Sunday, March 16, 2014

South Dakota immigrants topic of April meeting

Image courtesy of Library of Congress
The Lawrence County Historical Society spring meeting in Deadwood is just around the corner -- noon on Sunday, April 27th -- and it offers a great opportunity to learn more about South Dakota immigrants.

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 the gold mines of the area.  In his book, Deadwood, Watson Parker observed that 41 percent of the original members of the Society of Black Hills Pioneers were foreign-born.

Ronette Rumpca
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, and others.  The wonderful patchwork quilt of ethnic groups was an important part of Dakota diversity -- and evidence of that diversity is still found throughout the Black Hills and across the state.

And it comes in the forms of Norwegian lefse sticks, Swedish Dala horses, and Chinese guardian lions, among other items.  These and other items used to tell the story of South Dakota immigrants will be the focus of Ronette Rumpca from the South Dakota State Historical Society, our presenter for this spring meeting.  Numerous objects, written records, and photographs are used to tell the story of immigrant groups that settled in South Dakota.

Immigrant artifacts
Rumpca received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of South Dakota in 1982 and  Master's degree in History from the University of Montana in 1988.  She worked in museums in Madison, South Dakota, and Grand Island, Nebraska, before taking her current position as Curators of Interpretation for the state historical society in 1997.

LCHS president Norma Kraemer notes that the noon meeting is open to the public and will include a hardy buffet luncheon catered by Dave Brueckner and his staff from Cheyenne Crossing ($15 per person).  Ronette Rumpca's presentation about South Dakota immigrants will follow a brief business meeting.

To reserve a seat for the luncheon meeting, please RSVP to Donna Watson at 605-578-9770 or Norma Kraemer at nkraemer@q.com no later than Thursday, April 24.

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.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Winds don't deter history buffs on LCHS Fall Tour


By Norma Kraemer, LCHS President

The fall Lawrence County Historical Society had a great tour on Saturday, September 28.  The weather was bright and sunny, although high winds followed us on our route.  About 25 people drove to the various locations that started with the Anderson Ranch near Whitewood. 

Whitewood native Elaine Albrandt (left) poses with Hank Frawley (right) in 
front of her painting of the James Anderson Ranch, drawn from a circa 1890 photo.
We were blessed with Hank Frawley being our host and guide to his great grandparents’ ranch. He has spent the last few decades trying to restore the historic buildings that made up a very successful dairy farm before the turn of the 20th Century.  Most of the restoration is completed, which was aided by Deadwood Historic Preservation grants. 

Touring historic Anderson Ranch near Whitewood
The Anderson Ranch had beautiful stone construction that needed major renovation.  Hank found it better to gut the structures, repair the exterior walls, and redo the interiors.  He talked of the challenges of finding historically accurate materials to do the job right.  He also showed us some of the other artifacts found during restoration and talked of how the location of the ranch has probably been a popular place for human habitation for thousands of years, based on the Indian artifacts found.  Because of the spring that supplies water year round at about 40°F, it made the dairy possible before there was electricity. 

Little Dane Church
After over an hour at the Anderson Ranch we headed to the Little Dane Church to view the historic church and cemetery.  While no longer an active congregation, the church and its well-maintained cemetery are a tribute to the Scandinavian settlers along Dry Creek, south of St. Onge.

We then proceeded to the Minuteman Missile site K-05 as we drove towards St. Onge.  After explaining its significance during the Cold War, Vernon Davis talked about his experiences as a contractor in maintaining the sites. 

Next on the tour was a picnic lunch at the St. Onge City Park.  Thank goodness the park had a windbreak so we had a respite from the wind.  After showing historic pictures of early St. Onge and Vernon Davis talking about what we would be seeing we set out on a walking tour of the town to see what remains today.  


An historic building (1910) in St. Onge
Then we drove up to the Rodeo Grounds to see the tombstone of Jimmy Irons.  Headed back to St. Onge we looked at the abandoned school that had an enrollment at one time of 100 students, the last remaining church, the UCC church and then the city cemetery that has two entrances, one for the Catholics and one for the Protestants.  Vernon Davis had grown up in the area and added unique insights to the area history that is much appreciated. 

After this successful tour, we need to start thinking Spring and where we can go next?  

(Note:  Thanks to Sam Namminga, Mary Gallup-Livingston, and Norma Kraemer for sharing photos!  You'll find a wide array of photographs in our LCHS Gallery)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Another Toomey property bites the dust…

by Larry Miller 

We were surprised and a bit disappointed to just learn that we've lost yet another bit of Black Hills history.

Actually, the demise of Toomey's Mill in Newcastle, Wyoming occurred last year, and its passing has been lamented by more than just a few folks who either worked there, did business there, or in recent years enjoyed a meal there.   My wife and I fit into the last category.

Since retiring to the Hills more than eight years ago, we've tried to visit as much of the region as possible.  In fact, we nearly entered into a contract to buy a home on "Whoop-Up" Road near Newcastle in retirement -- but opted for Spearfish instead.

Nonetheless, we've passed through Newcastle numerous times, going and coming from family visits in Colorado.  Usually, it's simply to gas up and move on -- seems we're always in a hurry!

Seems it was Mother's Day in 2010 when we last stopped in Newcastle and had dinner at the Toomey's Mill restaurant.  Despite the fact we arrived near the end of the day, we enjoyed our meal -- and the historic vibrations of the old mill.

Friend Don Matthesen, with whom we frequently explore museums and other interesting locales around the region, alerted us to the regrettable fate of the Toomey Mill this week.  Thanks to KASL for the photo at upper left, which shows part of the demolition of the venerable structure.  The Newcastle mill had a direct tie to Spearfish through long-time businessman Daniel Toomey.   By the way, you can click on any of these photos to see a larger version.

Interestingly,  we were reading about Toomey just a few months ago while conducting research about pioneer Deadwood attorney Henry Frawley.  It seems that Frawley, one day 113 years ago this month, happened upon a buggy accident near his ranch in Centennial Prairie southeast of Spearfish.  The injured persons was another pioneer businessman…….Daniel J. Toomey!  Frawley summoned help and Mr. Toomey recovered from his injuries.

Nicole Lebsack and Stephanie Lowe have written a nice summary about the history of the Toomey mill operation in Newcastle.  You can access it on this link to Wyoming History


Sunday, June 9, 2013

LCHS elects three new board members

We're delighted to have three new members joining the Lawrence County Historical Society Board of Directors.  All three were elected during the Annual meeting held in May at the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center in Deadwood.

Mary Gallup-Livingston is no stranger to folks who were on our Spring Tour to Whitewood.  She was a key player in helping to coordinate events for what was another of the many great tours our members have enjoyed over the year.  A descendant of grandparents (and a great grandfather) who homesteaded in South Dakota, Mary was born and raised in Rapid City.  With a BA degree from Black Hills State University and an MS from South Dakota State University, Mary says she's always had a passion for history -- particularly South Dakota history.  She's now researching the history of Whitewood and plans to compile that history into a small book that will be the start for a more comprehensive volume.  Mary has been a resident of Whitewood for the past eight years, but since she's long had three grandsons in the vicinity, she's been visiting here every month for more than 22 years.

 Cynthia Harlan is a native of western Washington state and graduated from Washington State University with a BSN, followed by a career of some 20 years in nursing -- mostly in New Mexico.  "We were fortunate enough to land in the Black Hills ten years ago," says Cynthia.  Her husband, Tim Olsen, is a native of Deadwood, and his ancestors have been in South Dakota for several generations.  He works as an RN at the Veteran's Hospital in Sturgis.  Cynthia says Lead is a remarkable community and it "feels like home."  Her new career choice also seems to be a perfect fit, she says about her role as Library Director at the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Library in Lead. "It seems I was born to be a librarian!"

Dr. Joanna Jones of Spearfish has been a teacher for some 40 years, teaching in public schools in Texas, Arizona and South Dakota, as well as teaching at the university level in both South Dakota and Arizona.  In the last three years, she has focused on writing children's books that emphasize the history of the Black Hills.  She's also helped children to record and public histories of their schools.  Joanna tells us that she's now helping 6th Grade students at Whitewood Elementary School complete their school history book for the town's 125th Celebration, which is slated for June 28-30.

Congratulations to all three of our new board members!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Three new board members elected at May meeting

Three new directors were elected to the LCHS board of Directors last weekend (5/19/13) during the annual meeting of the Lawrence County Historical Society.  They included Cyndie Harlan of Lead, JoAnna Jones of Spearfish, and Mary Gallup-Livingston of Whitewood.  We'll be telling you more about these new members in our next posting.

Mike Bender
Keynote speaker for the meeting was landscape architect Mike Bender who works out of Rapid City for KLJ Engineering, discussed restoration of St. Ambrose Catholic Cemetery in Deadwood.  The project is being undertaken with financial support from the Deadwood Historic Preservation Fund.

About 37 members and guests attended the luncheon meeting catered by Dave Brueckner and the folks from Cheyenne Crossing -- always a big hit.  

The society last month conducted another of its highly successful LCHS Tours.  This time, members and guest enjoyed beautiful weather for a wonderful tour that took us through old Crook City and into Whitewood, where we enjoyed a great lunch and dessert -- and had a great tour of several historic Whitewood locations.  (See  story below.)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Great weather…great tour…Thank You, Whitewood!

by Norma Kraemer

The Spring Tour of the Lawrence County Historical had 42 participants sign in for a day of perfect weather as we toured the ghost town of Crook City, SD and the survivor of 125 years Whitewood, SD.  The city of Whitewood were our hosts for the day and outdid themselves in teaching us about the history of their town. 

We started the day with the group driving to the site of Crook City.  Jerry Bryant did a great presentation on the location of the old town with a collection of old photographs he used to take us back in time when it was a bustling mining town. When the railroad chose Whitewood as its terminus, it was the death knell of Crook City. Mary Livingston, the Whitewood historian who made the arrangements for the rest of the day, met us at the Crook City location and then led us to Whitewood, pointing out the location of the old railroad bed that went between Whitewood and Deadwood. 

The next location to visit was the Senior Citizen Center in Whitewood, where a delicious lunch waited for us.  The group enjoyed the soup and sandwiches before going on the walking tour of Whitewood (photo above) that Mary led with the assistance of Whitewood Mayor Deb Schmidt. 

Whitewood is observing the 125th anniversary of the town's founding this year, and Mary Livingston has been researching its history. She distributed a great brochure that showed the historic buildings and their stories.  It included the Lane Hotel, the Jones Building, the Uhlig Store, theBonniwell Building, the Whitewood Banking Company Building, the Methodist Church, the Danish-American Creamery, the Whitewood School, and the United Presbyterian Church. At each location the story of Whitewood and its residents unfolded by the able storytellers.  

City Hall had a display of historic photos for all to read and enjoy and the Presbyterian Church windows, dating from about 1911 were enjoyed by all before we ended the wonderful tour with pie and coffee served in the fellowship hall.  

The people of Whitewood made it a pleasure to have our annual Spring Tour.  Thank you!

Editor's note:  Visit our Spring Tour Photo Gallery to get a glimpse of this great tour.