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The first Jewish mayor of Deadwood
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August 13, 2009 13:21

If Seth Bullock is the best-known resident of Deadwood, thanks especially to the popular HBO series Deadwood, then Sol Star must follow close behind him. Born in 1840, Solomon Star spent the first 10 years of his life in Bavaria before moving to Ohio during the first major wave of European Jewry to emigrate to the United States. Clearly drawn to the West, Star moved to Helena, Montana, where he first entered into business - a hardware store - with Seth Bullock. The partners saw the potential in the new mining town of Deadwood and opened the office of Star and Bullock, auctioneers and commission merchants, in 1876. The pair eventually operated a number of other businesses as well, including the Deadwood flour mill in which they partnered with Franklin Harris and in which Star worked as general manager. According to the marker located opposite the Bullock Hotel, it was said that as long as Star was with the mill, no one in town ever went hungry. Bullock and Star were also instrumental in getting a railroad established in the region. Even with all their business enterprises, the two contributed to the running of Deadwood. In 1876, Bullock became the town's first sheriff after the killing of Wild Bill Hickok prompted a demand for law and order in the lawless town. Star's service to Deadwood also dates back to 1876 when he was elected to the town council, became the postmaster in 1877, a role he held for three years until a financial scandal (of which he was ultimately acquitted) forced him to resign, and the mayor in 1884, a role he served for 10 terms and 14 years. After South Dakota gained statehood in 1889, Star served as a Republican legislator and as Lawrence County clerk of courts for 20 years until he died in 1917 at 76.

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