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Overview: Season 1

In Uncategorized on November 19, 2008 at 10:30 pm
hotel1Episode 1: The Pilot
In the pilot show, Deadwood, South Dakota is an introduced as an illegal settlement. Sure enough, The Treaty of Fort Laramie forbid settlements in Real Deadwood in order to protect the Lakota-Sioux land. But, as the show depicts, it was hard to keep gold prospectors out of the rich Black Hills. Many secretly swamped the Hills and soon camp was formed. Deadwood accurately shows the typical people who made camp in Deadwood; some of them based on non-fictional people. According to the site , Seth Bullock, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickock were all real Deadwood campers. Other fictional characters may not be based on Real Deadwood’s ancestors, but portrayed them to the tee. “Pilot” shows the characters of Deadwood to be rowdy and tough; concurs. Bollock is the typical entrepreneur, in real Deadwood he was sherif. Calamity Jane is the typical town drunk; in the real Deadwood she was known for her manly attire and gruff disposition. Hickock was the awesome poker player both in the show and for real.
Episode 2: Deep Water
While the show Deadwood is trying to make it as a successful camp, the real Deadwood was also blooming as one of the only settlements that was somewhat orderly, given that there was no government influence. The saloon boss, Al Swearengen runs the town with his henchmen. Since the camp was filled with unruly types, it was typical to have the most powerful men, like Swearengen running the place.
Episode 3: Reconnoitering the Rim
The show gives insight to the typical jobs within the real Deadwood. Some ways shown to make money was through gambling, prostitution, running businesses. Farnum ran the Grand Hotel, which according to the site, the Grand Central Hotel was an actual place celebrated for its balls and gatherings. In this episode, Cy Tolliver opens his own saloon in competition with Swearengen. Like in real Deadwood, many others were getting wind of Deadwood’s success in gold mining and making their way in.
Episode 4: Here was a Man
HBO’s Deadwood spares no compassion in the name of women. Like in the 1800s women were inferior to men and the show depicts that with ep07_seth_charlie_jackthe abuse of women. HBO also spares no compassion in the name of greed. In a time and place where one was on his own, foul play was common. The murders of Hickok and Mr. Garret show that nothing was more important in Deadwood than pride and money.
Episode 5: The Trial of Jack McCall
Deadwood’s first mock-trial. Some of history’s first courts were founded in 1800, so the townspeople of Deadwood got together to bring Hickok’s murderer to justice. This was a believable trial.
Episode 6: Plague
Bullock goes after McCall in vengeance and is successful. Along the was he fights an Indian, something likely to happen in the wild west. History shows that as population increases disease increases. Deadwood has its first plague in this episode: small pox. Tents were erected for the sick, like a mock hospital.ep06_groupmeeting_saloon

Episode 7: Bullock Returns to the Camp cast-seth

Bullock returns from the hunt for Jack McCall. He decides that the murderer should go to Yankton for trial, so he straps him to a horse and sends him off. Yankton was the original capitol of South Dakota. You’ll hear it referred to a lot in the show. Although, fact was that US marshals came for McCall, not Bullock, and he was hung in Yankton in 1877.  Yankton was the closest legitimate city to Deadwood. Meanwhile, with the death of her husband, Alma Garret’s claim has been desired by Swearengen. He enlists Farnum to help persuade the woman to sell. She, being just a woman in the 1800s, enlisted Wild Bill to help her manage. After his murder, Bullock replaces Wild Bill as Alma’s go to man. On the other end of camp, two youngsters stroll into town saying that they’re looking for their Pa. Tolliver tells Joanie to take the girl under her wing, while Swearengen hires the boy.  Jane, Doc, and Reverend Smith continue to mend the sick, while a group of men are off to Yankton to get vaccines.

Episode 8: Suffer the Little Children

The vaccines finally arrive. While people line up to get shots, Trixie goes missing. Doc finds her on the floor of his office passed out form an attempted suicide. I imagine with the life women back then lead, suicide was not a bad way to go…either that or some man would kill her. Remember at this point there still is no law in Deadwood. Alma considers selling her claim and going back to NY, but Bullock advisers her to stay, says he has a promise to keep to Bill. In addition, Bullock actually visits her claim and sees that it is rich! At the gem, news aint so good for those two youngsters looking for their Pa. Turns out they were robbers looking to rob both the Gem and the Bella Union; but Tolliver finds out and kills them without reprimand. I think it’s likely that this would happen. 1800s Deadwood was a dog eat dog camp, so violence was common, if not expected. It’s was then that Joanie tells Tolliver, “Kill me too, Cy, or let me go…if you don’t kill me or let me go, I’m going to kill you.”

Episode 9: No Other Sons or Daughters

Swearengen is faced with the annexation of the Black Hills so he must legitimize Deadwood; if he doesn’t, deadwood460Deadwood wouldn’t be recognized as a territory and will be lost in time. Swearengen is told by a magistrate that to legitimize Deadwood, a type of government must be concocted. At the Gem, Swearengen gathers the town leaders including Tolliver, Charlie Utter, Sol Star, Farnum, and Bullock. Farnum appoints himself mayor. In real Deadwood, Sol Star becomes mayor; but Farnum was a prominent leader in the community. Bullock is assigned sheriff. Meanwhile, Reverend Smith’s health declines due to a brain tumor. Also, Joanie sets out on her own, with prospects to open a brothel.

Episode 10: Mr. Wu

Swearengen’s opium front man is a Chinese man, Mr. Wu. Chinese settlers did exist in early Deadwood and are known to trade and sell drugs like opium. In fact, by 1880, there wes an official Chinatown in ep10_al_mrwuDeadwood. Moving one, it turns out that a dope head stole Wu’s supply of Opium and killed his courier in the process. Eager to keep Wu happy, Swearengen finds the two culprits and agrees to let Wu kill one. One Chinese for one white man is OK, but two whites for one Chinese is out of the question. Meanwhile Bullock meets with Alma. At this point in the show, there’s an obvious attraction between the two. But Bullock has to tell her he’s sending for his wife in son in a few days. Alma is upset even after Bullock explains that they are his brother’s family that he married out of convenience. In reality, Bullock was married to Martha, although she wasn’t his brother’s widow.

Episode 11: Jewel’s Boot Is Made For Walking

The Gem’s maid, Jewel heads to Doc Cochran’s place to ask him to make her a leg brace. In the next deadwood-frameepisode, he reluctantly presents her with one. Back at the Grand Central Hotel, Alma was eating breakfast with her newest employer, Ellsworth, when her father, Otis Russell shows up. He is clearly up to no good and is just after Alma’s claim. Trixie goes to the hardware store to visit Star. This is the beginning of an interesting relationship…

Episode 12: Sold Under Sin

Reverend Smith’s condition only worsens. Doc can only guess as to how to heal him since the Rev believes it is his path to walk. In the end of the episode, Al puts Rev Smith out of his misery by smothering him. At the Gem, a group of troops, including the magistrate, come in to discuss Swearengen’s standing in the camp. Meanwhile, Russell tells Alma she needs to help him get out of debt. She agrees but only if he promises to stay out of her claim. He responds, “No darling, you’ll help me, and you’ll have no such thing.”(quote from, Alma runs to tell Bullock everything. Upon hearing the news, Bullock proceeds to kick the shit out of Otis and send him back to where he came from. Then, he throws his badge in the mud, just as his wife and son pull up. Back in Chinatown, Tolliver creates problems with the Chinese. As if Al doesn’t have enough on his plate with Wu and Russell, a warrant was out for Swearengen’s arrest; and the magistrate demands 5 grand for the clearing. But Al has plans of his own. He murders the man and takes the warrant himself. Al is one bad man! He is one of my favorite characters. Bullock decides to take his badge back and continue as sheriff. He also decides to see Alma before he goes home to his “wife and son.” When she opens the door to Bullock, Alma is unable to resist him and soon the two are engaged in a steamy affair. In reality, Bullock never has an affair, because Alma is fictional. 20060608


Overview: Season 2

In Uncategorized on November 19, 2008 at 10:25 pm

Episode 13: A lie agreed upon (pt. 1)

General John L. Pennington

Governor Pennington

The episode opens with Al Swearengson complaining about Governor Pennington’s recent division of the Black Hills into three separate counties. Pennington was a real man appointed to the position of Governor on Jan. 1, 1874 by President Ulysses S. Grant. During his term the gold rush began in the Black Hills while railroad construction and immigration slowed. Residents of the territory wanted to control their own politics while separatist wanted to form their own territory named “Lincoln”. After negative reports, Pennington was repositioned as collector of internal revenue where he opposed dividing the territories into two states.

Episode 14: A lie agreed upon (pt. 2)

An unnamed prostitute from Deadwood int he 19th century.

An unnamed prostitute from Deadwood in the 19th century.

In the second episode of season two Maddie and Joanie open Chez Ami, a new brothel. In actuality, there are records indicating this brothel existed. Madam Dora DuFran was Deadwood’s most successful brothel owner and runner. She emigrated from England where she began prostituting at the age of 13 or 14. Upon reaching Deadwood, DuFran had promoted herself to madam. Her girls were required to keep good hygiene and dress well. Occasionally, even Calamity Jane was employed at DuFran’s most successful brothel “Diddlin’ Dora’s.” Brothels in Deadwood often had poker, theater and entertainment downstairs and the actual brothel was held upstairs.

Episode 15: New Money

Martha was in fact the wife of Seth Bullock. They were married in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1874. Despite what the HBO series implies, Martha was not the widow of Seth’s brother, although it has been reported they were once childhood sweethearts. Upon Seth’s arrival in Deadwood, Martha and their daughter Margaret moved to Michigan to live with her parents until the town was seen suitable for a family. Preceding Margaret the couple had another daughter named Florence and a son Stanley.

Episode 16: Requiem for a Geet

General George Crook commanded many battles in South Daktoa.

General Crook tried to remove gold seekers from the Dakota territory.


In 1876 General George Crook, commander of the Department of the Platte was on a mission to remove gold hunters from the Black Hills before a treaty legalized their entry. While in Dakota Territory he battled Crazy Horse, the Third Cavalry and Fifth Infantry. After 11 days of rain and eating horsemeat the “Black Hills Daily Reporter” announced his arrival into Deadwood: “the general tone was one of good order and law, to which vice and immortality must bow.”





Episode 17: Complications

Alma Garret finds herself pregnant with Seth Bullock’s child and Trixie the whore offers her an abortion. In the 19th century the United Kingdom and United States banned abortions, although this did not slight their occurrences. The drink Trixie offered Garret was an abortifacient herb, which induces miscarriages. While none are proven fixtures, supplements such as brewer’s yeast, vitamin c, wild carrot, nutmeg and papaya were though to kill fetuses. Items such as candles, glass rods, pen-holders, curling irons, spoons, sticks, knives and catheters were all used to bleed a woman of her unborn child.

Episode 18: Something Very Expensive

Samuel Fields was known to Deadwood as the “Nigger General”. He arrived in the town in 1876 where, as an African American, he was more a minority than the Chinese immigrants. Also known as the “Shakespearean Darkey”, Fields was present at Colored Citizens Meeting. In 1878 he was arrested as a murder accomplice but was later vindicted. In August he was again arrested in connection with Millie Callison, the town’s first public school teacher, in which he was again released. In December he prevented a woman named Annie Simms from committing suicide where he regained much of his reputation. He continued work in politics where he temporarily filled the position of coroner in 1883. He was last recorded working as a bellhop in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Episode 19: E.B. Was Left Out

Deadwood's Chinatown was known as the biggest East of San Francisco.

Deadwood's Chinatown was known as the biggest East of San Francisco.

Located on the North end of Main Street, Deadwood’s Chinatown exceeded a population of 250 in its prime. Despite how they are depicted in the HBO show, the Chinese primary business consisted of wash houses and restaurants, not mining. In the 1800s the Chinese were met with a mild prejudice. Chinatown was referred to as the “Badland” as all the “bad” groups tended to live there – African Americans, Europeans and Chinese. Calamity Jane at one time even owned a shack located in the midst of Chinatown. At once being known as the largest Chinatown East of San Francisco, now it is merely a Deadwood “local legend”.

Episode 20: Childish Things

The Bone Shaker was the second model of bicycle produced in the 1880s.

The Bone Shaker was the second model of bicycle, produced in the 1880s.


Episode twenty introduces one of the biggest trend of the late 1880s: the bicycle. The “Riding Machine” was invented in 1886 and was made with a frame of wood and iron wheels. Its build made for very uncomfortable rides on cobblestone roads, hence the name “Bone-Shaker Cycle”.  Larger cities were home to arenas used to ride, much like today’s roller rinks. This model was the second renovation or the earlier “glider” and soon fell out of fashion around 1870. Most were melted down for scrap metal during World War One, but today a Bone-Shaker still intact runs at about $5,000.

Episode 21: Amalgamation and Capital

In the television show, Al Swearengen despises the idea of Deadwood being connected with the outside world. A telegraph wire was installed December 2, 1876. Two years later a telephone line connected the Times and Pioneer Newspaper offices. This connection was headed by Paul Rewman. A phone call from Deadwood to Lead cost $.50 – $.25 cheaper than a stagecoach ride between the two cities. The Pioneer reported shortly after the connection a celebration with a “large bonfire”, gathering and a bell ringing at the Grand Central Hotel.

Episode 22: Advances, None Miraculous

Season two focuses a lot around the annexation of South Dakota. Annexation is the merging of a territory into another geo-political entity. The area being “annexed” is generally a smaller territory being seized by one state and legitimized by the international community. South Dakota was admitted to the Union simultaneously as North Dakota – November 2, 1889. Now however, because of its rurality, South Dakota has one of the lowest population densities in the nation.

Episode 23: The Whores Can Come

Broken Boot Gold mine was reintroduced as a tourist destination in the 1990s after it had been closed since the early 20th century.

Broken Boot Gold mine was reintroduced as a tourist destination in the 1990s after it had been closed since the early 20th century.

Deadwood’s isolation from the rest of the world made it one of the “wildest, wickedest mining towns in the west”. At its high-point Deadwood Creek supplied work to more than 25,000 miners. Seim’s Mine was a first in Deadwood and produced and estimated 15,000 ounces in 26 years. However, its main produce was Iron Pyrite, or Fool’s Gold, which actually made more profit than gold as it is used in the process of making gold. The mine was in use from 1878-1904 and was called one of “America’s last great gold rushes”. The mine has recently reopened as a tourist attraction and is now called Broken Boot Gold Mine after a broken boot from the early 20th century was found in a shaft.

Episode 24: The Boy the Earth Talks To

Deadwood’s first school district opened in 1886. In the HBO show Martha Bullock decides to take over the school after former teacher Minnie Callison leaves town. However, in actuality Minnie Callison was brutally bludgeoned to death in her sleep on February 18, 1880. The “Nigger General” Samuel Fields was held in custody for the murder but later vindicted. She was teacher to 27 pupils.

Overview: Season 3

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2008 at 7:16 pm
Season 3
Season 3

Episode 25:

Tell your God to ready for blood, “Tell your God to ready for blood,” first episode of the third season.  The power struggle that exists from the very first episode changes with the tide but is always underlying. In the third season, Deadwood has moved into the final throes of its lawless beginnings and its inevitable evolution.

Al Swearengen
Al Swearengen
The Bar at Al's Place, the Gem Theater
The Bar at Al

The first episode of the third and final season opens with a murder that Swerengen believes was a setup devised by Hearst, in yet another move on the chessboard of control. It’s not the first time something like this has happened; the sacrifice of ones own people to advance an agenda of  spreading fear and debt, based on greed and wealth, the fast track to power. Al is in his war-room planning his stratagies to outmaneuver Hearst’s plots to take over the reigns of deadwood.geraldmcraneyAccording to the real George Hearst was not a dragon.  He was someone dragons—little, mean-spirited, much less talented dragons—followed around in hopes of making a killing off his hardwork.


George Hearst (1820-1891) (www.picture   prod_5788

  George Hearst was a Democratic U.S. senator and mining prospector and owner from California. Hearst also acquired the San Francisco Daily Examiner in 1880 which his son, William Randolph Hearst, took over management of in 1887 Corroborating evidence as to Hearst’s ruthless character could not be found. The political air of the series seems to draw certain parallels with the nature of the occupation of Indian lands and the occupation of other lands of today. Though the commodities have changed, the dynamic seems familiar.   


Episode 26:   “I Am Not the Fine Man You Take Me For”

Swearengen basically tells Hearst that he will not bend to Hearst’s demands for obedience and surrender. It seems possible that with Swearengen’s reputation as a contemptible person that his character in the series tries to balance his character to gain acceptance. Almost like the guy you like to hate, then he does something that can be portrayed as compassionate. Unlikely.


Hearst has his personal thug, Captain Turner, knock Al senseless and holds his hand on the table while he, Hearst, takes a pick hammer and chops off Swearengen’s fingertip (didn’t happen).

While this goes on, the speeches for office of Mayor and Sheriff are being held. Hearst was showing Swearengen his determination for control of the camp and influence over people in his employ, and of course, his power. This was very dramatic in the series but cannot be corroborated.

Episode 27: “True Colors”

Hearst is not letting up on his intimidation of Swearengen. In fact he has extended intimidation to others he dealt with like Alma for one. He confronted Alma and bullied her into submission to his greater power. Again, this seems highly unlikely since there is no record of Alma Garrett existing in Deadwood.

He also confronts Sy Tolliver and conveys that there are only two kinds of people in his life; niggers and white men that obey him like dogs. Not corroborated because Sy Tolliver didn’t exist in the records of Deadwood.

Wu, returns from San Francisco with news for Swearengen, of Hearst’s acquisition of more hired guns from San Francisco. Swearengen is realizing the reality of the need to circle the wagons against Hearst’s power play. 







Episode 28:  “Full Faith and Credit”

Alma Elsworth opens Deadwood’s first bank.  Nope!

Bullock steps in to settle a dispute between Hostetler, the livery owner, and Steve the drunk who wants to buy Hostetler’s livery. This relationship focused on the pure racism of the time.

Episode 29:  “A Two-Headed Beast”

This was an especially dramatic episode. Hearst, in his drive to power, instigates a confrontation between his second, Captain Turner, and Swearengen’s second, Dority. Captain Turner seems to be the sure winner but Dority kills him, and it is the first time Hearst experiences defeat from his enemies. Though very dramatic, no proof exists for these statements.


Bullock asserts his authority as Sheriff and drags Hearst off to Jail, creating even more tension between them.  Bullock may have done this on occasions due to the nature of the camp but certainly not with Hearst.


Episode 30:  “A Rich Find”

Swearengen and Bullock decide to combine efforts and go up against Hearst.


Aunt Lou’s son comes to town, from Liberia, with a gold prospect for Hearst. Aunt Lou Marchbanks was a close representation of the character portrayed but not as Hearst’s cook though she was kitchen manager at the Grand Central Hotel. She was believed to be the first black woman settled in Deadwood.

Alma battles a drug problem. Again, no such person in the history of Deadwood.

Bullock and Swearengen contemplate a preemptive strike against Hearst. Unlikely.

Episode 31:  “Unauthorized Cinnamon”

Soon, all the camp elders meet to discuss plans to deal with Hearst.

Hearst is desirous of destroying Deadwood, he loathed it and its inhabitants and wanted to burn it to the ground after he’d gotten all the gold he could get from the hills. Ravage and burn was his plan.

Episode 32: “Leviathan Smiles”

Two new characters to deadwood were Wyatt and Morgan Earp. They came to prospect. They were somewhat portrayed as close to what they were doing in Deadwood.

Hearst’s hired guns, the Pinkerton’s, come to town and the townspeople are wondering what’s coming next.

Aunt Lou is concerned for her son Odell who is getting involved with Hearst. A mother worried about her son playing with the wrong sort.

Tolliver and Hearst plot against Bullock and the Earps. Tolliver seems to be for sale to the highest bidder.

Episode 33:  “Amateur Night”

Actor Langrishe




Langrishe, the stage actor and friend of Swearengen’s, who arrived in town in an earlier episode, sets up an amateur night to audition for players in his troupe. This is the town activity for this segment and this character was in fact a real person in Deadwood and was a thespian. The politics enter in when Jarry arrives from Yankton to see Hearst about the upcoming elections.

Hearst attacks Merrick, or is he attacking the Newspaper? Is he using one of the oldest methods there is, to control, fear.

Aunt Lou’s fears are realized when she gets the news that her son was killed. She felt it was Hearst that had it done.

Episode 34:  “A Constant Throb”

Hearst makes another power play with a staged murder attempt on Alma. Swearengen comes to the rescue and protects Alma from the threat. Hollywood.

Bullock is out of town on a campaign trip. Swearengen gets back at Hearst by killing one of Hearst’s messengers. It was the same guy hired by Hearst to beat Merrick, the newspaper editor.

Episode 35:  “The Catbird Seat”

A sad one, this one. Ellsworth, one of the gentle Ben characters in the series is executed by one of Hearst’s henchmen. It was retaliation from Hearst for Elsworth’s degrading of him in the meeting of he and Alma, when they were first discussing their business options. Trixie became enraged and horrified when she saw Elsworth’s passing through town on the back of a wagon. She goes to Hearst’s room and when she calls him to the door and he opens it, she shoots him.


Alma and Elsworth (married)
Alma and Elsworth (married)


Swearengen Adams and Wu plan to retaliate against Hearst.

Episode 36:  “Tell Him Something Pretty”

It becomes obvious by Swearengen, Bullock and others that the elections were already decided. Rigged elections are possible even today so this was not hard to believe.

Before Hearst is to leave camp, the season is ending, he insists on seeing the corpse of the girl who shot him. Swearengen wouldn’t see Trixie killed so he kills another whore who looked like Trixie and displayed her, to satisfy Hearst. When the episode, and series ends, Hearst is pulling out of town, having done what he set out to do (all except for destroying the town and its people), get the color, the gold.

Though loosely based on actual characters of Deadwood and some of the major themes of life in Deadwood, few characters mentioned in the paragraphs above were actual residents of Deadwood. There was a lot of issues going on in the background of the series, it seems that it would balance out at 50-50 on fact and fiction. Even though the focused events of the TV series didn’t happen as depicted, life in Deadwood in those early days probably had many of the same drama, though not recorded, as the show wants to bring it to you. It is the most expensive series show that has been done and is probably the cause of its demise.

An Interesting thing occurred today; after telling my three daughters to check out the site and to tell their friends, which most I’ve known for 20 years or longer, she said she had never heard of Deadwood until I mentioned our blog endeavors and the very next day she ran across the add below.


At the bottom it says it’s next to Molly’s House of Sin in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. It appears the ad was posted in 1896 , by Pioneer Printing. Funny how you’re not aware of something until it’s brought to your attention by another, then you see, or hear, of it more frequently. The power of word of mouth. The computer being a rather large mouth. I wonder what the ad cost and how it cleared without the King’s Stamp?



In Uncategorized on November 18, 2008 at 7:15 pm

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2008 at 6:41 pm

The cast of Deadwood

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Cool site. When are you going to get it going?