Deadwood – Where Fact Is Better Than Fiction

  Deadwood HBOMany of us have heard of “Deadwood”, in part due to the successful American Western television series by the same name, created, produced and largely written by David Milch. The show is set in the 1870s in Deadwood, South Dakota, before and after the area’s annexation by the Dakota Territory. The Show, though fictional, does have many historical truths tied in with its fictional elements.  It has been reported that Milch used actual diaries and newspapers from 1870s Deadwood residents as reference in the creation of the show. Many historical figures appear as characters on the show—including Seth Bullock, Al Swearengen, Wild Bill Hickok, Sol Star, Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp, George Crook, E. B. Farnum, Charlie Utter, Jack McCall, and George Hearst.


Image of street scene from the show “Deadwood”

  Soooo… What is the REAL story?! Obviously the history is rich and fascinating, as the TV show implies, but which parts are real? What made Milch pick Deadwood as his subject matter? Well, lets find out!

522px-Deadwood13Deadwood, South Dakota, 1876

The TRUE Deadwood:

The illegal settlement of Deadwood began in the 1870s on the territory granted to American Indians in the 1868 Treaty of Laramie. The treaty gave permanent ownership of the Black Hills to the Lakota Sioux, in return for the Lakota’s promise of peace with pioneers and railroad workers. The great Oglala Chief Red Cloud (Mahpiya Luta) was a signer of this important agreement. Image2 By 1870, stories abounded about gold and other wealth to be had in the Black Hills. Settlers continued to break the treaty by entering the Lakota reservation, which caused renewed Indian raids on nearby settlements. An expedition to investigate the possibility of establishing a fort in the Black Hills in 1874 resulted in the confirmation of gold being found in the Black Hills being announced by Colonel George Armstrong Custer the military leader of the expedition (it is interesting to note that though the expedition was said to be for the above stated purpose, for unexplained reasons a geologist and miners were included on the trip). As a result of this confirmation, one of the last great gold rushes in the country started shortly thereafter, though the government tried initially to discourage it


Gold Mining, Deadwood, South Dakota

In 1876, miners moved into the northern Black Hills, where a miner named John B. Pearson found gold in a narrow canyon. The gulch was full of dead trees and became known as “Deadwood Gulch” and thus, Deadwood was born.

deadwood The mining camp soon swarmed with thousands of prospectors looking to get rich. Quickly the tents and shanties that originally popped upall around, began to be replaced by more permanent structures.


Though the majority of the original settlers of Deadwood were gold miners, the lack of law in the area attracted a rather rough crowd – an estimated one murder per day occurred during the first year of Deadwood’s existence! The Utter brothers (Charlie and Steve), led a wagon train to Deadwood to bring things said to be needed to increase the prosperity and business of the area. This wagon train included both prostitutes and gamblers, which were both thought to be important additions to this wild town whose population was mostly made up of men. Saloons, dance Halls, Brothels and Gambling establishments flourished, with prostitution becoming especially profitable, with an astonishing 90% of the women in Deadwood being prostitutes. Businessman Tom Miller opened the Bella Union Saloon in September of that year (why David Milch changed Miller’s name to Cy Tolliver is anyone’s guess).

stereo-12c 1878 Stereoview Photograph of the Sign in front of Deadwoods “Bella Union Saloon”

The Bella Union was a saloon and theater in Deadwood, South Dakota, which opened on September 10, 1876. The proprietor was Tom Miller, an aggressive businessman who would buy several neighboring properties as well. The Bella Union Saloon was a relatively upscale establishment, where town meetings came to be held. In November 1878, Tom Miller went bankrupt, and the Bella Union became a grocery store downstairs, and a meeting hall named Mechanics’ Hall upstairs. A fictionalized version of the saloon appeared in the HBO television series “Deadwood”, where the owner was the character Cy Tolliver. In the 1953 musical, Calamity Jane, the character Henry Miller (not Tom), is the proprietor of the town’s saloon and theater.


Bella Union Saloon Advertising Sign with an obviously “dead drunk” patron in front!

There was no lack of characters living in and / or passing through the Town. Some of the early town residents and visitors included Lewis and Clark, Wyatt Earp, Poker Alice, the Sundance Kid, E. B. Farnum, Charlie Utter, Sol Star, Martha Bullock, A. W. Merrick, Samuel Fields, Calamity Jane, Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy, the Reverend Henry Weston Smith, Aaron Dunn and Wild Bill Hickok.


Both Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane call Mount Moriah Cemetary their final resting place. Deadwood was actually the site of Hickock’s murder, and then the ultimate hanging of his murderer Jack McCall, who was prosecuted twice despite the U.S. laws against it.


Eventually Deadwood became more prosperous, and began to lose some of its rough and rowdy character. In March of 1877 Seth Bullock was appointed sheriff to keep law and order. 


On September 26, 1879, a fire started in a bakery and devastated Deadwood, spreading through the business district of Deadwood and destroying more than three hundred buildings. Many of the unlucky left town to start again elsewhere without having fulfilled the early dreams of Deadwood.


ca1880, Bird’s-Eye-View Photograph of the Mining Town of Deadwood

  There is so much more information out there on this fascinating town and the people that traveled through it! I honestly did not even begin to scratch the surface of it!! Suffice it to say, now that my interest has been piqued, I will be looking into more on Deadwood, and its residents and patrons! Be sure to check back soon to see what else I have unearthed!!

For more information, please see our eBay listings.

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The Boston Wool Trade Association / Philadelphia Wool and Textile Association Baseball Trophy, 1912-1916


We are pleased to be able to offer here our first ever Guest blogger!! We hope that you enjoy her blog post!!

Blog Post by Virginia Caputo
 -Our Big Fat Life in Antiques

Many of us who are antiques dealers love the history that is connected to the objects that we find as much as we love the excitement of the treasure hunt. Many interesting antiques are not acquired with their histories attached unless it was bought from the original family. Even then the history is often lost or misremembered. Thus it becomes our task to find the history and reconnect it with the object.

In 2013 we acquired an elegant sterling silver baseball trophy which had no information as to its history other than what was engraved on its sides. The trophy is engraved on one side with the following: “Baseball Trophy Presented by the Executive Committee of the Boston Wool Trade Association”. On the other side is engraved, “August 28, 1912 Boston 1 Philadelphia 2 Sept, 19. 1913 Philadelphia 19 Boston 2 Sept. 15 1916 Boston 17 Philadelphia 3″. Under the base it is marked Sterling with the eagle hallmark of the Meriden Brittania Company of Meriden, Connecticut. It is also marked “862″ “5 1/2 Pts” “11 1/2 IN”.
We had a lot of questions about the trophy that we set out to answer. These days with the ability to research expanded greatly by the wealth of information that is on the internet, we were able to learn the full story of the trophy: who made it, for whom it was made, and something about what it was like in America at the time it was made. After some time spent researching it on the internet, I discovered quite a lot about it. Often there was only one document that provided a piece of information but after finding several articles from early twentieth century publications, I put together, piece by piece, quite a bit of history of the trophy.

The trophy was presented to the winning team of games that were played between the Boston Wool Trade Association team and the Philadelphia Wool and Textile Association team in 1912, 1913, and 1916.

The Boston Wool Trade Association was formed in November 1911. At their first annual outing in Boston in August 1912 members of the Philadelphia Wool and Textile Association were guests of the Boston association. Golf, tennis and a baseball game were on the schedule of activities.

The baseball game was played between the Boston Wool Trade baseball team and the Philadelphia Wool and Textile Association baseball team. This silver trophy was presented to the winning team by the Boston Wool Trade Association. It was donated by Charles J. Webb of Philadelphia. Mr. Webb was one of the organizers of the Philadelphia Wool and Textile Association and held the office of treasurer for that group. The Philadelphia team won the game. The score was 2 to 1.

The second outing was held in Philadelphia on September 19, 1913 where the Philadelphia Wool and Textile Association played host to one hundred and seventy five members of the Boston Wool Trade Association. The two associations alternated where the outing was held between Boston and Philadelphia. A program of activities that included golf, tennis and baseball as well as field sports such as relay races were on the program for each outing as well as a dinner and speeches.

The baseball game was held at the Stenson Avenue Athletic Club where 500 people came to watch the game. Philadelphia won again with a score of 19 to 2 according to the information on the trophy (which varies from the 19 to 1 score as reported in the September 27, 1913 publication “Fibre and Fabric”). The following excerpt is from that article about the event:

“Charles J. Webb was called upon to say a few words in acceptance of the baseball cup for the Philadelphia Association since it was Mr. Webb who donated it. He stated that under the terms of the gift Philadelphia was entitled to hold the cup, having won it twice in succession, but that instead it would be donated to a permanent contest between the two associations. In connection with the afternoon’s game, Mr. Webb stated that hereafter no applicant for a position in a Boston wool house would be asked if he could sell wool, but rather, could he play baseball.”

That amusing observation was apparently due to the rather large margin by which Philadelphia had won the game.


The textile groups’ 1916 outing was in Boston on Friday, September 15, 1916. Six hundred were in attendance which was considerably more than the 470 who were expected to attend. One hundred and twenty five to one hundred and fifty were members of the Philadelphia association who were guests of the Boston association. The outing was held at the Tedesco Country Club, Phillips Beach, Massachusetts with dinner at the Copley Plaza Hotel. There were 550 reservations made for dinner.

The baseball game was at 2 PM. From an article about the outing in the Sept. 23, 1916 issue of Textile World Journal:

“Few of those who witnessed the ball game were aware that the natty appearance of the Boston team was due to the new suits provided by Chairman Frank W. Hallowell of the Base Ball Committee at his personal expense. Mr. Hallowell is an old Harvard ball player and maintains an active interest in the national sport.”

The Boston team won with a score of 17 to 3.

We noticed the absence of the years 1914 and 1915 from the trophy which seemed unusual as it was an annual outing. We did further research and learned that the Executive Committee of the Boston Wool Trade Association canceled the 1914 outing “owing to the terrible conditions now prevailing in Europe and which are liable to grow more serious in the near future.” They stated: “… our local trade as well as our Philadelphia guests could not feel fully justified in attending a day’s festivities with the world’s greatest conflict being enacted almost before their eyes.” The outing must have been canceled again in 1915, probably for the same reason. In the lengthy description of the 1916 outing found in the September 23, 1916 issue of the publication “Textile World” the 1913 outing was mentioned several times but there was no mention at all of a 1915 outing. Nor was there mention of the war in Europe.

In looking for further references to the groups’ outings after 1916, the next one that I could find was in 1920 when the format of the baseball games played was changed to a series of five games, two of which were played in Arlington, Massachusetts at Spy Pond on September 11 and three in Philadelphia at Fleisher’s Field on September 17, 18 and 19. As no dates beyond 1916 were engraved on the trophy, we have concluded that the entry of the U.S. into the war in the spring of 1917 resulted in the groups canceling their annual meetings again and that the meetings were resumed after the war was over.
In 1922 the tenth annual banquet of the Boston Wool Trade Association was held on March 2 at the Copley Plaza in Boston and was attended by 900 members and guests. They had a banquet. speeches, men in ballet outfits jumping out of fake bales of wool, piano playing, making witty repartee, and lampooning prominent members of the wool trade in a mock trial. No sports were on the program. At the banquet they provided a memento in the form of a booklet stamped in gold “1912-1922” which contained the banquet menu, list of association officers, guests, and members and a facsimile of a 1894 letter about the idea for the association.

From the scheduling of the 1922 meeting it is clear that they had decided to hold their meetings in the spring rather than in late summer. And that they no longer included golf, tennis and baseball in the program, sports which would have been impractical to play in March in Boston when snow could still be covering the ground. Thus there would have been no more need to use a baseball trophy as an award.

Due to the trophy having been part of an event where business and events of the time were discussed and then later reported on, our research on the history of the trophy and the textile associations brought up articles that described the political climate of the time, the working conditions of textile workers, the role of unions, the change in hours of the work week, the impact of war, and the concerns of those in the textile industry regarding the environment, politics, business, and law. Some of what concerned them then, particularly issues about the environment, were the same things that concern us now. Other matters, like the reduction in the maximum hours to be worked in a week to forty-eight, were a reminder that there was a time when working conditions in this country were far tougher than they are now and that people took it for granted so much that there was controversy when changes in the law were proposed.

To see more posts  by Virginia Caputo at Our Big Fat Life in Antiques visit:

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Ephemera Demistified

Confessions of a “Antiques” Blogger


 1864 Civil War Soldier’s Letter written on an Illustrated Broadside Song Sheet

I have been working with the Walnutts team now for… Well lets face it, my whole life. As the daughter of the Walnutts Antiques founders, I grew up sitting around the Antique shop, traipsing around flea markets and snoozing through auctions while my parents hunted for good finds. As I grew older I eventually became more involved in the business, and began slowly but surely learning more about the antiques that I had been surrounded by for as long as I can remember.

For years I have heard (and in turn repeated) that one of Walnutts specialty’s was “Ephemera“. I threw the word around feigning confidence, but if ever asked what exactly it meant, my reaction tended to be something like “Ummm… Like paper stuff…”. Well about a week ago I was reading a book, and came across the exact question that I had been too embarrassed to ask. “What is ephemera, exactly?” The answer was so perfect, that I decided that I had to share it, and finally confess my ignorance, and embrace my new knowledge.

 ”What is ephemera, exactly?” 

“Ephemera refers to the kind of materials intended to be short-lived or discarded, such as brochures, catalogs, menus, billheads, mining certificates, theater programs, bylaws, political flyers, travel guides, wine labels… and sometimes letters. Precisely because they weren’t created to last, they sometimes contain information that is not otherwise documented.”

(As written in book by Juliette Blackwell)

Wow… it seems so clear now! I can’t believe that after all this time I have finally come across such a concise and easy to understand definition for something that I have always been a bit ashamed to admit that I didn’t already know! But you learn new things all the time, and I am thrilled to have this piece of knowledge now in my toolbox! I hope that I may have cleared some questions up for some as you as well!!


Some other examples of Ephemera:


1876 “Buffalo Bill”  and “Texas Jack”  related Printed Silk Souvenir Broadside Playbill



1864 Civil War Soldier’s Letter



original 1860’s Civil War Patriotic Envelopes



1904 Illustrated and Priced Catalog of Kodak Cameras and Photography Supplies



1905 Real Photo Postcard written and addressed to William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody


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Buffalo Bill Cody : Personal Photographs from His Family Collection

bbill-6fEvery once in a while, we are lucky enough to come across items that are truly “Fresh to the Market”. So what does that mean exactly? “Fresh to the Market” is a term used to describe an item (or items) that has previously not been available for sale, most likely because it was part of a private collection, and / or it was on display in a museum. These items can be very exciting to come across, because oftentimes they are quite unique. We were just lucky enough to recently purchase a group of items that fall into this category.

bbill-8d1904 large format Card Mount Photograph of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Cowboy Performers including William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody himself taken while the Show was performing in Scotland.

The photos pictured here were a part of a collection which was the personal property of Buffalo Bill Cody and his family, and which descended directly in the Cody family to his great-granddaughter Patricia Ann “Patsy” Garlow – granddaughter of Cody’s daughter Irma.

bbill-7cca1894 Cabinet Card Photograph of the daughter of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody – Irma Cody taken in the studio Brooklyn photographer Stacy.

Provenance: These fantastic Photographs descended directly in the family of Irma Louise Cody Garlow, Buffalo Bill Cody’s last surviving child. Buffalo Bill and his wife Louisa Frederici Cody (1843-1921) had four children but only their two daughters – Arta (1866-1904) and the baby Irma (1883-1918) lived to adulthood. Irma married Frederick Harrison Garlow Sr. (1880-1918) and had 3 children – Frederick Harrison Garlow Jr. (1911-1985); William Joseph Garlow (changed name to Cody) (1913-1992) and Jane Cody Garlow (1909-1987). When Irma and Fred Garlow Sr. died within three days of each other during the influenza pandemic of 1918, the three young children were cared for by their Grandmother Louisa, wife of Buffalo Bill Cody. Fred Garlow Jr. married Margaret Southerland and they had two children Patricia Ann (b.1948) and Mark Frederick (b. 1952). The Photographs that we acquired were the property of Patricia Ann “Patsy” Garlow, Buffalo Bill’s direct great-granddaughter. It was among the property of the Cody-Garlow family and was originally the property of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and his wife.


1894 large format Card Mount Photograph of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and his wife Louisa Federici Cody taken by Brooklyn photographer Stacy.

Many of these Photographs spent most of the last half of the 20th century on loan to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center of the West and bear BBHC index numbers on the versos. We were also told that any of the items with tack holes were displayed on the walls of one of Cody’s homes including the TE Ranch, the Bobcat Ranch (usually Irma’s home), the Pahaska Tepee and his residence in North Platte – Scout’s Rest Ranch.

bbill-10cca1910 Real Photo Postcard / Photograph of the Yellowstone Hunting Lodge of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody known as the “Pahaska Tepee” in winter.

The photographs included in this collection varied greatly, from some likely one of a kind Photographs taken with a snapshot camera and printed out as Real Photo Postcards, photos which were likely given as a mementos to Cody by the photographers,  a number of personal photographs taken by Stacy in the photographer’s studio and at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show grounds during the 1894 Season (during which the Show performed at Ambrose Park in Brooklyn, New York for the entire summer), etc.

bbill-9dca1910 Real Photo Postcard / Photograph of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody with his close friend Native American Lakota Chief Iron Tail and a man believed to be Captain Jack Crawford on the show grounds of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.

One postcard pictures the “fairgrounds” at Bourg, France with a herd of livestock grazing on the small plot. The Postcard is addressed to “Col. Cody Buffalo Bill” at Reims. The message and the Postmark are dated July 10, 1905 and the message appears to have been written by an Advance Man for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West named Dean.  Apparently “Dean” was scouting possible locations where Buffalo Bill’s Wild West might be able to appear during the European tour that was taking place in 1905. It seems that the fairgrounds at Bourg was too small to accommodate the show and “Dean” was reporting this directly to Buffalo Bill.

bbill-11c1905 Postcard written and addressed to William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody from an advance man of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in Europe regarding a possible location for the Show to perform in Bourg, France. This Postcard was sent to Cody while the Show was performing at Reims.

We feel truly lucky to have been able to hold some of this history in our hands, and hope that you have enjoyed reading about it – and perhaps buying one of the items for yourself! We will be offering selected items from this collection over the next few week as part of our weekly eBay auctions.

For more information, please see our eBay listings.

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Battle of Gettysburg: The Children of the Battlefield


Pictured above is an  original, 1863 Battle of Gettysburg / Civil War subject CDV Photograph, which was sold to support those children orphaned by the Civil War. This fascinating  CDV is titled “The Children of the Battle Field” and features a fantastic Albumen Photograph taken from the famous Ambrotype Photograph which was originally found clutched in the hands of an unidentified Union Soldier who died on the Battle Field at Gettysburg.


The three young children pictured here are identified in printed text on the card mount below the photo as “Frank. / Fredrick. / Alice.”. Printed text on the back of the mount reads: “The Children of the Battlefield. / This is a copy of the Ambrotype found in the hands of Sergeant Humiston of the 154th Regiment of New York Volunteers, as he lay dead on the Battle-Field of Gettysburg. The copies are sold in furtherance of the national Sabbath School to found in Pennsylvania an Asylum for dependent Orphans of Soldiers in memorial of our Perpetuated Union”. Further text on the reverse reads “This Picture is private property and cannot be copied without wrongdoing the Soldier’s Orphans for whom it is published”.



Here is a “Sketch” written in 1863 detailing the story of “The Children of the Battlefield”:

“Few readers of the public journals will fail to remember that, after the battle of Gettysburg, a dead soldier was found on the field, clasping in his hand an ambrotype of his three little children. No other incident of the present fratricidal war is known to have so touched the heart of the nation. For months after the battle, the soldier’s name, and the home of his family, were a mystery. The ambrotype found within his clasped hands was obtained by J. Francis Bourns, M.D., of Philadelphia, who had the picture photographed, in the hope that its circulation might lead to the discovery of the family, and the soldier’s own recognition, and, at the same time, that the sales of the copies might result in a fund for the support and education of the little ones thus left fatherless. Publicity was also given to the incident in many newspapers throughout the country. From various quarters letters of affecting inquiry were soon received; but still the mystery of the soldier was unsolved. At length, in the month of November, a letter arrived with the intelligence that a soldier’s wife at a little town on the Allegheny River, in Western New York, had seen the account of the picture in a religious paper, the American Presbyterian, of Philadelphia, – a single copy of which was taken in the place. She had sent her husband such a picture, and had not heard from him since the sanguinary struggle at Gettysburg. With trembling anxiety she awaited the reply and the coming of the picture. A copy of it came, and was the identical likeness of her own children, and told the painful story that she was a widow and her little ones were orphans. The unknown soldier was thus ascertained to be Amos Humiston, late of Portville, Cattaraugus county, New York, sergeant in the 154th N.Y. Volunteers.”.


A glass plate showing the aftermath of The Battle of Gettysburg titled “A Harvest of Death.” This image was taken by Timothy H. O’Sullivan for Alexander Gardner circa July 5-6, 1863. It is courtesy of the Library of Congress.

For more information, please see our eBay listing.

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