SIGMT Winter 2023

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46 | SIGNATURE MONTANA While Seth Bullock left no physical legacy in Helena, the 1895 fully restored Bullock Hotel continues to be a central focus in Deadwood. Seth Bullock had many business interests in Deadwood. His signature as vice president of the Merchants National Bank of Deadwood appears, lower right, on this five-dollar bank draft. Authorities traced the apron to local barber Frederick Shaffer and soon arrested William Sterres (also Stears) and William Wheatley as his accomplices. Shaffer, however, gave authorities the slip. First Sterres, then Wheatley, stood trial in Lewis and Clark County before Chief Justice Decius Wade. J.K. Toole was the chief prosecutor. Shaffer, the mastermind behind the crime, was captured in Bismarck, North Dakota. Authorities held him, anticipating payment of a reward. When no reward materialized, Shaffer either escaped or authorities released him. He was never heard from again. Sterres testified that he was buying Shaffer's barber shop and had already bought some of the equipment. He feared that he would lose his investment if he did not go along with Shaffer's scheme to steal some $14,000 Warl had hidden on his property. Warl was known to have substantial currency and gold dust. e three hoped to make Warl tell where he hid his wealth, but Warl would not talk. Sterres was convicted and sentenced to hang. Wheatley's trial followed with a similar verdict. Executions, according to tradition, usually took place on Fridays. e double hanging was set for Friday, August 13, 1875. At Sterres's sentencing, however, the crime for which he was convicted was not clearly stated. Due to this legal technicality, Justice Wade granted Sterres a new trial hoping to gain added information that would help in pursuing Fred Shaffer. Wheatley therefore became the first person legally executed in Montana Territory. e execution, however, was not without difficulties. Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons. Carol Highsmith photo, 1980, Library of Congress. LANE MEMORY

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