Deadwood’s early history is flavored with legendary names like Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock. But many local Deadwood residents also recognize names like Sol Star, Sol Levinson and Nathan Franklin. These men were among Deadwood’s first civic leaders, visionary businessmen and affluent citizens. Many Main Street businesses – such as the Franklin Hotel and the Levinson Block, home to the Old Style Saloon #10 – still bear their names. Though they came from varied backgrounds and led different lives, they had at least one thing in common: a shared Jewish heritage.
In fact, a great number of Deadwood’s first leading citizens were Jewish. Now, thanks to the efforts of the Maryland-based Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, more visitors to the area will get a chance to understand Jewish influence on Deadwood’s past. Working with the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission and Deadwood-based TDG Communications, JASHP has developed and produced three interpretive signs that describe the link between the town’s Jewish citizens and its frontier history. The first sign, which concerns Jewish burials, was installed at Mount Moriah Cemetery on April 1st to coincide with the Third Annual Historic Preservation Symposium on Cemeteries.