Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Yesteryear in Tinton

Jessie Schultz Williams, Chuck Schultz, and Joann Follette spent considerable time growing up in the small mining town of Tinton, nestled near Cement Ridge along the Wyoming-South Dakota border. And "Potato Creek Johnny" Perrett, shown in the photograph here, was one of the memorable characters they recalled as they told about growing up in Tinton. Johnny had a particularly colorful career, laying claim--albeit dubiously--to the largest piece of gold found in the Black Hills. But Johnny was only one of many storied folks imbedded in the lore and history of Tinton -- an all-but-abandoned village west of Spearfish Canyon.

Tales about “Life in Tinton” were showcased during a meeting of the Spearfish Area Historical Society at the Senior Citizen’s Center in Spearfish last Tuesday, September 2nd.

A variety of ores were mined in Tinton over the years – reportedly, gold, tin, and tantalum, among others. It’s also interesting, according to Chuck Schultz, that some of the early settlers wanted to lure tourists to Tinton – a formidable task for a community so isolated in the northern Black Hills.

Nonetheless, at its peak, Tinton boasted a community hall, filling station, post office, a big mill, and a two-room school, along with several dwellings. Schultz remembers that Tinton’s population was nominally about 300 persons, but there may have been as many as 500. Electricity was unreliable, and refrigeration was dependent upon ice collected in the winter and stored in sawdust cellars throughout the year.

Jessie Williams shared much about her school years, which were enjoyable and productive despite the lack of technology and many of the resources enjoyed by city schools and most schools today. Several old pictures of school activities – including a basketball team – were displayed on a large video screen for the audience.

“I think most everyone who went to school in Tinton came out all right,” she said.

Our thanks to the presenters for allowing us to share a few of their many historic photographs  in our Tinton Gallery.
 We’re including other information about Tinton as we’re able to assemble it.

The next meeting of the Spearfish Area Historical Society will focus on another old northern Hills town – Galena. It’s scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 7th, at the Spearfish Senior Citizens Center. Guests are invited.