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May 14, 2004 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-05-14

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GONE WEST from page. 31

Museum opened its seminal 2003
"Jewish Life in the American West"
exhibit, and was unfamiliar with the role
Jews had played in civilizing such towns.
"Jewish immigrants played a major
role in providing businesses that
supplied Western communities, and
it was not uncommon for Jewish
leaders to hold political office," said
James Nottage, one of the exhibit's
original organizing curators.
"Certainly it was not uncommon
in Deadwood, which became the
center of the Jewish population in
South Dakota as people rushed to


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stone, as Milch discovered while wan-
dering downtown Deadwood for inspi-
ration. The name "Goldberg" is still
engraved in the brick building that
housed Jacob Goldberg's grocery, where
Calamity Jane once shopped. Harris
Franklin (ne Finkelstein), an ex-peddler,
liquor distributor and cattle baron, hired
a synagogue architect to design his 1892
Queen Anne Victorian, now the Adams
A grander Victorian structure, the
Bullock Hotel, stands on the site of the
former hardware store, Star and
Bullock, Auctioneers and Commission
Merchants. The store's co--
founder, Star was "a fascinating
person," according to Milch,
"someone who wasn't typically
associated in the popular imagi-
nation with the West."
Star was born in Bavaria in
1840, probably to a Reform
German-Jewish family, and
immigrated to the U.S. at age
10. He settled with relatives
in Ohio, moved to Montana
in the economic chaos follow-


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In "Deadwood," actor John Hawkes, above,
plays Jewish hardware store owner Sol Star
(see inset for the real Sol Star).


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mine gold from the Black Hills."
Although only a couple hundred
Jewish merchants lived among
Deadwood's estimated 2,000 inhabi-
tants between 1876 and 1900, they
owned more than a third of downtown
businesses, said Mary Kopco, director
of the town's Adams Museum &
House. "They were such a stabilizing
force," added Kopco, who in 1999
curated an exhibit titled 'An Unbroken
Chain: Deadwood's Jewish Legacy."
"It was the Jewish community that
really allowed Deadwood to survive,"
she said.
Their influence is literally carved in

ing the Civil War and met Bullock,
with whom he traveled to Deadwood
via a mule wagon loaded with hard-
ware in 1876. Their goal was "to
mine the miners," said actor Hawkes,
who read numerous books on
Judaism and pioneer Jews to portray
There was one catch, however: "I'm
not Jewish," he frankly told Milch
upon their first meeting two years ago.
"David asked me, 'Have you ever felt
shame or sadness or ostracized?' I said,
`Every day.' And David said, 'Then
you're Jewish.'"
It was this sense of Jew-as-outsider that

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