Case File: Hotel Bullock
Location: Deadwood, South Dakota
Date: 1876 to present
Description: The Hotel Bullock dates back to the founding of Deadwood. The old west Hotel has had several renovations over the years.
History: In the late 1870s, South Dakota was booming with gold fever, attracting outlaws, gamblers, and swindlers. Mining towns dotted the landscape; perhaps the most infamous was Deadwood, South Dakota. In the summer of 1876, Seth Bullock was sent from Montana to bring law and order to the community. He became Deadwood's first sheriff. He soon became well known in the city. According to some historians, he did not even need to carry a gun. He scared many people with a simple stare.
Bullock took his cleanup campaign throughout the territory of South Dakota. One afternoon in 1887, he encountered three men whom he assumed were cattle rustlers. One of the men turned out to be Teddy Roosevelt, then a sheriff in Billings, Montana. Bullock and Roosevelt soon became best friends. When Roosevelt formed the "Rough Riders", Bullock immediately joined. When Roosevelt was inaugurated, Bullock was an honored guest.
When Roosevelt died in 1919, Bullock arranged to have a memorial called "The Friendship Tower" erected just outside of Deadwood. Nine months later in September, he also passed away. He was buried at a grave-site overlooking the monument. Today, Deadwood is once again a boom town, thanks to a law passed legalizing low-stakes gambling. The Bullock Hotel, founded in 1895 by Bullock and his business partner Sol Star, has been revitalized.
According to hotel owner Mary Schmit, over thirty hotel employees and several guests have reported experiencing paranormal phenomena. Slot machine supervisor Norm Stevens claims that one morning, while he was working in the basement, a mysterious shadow fell over the wall. It was the figure of a man. However, when he turned around, the shadow vanished.
A few weeks later, operations manager Joey George had his own supernatural encounter. He claims that when he walked by the bar after closing time, all of the stools were lined up in a row. When he stepped into the office, he heard unusual noises behind him. When he returned to the bar, he discovered that all of the stools had been moved around.
In 1989, a teenage employee working in the back of the restaurant encountered a figure wearing Western attire. He was certain that the figure was a ghost. He was extremely frightened by the encounter and refused to return to the back of the restaurant. He quit soon afterwards. Most employees and current Deadwood residents are convinced that Seth Bullock haunts the hotel. People have experienced hearing disembodied voices, seeing orbs, feeling somebody touching them, and seeing apparitions of Bullock.
Background: Deadwood is a city in South Dakota which has a population of 1,270 as of 2010. Many prospectors moved there during the 1870s due to the amount of gold in the area. "Wild Bill" Hickok was shot to death in the town. Calamity Jane also lived there for a time. Seth Bullock became the first sheriff of the city in 1887. In 1895, he, along with his business partner Sol Star, built the Hotel Bullock. It was the first hotel built in the city.
Investigations: In April of 1991, a psychic from Dorset, England, claimed that he began receiving messages from beyond the grave. Coincidentally, his name is Sandy Bullock. The spirit said that he was Seth Bullock. At first, Sandy assumed that it was an ancestor. However, the spirit soon began communicating to Sandy through a Native American guide. He issued a warning to the people of Deadwood: a period of lawlessness loomed on the horizon. The warning seemed so urgent that Sandy immediately wrote an open letter to the proprietors of the Bullock Hotel, asking them to contact him.
A few weeks later, Sandy's letter arrived at the Bullock Hotel. At the time, it was undergoing extensive renovations. At first, owner Mary Schmit assumed that he had gotten the information from a book about Bullock. However, when she got to the end of the letter, it said: "Seth can't haunt the hotel because of all of the banging that's going on. But he'll be back, and you'll know that it's 'Old Seth'". This shocked her because "Old Seth" was the name that her aunt always called Bullock. She was certain that Sandy was legitimate.
Local journalist Rena Webb was intrigued and decided to write back to Sandy. In her letter, she noted that some would be skeptical of the story. She asked him a 'test question' to prove his authenticity: "Who was the well-known person who was a close friend of Seth Bullocks? And how is Bullock's grave positioned in relation to that friendship?"
In Sandy's response, he stated: "Tall trees block the view from his old bones. But Teddy and he still meet in the afterlife." Rena was shocked by Sandy's accuracy. She believes that the message refers to a stack of pine trees that obstruct Roosevelt's monument from Seth Bullock's grave-site. She does not believe that it would be possible for Sandy to have researched this information.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the December 9, 1992 episode. The hotel was also featured on Ghost Adventures.
- Bullock Hotel at Wikipedia
- Bullock Hotel at Legends of America
- Ghost Tours at the Bullock Hotel
- Unsolved Mysteries tells Bullock Hotel's ghost story
- Bullock ghost tours yield paranormal experiences
- One night in the Bullock
- Haunted Hills: Bullock Hotel
- This 123-Year-Old Hotel Is One Of The Most Haunted Places In South Dakota