History of Deadwood Alive
Deadwood Alive has been entertaining visitors for over 20 years with Main Street shootouts and regular performances of the Trial of Jack McCall. The Deadwood Alive troupe consists of over 10 characters which provide entertainment throughout the year including daily shootouts, guided walking tours, musical performances and the famous Trial of Jack McCall. Deadwood Alive is managed by a non-profit board of directors and employs up to a dozen individuals each summer to re-enact several historically accurate incidents of Deadwood’s past. The shows are a must see for Black Hills visitors each year.
Director & Cast
Executive Director, Andy "Cookie" Mosher
The assassin “Crooked Nose” Jack McCall
On August 2, 1876, Jack (John) McCall, a little-known drifter, assassinated one of the most famous lawmen in the old West – Wild Bill Hickok. The dastardly murder took place in Deadwood’s Saloon No. 10. Jack was going by the alias of Bill Sutherland at the time. He was eventually hanged by the neck “until dead, dead, dead” for his despicable and cowardly crime on March 1, 1877.
The role of “Crooked Nose” Jack McCall Is shared by Sean Baxter and Luke Kitzmiller.
Sean Baxter is a “Hoosier” daddy from the great state of Indiana and now resides in Deadwood. He is an accomplished musician, playing the ukulele and guitar during the music shows on the street as well as at the Trial of Jack McCall. He is also a vocalist and songwriter. During the day he plays a variety of roles including a stage robber, a miner, a gunfighter and a store clerk. Sean also plays Jack McCall at the Saloon No. 10.
Luke Kitzmiller lives in Belle Fourche and is in his third season with Deadwood Alive, although he has been following the troupe since the age of five. His main role with the group is setting up the equipment and keeping the public safe during the shootouts. Luke also portrays the Sundance Kid, as well, while on the street.
Joseph Miller - Defense Attorney
Portrayed by Travis Pearson
Joseph Miller was the first judge to be appointed in Dakota Territory. While in Deadwood, he also served on the City Council. At the time of the infamous Trial of Jack McCall, Judge Miller was retired. He came out of retirement to serve as the defense attorney in this miner’s court which illegally tried McCall.
Joseph Miller is portrayed by Travis Pearson. He may be recognized as the very same actor that plays Wild Bill Hickok. Travis is “shot” four times each day by “Jack McCall” and finishes out each night by defending him in court! Travis was born and raised in small town South Dakota and now considers the Black Hills his home for life.
Colonel George May - Prosecuting Attorney
Portrayed by Ty Sanford
Colonel May was a prominent lawyer in Montana Territory, serving in Lewis and Clark County, the same county that Seth Bullock served as Sheriff. He even had a man draw his derringer on him during court. When the news of the gold strike in Deadwood Gulch reached May he knew there would be a need for lawyers concerning mining rights and claims, and he soon headed for the Hills. Upon arriving in Deadwood in the middle of July 1876, he set up a business with Captain Wm. Massie in the Custer House on Main Street. Col. May notably was the attorney prosecuting McCall, but he also helped defend another Deadwood resident later in August, Harry Young. When McCall was rearrested and sent to Yankton for his new trial, May followed him hoping for a second chance at prosecuting McCall, but fell ill and passed away soon after arriving in Yankton.
Colonel May is portrayed by Ty Sanford. Ty lives in Deadwood and is in his eighth year with Deadwood Alive. His primary role on Main Street Deadwood is as Daniel Boone May, no relation to his other character, George May. Boone May became known as a prominent citizen around town for his duties as a shotgun messenger on the Black Hills and Cheyenne Stage and as Deputy US Marshal.
William L. Kuykendall - Judge
Portrayed by Raul Ponce de Leon
William Kuykendall was born December 13, 1835 in Clay County Missouri. He enlisted in the Army of the Confederacy during the war between the states. Kuykendall participated in the battle of Carthage, the first battle of the Civil War, while holding the rank of lieutenant.
Judge William L. Kuykendall is portrayed by Raul Ponce de Leon. This is the actor's second year with Deadwood Alive. Raul is a long-time Deadwood resident, living in a historic home. He is a tour guide, artist, film and Western historian, and a member of the Deadwood library board.
Calamity Jane - Bullwhacker, Scout, Sporting Girl
Portrayed by Jena Sierks
Martha Jane Cannary (or Canary), better known as Calamity Jane, was born May 1, 1852 in Princeton, Missouri. Calamity was the eldest of six children. In 1865, her father took his family west to Montana and then Utah. Martha's mom died in 1866 followed by her father in 1867. At age 15, she was thrust into the role of caregiver.
Calamity became a legend of the West while working as a bullwhacker, scout, a stagecoach driver, and a soiled dove. Some of her tales may have been true, but most grew bigger and bigger each time she entered a saloon.
Martha eventually arrived in Deadwood with Colorado Charlie Utter's wagon train on July 15, 1876. Although Hickok and Calamity came into town on the same wagon train (despite Calamity's insistence) there was never a "relationship" between the two. Three weeks after arriving in the Gulch, Wild Bill was shot. Calamity died August 1, 1903.
Calamity is portrayed by the dynamic Jena Sierks. Jena and Calamity are so alike in personality, it is sometimes hard to tell where Jena ends and Calamity begins. Jena hails from Nebraska and now lives in Deadwood. This is her sixth year performing Calamity Jane as well as “Bubbles” at “Dr. Stan Dupt’s Medicine Show” and singing like an angel with the other gunslingers.
Charles Whitehead - Foreman of the Jury
Portrayed by Lee Stroschine
In addition, Lee portrays several other characters during our street shows. When not performing in one of the shows, Lee plays the part of Theodore Roosevelt, explaining his connection to Deadwood’s history. Lee grew up in the Black Hills and attended college and earned degrees in history and education. He spent 20 years as an elementary school teacher prior to moving back to the Black Hills. He has been involved in sharing the history of Deadwood for the past eight years. When not sharing history in Deadwood, Lee works as an EMT.
John Swift - Clerk of Courts
Portrayed by Andy “Cookie” Mosher
John A. Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1844. In July 1863 Swift enlisted in the U.S. Navy. John worked as a landsman and a paymaster clerk until the end of the war. He came to the Black Hills of Dakota Territory in March of 1876. He first lived in Custer, then Crook City and finally Deadwood where he stayed until his death. During his stay in the “Hills”, his ability as a clerk and a penman was in constant demand.
John Swift is portrayed by Andy "Cookie" Mosher. He was born and raised in Concordia, Kansas and has lived in Deadwood since 2005. "Cookie plays resonator guitar and banjo, and also performs with the Deadwood Alive Gunslingers on Deadwood's Main Street. His main role on the street is City Marshal Conn Stapleton. Since joining the troupe in 2010, he has served in various capacities and is currently the Executive Director of Deadwood Alive.
Board of Directors
- Willie Stienlicht, Chair
- Kevin Kuchenbecker, Vice Chair
- Mike Rodman, Treasurer
- Rose Speirs, Secretary
- Dale Berg
- Austin Burnham
- Dawn Burns
- Michelle Fischer