Legendary Lawman Seth Bullock

By all accounts his life was one of honor and distinction.

In early 1884 Bullock was appointed Deputy United States Marshal and while transporting Crazy Steve, a local horse thief, to Deadwood for trial he encountered Theodore Roosevelt. Deputy Sheriff Roosevelt was from Medora, North Dakota and the two shared stories over coffee and became fast friends. In the late 1880s Bullock granted the use of his land to the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad free of charge. With the railroad being run through in 1890 Bullock founded the town of Belle Fourche, just three miles north of Minnesela. He and Sol offered free lots to anyone that moved a building from Minnesela to Bella Fourche. Apparently this worked pretty well as the town became the county seat. Belle Fourche also became the main shipping point for livestock; not just in the county or state but in the whole of the United States. This may have something to do with the farming of alfalfa in the area that was supposedly introduced by Seth Bullock.

Sadly, in 1894, Seth and Sol’s hardware store would burn to the ground (no notation on cause has been found). Bullock decided to build Deadwood’s first hotel in its place. This three-story, 64 room hotel cost $40,000 and has a steam heating system and bathrooms on every floor. Completed in 1896, it was the most palatial hotel in the west and still stands today. Following the Spanish-American War where Bullock volunteered but did not see combat he was referred to as Captain.

When Roosevelt was elected President, Bullock organized a group of fifty cowboys to ride in the inaugural parade (1905). Once elected, Roosevelt appointed Seth Bullock as the United States Marshal for South Dakota, a position he held for the next nine years. Bullock was responsible for the first monument to President Roosevelt following his death in January 6, 1919.  Only months after Roosevelt’s passing, Seth Bullock died of cancer on September 23, 1919 at Belle Fourche at the age of 70. He is buried at the Mount Moriah Cemetery, in Lawrence County, South Dakota; the same cemetery that holds the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.


About The Author:

Charles Bennett was born in our Nation's Capital and grew up in the Maryland suburbs. Mr. Bennett has been working in all aspects of the publishing industry since the late 1980s primarily in the fields of commercial photography and magazine production. Moving to California in 1992 to attend college resulted in B.F.A and Masters degrees. California also supplied Mr. Bennett with his wife. The two of them are avid sports persons and participate in shooting, scuba diving, surfing, running and bicycling. As a long time hobby Mr. Bennett has studied the legends of American law enforcement which led to his writing these columns.

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