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U.S. Marshals Service

District of South Dakota

United States Marshal Seth Bullock

Seth Bullock, U S Marshal

Seth Bullock  Photo Courtesy of South Dakota State Historical Society

Seth Bullock

Seth Bullock  Photo Courtesy of Adams Museum & House, Deadwood, SD

Seth Bullock was born in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada, July 23, 1847 to British Major George Bullock and his Scottish wife Agnes Findley.  In 1874, Seth married his childhood sweetheart Marguerite (Martha) Eccles, a school teacher from Tecumseh, Michigan and had two daughters, Madge and Floy, and a son, Stanley.

In 1867, Bullock was elected a Republican member of the Territorial Senate of Montana.  During that time Bullock was responsible for introducing the resolution to set aside Yellowstone as a national park.  Yellowstone Park was established by federal statute on 3/1/1872.   At that time Seth was only 22 years old.

Bullock started his law enforcement career as a deputy sheriff, then was elected sheriff of Lewis and Clark County, Montana Territory, August 4, 1873.  Seth arrived in Deadwood, Dakota Territory on August 1, 1876.  Wild Bill Hickok's death one day later triggered a demand for  more law and order, resulting in Bullock's appointment as the first Sheriff of Deadwood.  He quickly appointed several able, fearless deputies and before long order had settled upon Deadwood.  During 1884, Bullock then became a deputy U. S. Marshal in western Dakota Territory.

Bullock met and became close friends with Theodore Roosevelt in 1884, who at the time was a deputy sheriff from Medora, North Dakota.  During the 1890's Teddy Roosevelt appointed Bullock the first Forest Supervisor for the Black Hills. In 1905 Bullock recruited 50 young cowboys, including Tom Mix (the Hollywood cowboy), to ride their horses in President Teddy Roosevelt's inaugural parade.  Bullock was one of  President Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders and was named Captain of Troop A in Grigsby's Cowboy Regiment during the Spanish American War. 

President Roosevelt soon appointed Bullock on December 11, 1905, as United States Marshal for the District of South Dakota, and was reappointed by President Taft in 1910 and President Woodrow Wilson in 1913, a position he held for 9 years. 

In his lifetime, Bullock was an auctioneer, commission merchant, politician, chief engineer of a fire department in Helena, MT, forest supervisor, and a law enforcement officer on the county and federal levels starting in Montana and ending in South Dakota.  He was a rancher raising thoroughbred horses and cattle, a farmer growing and introducing alfalfa to the state of South Dakota.  He was treasurer of the Board of Health and Street Commissioners, which was organized to combat the threatening smallpox epidemic.  Bullock and Sol Star, his long-time partner in the hardware business and mayor of Deadwood, were credited with founding the town of Belle Fourche in 1890. 

The Bullock Hotel, Deadwood's first hotel, was built under the direction of Seth Bullock in 1894.  It still stands in Deadwood and now is a popular hotel/casino.  At the time it was built, it was considered the most sought after luxury hotel of its time.  Bullock died of cancer in Room 211.  According to local legend, Seth Bullock still haunts the hotel's many rooms including  Room 211.  The haunting of the Hotel was the subject of the popular TV show Unsolved Mysteries

Shortly after Theodore Roosevelt's death on January 6, 1919, Bullock erected a monument to honor Roosevelt on Sheep Mountain in Deadwood.  The peak was later renamed Mt. Roosevelt and Bullock organized the construction of a tower made of native Black Hills stone at the summit. This was the first memorial to Theodore Roosevelt in the United States and was dedicated July 4, 1919. Seth Bullock died two months later. 

The legendary Seth Bullock died of cancer in September 1919 at the age of 70 and 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.

Sources:

1.)  Adams Museum and House, Deadwood, SD

2.)  Black Hills Visitor Magazine, "Seth Bullock Biography"

3.)  South Dakota Historical Society

4.)  Digital Deadwood - Seth Bullock History

5.)  Kenneth C. Kellar, Seth Bullock: Frontier Marshal,  (reprinted by Dakota Graphics under contract with the City of     Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission with assistance from the Adams Museum & House).  Author Kellar is Bullock's grandson and native of Deadwood.

 

 
Historical Listing of United States Marshals for District of South Dakota
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