Marc Hoover: The most famous ghost in Deadwood

Deadwood, South Dakota was incorporated in 1876. It attracted men pursuing gold in an effort to become wealthy. The town soon developed a reputation for its lawlessness. With no sheriff or law, murders and robbery were common.

But everything changed after Wild Bill Hickok won all Jack McCall’s money during a card game. In a cowardly act, McCall got revenge by shooting Hickok in the back of the head as he played cards. After Hickok’s death, townspeople knew Deadwood needed to establish law and order.

Marc Hoover

A strapping handsome man named Seth Bullock came to town with nothing more than courage and conviction. He had arrived in Deadwood as a businessman. His plans were to sell frying pans, ovens and mining equipment. But Bullock had a special talent for separating hooligans and settling fights between drunks. He was a man you didn’t want to make angry.

On Bullock’s second day in town, he would become the town’s sheriff. He deputized men who he thought could help him keep law and order in Deadwood.

Bullock proved to make his place in history. Not only was he a successful sheriff and businessman, he also became close friends with Teddy Roosevelt, who would eventually become the 26th American president (1901–1909). In 1894, Bullock and his partner decided to build a grand hotel in Deadwood on Main Street. Unfortunately, the hotel burned down. But that didn’t stop Bullock’s hotel plans. He rebuilt it into a stronger fireproof building. The hotel would open for business in 1895. It was three stories high and boasted of 63 rooms.

After a successful run as an entrepreneur, Bullock died of cancer on September 23, 1919 at his home in Deadwood. He was buried in the same graveyard as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. But I don’t find it unusual for someone to die and remain in a home or business they loved so dearly while alive.

Seth Bullock was no exception. Although the hotel’s ownership changed, his love for his hotel hasn’t kept him away from it. Since his death nearly a century ago, visitors of the Bullock Hotel still think Seth Bullock has never moved on. Witnesses have seen his ghost walking through the hallways in solid form. It is believed that Bullock continues to monitor the hotel and watch over the hotel’s employees.

Supposedly his presence can still be felt. Guests who have seen him won’t ever forget his powerful gaze anytime soon. According to various websites, the following oddities have occurred:

– Appliances and lights have turned on by unseen hands

– Dishes and glasses have been tossed around the room when employees stand around doing nothing

– Bullock enjoys calling out to employees. But when they seek him, no one is present

– The broken clock in room 305 has chimed

– A maid was cleaning a bathroom when the shower turned on and sprayed her with water

Don’t be so quick to disbelieve this ghost story. Seth Bullock took much pride in the hotel he built in Deadwood. I know that people can become attached to earthly items and still hold on—even after death. As a teenager, I used to deliver newspapers. I had an older customer who loved his home. After a bout with an illness, he eventually died peacefully in his home. After my deceased customer’s family sold the home, I spoke to the new owner. He told me that he could still feel the previous owner’s spirit. He also mentioned that some of his items mysterious vanished and reappeared. This didn’t surprise me as I knew how much my deceased customer loved his newspaper as much as he loved his home.

Marc is a grandparent and longtime resident of Clermont County. Visit his author page at He also wrote Just Bite Me: A Guide to Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Walking Nightmares, which is available on