What History has Taught Me: Rose Speirs

Rose Speirs, Communications Director, Deadwood History, Inc.

Rose Speirs works for Deadwood History, Inc. in Deadwood, South Dakota. For her, it is a privilege to go to work each day and share Deadwood’s amazing history through five unique properties: the Adams House, Adams Museum, Days of ’76 Museum, The Brothel Deadwood and the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center. Speirs loves her job and describes it as “fun, challenging and worth every minute of it because of the great team I work with!”

I grew up an Air Force brat and was raised in South Dakota, but I did live in Guam for two years when my dad was stationed overseas during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s. My five-year-old self recalls that the shrews were huge.

My parents were both Irish Catholics. My dad was from Warwick, Rhode Island, and my mom was from Dubuque, Iowa. They have
both passed away, and I truly miss them. They instilled a strong work ethic in me. 

A mentor is a type of life coach. They pull you up by the bootstraps, as it were, and make you the best person you can be professionally and in life in general 

My love of Deadwood is deep and ingrained in my heart and soul. Deadwood’s history and its stories are often mind-blowing. I am at home in Deadwood. I love this community! 

The Bullock Hotel is one of the most impressive architectural buildings in Deadwood. It also has a strong paranormal presence, isn’t that right, Seth? 

When I visit Mt. Moriah Cemetery I feel at peace. I can’t get enough of it. It is one of my favorite locations in Deadwood. A must-see attraction while in Deadwood. 

Winter is beautiful in Deadwood. We tend to get a lot of snow and sometimes ice. We offer an abundance of outdoor winter activities. However, it’s not for the faint of heart, and it keeps the riffraff out. 

The Black Hills are truly spiritual—a place to relax, hike, ski, ride a bike or walk the Mickelson Trail—a perfect place for nature lovers, geologists and paleontologists 

If I could play poker, well I just wouldn’t, I don’t have a poker face. 

Wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked me “Where’s the bathroom?” 

People don’t realize how hard it is to read somebody’s mind. 

One thing I definitely learned from being quarantined is patience. 

The biggest secret in Deadwood is that there were no Chinese tunnels (historians agree on this). 

You haven’t lived until you’ve gone to The Brothel Deadwood (taken a guided tour of the 104-year history of prostitution in Deadwood). 

A perfect weekend for me is a bike ride on the Mickelson Trail. 

Some things are overrated, like giant pretzels. 

My greatest challenge has been believing in myself. 

Most people don’t know that I appeared on Bozo’s Circus in Boston when I was two years old. 

To me Wild Bill Hickok is a sexy, pistol-carrying Deadwood legend with a gambling problem, who was devoted to his wife, Agnes Thatcher Lake. Deadwood will always be grateful to Wild Bill. 

When it comes to Calamity Jane, I admire her for her acts of kindness. She was woman who had to fight like hell from a very young age to fit into a man’s world. 

The one thing that saved this town is legalized gambling, with its annual share of gaming proceeds helping fund everything from Deadwood Historic Preservation projects to the South Dakota Department of Tourism. 

The secret to a long marriage is keeping your finances separate and having a dog in the family. 

What history has taught me is that you really can learn from the past. I wouldn’t have believed that in my early 20s. Living and working in Deadwood has taught me a plethora of lessons, everything from the importance of historic preservation to the significance of museums and living history. History is exciting, shocking, and it’s absolutely true what Deadwood History Exhibits Director Darrel Nelson says: “The truth is often better than fiction.” 

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