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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Chronicle of the Old West: Lawman. businessman and pioneer- Seth Bullock

In the Old West there were men who seemed to be everywhere and to do everything. This week you’re going to be introduced to one of those men. His name is Seth Bullock.

In 1867, at the age of twenty, Seth Bullock left Canada to come down to the Montana Territory and do some gold mining. Four years later he was elected to the territory’s state senate. Next Seth took a horseback ride around the Yellowstone area, and sent back reports that helped influence its becoming our first National Park.

Then he became a county sheriff and proceeded to face down a lynch mob, as well as legally hang the first man in the Montana Territory.

Deciding to move on to new territory, he went to Deadwood in 1876. With no law, and no official process of selecting a sheriff, by popular demand, he became the town’s first lawman.

Also being a good businessman, he served as the president of a mining company and a bank.

As a lawman, while trailing an outlaw named Crazy Steve, he ran into a posse led by a deputy U. S. Marshall from the Dakota Badlands who had just caught Crazy Steve. The U. S. Marshall and Seth became lifelong friends. Incidentally, the marshal’s name was Theodore Roosevelt. 

Although Seth became a captain in Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, he was never sent to Spain.

After Roosevelt became the President, he sent for Seth, and told Seth that he was needed in Washington. Seth responded that, “There’s just one job that would get me to live in this town, and you’re filling it just fine.” Seth settled for the job of a U.S. Marshal.

Seth served with distinction until his death on September 23, 1919. Roosevelt had called Seth Bullock the ideal American.

But he wanted only one word on his tombstone…


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