The city of Deadwood is located in South Dakota. South Dakota is east of Wyoming. The city peaked from 1876 to 1879 when gold was discovered. This caused the Black Hills Gold Rush and skyrocketed the population to five thousand people. The 2010 census showed the population of one thousand two hundred and seventy.
Deadwood was settled illegally in the early 1870s on land that supposed to belong to local Indians call the Lakota. This lead to legal disputes that went as high as the United States Supreme Court.
When Colonel George Armstrong Custer brought an expedition in 1874 to the Black Hills he found gold. This caused a rush of entrepreneurs and miners to flow the area. Prostitution was in big demand in Deadwood for the minors. The prostitutes and gamblers set up several successful businesses.
Murders were a common occurrence. One of the most famous murder was the killing of Wild Bill Hickok on August 2, 1876. Wild Bill Hickok had a very diverse life. He was known as an actor, gambler, soldier, spy, wagon master, gunfighter and lawman to mention a few of his careers. He was gambling in one of the saloons when he was shot from behind by Jack McCall. Since Deadwood was mostly a lawless town, his trial was moved to a Dakota Territory court. They found him guilty of murder and was hanged.
When smallpox spread through the town, they had to put up special tents to quarantine the sick. When someone would die, they would burn their bodies to prevent the spreading of the disease.
When the gold panning moved to deep mining, many of the questionable characters left Deadwood and it started to become a prosperous town. A mine named Homestake Mine was built in October of 1877. It became one of the oldest gold mines in the United States operating until 2002.
Sadly, in the fall of 1879, a mass fire destroyed over three hundred buildings. It devastated most of the people who then packed up and moved to places unknown.
One of the characters that lived in Deadwood wasCalamity Jane. He was a friend of Wild Bill Hickok and actually appeared in Buffalo Bills Wild West Show. She was known to be a very compassionate woman who only wanted to wear men’s clothes.
Calamity Jane’s childhood was not great. Her mother was a former prostitute and her father was a consummate gambler. She was the oldest of six children. When her father moved the family in 1865 her mother died of pneumonia before they reached their destination of Virginia City, Montana.
After he died in 1867, Calamity Jane took the responsibility of raising her five siblings. Moving from place to place like Wyoming Territory, she finally landed in Piedmont, Wyoming where she worked several jobs to support her family.
Sadly, Calamity Jane was heavy drinker. She died in a small mining town that was outside of Deadwood at the age of fifty-one from pneumonia and inflammation of the bowels.
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