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.