Mt. Moriah: the cemetery housing wild west legends in South Dakota.
It is said that often it’s possible tell the history of a town through its cemetery. This is a little cemetery in Deadwood, South Dakota, and 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 “normal” population, here there are four different sections in the graveyard: Potter’s field, where there are the graves of unknown people or settlers that came from Ingelside. They were buried without a stone or marker.
Then there is a Jewish section due to the large Jewish population in the early days of Deadwood. Many of the inscriptions are written in Hebrew. Sol Star, a partner of Seth Bullock, was a member of this early Jewish community.
One section is labelled as a Mass Grave site, where those who perished in a lumber mill fire are buried and there are also a Children’s section to remember those youngsters who died from typhus, cholera, and smallpox.
In addition there is a veterans section, where many Civil War and Indian War veterans are buried with gravestones supplied by the United States government at the request of their families.
There are only two Chinese graves left in the cemetery, for Hui ta Fei-Men and a child of Fee Lee Wong, as all the other Chinese buried there were disinterred and sent back to China to be reburied.
However, Mt. Moriah Cemetary is popular especially due to three characters buried here: Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Seth Bullock. Main attraction is Wild Bill’s gravesite, Calamity Jane and Potato Creek Johnny are buried next to him.
Wild Bill was a frontiersman and was romantically involved with Calamity Jane. Before he died, in 1876, he made his friends promise that Calamity Jane, when she died, would be buried nowhere near him and they agreed.
However she outlived for other 27 years and when she died in 1903, Bill’s friends had (apparently?) forgotten their promise, and she had made it clear that she was to be buried right next to him. And now they are together in eternity, much to Wild Bill’s probable chagrin!
Instead Seth Bullock is probably 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, he was appointed the first Sheriff of Deadwood. He also built the Bullock Hotel in 1895, still in use today and as a confidant of Teddy Roosevelt, he made sure that when he died, he would be buried high in the cemetery to better keep an eye on the citizens of his beloved town.
Another curiosity about the cemetery includes an American flag that flies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is lit at night, and if by tradition most places raise the flag at sun-up and lower it at sundown, here the American flag flies over the cemetery 24 hours a day.