Con Stapleton - Deadwood Marshal
Deadwood shows Con Stapleton as a dim-witted card dealer at the
Number 10 Saloon, who gained his short-lived marshal's position by
to appoint him, Stapleton actually was elected as the
Marshal by the miners on September 16, 1876.
Stapleton, who had immigrated from
Ireland to the United States in 1871, was in
when word of the gold strike in Deadwood arrived. Along with the
many others that flooded into the booming mining camp,
Stapleton arrived in the spring of 1876.
Wild Bill Hickok was shot
Nuttall & Mann's Number 10 Saloon on August 2, 1876, Stapleton was playing cards with him, along with Charles Rich, Carl
Mann and Captain Willie Massie.
was chased down the street and arrested. A couple of days later, a
trial was held charging
with murder. However, because
had killed his brother and he had only been taking revenge, he was
found not guilty. Later the trial was found to be illegal and Jack
was arrested and hanged.
Deadwood From Mt.
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After the trail, on August 5, 1876, the
decided they needed law and order in the camp and elected Isaac Brown
first marshal on August 5, 1876.
Marshal Isaac Brown, being a lawman would be a short-lived career. When he, along with the Reverend Smith and two other men named Charles
Mason and Charles Holland were traveling between Crook City and
they were ambushed and killed on August 20th. Leaving an open
position, the miner's court soon met again on September 16th and this
time they elected Con Stapleton as the new marshal.
Though he would only
serve as the town's marshal for a little over a year, one of the most
widely publicized events during his short tenure was the shooting of
David Lunt. On January 14, 1877, Stapleton, along with Lunt and several other
men were standing around talking at Al Chapman's saloon when a man
named Tom Smith came barreling into the saloon with his pistol in the
air. Shouting threats and leveling his gun on the saloon's patrons, he
barked, "Anyone who moves gets shot!"
crazed man neared
Stapleton's group, the marshal tried
to disarm him and in the frenzy the pistol discharged, barely missing
Stapleton's head and striking Lunt in
the forehead. As the amazed crowd looked down upon what they thought
was surely a dead man, amazingly David Lunt stood up, brushed himself
and went about his business like nothing happened.
Stapleton then arrested Smith on a
charge shooting an an officer and though Smith was found guilty he was
meantime, David Lunt continued on as usual, even though he had a hole
that went entirely through his head. That was, until March 22, 1877,
when he began to complain of a terrible headache. As he took to his
bed at the Centennial Hotel, friends and staff cared for him, but it
was to no avail. That night, some 67 days after he had been shot, he
died. Afterwards, the doctor performed an autopsy and found that
the bullet had carried a bone fragment deep into his brain, causing a
large abscess and filling his brain with fluid. The doctor was
amazed that he lived any time at all, much less for more than two
death, a new warrant was issued for Tom Smith for murder and the man was
soon rearrested and taken to Yankton,
Territory to stand trial.
In addition to
his marshaling duties, one of
Stapleton's favorite past times was organizing wresting matches, most
often at the
Gem Theater. Sometimes he acted as a referee and at others as a
Seth Bullock was appointed as the Lawrence County Sheriff, and
gradually assumed many of
Stapleton's duties. On
November 7th of the same year, the position if city marshal was eliminated
By the following
year, many of the town's citizens had started to move on to
where another boomtown was forming in
Stapleton followed the rest in February
1878, but as to whether he did any prospecting in
is unknown. Eight months later he reportedly died on September 10,
1879 in Denver,
He was just 31 years old.
Hills Historic Characters & Tales
Rough & Tumble Mining Camp
Deadwood, South Dakota Timeline
HBO's Deadwood - Facts & Fiction
In the basement of the Wild West Winners Casino is a interpretive display
of the what happened on the day that
Wild Bill Hickok was
killed. Kathy Weiser, July, 2006.
From Legends' General Store
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saloon or den in a