By J. L. Starkey
I care nothing for politics, crime, or society. I do not care for stock or market reports.
I am not a stranger in the city and am not going to the ball this evening.
The above is my motto.– John Glickauf, Bohemian Count
We know that not all learning happens in the classroom, but how often do we find a FAN club member who lived that truth?
The Bohemian Count did, without a doubt. If he had been born in 1950 instead of 1850, he would have been an Instagram or Twitter sensation in his later years. He also would have been sent to Facebook jail quite regularly, because they do that a lot with those rowdy types.
There was a difference between making a living and making a life, even in 1880s Dakota Territory. Some lessons could not be taught in the classroom. So how was it done all those years ago?
It’s time to let the Count school us on that!
“I care nothing for politics, crime, or society.”
In October 1880, the Count arrived in Rapid City and opened a barbershop/saloon on Main Street . The small town was a good place to stay for a while, but he was soon ready to move on.
Call it a coincidence – or just good timing – but in early 1882, Deadwood needed a juror, and Bob Bauman needed a buyer.
Unrelated events? Not for the Bohemian Count.
In February 1882, the Count was summoned to Deadwood for grand jury duty and was suddenly in the news again . He served during a pivotal time in United States history. Today, the work of that grand jury can be found in history books as a footnote to the Supreme Court decision Ex parte Crow Dog, 109 U.S. 556 (1883), now known as the Crow Dog trial .
The Count felt so comfortable in Deadwood that he “formed the very sensible resolution” to move there for good . At the same time, J. C. Muehleisen‘s former business partner Andrew “Bob” Bauman was looking for a buyer for his Main Street barbershop.
The Count had friends in Deadwood, and now it looked like he would have a job there as well . He sold his Rapid City shop, packed his belongings, and made the move to Deadwood by that summer .
Finally, he was home.
“I am not a stranger in the city.”
The Count was a perfect fit for Deadwood, and he made a name for himself in a town filled with larger-than-life characters. But would he find happiness?
Not at first.
Just two years after the Count arrived in Deadwood, his good friend J. C. Muehleisen died while traveling to seek treatment for a mysterious neurological illness . Less than one year after J. C.’s death, Bob Bauman died from a similar illness, and the Count served as an appraiser for Bob’s estate .
Was the Count frightened by the tragic events? He knew that J.C. and Bob became ill while working in the same job – and the same shop – where the Count himself worked. Did he wonder if he would be stricken with the same illness?
If he did, he didn’t let that stop him from living his life.
The Count lived life on his own terms. He even published his motto in Deadwood newspapers ! He was not interested in making nice or being politically correct. He was an individual, and he was proud of that fact.
Residents of Deadwood embraced the Count as one of their own. He was often in the news, and reports described his good nature and love of practical jokes .
The Count became so popular that in 1887, a group of Deadwood residents encouraged him to run for mayor, despite his aversion to politics . Though he lost the election, his popularity continued to grow, and by 1890, he was in the news again. This time, he made headlines for installing new bathrooms in his barbershop; residents were urged to “enjoy a luxuriant bath” at Glickauf’s place before church services .
In between the big events and the headlines were the laughs and the jokes. No one needed to be told that the Count loved life. It was obvious to everyone around him.
Life was good. What more did he need?
In 1891, he found the answer to that question. Happiness finally had a name, and that name was Anna.
“I am in a hurry.”
On 7 June 1891, the free-spirited Count settled down to a life of domesticity. After a whirlwind courtship, he married Anna Pavlovic, a Bohemian immigrant seventeen years his junior . On 28 January 1894, the Count and Anna welcomed a daughter named Mabel .
It’s safe to assume that the Count’s life calmed down at that point, isn’t it? After all, he was a married man with a family and a career . It was time for an end to the practical jokes and shenanigans.
Well…no. He was still the Bohemian Count, after all!
When Mabel Glickauf was just six weeks old, the Count lost his barbershop to a fire that damaged or destroyed dozens of Main Street businesses, including Al Swearengen’s Gem Theater and Star and Bullock hardware store .
Less than 48 hours after the fire was extinguished, the Count was back in business, and he wasn’t alone. Several merchants resumed operations “as though nothing out of the way had occurred” just days after the devastating fire . The Count had to get back to making a living, because it was the only way that he could get back to making a life. And honestly, the citizens of Deadwood needed his brand of enthusiasm, didn’t they?
The Count probably thought they did, and he was probably correct.
In 1896, the Count was back in the headlines again, this time for an incident at the Gem Theater. When Gem patron Jack Fassold was charged with the accidental shooting of Charley Large, the Count showed up to the first court hearing claiming to be legal counsel for the defense . Of course, he still found time to attend the grand opening of the Bullock Hotel just a few days later . He didn’t give up his social life just because he became a pseudo-attorney!
The Count’s legal expertise turned out to be unnecessary, which probably didn’t surprise anyone in town. In March 1897, Jack Fassold pleaded guilty to assault and battery and was fined $50 plus court costs .
Charley Large, on the other hand, spent several months enduring surgical procedures to remove bullet and bone fragments from his chest.
Just a flesh wound? Hardly.
Really, it was just another day – or week, month, or year – in Deadwood. There was never a dull moment, and the Count was there for all of it.
“Can’t count on no miracles.”
On New Year’s Day 1900, the Count acquired a new title: captain. As a member of the town’s indoor baseball team, he played alongside former mayor and politician Sol Star in “the prettiest and most closely contested game ever put up.” The Count made a spectacle of himself when he “pulled a razor” on his opponents, but his actions didn’t even delay the game. Instead, the weapon was confiscated, and the hijinks continued .
It was all in good fun…Deadwood fun, that is.
The Count probably felt hopeful on that New Year’s Day. He had a family he loved dearly, a career that allowed him to live comfortably, and friends who supported and even embraced his antics.
The Count had it all…until he didn’t.
Sometime after that New Year’s Day baseball game, the Count’s health began to fail. Did he ignore those first symptoms, fearful that he was headed down the same path as Bob and J.C.? He may have done that at first, but by 1903, everything changed.
The Count was ill and in pain, and he needed better care than Deadwood could offer. On the advice of his doctors, he traveled to Chicago for treatment. He left behind a barbershop that had been in the same location longer than any other business in Deadwood . According to news reports, the Count “held the chair next to the door until he was too feeble to work.”
The Bohemian Count left Deadwood on 22 Nov 1903 .
He would never return.
“If I am to die today…”
On 3 January 1904, Bohemian Count John Glickauf died in a Chicago hospital at age 53 . He left behind a beloved wife, a young daughter, and a community of mourners in his adopted hometown of Deadwood .
There are some individuals who are larger than life, and the Bohemian Count was one of those people.
He was a man who immigrated to a strange land and thrived in that land. He was a man who crossed paths with outlaws, rebels, and legends. He was a man who loved his family and his friends.
Most importantly, he was a man who made a life…not just a living.
I wish I could talk to the Count. I want to ask him how he managed to find joy and adventure regardless of where life took him.
I will never know the Count’s answer, but I think he would have echoed the words of a fellow Deadwood legend, and said:
“How to get over the river was the bother. At last…I came to the conclusion that I always did: that the boldest plan is the best and safest.”– James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok
Note: Unless otherwise stated, newspaper articles ran in Deadwood, South Dakota, and were retrieved from newspapers.com.
- “City and County,” The Black Hills Weekly Journal, Rapid City, South Dakota, 9 Oct 1880, p. 4, col. 2. (See also: “John Glickauf’s New Barber Shop!” The Black Hills Weekly Journal, Rapid City, South Dakota, 6 Nov 1880, p. 4, col. 4.)
- “Personal Points,” The Black Hills Daily Pioneer, 15 Feb 1882, p. 3, col. 5.
- “United States Court,” Black Hills Daily Times, 25 Mar 1882, p. 1, col. 3. (See also: “U. S. Grand Jury,” The Black Hills Daily Pioneer, 22 Mar 1882, p. 3, col. 5.; and Hyde, George E. A Sioux Chronicle. University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.) Note: The Grand Jury did not indict Black Crow, a Native American who was arrested and held with Crow Dog for an 1881 murder on Sioux land. Black Crow was held for eight months and then released as per the winter 1882 grand jury decision, while Crow Dog was convicted and sentenced to death. That sentence was appealed, and Crow Dog was released under a writ of habeas corpus. The case led to the passage of the Major Crimes Act of 1885.)
- “Caught on the Fly,” The Black Hills Daily Times, 1 Mar 1882, p. 4, col. 2.
- “Personal Points,” The Black Hills Daily Pioneer, 4 Mar 1882, p. 2, col. 4.
- The Black Hills Journal, Rapid City, South Dakota, 16 Jun 1882, p. 1, col. 4.
- The Daily Deadwood Pioneer Times, 14 Feb 1885, p. 4, col. 2. (See also: “Sad Ending,” Black Hills Times, 7 Feb 1885, p. 3, col. 3.)
- Bauman, Andrew, Lawrence County, South Dakota, probate case records box 5120, Box 8, File 112, images 4 through 176, 1886-1887, North Dakota and South Dakota County, District, and Probate Courts. Retrieved from ancestry.com. North Dakota and South Dakota, Wills and Probate Records, 1878-1928 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com operations, Inc., 2015.
- The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times, 5 Jan 1884, p. 3, col. 4.
- “John’s Joke,” The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times, 8 Jan 1884, p. 4, col. 4. (See also: “Personal Points,” The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times, 16 Oct 1886, p. 3, col. 2; and “Hired the Band,” The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times, 11 Oct 1890, p. 1, col. 1-2.)
- “Locals,” The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times, 3 Apr 1887, p. 6, col. 2.
- “Keep Clean,” The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times, 31 May 1890, p. 5, col. 5.
- “Married,” Black Hills Weekly Times, 12 Jun 1891, p. 3, col. 5.
- Ancestry.com. U.S. Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2014. (See also: “The City,” The Black Hills Daily Times, 30 Jan 1894, p. 4, col. 3.)
- “$100,000 Blaze!” The Black Hills Daily Times, 6 Mar 1894, p. 1. (See also: “Deadwood Fire Swept,” The Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, Nebraska, 6 Mar 1894, p. 1, col. 2.)
- “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DC63-FJB?cc=1325221&wc=9BQN-G5K%3A1031648401%2C1030551302%2C1032772001: 5 Aug 2014), South Dakota>Lawrence>ED 25 Deadwood city Ward 1-2>image 19 of 34; citing NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: NARA, n.d.).
- The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times, 8 Mar 1894, p. 4, col. 3.
- “Held to Answer,” The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times, 24 Apr 1896, p. 1, col. 4.
- “The Bullock Hotel Opens,” The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times, 29 Apr 1896, p. 1, col. 4.
- “Circuit Court,” The Deadwood Evening Independent, 21 May 1897, p. 3, col. 4.
- “New Year’s Game,” The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times, 3 Jan 1900, p. 5, col. 1.
- “Local Mention,” The Weekly Pioneer-Times, 1 Dec 1904, p. 5, col. 6.
- “Local News,” The Weekly Pioneer-Times, 19 Nov 1903, p. 5, col. 4. (See also: “Gone to Chicago,” Lead Daily Call, Lead, South Dakota, 25 Nov 1903, p. 7, col. 2.)
- “Local News,” The Weekly Pioneer-Times, 17 Dec 1903, p. 3, col. 5. (See also: “John Glickauf is Low,” Argus-Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 28 Dec 1903, p. 3, col. 1.; and Illinois Statewide Death Index, Pre-1916. Illinois State Archive, http://www.ilsos.gov/isavital/deathsrch.jsp.)
- “Another Old-Timer Gone,” Lead Daily Call, Lead, South Dakota, 5 Jan 1904, p. 4, col. 4.