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Seth Bullock The Man And The Legend
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Seth Bullock the Man And the Legend

The dark and gritty world of HBO's series "Deadwood" has delighted many fans worldwide. But what some might not realize is the series is based on actual characters and events that happened in the late 1800's.

The city of Deadwood was named after the many dead trees which were plentiful in the canyon where the main part of town was built. Some streets were even built into the sides of the steep canyon.

Deadwood officially became a city after gold was discovered in the Black Hills. As was often the case, the discovery of gold attracted all kinds of nefarious characters. Deadwood was a wide open, lawless hell camp. A mixture of gold miners, gamblers, prostitutes and opportunists made up the city's population. Murder and mayhem was the order of the day.

Seth Bullock came into town as an opportunist. He and his partner Sol Star came to Deadwood with a wagon load of hardware. Instead of striking it rich in the gold fields, Bullock and his partner rightly believed the opportunity in Deadwood was providing the miners with the supplies they needed. They came with the intention of opening a hardware store. Their gold came in the form of frying pans, dutch ovens and chamber pots.

Bullock was married and had a baby daughter when he came to Deadwood. But he realized Deadwood was no place for his family and he sent them to Michigan until such time as he felt it safe to send for them.

The day after Bullock arrived in Deadwood, Jack McCall murdered Wild Bill Hickok as he played a game of poker. Hickok for some reason on this day had broken his rule of always sitting with his back against the wall. McCall, angry because Hickok had cleaned him out in a game of poker the day before, shot Hickok in the back of the head. When Hickok hit the floor he was holding a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights, forever after known as the dead man's hand.

This created a stir in Deadwood. The town began calling for law and order. That is when they turned to the man with the steely grey eyes, Seth Bullock. People later said that Bullock rarely had to shoot anyone, he could cow them with just a stare.

Timothy Olyphant had the Bullock stare down cold in his portrayal of the famous lawman. Olyphant has stated that when he went to his first meeting with the show's creator, David Milch, he wasn't quite sure what they were looking for, so he just stared at Milch. Milch was so unnerved that he decided Olyphant was the man to play Bullock.

Like Bullock, Olyphant had the steely eyed stare that could quiet a riot. In the opening scene of the first episode of "Deadwood", Bullock stops a lynch mob by bringing the prisoner out to the porch and hanging him. He then leaves town with his partner leaving the mob to reflect on themselves and the justice they cried out for so violently.

This portrayal seems to capture the character of the real Seth Bullock. A man who stood for law and order. When Deadwood citizens called out for law, he stepped up to the challenge. After becoming sheriff of Deadwood, he deputized a few tough men and they proceeded to bring law and order to the lawless town.

Bullock was a very imposing man who commanded respect. The son of a British Major General and a Scottish mother, Seth was raised in a strict manner. He learned the values of right and wrong, realizing your potential and earning an honest living. He lived by these values his entire life.

After Deadwood became a more peaceful place, Bullock sent for his wife, Martha, and their daughter Margaret. Seth and Martha had two other children a son, Stanley and another daughter, Florence. Another thing he had in common with Olyphant, who has 2 daughters and a son.

Bullock accomplished many great things in his life. The hotel he built in Deadwood still welcomes guests today. Bullock loved the hotel and in 1919 he died from cancer in room 211. Bullock's legend lives on however, in HBO's "Deadwood" and many other accomplishments he left behind.

These are a few of the things Seth Bullock accomplished in his life:

. Introduced the resolution that made Yellowstone a National Park

. Served as a Deputy United States Marshal

. First Forest Supervisor of the Black Hills Reserve

. First in South Dakota to plant Alfalfa

. Founded the town Bella Fourche

. Established the largest livestock shipping point in the U.S.

. Joined the cavalry during the Spanish American War becoming Captain Bullock

. Was close personal friends with Theodore Roosevelt

Those are just a few of the things Bullock did in his life. Deadwood was just one of the many places Bullock left his mark.

Timothy Olyphant's portrayal of Seth Bullock is brilliant and mesmerizing. It is a tip of the hat to the real Seth Bullock as Olyphant captures his character perfectly, the man and the legend.


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