Pioneering News: 1889

“Hunting Deer” A deer hunt near Deadwood in winter 1887-88. Two miners McMillan and Hubbard stand around a campfire, one cooking, the other carrying a dead deer over his shoulder. By John C.H. Grabill, 1888. Library of Congress.

~ February 2, 1889 • Weekly Pioneer Times ~

Present and Future

There is hardly a village, town or city in the Black Hills but that is now making preparations for a number of improvements during the rapidly approaching spring and summer. The past season of unequalled plenty to the agriculturist, the phenomenally mild winter enjoyed in common with the rest of the northwest by the Hills has put money in the pockets of the stock raiser; the assured success of the reduction of the reduction works, followed by exceptionally good results it has stimulated in mining circles, have encouraged the people to hope for greater things for 1889 than they ever dreamed of for 1888. When one portion of our favored region prospers we all prosper. The increased yield of cereals last season induced farmers around Whitewood, Tilford and Sturgis to agree on establishing flouring mills at each point. Rapid is also agitating an increase of its present milling capacity. The Chronicles gives notice that Custer will be in line and a mill will go up there. Spearfish and Deadwood each have excellent mills at present, and the Deadwood Company now contemplates increasing its capacity. With all these plants built the Hills will for the future ship flour out instead of bringing it in. Flouring mills, however, are not the only permanent improvements contemplated. The success of the reduction works is no longer questioned, and we violate no confidence in stating that are to go up here and hereabouts. It has been semi-officially announced that both Buxton and Portland companies will put up plants of their own, in the immediate vicinity of their mines. Again there are whispers that a larger plant than that now in operation, or than either the Buxton or Portland will build, will be put up to do custom work. There is no danger of overdoing the thing, for the estimates of conservative and well-informed miners, thoroughly familiar with the Bald Mountain and Ruby Basin districts place the value of ore in sight today at upwards of $30,000,000. Neither camp is more than partially developed, and new ore bodies, or rather the fact that ore bodies in sight in one location extend to others adjacent, is being demonstrated every day. One year hence, granted present progress in developments continue, as there is every reason to believe they will, and conservative miners will be compelled to double their estimates of the amount of ore in sight. Besides the material causes for good times cited above, there are others of equal moment. The Deadwood Central railroad will extend its lines in various directions from the city; the F. E. & M. V. will build in from Whitewood; the Mandan and Black Hills company will begin work on its line, and each corporation will give employment to hundreds of laboring men. Besides we are to get statehood and the Sioux reserve will be thrown open for settlement. Take it all in all, though the present is full of fruit, and times are better than for years, the outlook is the brightest Deadwood has ever had.

~ May 3, 1889 • Weekly Pioneer Times ~

Early Days in Deadwood.

An Old Timers Discourses on the Killing of Wild Bill.

The Change of Twelve Years.

A party of old timers were sitting in a well known resort last evening, discussing past events and celebrated characters of those days. The conversation drifted on various affairs from the early days of ’49 in California to the exciting events, which occurred in Nevada, Montana, Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado. The camps, which had sprung from a small collection of tents and cabins to prosperous cities, only perhaps to be deserted at the end of the season, were spoken of in turn, and the many personal reminiscences were many. When the Black Hills excitement was reached one of the gentlemen said:

“I tell you, boys, the early days of Deadwood were hard to beat. I’ve followed mining excitements for about thirty years; been in all of ‘em, in fact, and in all my experience I never run across nothing like it.”

The speaker was interrupted by general words of assent.

“The day that Wild Bill was killed was the day of days. What an excitement! On the night before there had been a killing at Gayville, and there was great excitement about the lynching that was sure to follow. The news being brought to Deadwood was the first excitement of the day. During the forenoon a man was cruelly butchered in the street, and this event was followed, a few hours later, by McCaull assassinating Wild Bill in a saloon. The population of the town was wild when the news spread, and there is no telling what would have been the result had not matters been strangely turned. Citizens were assembled in the street discussing the Wild Bill affair, and an old fellow, standing on a carpenter’s bench was haranguing the crowd, when a man on horseback came dashing down the street swinging something in his hands. When the mad horseman drew up the ‘something’ was found to be an Indian’s head, and it was being swung about by the heavy top not of hair. The haranguer stopped talking and the crowd surrounded the man on horseback. The head was reeking with blood, and the horseman’s hands gory looking. The fellow explained that in a fight just had with the Indians the whites had been victorious, and this was a trophy of the battle. Well a victory over the Indians was good news for the people of Deadwood, and for the first time Wild Bill and other excitements of the day was lost sight of. A crowd of men were seen going from saloon to saloon, bearing the Indian’s head with them, celebrating the victory, although it was a poor victory, for more whites were killed then Indians. The head was set upon the bar and the men drank their liquor to toasts to the men who had slain the Indians. Had this little incident not occurred it is pretty safe to say that the man that shot Wild Bill would have been visited by the vigilantes.

“There is a good deal that has not been told about the killing of Wild Bill,” continued the speaker after a pause, “It was a cold blooded murder, and McCaull deserved a lesson from the vigilantes. He didn’t even know Bill, and killed him like a ruffian. Bill had a passion for playing seven-up with pilgrims and lying to them about his exploits. He could lie about as fast as a horse could trot about some things. Well he was playing his favorite game one afternoon in August— Bill was killed August 18, 1876, you know— when McCaull entered and shot him in the back of the head, the same ball also wounding Captain Massey, who was playing with Bill, in the arm. Massey you know claimed a great reputation as a fighter, but when the shot was fired he took to his heels, and guess he never did stop running. Bill fell on his face dead on the instant. Tom Mulqueen, now of Denver, was the first man to go into the saloon after the shooting, having been on the sidewalk in front at the time. He turned over on his back, but finding him dead he turned his attention to the murderer, who drew his revolver down on Tom and ordered him to keep away. Tom was not armed at the time, but he went and got a rifle, and he and another man started out after the murderer. They expected McCaull would resist and they went prepared for a fight. McCaull was found on the street, and Tom got the drop on him with a rifle. The fellow squealed like a pig under a gate and asked that his life be spared. He was taken in custody without trouble. He was given a trial before a miner’s jury in Jack Langrishe’s theatre. He got off by lying to the miners, telling them that Bill had killed his brother two years ago in Texas, and he had been hounding him ever since. This excuse seemed to satisfy the miners and they let him go. This was before there was any government in Deadwood.

“After his release McCaull swore vengeance on Tom Mulqueen, threatening to kill him on sight. This was not pleasant to Tom, and as a consequence, when legal proceedings were begun against McCaull, Tom took the lead in hunting down the murderer, who had then left the country. Tom followed his man on a hot trail for weeks, and would have got him had the officers not got him in Laramie City just before Tom got there. Tom had been deputized a deputy United States marshal, and his traveling companion in Wyoming when following the murderer’s trail was Deputy Sheriff Foster.

“McCaull was taken to Yankton, found guilty and hanged. A lawyer who was in Deadwood at the time of the murder, and who made a vow that he would live to bring the murderer to justice, conducted the prosecution and made his word good.

“Deadwood never experience such a day as August 18, 1876.”

~ November 6, 1889 • Black Hills Daily Times ~


PRESIDENT HARRISON yesterday issued the proclamation declaring North Dakota and South Dakota to be states of the Union. This proclamation, complying with the law passed by the last congress, is the final act, which admits these new states into the Union. North Dakota and South Dakota are now members of the American Union as much as Iowa and Massachusetts. It has been a long and a serious struggle, which the people of the northwestern territories, especially the people of South Dakota, have had to fight in order to secure their plain rights. The Democratic Party, always the foe of the northwest, thwarted the people of Dakota for many years, and it would have kept them out of the Union for many years more if its power for such mischief had not been cut short by the result of the national election last year. Not until the Democratic Party had been shown to the door and had felt the boot of the United States, did it withdraw its oppression of the people of Dakota and of the northwest. It as a great scheme and one that was worthy of the Democratic Party, by which it hoped to keep itself in wrongful possession of power. That scheme included the disfranchisement of one million republican voters in the south and the larceny of their political power and the disfranchisement of nearly half a million voters in the northwest. The scheme has failed as to the northwest. Two new republican states are finally in the Union by virtue of the president’s proclamation yesterday, and two more new republican states will shortly be added. This fatally cripples the democratic scheme to hold one million republican voters in the south perpetual disfranchisement. We shall see what can be done now as to that branch of democratic usurpation and outrage. But the Journal congratulates the people of North Dakota and South Dakota on the final realization of their hopes. They have borne themselves patiently and prudently in this long and aggravating contest. They have shown themselves worthy of statehood. It is a glorious future, which opens before them. The next few years will see their population swell into millions. They are destined to be among the great and foremost states of the Union in wealth, intelligence, and in all elements of a high civilization. Let them be only as true to themselves in the future as they have been in the past and all will be well.

— Sioux City Journal, 3d.


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