Preacher Smith of Deadwood : Henry Weston Smith

Although Smith’s death was widely attributed to Indians, some believe he may have been killed by common road thieves. An unnamed group in Deadwood was also reported to have feared Smith would convert the sinners of Deadwood to religion and more godly lives. This morality would deprive the saloons, gambling dens and brothels of considerable income. The same group was earlier rumored to have planned the murder of Wild Bill Hickok, as they feared he would become marshal and clean up the town. Speculation and rumors ruled the day.

In 1914 the Society of Black Hills Pioneers erected a monument on the Deadwood-Spearfish road, near where Smith’s body was found.

The relocation of Highway 85 north of Deadwood during construction of a four-lane road in 1994 forced the relocation of the Preacher Smith Monument. A copper box that had been buried under the monument in 1914 was uncovered. A number of interesting historic items were inside including newspapers of the day. The items, along with materials of more recent vintage, were resealed in the box and reburied under a new monument to Smith alongside the rebuilt Highway 85. The new monument was rededicated on August 20, 1995, 119 years to the day of Smith’s death.

The highlight of the ceremony was a reading of the sermon Preacher Smith had planned to deliver at Crook City. Local resident, historian, and lawyer Reed Richards read the sermon that Smith had written for the residents of Crook City on the day of his murder. The divinely inspired words of the sermon from Smith were finally heard in the Black Hills.

 

 

Sources:
History of the Methodist Church in South Dakota
Adams Museum
“Pioneer Days in the Black Hills” by John S. McClintock
“The Black Hills After Custer” by Bob Lee

 

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