SIGMT Winter 2023

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48 | SIGNATURE MONTANA A rear addition to the 1890 jail now covers the site of the 1875 hangings. Today the building functions as The Myrna Loy Center for the performing arts. As Sheriff Bullock had anticipated, a thousand spectators crowded the rooops to witness the hanging. Aer the sheriff read the death warrant, Wheatley calmly walked from the jail to the gallows, climbed the thirteen steps, and addressed the crowd. He neither admied nor denied his guilt but thanked his counsel and asked forgiveness for his transgressions. e executioner positioned the noose around his neck, placed a black hood over his head, and bound his arms to his sides. Sheriff Bullock cut the rope, releasing the trap, and Wheatley dropped. Aer a brief new trial, a jury again found Sterres guilty of murdering Franz Warl. Sheriff Bullock then presided over Montana's second legal hanging minutes aer midnight on Friday, October 28, 1875. As before, hundreds of spectators crowded the roofs to witness the execution by moonlight. Seth Bullock soon moved on to Deadwood, leaving hangings in Montana to others. A new jail replaced the old jail in 1890, and Bullock's legacy in Montana was mostly forgoen. His fame rests in Deadwood and in the Bullock Hotel he and Star, his longtime business partner, built in 1895. Many believe Bullock's ghost walks the halls of the hotel. For another forty years, treasure hunters combed Franz Warl's charcoal pits between Colorado Gulch and Ten Mile Creek, looking in vain for the fortune that may lie there still. Author photo. Ellen Baumler, retired after 26 years as the interpretive historian at the Montana Historical Society, continues her mission to tell Montana's lesser-known stories. She is the author of many books and dozens of articles on various Montana topics. This article is an edited excerpt from Hidden History of Helena, Montana, The History Press, 2019, co-authored with Jon Axline. S MT

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