Historic Mount Moriah Cemetery began in 1878 in the lawless town of Deadwood located in the famous Black Hills of South Dakota. Deadwood, itself, is listed as entire city on the National Register of Historic Places. There are 1118 internments at Mount Moriah and eight are famous graves.
What comes to my mind is the image of the wild west town with prospectors, outlaws, brothels, and gunfighters. Actually the town is known for its Victorian era construction – very unique for a town that boomed with the 1876 Gold Rush. Miners discovered gold in a creek and a gulch of dead trees. Thus, Deadwood was born and prospectors, outlaws, preachers, unsavory merchants, and gunslingers soon came along with some just plain good folks. In 1879 a fire destroyed 300 buildings and left 2000 people homeless. The town was rebuilt. In 1883 a flood flattened most of the town. And once again, it was rebuilt.
What makes Deadwood’s Mount Moriah Cemetery so special is the notable Wild West denizens laid to rest here, including Wild Bill Hickok and Martha Jane Cannary, also known as “Calamity Jane.
James Butler Hickok also came for gold, but also for poker. He was shot to death in the back of the head by Jack McCall while holding a pair of aces and a pair of eights,which is now the infamous Dead Man’s Hand. Hickok had been a driver for the Butterfield stage line, a tender for Pony Express, and a marshal. He was a legendary gunfighter. In the U.S. GenWeb Archives, there is a sentence that really sums up Wild Bill Hickok, “…the days when Wild Bill…Hickok, the master gunfighter of them all, who, single handed and alone, armed with a shotgun, several revolvers and a bowie knife, killed in quick succession and almost in unison all nine of Jake McCandles’ band of outlaws who attacked him.”
Wild Bill was originally buried at Whitewood Gulch cemetery, but later moved to Mt. Moriah.
The legend of Calamity Jane begins with her request to be buried nest to Wild Bill. But in her time, she was knowna as crack shot, a great horsewoman, reputedly as tough as any man and an army scout for General Custer. She drank like a fish, embellished her tales, and wore her first male clothing when a scout. She continued this fashion from then on. She and Wild Bill became fodder for dime store novels.
Other famous graves include:
Seth Bullock was a friend of President Teddy Roosevelt and was the very first sheriff in Deadwood after Wild Bill Hickok was murdered.
Preacher Smith was supposedly killed by indians, but a legend persists that he was murdered by someone who didn’t like his preaching.
Al Swearengen was The local pimp and owner of a “fancy” brothel. He was one of the characters in the HBO television series named Deadwood. He was murdered by an unknown person or persons.
Potato Creek Johnny found a large leg-shaped gold nugget at the time of the Great Depression. He was just a bit over four feet tall, sported a long straggly beard, and was known to be a colorful character and a fascinating storyteller.
Donna Cator, Yahoo Contributor
This amateur video offers us a vivid, if somewhat shakey, visit to Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood, South Dakota: