Solomon Star - A Natural Deadwood
more familiarly called "Sol,”
was born in Bavaria on December 20, 1840 to Marcus and Minnie Friedlander
he was just ten years-old, he was sent to live with his Uncle Joseph
Friedlander, an Ohio garment merchant, where he worked in his uncle’s
business and went to school until 1857. He then went to work as a clerk in
a general store. When the Civil War broke out he went to
where he again worked in the retail business.
Next, he headed to
where he opened a store in
City in 1865, which he operated until 1872 when he was appointed by
President Grant to be Receiver of the Land Office at Helena,
While in Helena, he met
and the two started up not only a hardware store, but a life time
friendship. While living in
distinguished himself in public service as a territorial auditor and
personal secretary to the governor.
When gold was
discovered in the
Hills and the
mining camp of
began to boom, the pair saw an irresistible opportunity for their
hardware business. They soon loaded up their goods in wagons
lead by ox teams, and started across
was one of the most astute businessmen in
South Dakota. Photo courtesy
Arriving in the bustling mining camp on August 1, 1876, with their
wagons filled with hardware goods, including picks, pans, shovels,
dynamite, cooking utensils, and more,
Seth and Sol
immediately set up their hardware store in a tent. Later,
the entrepreneurial pair bought a lot and built a false front building
at the corner of Main and Wall Streets to house their business and
soon expanded to also carry furniture, wall paper, lamps, and other
household items in addition to hardware.
Bullock were both
involved in the political life of
almost from their arrival.
Bullock, who had been
in law enforcement in
became the first Sheriff of Lawrence County and subsequently, a United
States Marshal for the region. Both served as councilmen for the city.
was appointed as the city’s postmaster, a position he held for three
years. Unfortunately, during his tenure as a postmaster, there was a
scandal involving misappropriation of government money which forced
him to resign. Though
was ultimately acquitted of any wrongdoing, the whole affair had
marred his reputation and he spent the next several years working hard
to restore his image as an honest public servant.
The pair continued to expand their
business activities, including investing in some of the area mining
ventures. In 1879 they bought several individual homesteads from area
farmers and ranchers, combining them to create the SB (Star
Bullock) Ranch in
nearby Belle Fourche. Primarily run by
Bullock, an avid
horseman, the SB ranch engaged in the livestock business, as well as
horse breeding, and the first crop of alfalfa planted in the Dakota
Territory. In 1880, they formed the
Flouring Mill Company with Harris Franklin, and
took on the role of its manager.
was just one of many Jews in
though the town had no official synagogue or Rabbi. However, a lay
leader named Nathan Colman conducted Jewish services for the community
in various locations, for which
was an avid participant. Interestingly, about one-third of all
early businesses were owned or occupied by Jewish merchants.
with his political ambitions,
was elected Mayor of
in 1884, a position he held until 1893.
time, when the territory was actively pushing for statehood in 1889, he
became a member of the State Assembly and was chosen as the president of
the first Republican state convention held in
to nominate its state officers. In 1893, he was elected as a state
Senator. After his two year term he was again elected as
Mayor in 1896.
Hardware Store on the corner of
Wall and Main Streets, 1877. Photo
In 1899, he
was elected as the Clerk of the Court for Lawrence County, a position that
he held until his death in 1917.
1901 publication, The Great Northwest and its Men of Progress, described
"Some men have a genius for popularity. With
no effort on their part they become a sort of social or political center
from which there seems to radiate an aroma of good fellowship, permeating
the entire community. Frank and generous; genial in disposition; every
ready with a helping hand for a fellow in distress; jovial and social,
yet, in serious matters keen and penetrating; sound in judgment; full of
resources in emergency; energy unbounded, and a public spirit ready for
war in the interests of his town, country, or state. These are some of the
characteristics of a naturally popular man.
The combination is not common, it is true, but
it exists now and then, as if to demonstrate the possibilities of human
nature. Solomon Star, of
Deadwood, S.D., comes
very near to this ideal, if his fellow-citizens who know him best are fair
in their estimate of him.
From the very outset, with no public desire on
his part, he became a leader. No public gathering was complete without his
presence; no enterprise began without his active influence; no delegation
left the "Hills" to a convention but Sol. Star was the
animating spirit and "set the pace." Without assuming superior wisdom or
ability, he was spontaneously accorded a leadership, if not even a guiding
hand. He never sought to use his popularity for his personal advantage,
but for his friends he was a great power.
His peculiar influence in the
spread his name throughout the territory of
from Bismark to Yankton.”
Although some said that
Star made at
least one trip back East in search of a wife, he never married, and lived
alone at his ranch until his death on October 10, 1917.
His funeral was reportedly the largest and
most extravagant ever held in
some saying suitable for a President. Star's body
was transported to
Missouri where he was laid to rest in New Mount Sinai Cemetery.
of America, updated December, 2012.
Sol Star, left, and
Seth Bullock on the Redwater Bridge, Belle Fourche at the time of a horse sale on
the Star &
Ranch, 1880s. Photo courtesy
Hills Historic Characters & Tales
Deadwood Vintage Photo Gallery
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