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Deadwood: Topics in Chronicling America

In the late 19th century, Deadwood became a boom town for its gold rush and famous frontiersmen. This guide provides access to materials related to "Deadwood” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

"Deadwood, South Dakota." February 13, 1897. The Courier (Lincoln, NE), Image 2. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Gold is discovered at Deadwood Gulch, in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory. As reports reach the outside world, fortune seekers flood in. Some look to make money mining gold, other by selling supplies, entertainment, and lodging to the miners. Within months a thriving mining town has grown, populated by colorful characters like Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

March 29, 1876An early report in the Bismarck Weekly Tribune says that Deadwood and several other creeks in the area “have all prospected good – from 25 cents to $1.00 to the pan.”
June 25, 1876The Black Hills Pioneer reports that Deadwood City now extends for nearly a mile, with a population of nearly 2000 people and thriving businesses of every kind.
August 2, 1876Wild Bill Hickok is shot in the back of the head and killed in Deadwood.
August 5, 1876The Black Hills Pioneer reports the arrival in Deadwood of Sol Star and Seth Bullock of Helena, Montana, with a train loaded with merchandise for the purpose of opening a store on Main Street.
May 6, 1877The Dodge city Times reports that that population of Deadwood has reached 12,000.
June 5, 1877Deadwood’s first court opens, Justice Bennett of the Supreme Court of Dakota presiding.
August 17, 1877The Bismark Tri-weekly Tribune offers sketches of a number of Deadwood’s characters, including Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock, now Sheriff of Deadwood. The paper also reports that a species of typhoid fever prevails in the Black Hills.
September 26, 1879A bakery fire driven by high winds reportedly destroys 125 businesses and 50 to 60 homes in Deadwood.