Sunday, September 27, 2015

LCHS members help maintain the Preston Cemetery

An undated photograph of Preston, South Dakota and surrounding environs

Several decades ago the Lawrence County Historical Society (LCHS) adopted the cemetery in Preston.

With materials donated by Wharf Mine, the society erected a chain link fence around all of the known graves. Through the years the society has sponsored several work days to remove trees, saplings, and weeds, as well as set up grave markers and related tasks. During those years and more recently, individuals of the society have performed light maintenance at the site.

Jacke Mitchell, Verla Mae Weaver and Jim Weaver at the Preston Cemetery
Verla and Jim Weaver made several trips to the cemetery this past summer. On one occasion they guided a Black Hills Model T Club tour of the area in and around Preston.  During the stop at the cemetery, Jim and fellow LCHS member Ivan Hovland  along with several members of the Model T club  pitched in to clear the area of saplings, leaning trees, and debris.

On another occasion, the Weavers and LCHS Treasurer Jackie Mitchell visited the cemetery and surrounding area. Jackie and her late husband, Milton, had participated in several of the LCHS sponsored work days over the years to spray the area for weeds, brush, and other undesirable plants.  

Thanks to the LCHS volunteers and members of the Black Hills Model T Club for helping in this effort to "spruce up" the old Preston Cemetery.  And thanks to Jim Weaver for providing these photos and the accompanying information!

Deadwood History hours change November 1st

DEADWOOD – Deadwood History’s Adams Museum, Days of ‘76 Museum and Historic Adams House will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.Tuesday through Sunday through October 31, 2015.  The museums are closed on Mondays.  

Winter hours will begin in November with the Adams Museum and Days of ‘76 Museum scheduled to be open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.  Closed Mondays and winter holidays.  The Historic Adams House will be closed November through March, but will open for group tours with advanced reservations.  

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; the Historic Adams House is $8 for adults, $3 for children ages 7 – 13 and free to children 6 and under. 

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


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 605-722-4800

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Badger Clark captured life in the American West

(Editor's Note:  This feature is provided by the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society.)

Badger Clark turned four years of cowboy life into a career as one of America’s most successful cowboy poets.

Charles Badger Clark Jr., was born Jan, 1, 1883, in Albia, Iowa. His father, a minister, moved the family to the Plankinton area three months later. The family later lived in Mitchell, Huron and Deadwood.  Clark attended Dakota Wesleyan University for one year and then lived in Cuba for two years before returning to the Black Hills to work for the Lead Daily Call. When he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, he followed a doctor’s advice to move to a dry climate. He went to Arizona, where he tended a small herd of cattle at a ranch near Tombstone.

“I drearily acknowledge that I was no buckaroo worthy of the name,” Clark wrote.

The compensations he found from cowboy life were freedom and the beauty of the desert range. He expressed his feelings for his new life in verse.

His stepmother, Anna, sent a poem he included in a letter to her to Pacific Monthly magazine in California.
When that poem, “Ridin’,” was published and Clark received $10 for it, he decided he had found a job for life.

“If they’ll pay money for such stuff as that, I’m fixed,” Clark said, according to his biographer Helen Morganti.

Badger Clark
After four years in Arizona, Clark returned to the family home in Hot Springs, where his father had taken the job of chaplain at the Battle Mountain Sanitarium. After his father’s death in 1921, Clark continued to live with his stepmother until she moved in 1926 to what was then called the State Soldiers’ Home and Clark moved to Custer State Park.

Returning to South Dakota did not end Clark’s career as a poet. Anna encouraged her stepson to write a poem reflecting the cowboy religion. Clark told her that he had heard cowboys use biblical expressions, but not in the context of a religious nature, according to Jessie Sundstrom in “Badger Clark: Cowboy Poet with Universal Appeal.”

Nonetheless, Clark did comply with his stepmother’s request, which resulted in one of his most popular poems. “A Cowboy’s Prayer” has appeared on postcards, in greeting cards and is read at rodeos.

The fact that the poem is often attributed to “author anonymous” did not seem to bother Clark.

“Mr. Anonymous has written some marvelously good things in the past and when a man reaches a height where he is identified with Anonymous, that’s success,” Clark is quoted as saying.

Clark’s first volume of poems, “Sun and Saddle Leather,” was published in 1915. The novel “Spike,” containing short stories about life on the Arizona ranch, was published in 1925. “Sky Lines and Wood Smoke” was published in 1935, and “boots and bylines” and “When Hot Springs was a Pup” were published after Clark’s death.

The cowboy poet’s work has never gone out of print. The South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society, oversees the reprinting and distribution of Clark’s work as well as other materials about him.

Clark took his poems to the people, reading them at schools, colleges, clubs, churches and other gatherings. A commanding presence with a Van Dyke mustache and beard, he would recite his verse wearing knee-high boots, riding breeches and a military-style coat.

He is credited with speaking at the first cowboy poetry event in Elko, Nev., where he entertained a large crowd at the Elko High School gym on April 3, 1926. He was honored at the 2013 National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko when an ensemble cast of artists from across the West recited or sang their favorite work of his.

Often speaking for “travel and meals,” honorariums from his speeches and publishing royalties earned him $500 to $700 a year, enough to live at his cabin in Custer State Park. Clark described his home, the Badger Hole, as “four rooms and a path.” It had no running water, no electricity and was heated by burning wood in the range, the fireplace and in a round heater in the living room.

“Sufficient,” he said, “for a bachelor in the backwoods.”

Although never married, Clark was once engaged to a classmate at Deadwood High School, according to Sundstrom.

Gov. Leslie Jensen named Clark the South Dakota poet laureate in 1937, but Clark may have preferred another title, as he signed a letter, “Dutifully your poet lariat, Badger Clark.”

Clark remained the state’s poet laureate until his death from throat and lung cancer in Rapid City on Sept. 27, 1957. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Hot Springs. 

He left a poetic heritage rich in beauty and an understanding of the American West.