Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Gold Mining in the Tinton Region

Chris Hills, Jan 6, 2015, presenting to Spearfish Area Historical Society
On Jan 6, 2015, Chris Hills, author of "Gold Pans and Broken Picks", presented the topic "Gold Mining in the Tinton Region" to over 75 people of the Spearfish Area Historical Society. Chris included old photographs to illustrate his talk.

Gold Bug Nelson, Black Hills
Chris reported that the first gold in the Black Hills was found in Iron Creek and second in Potato Creek. Frank Bryant found gold in downtown Deadwood on Blacktail Creek downstream from Central City. Other sites for gold were Beaver Creek and Sand Creek (photo of Ed Sussingham in the creek with iron soled boots). Thomas Mallory started the Gold Star claim adjacent to the original Homestake Claim; Mallory sold out to Hearst who expanded the Homestake. The miners from Bear Gulch had a favorite donkey and used to bring the donkey to Spearfish. Once when the donkey was left in town, the newspaper called out for "Miners of Bear Gulch, please come get your donkey." Later when the donkey died, it was buried with the miners.

Tinton got its name from "Tin" for the tin mining there and 'ton' from Cornish translation for 'town'. The peak population in 1927-28 was 300 during the week. On weekends the temporary people walked to the railroad to Iron Creek to catch the railroad out. The last person in Tinton left in 1961, making it one of the last Black Hills ghost towns.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Historical Photos of the Black Hills Area

Horse Shoe Curve with Buckhorn Mountains in background - 1891
People of Deadwood Celebrating in 1888
Larry Miller shared historical photos of the Black Hills area to over 80 people from the Spearfish Area Historical Society on Dec 2, 2014.  The location was the Spearfish Senior Citizens Center.

The photographs were from the John C.H. Grabill collection, starting in 1886 or 1887 for the next five or six years when John Grabill had studios in Sturgis and then Deadwood and worked as the official photographer of Homestake Gold Mine.   John C.H. Grabill left the area and became a famous photographer in Chicago.
Sioux City party on Tally Ho Coach near Hot Springs - 1889


What's left of Big Foot band after Wounded Knee - 1891
Larry Miller obtained the photos from the Library of Congress free gallery website http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/grabill/ and combed through hundreds of photographs, selecting, inspecting details, and organizing them for our viewing and understanding.  



Starting with photos of the early towns of Terraville (now a ghost town), Central City, Deadwood, and Lead City, Larry Miller then moved on to photos of Chinese citizens of Deadwood and then to the area stagecoaches.  


Devil's Tower from the east - 1888
Larry showed photos of Native Americans at the time of the Wounded Knee massacre.   One was of the horse "Comanche" about that time; this horse survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn.   We viewed photos of Native American gatherings such as the Great Grass Dance of 1890 at Pine Ridge.  Larry then moved on to photos of the early gold mines and stamp mills.  

Larry ended with many early photos of some of the unique (but off the road) landscape features in the area, such as Devil's Tower, the "old man of the park" near Sundance, Phantom Ridge, and Echo Canyon near Hot Springs.


Friday, December 19, 2014

50 Years Ago: Luci Johnson's Spearfish Visit



Luci Baines Johnson
On Nov 11, 2014, Paul Higbee presented the story of first daughter, Luci Johnson's visit to Spearfish back in 1964.  The audience was the Spearfish Area Historical Society and the venue was the Spearfish Senior Citizen's Center.
Luci was the teenage daughter of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson.  She came to Spearfish to be the honorary Grand Marshall of the BHSC Swarm Day parade.  The date was Oct 24, 1964.  It was 10 days before the Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater election and only eleven months after Kennedy was assassinated.  The voting age was still 21.
Luci was a charming, friendly and eager Grand Marshall for the parade.  A big and friendly crowd attended and filled the streets of Spearfish.  There were 12 marching bands for the college half-time show.
Luci Bains Johnson Honorary in Swarm Day Parade in Spearfish - Oct 24, 1964
Riding with Luci Johnson in the Swarm Day parade was Anne McGovern, daughter of George McGovern and secret service agent, Rufus Youngblood.   Rufus was in the Johnson's car in Dallas and was the first to recognize the first shot.   By the 3rd shot, he was on the floor of the car covering Lyndon and Lady Bird.
Ten days after Luci's visit, Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey lost the election in Spearfish, won in South Dakota and won the national election.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Home Extension Clubs of Lawrence County



Ida Marie Snorteland and five friends presented the history of the Home Extension Club to over 85 people in the Spearfish Area Historical Society on Oct 7, 2014 at the Spearfish Senior Citizens Center. 
The Home Extension Clubs were a large part of women's lives in Lawrence County beginning in 1914 when the US Government passed the Smith-Lever Act connected through the land grant universities to give each state $10,000 to start up Home Extension Clubs.   Back in the day, women would come by foot, wagon or horseback to join the clubs.   They always wore hats.
The clubs were instructional and social.   The instructional part was done by train-the-trainer methods (before that term was used).  Workshops included such things as making hats, using spices, Chinese cooking, and deboning a turkey.  Events included a wide variety; some examples were one act play contests, fundraising at $2 a plate for the Children's Hospital in Hot Springs, and readings.  The social part extended to families as annual family picnics and holiday programs were highly attended.
Many Home Extension Clubs were formed in Lawrence County in it peak years in the 30's and 40's.   Over the years, the Lawrence County Extension Clubs sponsored the sound system in the Pavilion, the Entrance to Spearfish Park and one of the picnic shelters in the park.
Ruby Green Smith from Ithaca, NY, is best known as the author of the Home Bureau Creed, 500,000 copies of which were published and distributed nationwide. The creed reads as follows:
To maintain the highest ideals of home life; to count children the most important of crops; to so mother them that their bodies may be sound, their minds clear, their spirits happy, and their characters generous:
To place service above comfort; to let loyalty to high purpose silence discordant notes; to let neighborliness supplant hatreds; to be discouraged never:                       To lose self in generous enthusiasms; to extend to the less fortunate a helping hand; to believe one's community may become the best of communities; and to cooperate with others for the common ends of a more abundant home and community life.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Great Western Cattle Trail


Peggy Ables, Betty Olson and Paul Higbee kicked off the season for the Spearfish Area Historical Society on Sept 2, 2014 at the High Plains Western Heritage Center.   Over 80 people were in attendance.
Did you know that the cowboys who ran cattle from Texas to South Dakota were, for the most part, 13 and 14 year old boys?   (answer:  they were)   Did you know why they went so far north as South Dakota?   (answer:  because after the Civil War, the livestock needed to be grazed and the short-growing season in SD locks in nutrients in the grasses for cattle).   Did you know that Great Western Cattle Trail markers were dedicated this July 2014 at the Heritage Center in Spearfish and at the Tri-State Museum in Belle Fourche?   (answer:  Yup! They were.)

Western South Dakota can claim a large part of the history of the Great Western Cattle Trails that ran from Texas and New Mexico through Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska and ended in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota.  Peggy Ables told stories of this year's July event hosting the Great Western Cattle Trail Association members.  Betty Olson told of her legislature that was unanimously approved for an un-paid holiday in South Dakota on the 4th Sat in July to celebrate the Day of the American Cowboy.   Paul Higbee described how many, many cowboys came to the area on a cattle drive and then decided to stay and live in Lawrence, Butte and Meade counties.  Some of them included Tom Gay, Zee Russell, Leo Russell, Billy Sutton, and Slim McNutton.
See three original saddles from the cattle trail and learn more at the High Plains Western Heritage Center.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tour and History of Centennial Schoolhouse



The May 6, 2014 program for the Spearfish Area Historical Society was held at the Centennial Valley Schoolhouse, followed by a discussion by Hank Frawley back at the Spearfish Senior Citizens Center.   The tour group packed the schoolhouse on the cool, rainy evening.  


The one-room schoolhouse has been restored all the way down to the maps and the chalkboards on the walls and the desks and pot-bellied stove. They added an outhouse and two century-old, cast-iron merry-go-rounds and a cast-iron slide for authenticity.   

The schoolhouse was restored by Denver developer, Daryll Propp, German partner Mike Kreke representing Douglas Holdings, and supported by monies from the Outside of Deadwood Grant Program. 

Centennial Schoolhouse was originally built in 1880. 


In recent years, second grade students from Spearfish move their studies to the schoolhouse for an entire day.   Although their follow-up written comments are mostly about the cast-iron merry-go-round, the experience of living and learning as their great-great grandparents did is likely one they will remember.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Quarnberg & Wendelken Families in Dakota Territory


Riverside Mill, Dakota Territory 1880 (hand-painted photograph)
The April 1, 2014 program of the Spearfish Area Historical Society featured the stories of the Hans & Minnie Quarnberg family as they crisscrossed Dakota Territory from 1869 to 1913 to settle in Belle Fourche and the Ralph & Anne Wendelken family, who set up farming in Spearfish Valley Redwater Hill in 1922.    Approximately 72 people attended the program led by the Jack Wells family (Jack, MaryAnn, Richard, Linda, and Allen).   MaryAnn is the granddaughter of Hans Quarnberg and daughter of Ralph and Anne Wendelken.
From friendly Indians buying flour from the mill, to watching an ice flow taking down the railroad drawbridge in Chamberlain, to a motorcycle falling backwards down a hill in the Badlands, the stories were plentiful.
Hans Quarnberg
Tri-State Mill, Belle Fourche 1929
Hans Quarnberg was an innovator and entrepreneur, building two water-powered flour mills near Vermillion and one in Cascade Springs before he was 35.   He managed a mill in Chamberlain and then bought the mill in Belle Fourche at age 58, incorporating as Tri-State Mill.  

With two of his sons, Tri-State greatly expanded throughout the northern hills and Rapid City areas.   

Hans kept innovating and, at age 67, located a new water source for Belle Fourche and built a canal and hyrdro-electric plant for the mill.    At age 72, he opened a clay pit and started up a brick factory Black Hills Clay Products Company in Belle Fourche.
Wendelken Dairy of 40 Guernseys on Redspear Farm
Ralph and Anne Wendelken farmed at the northern end of Spearfish Valley (Redspear Farm).  

The Wendelken Dairy provided milk to much of the area from 1923 to 1940's.  

An eight minute original film from 1937 of life on the Wendelken farm concluded the program.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Railroad Photography in South Dakota


Dakota Southern at Yankton in 1873
Rick Mills shared a collection of photographs of earliest (1987) to current railroading in South Dakota.   Eighty-three members of the Spearfish Area Historical Society enjoyed the varied collection at the Spearfish Senior Citizens Center on Mar 4, 2014.  Rick Mills is the Executive Director at the South Dakota State Railroad Museum in Hill City. 


Burlington Northern at Spearfish Depot late 1890s
Rick took the audience through the photographs explaining when, where and how each picture tells the historic tale and becomes significant to South Dakota's past.  The first photograph was of the first train in South Dakota, the Dakota Southern at Yankton in 1873 which connected Yankton to the existing railway network in Iowa.  Another showed the Chicago Burlington & Quincy train at the Spearfish Depot headed for Spearfish Canyon to Englewood in the late 1890s.  There were oh, so many more.

Visit the South Dakota State Railroad Museum at 222 Railroad Ave Bldg A in Hill City, follow their website at sdsrm.org, or give them a call at (605) 574-9000.   Share a story or a photograph with Rich Mills and staff at the museum.



Rapid City to Huron with sun effects