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Legends and plain folks share this boot hill

Martha "Calamity Jane" Canary Burke was born around 1850 and died in 1903. She squeezed a lot of living into those years, if folklore is to be believed.

She was a hard-drinking, hard-living pioneer who worked on a bull train, performed in a Wild West show, worked in a mining camp and carried a torch for Wild Bill Hickok. Her dying wish was to be buried beside him. And there she rests today.

At Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood, Canary's grave site is topped with an urn. Hickok's grave is adorned with a bronze bust.

James Butler Hickok, a.k.a. "Wild Bill," was shot in the back of the head during a poker game. He, too, was a colorful character. Rumor had it that he never sat with his back to a door, but the lure of a poker game proved too tempting on Aug. 2, 1876, when Hickok anted up for the last time.

Hickok originally was laid to rest in Ingleside Cemetery. Like most of the others interred there, his body was exhumed and reburied at nearby Mt. Moriah. (Today Ingleside Cemetery is in a residential area). Mt. Moriah was established around 1877 or '78 as a Masonic cemetery.

More than 3,600 people are buried in this cemetery about 30 miles from Rapid City and close to the Wyoming border. People came to Deadwood from all over this country, and from other countries. If some of your ancestors migrated this way, they could be in one of these plots.

There is a Civil War section, for instance, although veterans of this war are buried throughout the cemetery. Right next to Hickok's grave is a tombstone with "James A. Mills" etched on it. Some of the Millses I'm researching in Maryland meandered up this way, and quite a few were named James.

Among the names mentioned in the Mt. Moriah tour guide are Dora Dufran, Freeman Knowles, John Hunter (from Nebraska), John Treber (German immigrant), Blanche Colman and Sidney Jacobs (both German-Jewish immigrants), and Harris Franklin, a Jewish immigrant who changed his surname from Finkelstein.

Fans of the HBO TV series Deadwood will recognize the names of two others buried there along with Calamity Jane and Hickock. The Rev. Henry Smith, who in real life was killed by Indians in 1876 but on the show died from a brain lesion, was relocated there from Whitewood Gulch cemetery in 1883. Seth Bullock, who became Deadwood's first sheriff and an important figure in the Black Hills as well as a friend to President Theodore Roosevelt, was interred after he died in 1919.

Mt. Mount Moriah Cemetery is owned and maintained by the city of Deadwood. The Web site is www.cityofdeadwood.com, or write to City Hall, 102 Sherman St., Deadwood, SD 57732 for more information.

Information from the Mt. Moriah Cemetery Walking Tour Guide and www.cityofdeadwood.com was used in this article.

Read past Donna Murray Allen columns online at www.sptimes.com. Type "Donna Murray Allen" in the search box. You can write to Allen c/o Floridian, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail her at rootscolumnyahoo.com. Her Web site: www.rootsdetective.com includes information on classes and lectures. Allen welcomes your questions about genealogy and will respond to those of general interest in future columns.

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