Theodore Roosevelt, another legendary Dakota figure. Roosevelt met Bullock while serving as Medora’s Deputy Sheriff. The president “appointed Bullock the first Forest Supervisor for the Black Hills” in the 1890's. One of Teddy’s Rough Riders, Bullock also served Roosevelt as a Captain in the Cowboy Regiment during the Spanish American War. In 1905, Roosevelt appointed Bullock as U.S. Marshal of South Dakota. Bullock served in this capacity for nine years, reappointed by Presidents Taft and Wilson. Bullock and his partner Star are also credited with founding the town of Belle Fourche, South Dakota.

In September 1919, Seth Bullock died of cancer in Room 211 of the Bullock Hotel in Deadwood, the city’s first hotel, erected by Bullock himself. His grave is located in the Mount Moriah Cemetery, next to Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.



--Jayme L. Job