Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spearfish had CAVES!

Few people know the history of Spearfish, South Dakota as well as Linfred Schuttler.

That’s probably why the Spearfish Senior Citizen’s Center was filled last night (4/6/10) with history buffs eager to learn more about the “Queen City.”

Schuttler, who’s been a regular presenter for the Spearfish Area Historical Society over the years, shared the story of Spearfish – punctuated with his droll humor and lively anecdotes.

The 85-year-old Schuttler grew up around Farmer in Hanson County, South Dakota. During World War II, he was assigned to a mortar unit of the 103rd Division, which was involved in liberating German “Work Camps.” After the war, he moved to Spearfish and farmed for nine years before going to work for 25 years at the U.S. Post Office as a mail carrier.

“And that was before vehicle delivery -- when mail carriers actually carried the mail,” noted society president Rand Williams in his introduction of Schuttler. After a career at the postal service, Schuttler owned and operated the Bell, Book, and Candle Shoppe for 13 years. In this latest retirement, he has become an indefatigable researcher of Spearfish history, but he also enjoys travel and has visited 45 states and 18 foreign countries.

With a twinkle in his eye, he concedes that one thing he’s not retired from is his continuing effort “to find the Ezra Kind gold treasure” described by the infamous Thoen Stone.

Although the city of Spearfish, South Dakota was incorporated in 1888, Schuttler contends that the community was really “born” in 1876, when the first settlers moved into the valley area along the creek where “fish were speared” by natives and settlers alike.

Schuttler cited historian/writer Annie Tallent regarding the very early days of the Spearfish vicinity, noting that fur traders were likely among the first white men into the region in the early 1800s.

Despite the niceties of the Laramie Treaty, a host of laws, and the prohibition against settlers occupying this area – which was clearly Indian land – all went out the window when gold was discovered in 1876.

The first survey and plat of the Spearfish town site was May 29, 1876. After subsequent surveys and platting, the dissolution of the town site company, and assumption of jurisdiction by the county government, Spearfish was “re-born” several times.

Linfred described one of the significant challenges facing the community was CAVES. This piqued the curiosity of the audience until he described the obstacles as “citizens against virtually everything.”

Addition tidbits from Linfred’s presentation about Spearfish history – along with a few photographs – can be found within our Spearfish Gallery.