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Mt. Moriah is a Must See
Jul 1, 2011
I was appalled when we worked on last year’s “25 Very Unusual Man Made Places” article. There was an attraction in Deadwood I’d never visited! Practically every one of my childhood vacations were to the Black Hills. I’ve been to all the major stuff. Heck, I’ve seen poet laureate Badger Clark’s cabin at least three times. But Mt. Moriah, Deadwood’s famous cemetery that opened in 1878? Never heard of it. How embarrassing.
A quick weekend vacation to Deadwood rectified the faux pas. My husband wanted to go hiking, so I convinced him that walking around a graveyard on a mountain was pretty similar. Admission is only $1 for adults and $.50 for kids. You get a handy map with descriptions of the most popular stops. Our first visit was the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and “Calamity Jane.” Rumor has it that Jane’s dying wish was to be buried next to Hickok, though he supposedly didn’t care for her that much. “Have you ever seen a picture of her!?” Jeremy said. I guess she wasn’t much of a looker. Men!
The grandest plot belongs to Seth Bullock. The first sheriff of this old mining town asked to be buried above Mt. Moriah. His grave faces Mt. Roosevelt, named for his friend and our 26th President, Theodore. Bullock is buried 750 feet above the main portion of the cemetery and the guide warns that the walk is quite steep. A little strenuous but I handled it OK in flip-flops. It’s an impressive resting place even if the view is now obscured by Ponderosa pines.
Once down the hill we visited Blanche Colman’s grave. She’s slightly lesser known but no less impressive. The German Jewish immigrant graduated from Deadwood High School in 1902 then worked in Washington, D.C. for a South Dakota congressman. Colman was homesick for the Hills so she returned to take a job in the law office of Chambers Kellar, Seth Bullock’s son-in-law. She never attended college but studied law independently and became the first female lawyer in South Dakota. She was admitted to the South Dakota Bar at age 27. Colman is buried on Hebrew Hill, a special Jewish section, along with about 60 others.
Many more notable characters rest in this unique Black Hills cemetery, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. You should visit for yourself. Oh, and I asked my mom why we’d never visited. It turns out we had and I just forgot … still a bit embarrassing!