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)