Thursday, February 11, 2016

Whitewood History and Homesteading Laws

Mary Livingston presented 'Whitewood History and Homesteading Laws' to an appreciative audience on a snowstorm evening on Feb 2, 2016 at the Spearfish Senior Citizens Center.

Whitewood History synopsis: 

     From 1877 on, the little settlement of Whitewood seem to have a few people a year build homes, but it was overshadowed by the busy Crook City just a mile south. Crook City was the intersection of the Ft. Pierre and the Bismark Trails where oxen drawn supply wagons stopped before making the long and arduous trip ‘up the mountain’ to the populated Black Hills mining towns of the late 1870s and 1880s.

     A man by the name of William Selbie, a railroad employee and Deadwood land speculator, seem to have an ‘ear’ of the ambitious Eastern railroad men who were looking to expand the rail lines into the West to ship western livestock and farm products to the large Eastern cities. Selbie began buying up water rights and land on the flat area just east of the then settlement of Whitewood. By 1887, Selbie had put together and sold a land package to the Pioneer Township Company who surveyed it into lots and, on Thanksgiving Day 1887, auction off the Whitewood Town Lots. The first train in the Northern Black Hills from the East pulled into Whitewood November 21, 1887. When modern day Whitewood was begun, Crook City knew the coming of the railroad to their neighboring city would spell their doom so they hitched mule teams to buildings in their town and pulled them into Whitewood and a new business district was formed overnight.

Whitewood Picnic Day 1912
This photo is from the Whitewood Library collection of Philip Bonniwell cars.   He was one of the first car dealers in the Hills.  He had a ranch at Slim Buttes, (the post office on his ranch was named Reva after his daughter.  Reva, South Dakota.) then moved into Whitewood and started a harness shop.   Very soon he built the Bonniwell Building with his Hardware store on the main floor and a dance Hall on the second floor (later known as the Golden Wheel Dance Halls).   When cars started coming into the Black Hills he started his dealership with a garage next door.    He was hired as the engineer to build a road from Whitewood to Deadwood for the 'new' auto traffic.
Whitewood, Dakota Territory 1888