Mt. Moriah Cemetery – Deadwood, South Dakota - Atlas Obscura
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Deadwood, South Dakota

Mt. Moriah Cemetery

A cemetery housing wild west legends in South Dakota. 

You can often tell the history of a town through its cemetery.

And one little cemetery in Deadwood, South Dakota, stands taller than the rest. Buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery, overlooking Deadwood Gulch, are western legends, folk figures, murderers, madams, children of misfortune, and Deadwood pioneers.

In addition to the general population, there are four different sections in the graveyard: Potter’s field, where the graves of unknown people or settlers that came from Ingelside were buried without a stone or marker; a Jewish section due to the large Jewish population in the early days of Deadwood; a Mass Grave site where those who perished in a lumber mill fire are buried; and a Children’s section to remember those youngsters who died from typhus, cholera, and smallpox.

Undoubtedly, though, the draw of Mt. Moriah Cemetary lies with three people – Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Seth Bullock.

Wild Bill was a frontiersman and was romantically involved with Calamity Jane at one point in his life, and before he died in 1876, he made his friends promise that Calamity Jane – when she died – would be buried nowhere near him. They agreed.  She outlived him by 27 years, though, and when she died in 1903, Bill’s friends had apparently forgotten their promise as she had made it clear that she was to be buried right next to him. And she was – so they are together in eternity, much to Wild Bill’s probable chagrin.

Seth Bullock will be a familiar name to fans of the HBO series “Deadwood.” He introduced a resolution to establish Yellowstone National Park, and after Wild Bill’s death, Bullock was appointed the first Sheriff of Deadwood. He built the Bullock Hotel in 1895, still in use today. A confidant of Teddy Roosevelt, Bullock made sure that when he died, he would be buried high in the cemetery to better keep an eye on the citizens of his town.

An oddity of the cemetery includes an American flag that flies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is lit at night - most places raise the flag at sun-up and lower it at sundown.

 

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