Thursday, June 13, 2019

Mr. Swearengen Goes to Washington

My previous posts regarding newspaper accounts of Deadwood in the 1870s are available at these links.

#I  Introduction. Deadwood, the Series and Contemporary News Accounts.
#II Sheriff Seth Bullock in Old Deadwood Newspapers.
#III Seth Bullock on the Trail of Stagecoach Robbers.
#IV 1876 in Deadwood.
#V Seth Bullock and the Stolen Election. 
#VI Some correspondences and dispatches from early Deadwood.

#VII Ten Surprises I Encountered When Researching Deadwood.  

#VIII Starting a Graveyard in the Black Hills

Today's entry looks at the transition days for the Black Hills gold find. Originally, the government pushed the line: this is Indian territory and we must follow the treaty. Prospectors were rounded up and told to go home. Soon it became: hands off, the miners can come. Finally, it became: the treaty is abandoned, the remaining Native Americans must leave.

Swearengen was sent as a representative to Washington, D.C. to lobby to help this transition take place.

Bismarck weekly tribune, January 12, 1876, p. 5.

The Black Hills are practically open. Men go and come without molestation or interference from the military or Indians. Indeed it is understood that commanding officers have been directed to suspend all action in relation to miners until further orders, while all but the hostile Indians, who have no rights anyway, are ready to sell, and the Hills are filling up with miners who expect to stay.

Claims are a city being developed; a city is being built up, and improvements of a permanent nature are being made; and it is well for those who think of going to get themselves ready business with the opening of spring.

Mr. Swearengen who was sent by the miners, at the Custer City meeting, as a delegate to Washington in the interest of the opening of the Hills, has returned to his post, confident that things are working, and that the Hills will soon be proclaimed open to all, as they are now open to those who do not hesitate to defy ordinary dangers.

Elsewhere will be found an interview with Gen. Custer, had by the writer immediately after the return of Custer's Black Hills Expition [sic] in 1874.

He speaks of tho necessity of opening the Hills, looking at the question from a military stand point, and sees the difficulties to be met in keeping back the hardy minters; he details the character of the miners, and shows that dirt yielding two dollars to the pan was examined by him; he refers to a richer region than the French Creek mines, (Custer Park or Gulch) not examined by his miners, being the Rapid Creek mines of which Jenney speaks so favorably. He mentioned, also, the Belle Fourche mines, which are claimed by the miners to be still richer. These are still nearer Bismarck. Finally he speaks of a route to the Black Hills, leading in a southwesterly course from Bismarck.

This route has since been travelled by Capt. Fisher and others, and has been proven to possess all of the advantages claimed for it by Gen. Custer. He speaks of the agricultural wealth of the Hills,
and insists that nature could not have done more for any region.

But enough on this point. The General speaks for himself, elsewhere.

Mr. Swearengen, speaking of the Black Hills to a Sioux City reporter, says he was in the mining business on the Pacific coast for 30 years, and he believes—forming conclusions from actual observation—that the Black Hills region affords the richest mineral fields extant. The Black Hills afford a good country for the poor man, for they abound in placer diggings, which can be worked with little means, while quartz mining requires large capital but there are extensive and valuable quartz leads in the Hills, which capital will develop sooner or later. He speaks, also, of the rich agricultural resources of the Hills, confirming all that has been said by
Custer and others.

But on they points there has long since ceased to be doubts. The only question now is, will the Government permit the occupation of the Hills? We reply, they are permitting such occupation, and advise those who want to go to come on, for the Black Hills are now practicaly [sic] open.

Jack McCall, Hickok's assassin

Kelly Company, makers of metal detectors and all things for modern prospecting, have written an article regarding the Black Hills Gold Rush. 


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