|Image courtesy of Library of Congress|
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.
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.
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 email@example.com no later than Thursday, April 24.