May 3, 2021

Preservation Thursday: King of the Hills – The Untold Story of the Real Al Swearingen

DEADWOOD– Deadwood History, Inc. and the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission will host a presentation by Robert (Bob) Harrison, at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 13, 2021, at the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC), 150 Sherman Street, Deadwood.  Free to members and $5 for non-members.  Social distancing and limited admission will be implemented.  The event is wheelchair accessible.  Please feel free to bring your lunch. 

Bob Harrison’s presentation will cover the life and times of Al Swearingen, who needs no introduction in Deadwood. Ellis Albert (Al) Swearingen left home at an early age to travel throughout the West, and his family heritage happened to provide some key connections which enabled his many ventures. Swearingen died in Denver in 1904 under mysterious circumstances using an assumed name and was returned to Iowa accompanied by a brother. He was buried a few miles from the family farm in an unmarked grave, forgotten for a century. David Milch, intrigued by the legend of the lawless town, created the acclaimed HBO® Deadwood series in 2004 with Ian McShane portraying Al Swearingen. Bob Harrison’s great-great-grandmother was Swearingen’s older sister.  Swearingen was born in Oskaloosa, Iowa, as was Harrison.  As one of Swearingen’s closest living relatives, Harrison has been researching the family for 20 years and feels he has uncovered a great story.   

Robert L. Harrison is the owner and CEO of RLH Consulting, founded in 2013 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, specializing in engineering, project management, analytics, and financial services.  He has an extensive background in Design Engineering, Product/Project Management, Financial/Capital/Network Planning, Telecom, and Logistics. Harrison has worked for General Electric, Amana Refrigeration, McLeodUSA, PAETEC, Windstream, and Reynold Engineering and Equipment.  He has a bachelor of science in Engineering Science from Iowa State University and an M.B.A. from the University of Iowa.  Harrison’s interests include historical research in westward expansion, including the development of townsites, mining camps, and ghost towns. 

This program was made possible by the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, Deadwood History, Adams-Mastrovich Family Foundation, Deadwood Chamber & Visitors Bureau, The Lodge at Deadwood, Spearfish Chamber of Commerce, and Saloon No. 10.               


Photograph available upon request.  

We inspire the global community by preserving and celebrating the cultural heritage of Deadwood and the Black Hills in the context of the American West through exceptional exhibits, innovative educational programs, and access to extensive collections in unique settings. Adams Museum, Days of '76 Museum, Historic Adams House, Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC), and The Brothel Deadwood.