Ludwig Kelloch's gravestone
Donated by the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission's Headstone Grant Program.
It is located in Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood.
Ludwig S. Kelloch
Marilyn and Homer Morrison
In June 1877 Ludwig Kelloch, a miner with practical western experience, was sent to Dakota Territory by San Francisco mining magnate George W. Hearst. Ludwig’s charge was to investigate reports of gold discoveries in the Black Hills. He delivered his findings in a memorable telegram to Hearst and his partners, informing them that there was “enough gold for your grandchildren and their grandchildren’s grandchildren.” As Hearst’s agent, he then took a $70,000 option on the Homestake and Gold Star claims and shortly thereafter bought out other claims in the area.
On November 5, 1877, the holdings were recorded in California as the Homestake Mining Company. Within a year of the claims’ purchase, it was clear that “The Homestake,” as it was soon called, would be a rich producer for Hearst and his syndicate. Production was steadily expanded, breaking all records and setting a new standard in the gold mining industry.
The New York Stock Exchange began accepting Homestake shares on the open market in January 1879. Before closing in 2002, the Homestake had become the richest as well as the oldest, largest and deepest gold mine in the Western Hemisphere.
We have no knowledge that Ludwig invested in the Homestake or other mines at this time. However, based on his insider knowledge and experience; later business enterprises requiring capital investment; and at least one newspaper reference to his mining interests, it would be surprising if he did not.
Ludwig S. Kelloch had been born c1836 in St. George, Maine, one of eleven children of Hanse and Sarah (Phinney) Kelloch. Census, military and other records show that he bought land in St. George in 1856; had later land transactions in the same area, some while living in Dakota Territory; worked as a lumberman and paid real estate taxes in Kitsap County, Washington Territory, in 1860; served in the Union Army during the Civil War, 1861-1864; was present to give remarks at the first Kalloch Reunion in 1867; and in 1870, along with the young sons of his late brother Warren, was counted in the St. George household of his widowed mother Sarah.
It is not known how much of Ludwig’s life may have been spent in the west before 1860, or in the years between1864 and his 1877 trip to the Black Hills. His previous employment history with George Hearst is also unknown. During those years, however, he obviously came to possess a high level of expertise and judgment in gold mining, and of trust in the eyes of George Hearst. Hearst was himself regarded as the best judge of mining property on the west coast. With the Comstock, Ophir, Ontario and Anaconda mines under his corporate belt, the reputation was warranted.
The business entity known collectively as The Homestake Mine was actually comprised of five different mines. Their individual names were all probably derived from those under which the the original claims had been filed. Ludwig Kelloch (L. D. or L. S. Kellogg or Kellog as he was then known) became superintendent of one of the five, the Deadwood Mine. He is identified as mine superintendent in more than twenty news items of varying content in the Deadwood, Dakota Territory, newspapers of 1878 thru 1880.
Ludwig survived a life-threatening bout with “typhoid pneumonia” in the fall and early winter of 1879. Sometime between May 15 and October 13, 1880, he left the Deadwood Mine for reasons that can only be speculated on. In December of that year he was reported as superintendent of the Clermont Mine, Galena (another mining district). A search finds no mention of him in the local press for the next approximately year and a half, suggestive of departure from the area after a brief tenure at the Clermont.
On July 21, 1882, the Black Hills Daily Times, a Deadwood newspaper, recorded Ludwig’s arrival by coach the previous day, “ . . . after an absence of two years.” He was described as having been “ . . . a long time superintendent of the Deadwood Mining Company” who was now “ . . . looking ten years younger than when he left.” The purpose of his visit and where he had been for the past two years were not given.
The flattering observation on Ludwig’s appearance could have been an oblique reference to his state of health when last in Deadwood. Poor health and a long convalescence could have played a part in his 1880 departure and extended absence.
It is probable that some portion of Ludwig’s two-year absence was spent in San Francisco. In October 1880, he had stated an intention of spending the coming winter there. That it was the home of George Hearst and headquarters for his mining, ranching and newspaper empire may have furnished the reason for a longer stay. It was also at that time the home of relatives, the Rev. Isaac Kalloch and his family. (Isaac Kalloch served a two-year term as San Francisco’s mayor, 1879-81, and lived there until moving to Washington Territory in late 1883.)
After a week in Deadwood, Ludwig took his departure for San Francisco on July 27, 1882, the Times announcing that he planned “ . . . to be absent for about one year . . . ,” no explanations given. Perhaps he was on the return leg of a round trip from San Francisco (for George Hearst?).
As he had planned, Ludwig was back in Dakota Territory in about a year, the Times noting a Deadwood arrival June 23, 1883. Whatever his undiscovered activities and whereabouts had been during the now three-year absence, a news record of some of his future travels and business affairs began appearing in the Daily Times. These reports make it clear that during his hiatus he had at some point begun to redirect his attention and capital from gold to cattle. (That it was at Hearst’s direction and with Hearst capital is a possibility.)
The Dakota cattle boom had begun slowly in the late 1870s in response to demand for beef created by the influx of miners, soldiers and settlers into the Territory. At the same time, some of the large Texas companies had begun moving herds north and into the Bad Lands in search of new grazing. The anticipated explosion came in 1883 when the Northern Pacific Railroad reached the area, providing access to Eastern markets. Foresighted stockmen, bankers, investors and other entrepreneurs had been busy preparing for that day.
Between June 1883 and July 1885, the Times recorded several Deadwood visits by Ludwig. His place of residence and business dealings were not noted, but departures for Minneapolis and Chicago were. Then, on July 7, 1885, during a short visit, the Times reported that he, “ . . . formerly interested in the Deadwood-Terra mine, is on a visit to the city. He has extensive cattle interests on the Cheyenne.”
On June 25, 1886, the Times welcomed him as “. . . a pioneer to the Hills, at present largely interested in stock raising . . . ” who had arrived from New York the evening before and would return to New York the next day. (The railroad had finally reached the Black Hills that year, making possible such “business shuttling”.)
The boom lasted just three years. Overstocking and easy credit from eager lenders had set the stage for ruin. Some ranchers (most famously, Teddy Roosevelt ranching on the Little Missouri River) saw the mounting risks and sold out in time. Most did not. The bubble burst with the disastrous winter of 1886-87 that brought to the Great Plains the most prolonged cold and blizzard conditions on record. Herd losses along the Little Missouri averaged seventy-five percent, and no rancher lost less than half his herd. Financial recovery would be a long time coming for those who could rally - ranchers, investors and other cattle dependent businessmen alike.
Whether Ludwig had been a ranch owner prior to1886-87 or had remained an investor is somewhat uncertain. Perhaps he was both. We do know that unless he bought out one of the ruined ranchers in the spring, or was left with herd remnants as a creditor, he had owned at least one ranch on the Little Missouri. Other ownerships are suggested by newspaper references to his extensive cattle interests on the Cheyenne River and his trips to Miles City, Montana Territory.
Soon after the extent of his losses would probably have been known, Ludwig was in Deadwood. On May 5, 1887, the Times tells us he had been “. . . sojourning at the Merchants [hotel] for a number of days, . . .” and “. . . leaves this morning for his cattle range on the Little Missouri.” The following day, adding detail, he had “. . . left yesterday for his cattle ranch and Miles City.”
How deeply the ruinous winter had affected Ludwig financially or in other ways is unknown, but for at least another year he worked toward recovery. On August 8, 1888, he was “. . . in from Miles City. He has a bunch of cattle on the northern range doing finely.” This from the Times is the last report we have found on the life of Ludwig Kelloch. We like to think that his labors bore fruit and brought him a measure of satisfaction and prosperity before his final illness.
A special veterans census in 1890 found Ludwig residing in Deadwood. He lived for another three years, dying there from consumption at about age 57, May 17, 1893.
Ludwig Kelloch (a.k.a. Kellogg, Kellog, etc.) was honored by the Deadwood, South Dakota, Historic Preservation Commission on January 10, 2006, “for significantly contributing to Deadwood’s history.” A plaque in recognition of his contributions was placed at that time on the Deadwood Wall of Fame.
The Commission has also, through the Headstone Grant Program, provided a stone marker of Vermont granite. The marker is now placed at his grave in the Mt. Moriah Cemetery, Deadwood.
Author’s Notes: In telling Ludwig Kelloch’s story, we have made frequent use of judgmental “possibilities and probabilities.” Where this is done, we have endeavored to provide the facts on which our judgment is based. Where any conclusion or detail is seen to be mistaken, we would appreciate hearing from readers with better information than ours. We will be glad to furnish our sources upon request. C. William “Bill” Colby contributed to this article.
Marilyn and Homer Morrison, August 27, 2006
Note from webmaster: Deadwood is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Black Hills back to the earliest oral traditions of the Lakota (Sioux), and continuing to the present time, has been and still is considered sacred to the Lakota. For a Lakota perspective, please click the following link and read the article by Delphine Red Shirt.