Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Furois Family of St. Onge

Bernadine Hansen
Maureen Glanzer

Lawrence Co. Special Centennial Newspaper Article 1998
Maureen Glanzer, Bernadine Hansen and Ed Furois share the story of their family history "The Furois Family of St Onge" with over 90 members of the Spearfish Area Historical Society on Jan 5, 2016.

Maureen started the story out with the Stanislas Furois family arriving from Canada in Deadwood in 1879 and moving to the False Bottom area.

Son, Adolphe, got a toothache and walked to Deadwood all night in the middle of the night to get to a dentist.  He decided after that to live in town, Deadwood and then St Onge.   At one point he cut wood from Crooked Oaks and peddled it door to door in Deadwood. Adolphe helped build the stone house in St Onge.
Stone House - St Onge

Adolphe's brother, Achille Furois, was a fiddle player and a ladies man and at one time met Belle Star of western fame.  He built a hotel in St Onge and named it the Star Hotel.

Adolphe and his family managed the only general store in St Onge.  His son, Charles L Furois took up as manager and the store stayed in the family into the 1940s and 1950s.

General Store advertisement

General Store Ledger

Ed Furois

Ed Furois told the story of his father, Charles, waking him up at 4am to accompany him to the St Onge Cemetery where they took down the fence separating the Catholic and Protestants buried there.   Later, in the General Store, a patron came in announcing that the "Fence in the cemetery was gone!" and Charles nonchalantly commented "Is that so?"

McNenny Fish Hatchery - Past, Present & Future

Mike Barnes, Hatchery Manager
On Dec 1, 2015, Mike Barnes, Hatchery Manager of the McNenny State Fish Hatchery, told the story of the hatchery located northwest of Spearfish to the Spearfish Area Historical Society.

McNenny State Fish Hatchery, owned and operated by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, provides trout and salmon for stocking in the Black Hills, Missouri River Reservoirs, and Eastern South Dakota lakes and streams. High fishing pressure, low natural reproduction, and limited food supplies create the need for stocking. Fish raised at McNenny provide fishing opportunities to anglers of all ages.

Approximately 3.5 million gallons of water flow through the hatchery each day. After flowing through the rearing units, the water passes through two settling ponds before eventually flowing into Crow Creek. The hatchery uses this water to produce around 60,000 pounds of trout and salmon each year (give or take a pound or two).The goal of McNenny State Fish Hatchery is to maximize angler satisfaction. To accomplish this goal McNenny emphasizes fish quality and post-stocking survival. 

1949 McNenny Artesian Well
The hatchery's water comes from three artesian wells that were put in place in 1949.  These wells provide consistent ideal temperature water for fish to hatch and grow. 

But much more happens at McNenny than just rearing fish. McNenny strives to be a leader in hatchery-based scientific research and controlled experimentation. The four permanent staff, interns, and volunteers continually innovate by creating or improving the hatchery infrastructure, equipment, and operating procedures. Research and innovation at McNenny not only improves how fish are raised on site, but also advances aquaculture and fisheries management worldwide.
The McNenny Fish Hatchery Display Pond is a 121 foot deep natural sinkhole.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

James K.P. Miller - The Savior of Deadwood

David Wolff sharing the story of James K.P. Miller
David Wolff adeptly shared the history and story of "James K.P. Miller - the Savior of Deadwood" on Nov. 3, 2015 at the Spearfish Area Historical Society meeting with over 100 people in attendance at the Spearfish Senior Citizen Center.

Born in 1845, James K.P. Miller was an early west entrepreneur moving throughout Montana under the alias name of Sydney Osborne (he had lost family money on a venture in his home state of New York).   He learned the grocery business in the early west while at the same time traveled the world.   In 1876 he came to Deadwood, now under his real name, at a time when Deadwood already had 200 stores and 21 groceries.  James established a grocery with partner McPherson and soon was competing directly with Sol Star and Seth Bullock's store.  The 1880 Deadwood fire took his store down for a uninsured $50,000 loss.   He built again, this time with iron shutters.  Then the 1883 flood came and James encouraged and got a 16' high 1000 ft bulkhead built along the west side of the creek.  James became a major developer in town and with his own funds and with a syndicate of developers he built the Syndicate Block, a flour mill, a reduction plant, and the D&D Smelter, among other investments. He tried to get the Fremont train to Deadwood.  After years of promotion he got frustrated and set in motion a line from Deadwood to Lead in 1889 (the ride cost 25 cents, took 17 minutes and took a grade of 8%).  Unfortunately, James died in major debt in 1891 at age 54.  About the time of his death, the Burlington Northern railroad built 100 miles to Deadwood and this pushed the Fremont railroad to finally come in the final 10 miles through Boulder Canyon.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Murder Mayhem

Presented by Rocky Courchaine, Director of Crook County Museum

Rocky Courchaine told of Murder and Mayhem stories from Crook County to the Spearfish Area Historical Society on Oct. 6, 2105 at the Spearfish Senior Citizen Center.  

"The people who came out west looking for a better life or leaving a life that was ruled by others got a rude awakening with what followed them out." Rocky stated.  Whether it was land feuds, cattle or horse rustling, thievery, distraught lovers or out and out murder, it all really happened in Crook County from 1889 to 1933.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

SETH BULLOCK:  The Spirit of the West, Gordy Pratt

Seth Bullock, as portrayed by Gordy Pratt
Gordy Pratt was the first presenter for the 2015-16 season of the Spearfish Area Historical Society with his performance of "SETH BULLOCK:  The Spirit of the West".  Over 125 people attended the Sept 1 program held at the Spearfish Senior Citizen Center.  The enthusiastic audience gave Gordy Pratt a standing ovation.  Afterwards, comments were heard of "great show", "very informative and fun" and "loved those coat-tails!".   The program was sponsored in part by the South Dakota Humanities Council.  Look on to learn more about this show.  

Saturday, May 9, 2015

History of St. Onge

Completing the official Spearfish Area Historical Society program roster for the 2014-2015 season Joanna Jones and Jeannine Guern presented the "History of St. Onge" to over 80 people at the Spearfish Senior Citizen Center on May 5.   Joanna and Jeannine are co-authoring a book on the history of St. Onge, which they hope to complete in 2015.
Research indicates that St. Onge got its name from Henry P. Saintonge, who was involved in delivery and sales to the area and was an early post master.   Several key events and attractions to St. Onge include:
v  Rough Rider Rodeo - for 50 years from 1947 to 1997, this rodeo was well known for great bronc and bull riding and talented rodeo clowns.  Hundreds of folks sat on the sloped hillside to watch.  The rodeo was the first location for women's barrel racing. 

v  Plowman, Knight and Bullock (yes, that would be Seth Bullock) Race Tracks - early horse racing in the Northern Hills.

v  Woodman Building - built in 1910, this sandstone building supported liquor sales, kerosene sales and the upper story was a dance hall providing live music and dance for decades.

v  Little Dane Church - NE of St. Onge, this picturesque Scandinavian church has been an inspiration for many.  A restoration was completed in 2013.

Little Dane Church, north of St. Onge (Photo courtesy of John Mitchell -

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The History of Wharf Mine

The program topic for the Spearfish Area Historical Society for April 2015 was "The History of Wharf Mine" presented by Meg Manke, HR Generalist from Wharf Resources (USA) Inc.   Of the about 80 people who attended the meeting at the Spearfish Area Senior Citizens Center on April 7, 
many had worked in mines in the Black Hills.

Meg Manke introduced herself and we were off and running through a description and a presentation of the various corporate owners of the Wharf Mine since start in 1980s to the current owner, Coure Mining.  To-date the mine, located just north of Terry Peak, has secured 2.4 mil oz. of processed gold.  Two hundred people are employed on four shifts, 24/7.  They utilize 14-15 haul trucks at a time.  

Safety is a major focus evidenced by a 'fit for work program' where they work only if they are ready and fit.   Workers also perform exercises at the start of every shift. Wharf Mine also has a helipad that is shared with Terry Peak.

Blasting in the open cut mine is done attempting perfect "fluff" blasts where the rock is blasted upward so that it will drop exactly where it came from.   This allows the engineers to properly evaluate how good their pre-estimates were on the quality of the gold in the rock.

Wharf has set up a Sustainable Prosperity Fund to give back to the local communities through qualified non-profits.  

History of Lead (including the subsidence of Lead)

Wayne Paananen, Historical Footprints, presented the topic "History of Lead (including the subsidence of Lead) to the Spearfish Area Historical Society on March 3, 2015 to over 65 attendees at the Spearfish Senior Citizen's Center.   Wayne Paananen's talk focused on the historical economic development in the city of Lead, SD.