Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About The Legends of Deadwood SD

The Black Hills Gold Rush brought many legendary figures to Deadwood, South Dakota. From a well-respected sheriff to a rough and rowdy outlaw, these historical figures not only left a mark in the history books, but also on the town of Deadwood that we know and adore today. If you’ve watched the HBO series, Deadwood, you’ve probably become familiar with some of the men and women who made Deadwood the heart of the Wild West.

Here’s some facts you may not have known about the legends of Deadwood, SD:  

1. Will Bill Hickok was only 39 years old when he died. 

James “Wild Bill” Hickok was wildly known as a deadly gunfighter, former Kansas sheriff, and for the iconic hand of cards he was holding when he was killed — The Dead Man’s Hand. In the HBO series, Will Bill was played by actor Keith Carradine. At the time the series aired, Carradine was 55 years old. Given that Hickok lived such an adventurous life, you may have assumed that he was much older when his life ended on August 2, 1876.

2. Seth Bullock and Wild Bill Hickok never met. 

Seth Bullock, famous Deadwood businessman and sheriff, along with his business partner, Sol Star, arrived in Deadwood just a day before Will Bill was murdered. Contrary to what you may have seen on the HBO series, it was very unlikely that Bullock and Hickok met, let alone became allies. Although the iconic “good guys” did not share time in Deadwood together, both can still be found in the same history books and museums.

3. Calamity Jane helped care for the sick. 

Known for her foul-mouth, belligerent and masculine manner, Martha “Calamity” Jane became a heroine of the smallpox outbreak in 1876. Stories have explained that most of Calamity’s patients lived through their sickness while under her care in the quarantine tents, or pest houses. Although she went down in history as a frontierswoman, daredevil and alcoholic, she was said to have a contrasting characteristic of compassion for others, which proved to be instrumental in the early stages Deadwood, SD.

4. Jack McCall’s first trial was not legit. 

The Trial of Jack McCall, the infamous murderer of Will Bill Hickok, was the first trial that took place in Deadwood. The jury, which was made up of businessmen and miners, found McCall not guilty. It was said that McCall plead innocent for his actions because he was avenging the death of his brother, who was previously killed by Will Bill in a gunfight. Since Deadwood was not yet a legal territory and just a mining camp, McCall was taken to trial for a second time in Yankton, South Dakota where he was then found guilty and hung. 

5. Wyatt Earp and Morgan Earp visited Deadwood. 

The famous gun-slinging Earp brothers from Tombstone, Arizona visited Deadwood, SD in the fall of 1876. The two had an interest in the Gold Rush, but didn’t end up staying in Deadwood very long. After finding that land and mining rights had already been claimed, Morgan left for Dodge City before winter and Wyatt joined him in the spring.

6. A man named Potato Creek Johnny struck gold in the 1920’s. 

Not every Deadwood, SD legend is known for their rowdy gun fighting. In the 1920’s, a colorful Deadwood character named John “Potato Creek Johnny” Perrett struck fame when he found a large, leg-shaped gold nugget while panning in Potato Creek. Potato Creek Johnny, a 4’3” white-bearded prospector, quickly became an icon of Deadwood, entertaining many visitors with his stories and memorable personality. The replica of what was reportedly the largest nugget of gold ever found in the Black Hills can be found at the Adams Museum.

7. You can visit the graves of Deadwood Legends. 

Interested in learning more about the legends of Deadwood?  You can visit the graves of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Sol Star, Seth Bullock and Potato Creek Johnny at Mount Moriah Cemetery. Mount Moriah is located just a short 6-minute drive from our Deadwood casino. You can learn even more about these historical figures by visiting Days of ’76 Museum, which is located just steps away from Cadillac Jack’s Gaming Resort®.