Thursday, January 29, 2015

LCHS Past-President Jerry Bryant dies at 69

Editor's Note:  Friend Jerry Bryant, whose enthusiasm for and pursuit of Black Hills history was widely recognized, died last weekend (1/24/2015) in Rapid City.  His passing came after several years of declining health.  His published obituary follows.  On this LCHS website, you'll find several stories reflecting Jerry Bryant's activism in local history.  May he rest in peace. Our condolences to Linda and the entire Bryant family.

Jerry Bryant
(October 22, 1945 - January 24, 2015)

Jerry Lynn Bryant, 69, Deadwood, SD died January 24, 2015 at Rapid City Regional Hospital with his family by his side. Jerry and his wife Linda had been residents of Deadwood for the past 15 years.

Jerry Bryant (October 1945-January 2015)
He was born in Muscatine, IA on October 22, 1945 to Lysle and Norma (Cotton) Bryant, he was an only child. He married Linda Harano on April 1, 1975 in Tokyo, Japan.

Jerry was a decorated Navy Senior Chief, he retired in 1988 after 24 ½ years of service. He then pursued a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in cultural resources management from Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA. After moving to Deadwood in 1999, he worked at the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service in Spearfish and then the Adams Museum in Deadwood. After retiring for a second time, he became involved in Deadwood's Historic Preservation and the Lawrence County Historical Society, where he served as president for a few years.

He is survived by his wife Linda, Deadwood; son, Mitsuo and fiancée Megan Petersen, Salt Lake City, UT; daughter, Sumie fiancé Brent Adams, Pewaukee, WI; granddaughters, Kaia, Mika, Hana and mother-in-law, Mary Ann Harano. He was preceded in death by his parents, Lysle and Norma Bryant and granddaughter, Amaya Lynn Bryant-Gonzales.

Services for Jerry will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be sent to the Deadwood Trust for Historic Preservation PO Box 198, Deadwood, SD 57732.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Year's celebration on the prairie

Ancient Greeks served them as an incentive to drink. Romans imported and fattened them. American Indians on both coasts considered them a staple in their diet. Abraham Lincoln served them to guests at parties at his Illinois home.
And in Dakota Territory in 1880, oysters were a New Year’s Day treat for some famous settlers.
Charles and Caroline Ingalls, their daughters Mary, Laura, Carrie and Grace, and their fellow homesteaders and friends near De Smet, Robert and Ella Boast, began the new year with a special dinner.
“There were oysters and honey and sauce [from] home dried fruit the Boasts had brought with them. We told stories and joked and had a happy New Year’s day,” Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote in Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography.
Charles Ingalls referred to the occasion as “the first oyster festival in Kingsbury county.”
Pioneer Girl is Wilder’s original nonfiction account of her life. It is the true story behind both her fictional “Little House” books for youngsters and the long-running Little House on the Prairie television series starring Michael Landon. The autobiography was recently published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press.
In Pioneer Girl, Wilder describes 16 years of the mostly westward journey that the Ingalls family took from 1869 through 1885. In 1879, the Ingalls family was living near Walnut Grove, Minn., when Charles accepted a job as bookkeeper and company storekeeper for A.L. Wells and Co., which sold goods to the graders on the Dakota Central Division of the Chicago & North Western Railway Co. The railroad was expanding its rail service west from Tracy, Minn. The family arrived at Silver Lake, near De Smet, in September.
The Boasts homesteaded about a mile east of De Smet. The Ingalls family had New Year’s dinner at the Boasts’ house.
“It was all the more fun because their one room was so small, that with the table set, we had to go in the outside door and around to our place at the table one by one and leaving the table we must reverse the order and go out the door following the scripture that, ‘The first shall be last and the last first,’” Wilder wrote in Pioneer Girl.
It was probably canned oysters on which the Ingalls and Boasts dined. Fresh or canned, oysters had soared in popularity in the 19th century, according to an annotation in Pioneer Girl. Packed in hermetically sealed cans, oysters “traveled the breadth of the wide trans-Missouri region almost as soon as Americans ventured there,” according to historian Paul Hedren. Railroads brought oysters almost everywhere by 1880.
In her fictional account of the New Year’s Day meal in By the Shores of Silver Lake, Wilder described how they dined on oyster soup and that Laura had never tasted anything as good as the “sea-tasting hot milk” with oysters at the bottom.
The first day of 1880 ushered in a winter that Wilder described in Pioneer Girl as passing quickly and merrily.
Individuals may order copies of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography through the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation at (605) 773-6346 or More information about Wilder’s autobiography can be found at