Tuesday, July 22, 2014

LCHS loses long-time supporter Milton Mitchell

We are sorry to report that  one  of our long-time historical society members,  Milton Mitchell,  died earlier this week (7/21/14) in Rapid City. He was 84 years old.  

A native of Lawrence County, Milton continued a family tradition of ranching in our county.  He was named "Outstanding Young Farmer" in 1959. 

He is survived by his wife, Jacke Mitchell; children Len (Darcy) Mitchell, Le Anna (Dave) Nielsen, Toby Harley and Roxanne Harley; eight grandchildren; ten great-grandchildren; two sisters:  Cheri Miller and Rev. Bee (Quentin) Neufeld and numerous nieces and nephews.  

Milton's wife, Jacke, has been the long-time Treasurer for the Lawrence County Historical Society.  He was on hand at our LCHS Spring Meeting in late March when Jacke was presented with an award for her long service to LCHS.

Funeral services for Milton are set for 10:00 a.m. this Thursday, July 24, at the St. Onge United Church of Christ.  Our condolences go out to Jacke and all members of the Mitchell family.

Read the entire Milton Mitchell obituary from Fidler-Isburg Funeral Chapel.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Map of the Deadwood region before statehood


This is an enlarged section of an 1884 Lawrence County map, showing a few of the mills and mines around the Lead, Central, and Deadwood area.  Toward the upper right of the map (just south of the old Centennial Park Hotel and Post Office) is Cliff House.  We're wondering if that might be the site of what later became known as the Half-Way House between Spearfish and Deadwood.  The map is included in the 1884 Andrea's Historical Atlas of Dakota Territory. (Thanks to the Case Library at Black Hills State University)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Author visits Black Hills for ancestral research

One of our joys at Historical Marker is hearing from folks across the country who inquire or comment about a story – or a photograph – and occasionally share information on a particular topic.

John Lundberg ca. 1889
In May, we received an e-mail from Alabama author Linda Alexander, whose great-grandfather immigrated to the United States in 1880 and would spend several years in the Black Hills as a miner – and a successful one at that.  His name was John Lundberg, and Linda was researching his years in this region.

Linda and her husband came to Spearfish in early May, unexpectedly witnessing one of our spring snowstorms.  She spent the better share of a week poring through documents in libraries, the Lawrence County Courthouse, as well as the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC), where we were able to meet and visit with her and her.  Linda was well equipped for her research, having already amassed considerable information and photographs, but she was looking for more.

Her abilities in research and writing have been honed through years of work as an author, as well as her passion for genealogy.  Among others, she’s written biographies about Nebraska's Robert Taylor (Reluctant Witness: Robert Taylor, Hollywood, & Communism)  and actor Jack Kelly, who portrayed Bart Maverick in the television series Maverick more than 50 years ago (A Maverick Life - The Jack Kelly Story).
 
And so now she’s on a course of assembling a biography that hits close to home.  John Lundberg was not only Linda Alexander’s ancestor, he was a Swedish immigrant whose exploits in mining earned him and his family a good living.  In fact, he was co-owner of Lundberg, Dorr, and Wilson mining in the northern hills.  He married his wife in Keystone and they would eventually buy a home in Terry, where there son was later born.

We’ll not give away any more of this story, since Linda Alexander has kindly shared with us a “mini-biography” of John Lundberg – along with some photos.


Here’s a link to her biographic sketch of John Lundberg.

By the way, you can find Linda Alexander's books  at Amazon.com, Bearmanormedia.com, and  -- I suspect -- a variety of other online sites.


Sunday, June 1, 2014

LCHS finally earns official non-profit status

After many long years of working to achieve non-profit status, the Lawrence County Historical Society (LCHS) has finally been recognized by the U. S. Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.  That official blessing came on May 13, 2014, according to LCHS President Norma Kraemer.

LCHS President Norma Kraemer
"It means that money we receive as contributions, whether as bequests, devises, transfers or gifts, are tax deductible for the donor," said Kraemer.

"It also means that we may apply for grants to accomplish our own projects from organizations that require us to be a 501 (c)(3) organization."  

"While it took the IRS 17 months to act on our application, it was a much longer process by the board of directors of the Lawrence County Historical Society.  It involved incorporation under the laws of South Dakota while our President was Jerry Bryant.  The incorporation was guided by David Wolff and Larry Miller."

The next step, according to Kraemer, was IRS paperwork, which would not have been possible without the work of Treasurer Jacke Mitchell.

"The data she provided me to complete the application was concise, making it easy to fill out the IRS application," Kraemer said.

The LCHS board of directors welcomes proposals for projects.  Kraemer says they've set up guidelines to make it an easy process.  Persons with proposals are asked to contact President Norma Kraemer at nkraemer@q.com to start the process.

The Lawrence County Historical Society strives to bring together people interested in preserving, protecting, and promoting the history of Lawrence County and South Dakota.  Membership in the society is open to all and now totals about 145 persons.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A look back: Water Rights in Lawrence County

(NOTE:  The following article was included in the 1981 book Some History of Lawrence County, published by the Lawrence County Historical Society.  Authored by Don Chastain, the story is found on pages 656-658 of the publication.  Some History of Lawrence County may be found in Lawrence County libraries and other libraries across the region.) 

The following is an incomplete sketch of how water was valued by the residents of Lawrence County.  The account, which focuses on one community, is thought to be representative of the County at large. Each community and major industry viewed water as its lifeblood, and each secured, preserved and at times fought for this precious fluid with the same conviction and determination as the one depicted below.

Water has been vital to the people of Spearfish since the area was first settled.  The 1885 City Charter states the intent "to construct and preserve reservoirs, cisterns, wells, pumps, and other waterworks, and to regulate the use thereof..."

The water, which came primarily from Spearfish Creek, was fiercely protected by the Spearfish residents.  An October 18, 1897 article from the Queen City Mail captioned "Spearfish Will Protest," announced the intentions of Deadwood to draw 200 inches of water from the Spearfish Creek for domestic use.  The Mail bitterly attacked what its editor interpreted as a flagrant disregard for legal rights established by early Spearfish settlers.  The paper stated that "as self-preservation is the first law of water it is but natural that our people should interpose a strong objection."  The attack then widened to include Homestake by suggesting that the company should have been enjoined years before from diverting water from Spearfish Creek.  "Because our people have allowed one corporation to rob them," the article proclaimed, "it is no indication that we will tamely submit to a repetition of the dose."

In December of 1897, Belle Fourche entered the protest, first with a letter to the Queen City Mail referring to the large sums often paid for water rights and the length of time many of these rights had been held.  Then, under the caption "We All Kick," the Belle Fourche Bee indicated that everyone in the valley would be "injuriously affected" by any reduction in the water supply.

In one December 15, 1897 article, a Spearfish man was quoted as saying "It strikes me that a man who had to use a Winchester in locating a ranch would use one to protect his right after twenty years' labor and occupancy in making it a home."  On the twenty-second of that month, the Mail again blamed Homestake for instigating the water diversion issue.

1897 had been a dry year, and there would be others.  Climate plus the growing needs of industry and expanding communities would again ignite the water issue flames of hostility.  In February of 1899 Homestake announced its intention to invest one million dollars to construct a system which would divert water from Spearfish Creek to supply water for its mills and for domestic use in Lead, Deadwood, Central and Terraville.  The Queen City Mail related on January 17, 1900 that the Cascade Water Power and Electric Transmission Company had started injunction proceeding against Homestake and the Black Hills Canal and Water Company to prevent them from diverting water from Spearfish Creek.  The following month the J. D. Hardin Syndicate with property along the Redwater and in Spearfish Valley joined the fight to protect Spearfish water.

The battle over water rights existed not only between Spearfish and other communities, but within the Spearfish community itself.  As parties settled in the Spearfish Valley, some established homes along the Spearfish Creek and claimed water rights.  Several neighbors then cooperated to establish a ditch which would supply water needed to irrigate their contiguous farm lands.  As a result, by 1914 eight such ditches existed.  That year saw an unusually dry summer, and as some ditch owners drew more water for their lands, owners of other ditches received little water or, in some cases, none at all.

Joseph Cook and thirteen others brought suit against two hundred and seventy-three defendants, including the Cattle Feeders Loan Association, the Congregational Church Society, the Episcopal Church Society, the Homestake Mining Company, and the Board of Education South Dakota Regents.

The trial, held in Lawrence County circuit court, lasted seven weeks.  The plaintiffs sued to obtain adequate water but, in effect, lost the case.  The Eighth Circuit Court established a priority for each claimant and further allotted varying amounts of water for each.  The Court stated that when water is not in sufficient supply for all, those rights established first and ranked highest will use their allotment even if others ranked lower are left with no water.

Cook was ranked eighth in priority behind (1) Evans, (2) Ramsdell, (3) Spring Ranch, (4) Evans, Ryan, Gay, Joseph Ramsdell, Smith and Riedrich Cooperative, (5) Walton, (6) Homestake Mining Company, (7) the Brady, Bronson, Jones and Rosenbaun Cooperative.  Several of these claimants were allotted more water than Cook.

The decision was appealed, and in 1921 it reached the South Dakota Supreme Court which reversed the decisions made in lower courts.  The Supreme Court ruled that rank could not be established chronologically.  The Spearfish Valley belonged to the Sioux Indians prior to February 28, 1877, and homesteaders had no legal claim.  On March 3, 1877, just a few days after the Indians had ceded their rights to the Government, the Desert Land Act prohibited future reparation claims.  No one had claimed reparation rights during those few days;  therefore, the lower court's "first come - first served" position was declared in error.

The Supreme Court further claimed that one man should not suffer because another man's land won't hold water.  Nor should large tracts of land receive more water per acre than small tracts.  Therefore the Court ruled that each claimant was to receive one quarter inch of water for each acre, regardless of when the claim was filed, the size of the claim, or the condition of the soil.

The November 16, 1921 issue of the Queen City Mail contended that Cook had won his case.  The paper, calling the decision "revolutionary," claimed that "the Cook ditch owners...will receive ample water for the irrigation of every acre of their lands, ...and they feel amply repaid for the effort, patience and trouble required to attain the end."

The City of Spearfish has its scars from water battles.   In November of 1899 the City was served notice by Joseph Ramsdell that it would be held for damages if water was diverted from the spring branch of Spearfish Creek.

Such action slowed city water use, but in 1930, Spearfihs was granted the right to take approximately 150 inches (2.94 second feet) of water from Spearfish Creek, and in 1954 Spearfish constructed a 550,000 gallon reservoir for its 6000 residents.

While the dust has settled somewhat, the water rights issue may not have forever slipped into obscurity.  In 1975 an article appeared in the Denver Post with the caption, "U. S. Claims Imperial State Water Rights."  You can imagine how that set with folks around here.

####

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Immigrant artifacts shared at LCHS spring meeting

Ronette Rumpca
About 40 people braved some nasty weather to enjoy the spring meeting of the Lawrence County Historical Society last weekend (4/30/14) at the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center in Deadwood.  But what's a little snow and ice to South Dakotans in the spring?  We can always use the moisture, right?

Speaker for the event was South Dakota Humanities Scholar Ronette Rumpca from the State Historical Society in Pierre, who provided some keen insight into the varied immigrant groups that settled in South Dakota.

Many immigrants found their way into Dakota Territory in 1863 after passage of the first Homestead Act.  Few places had the enormous ethnic diversity found in early Lead, due largely to the concentration of peoples who had come from near and far to find their fortunes in gold mines of the area.  In his book, Deadwood,  the late Watson Parker observed that 41 percent of the original members of the Society of Black Hills Pioneers were foreign-born.


A "troll doll"
 Although their concentrations were far more prevalent in eastern South Dakota, Scandinavians could be found statewide -- along with Germans, Germans from Russia, Irish, Italians, Greeks, Chinese, and many others.  The wonderful patchwork quilt of ethnic groups was an important part of Dakota diversity -- evidence of that diversity is still found throughout the Black Hills and across the state.

It was an opportunity to not only hear about the immigrants, but also to get a close-up look at many of the artifacts that they brought with them from the old world.  Ranging from Swedish Dala horses and Chinese guardian lions to Norwegian lefsa sticks and other unusual items, many of which were passed among the audience for closer inspection.

Milton and Jacke Mitchell
An outstanding buffet luncheon was served by Dave Brueckner and his staff from the Stagestop Cafe at Cheyenne Crossing.

A special presentation was made to long-time society treasurer Jacke Mitchell of Spearfish.  An engraved coffee mug -- noting her significant contribution to the society -- was presented by LCHS president Norma Kraemer.

By the way, you can see more photographs -- and in higher resolution -- by following this link to our LCHS Photo Gallery.

There was also a reminder of the forthcoming spring tour to the Hydro-electric plant in Spearfish on Sunday, May 18th.  The tour will also include a downtown walking tour of the historic Spearfish Commercial District.  Watch this site for details!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

"The Sampson of the Black Hills"

Maurice Walsh
Maurice Walsh was a native of Limerick County, Ireland, who came to the Black Hills in1876, arriving in Deadwood in time to help lay out the town on April 26, 1876.

Walsh undertook many things during his lifetime that brought him a reputation for being the "strong man" of the Black Hills.  En route from Cheyenne, one of the horses died on the trail, which made it necessary to pull one wagon by hand.  Walsh, along with several others, did the job, taking 21 days to accomplish the unbelievable chore.  Walsh continued to Deadwood where he got a job operating a placer mine for seven dollars a day.

There he lived in a cave under a bank.

He was in Deadwood at the time Preacher Smith was killed, and years later was to reveal that he felt the good preacher had been done in by gamblers who felt their livelihood threatened by "Bible-toting" Smith.

In 1877 Walsh homesteaded near Spearfish but then went to work in the mines at Central City.  It was there that he performed a feat of strength that added to his reputation as the "Sampson of the Black Hills."

As the story goes, he was offered $125 to clear a site for the building of a hotel.  The area was covered with spruce trees and thick underbrush.  He engaged the help of one man and a wheelbarrow.  The helper dug around the base of the trees and then Walsh, using his powerful arms as a stump puller, jerked the trees out by the roots.  By 6 p.m. that day the job was finished, and he went to collect his $125.  The man who had hired him objected to paying $125 for just one day's work, but Walsh told him, "You'll pay me according to the agreement or I'll twist you like I did the trees."  One look at the six foot plus, 240-pound man convinced the employer.

Walsh was married to Mary Lynch at Deadwood in 1891 and the couple moved to Redwater ranch, and later to Spearfish.

(Excerpted from the Deadwood Pioneer Times, May 26, 1976 and reprinted in the 1981 LCHS book  "Some History of Lawrence County")

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bernie Williams Awards announced for 2014

Deadwood History Executive Director Mary Kopco behind three of the winners of the Bernie Williams Awards.  They are (l-to-r) Kashton Dillman, Kaitlyn Martin and Alex Pearson
Deadwood History, Inc. has announced winners of the 2014 Bernie Williams Award. 

Bernie Williams was a strong supporter of the communities of Lead and Deadwood, an advocate for children and a dear friend of the Deadwood History museums. When she passed away in 2009, Bernie left a legacy in hope and historic preservation. The Bernie Williams Award for History honors her legacy by offering a full calendar-year scholarship to all Deadwood History youth and family programs for the winning students.

Lead-Deadwood students in grades K-8 were asked to submit a piece of artwork, using any type of art media which reflects a favorite part of living in the Black Hills. 

Six winners were chosen this year. Kindergartener Eain Bender, second grader Connor Bender and third grader Kashton Dillman all used acrylic paint on canvas for the artwork submitted. Second grader Kaitlyn Martin used construction paper and markers for her creation, as did fifth grader Alex Pearson, and sixth grader Jazclynn Ortiz created her project with colored pencils. All work submitted was very unique and artistic. The artwork will be on display in the Pioneer Room at the Adams Museum through February 28, 2014.
Congratulations to Eain, Connor, Kaitlyn, Kashton, Alex and Jazclynn. Deadwood History is deeply grateful to the late Bernie Williams for inspiring our youth to treasure their communities, art and history. 
(Thanks to Rose Speirs)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter hours return for Deadwood History

DEADWOOD – Winter hours for Deadwood History’s Adams Museum and Days of ’76 Museum began in January, with the museums open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and closed New Year’s Day and on Mondays through April, 2014.  The Historic Adams House will be open for specialty tours during the winter, and will reopen in March, 2014, Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and closed Mondays. 

Admission to the Adams Museum is by donation; the Days of ’76 Museum is $5.50 for adults; $2.50 for children ages 7 – 13; and free to children 6 and under; and the Historic Adams House is $7 for adults; $2 for children ages 7 – 13; and free to children 6 and under.  Guided tours of the Victorian home are offered every hour, with the last tour of the day at 4:00 p.m. 

The Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC) is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday or by appointment. 

Free admission is offered to the Adams Museum, Days of ’76 Museum and Historic Adams House for all Deadwood History members.  Membership allows Deadwood History to offer educational programs, create new exhibits and benefit on-going preservation needs.  Every form of support, whether it is an individual membership or a donation, is deeply appreciated and allows Deadwood History to continue to fulfill its mission to educate and engage our community.  

For information on becoming a member call Mark Rambow at 605-722-4800. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

An update: Ice Skating in old Central City


It may not have drawn the crowds that fill the ice rink at  Rockefeller Center in New York City, but the American Legion Ice Skating Rink in Central City, South Dakota was once a popular place!  That's the big building in the center of this photograph. (Thanks to the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center [HARCC] in Deadwood) 

We're not quite sure exactly when the Homestake Mine closed Cyanide Sand Plant #2, between Deadwood and Lead (probably in the mid 1930s) but we've talked to many folks who remember visiting the spacious facility after it became home to a popular ice skating rink.

Documents at the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC) in Deadwood reveal that the rink measured 60 feet by 360 feet.  According to information contained in the August 1963 edition of Sharp Bits, published by Homestake Mine, the rink was operated for many years by a local American Legion post.  What do you remember about this rink?  Drop us an e-Mail!   And you can take a closer look at the structure in our LCHS Photo Gallery.

Editor's Note:    In November 2013, a kind reader e-mailed us and provided more information about the rink.  She noted that it was "…naturally 'cooled' by the outdoor temp, and the snow would blow in on wintry days, but who really cared?  It remained open each season from the time it was cold enough for the ice to be laid, and sprayed to 'even out' the surface until the outdoor temps became too warm.  Huge hoses were used to lay down each layer of ice, and Mother Nature would take over each night.  Cecil Stoner operated the rink for several years, and then Tom Thoresen took over management for many years thereafter.  Skating was from 1:00-4:00 each Sunday; 7:00-9:00 on Wednesday and Friday nights, and two sessions on Saturdays (1:00-4:00 and 7:00 to 9:00)."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Aunt Lou" visits LCHS Fall Meeting in Deadwood

Joyce Jefferson at left portrays "Aunt Lou" Marchbanks, shown in old photo at right.
Despite power outages and other lingering aspects of the devastating blizzard last weekend, the Fall Meeting of the Lawrence County Historical Society proceeded as scheduled Sunday afternoon (10/13/13) at the Homestake Adams Research Center in Deadwood.

Humanities Scholar Joyce Jefferson provided the program -- a wonderful presentation featuring Jefferson slipping in to the role of Lucretia "Aunt Lou" Marchbanks, a most remarkable resident of early day Deadwood.

Sponsored by the South Dakota Humanities Council, the program followed a great buffet luncheon provided by Dave Bruckner and the good folks at the Cheyenne Crossing Stage Stop Cafe.

Jefferson's Chautauqua-style program was entitled "Who is Aunt Lou? We'll Tell You Who She Is," and featured Jefferson in costume as "Aunt Lou" Marchbanks.  Born a slave, "Aunt Lou" was -- according to a story in the March 27, 1890, edition of the Black Hills Daily Times, "…a most remarkable woman for the opportunities in life which were hers."

"A slave nurse during the war of the rebellion, but left the south immediately after the war.  She could neither read nor write, but had a most remarkable memory, and her reading of human nature and human character on first sight was unerring."

"Aunt Lou" shared stories about her youth and then as a housekeeper for officials of the Father De Smet Mining Company in Deadwood after arriving in the Black Hills in 1876.  She was 44 at the time.

Ms. Jefferson gave a fine performance, mingling some delightful musical ditties with some heartwarming stories about this remarkable woman who graced the mining districts in the northern Black Hills for so many years.    Jefferson also distributed copies of her Lucretia Marchbanks Gazetteer, which was published for the 2013 West River History Conference in Rapid City.  Replete with photographs, the publication contains a wonderful collection of news stories and anecdotes from the Black Hills Daily Times dating from 1877 into the early 1900's.

Since arriving at Ellsworth Air Force Base some years ago from Hawaii with her Air Force husband, Earl, and their son, Joyce Jefferson has found pleasure in working as an independent scholar and participating in the South Dakota Humanities Council's speakers bureau.  Her appearance at the HARCC was sponsored by both LCHS and the South Dakota Humanities Council, with support from a National Endowment for the Humanities grant.

Enjoy a few candid photographs from the "Aunt Lou" presentation, along with photos from earlier programs, in our LCHS Gallery.