Tag Archives: South Dakota

Our World – Cruising Split Rock Creek in search of Jesse James

On our recent family reunion in South Dakota, a cousin arranged for us to go on a Jesse James Pontoon Boat Tour on Split Rock Creek at a park of the same name near Garretson, South Dakota. It didn’t cost very much and it didn’t take very long but it was a load of fun.

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We were about twenty or so people on this “Norwegian Cruise Lines” vessel. The guide and pilot is Norwegian by ancestry and was a total hoot. He gave everybody a nickname. His regular job is teaching Native American History and Language at a local high school. He knew his stuff.

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As we poked along in the boat he told us about the Lakota Native Americans and a little about their culture. He talked about the flora and fauna, he showed us flint tools and talked about what they were for. All the while asking us questions and making fun of us. He engaged the kids a lot, and didn’t make fun of them. I bet he is a great teacher.

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He grew up in the area and he knew my cousin very well. He also pointed out that the land on both sides of the creek was privately owned. The fine for trespassing is $105 per person. I don’t think he was joking about that.

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He showed us where Jesse James hid out for a while in a cave high up from the creek. He talked about how in years past the landowner let people go look at it. He’s been there apparently the cave is extensive and has ten foot high ceilings. No tours any more, no trespassing, stay away!!

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We got to the end of the creek’s dammed up portion and he pointed out the nice cottage. That looks perfect to me.

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On the way back he hailed the kayakers. Everybody was a target for this guy. Totally good natured and fun. The tour only lasts a half hour or so but he packs a lot of fun into it.

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Here’s the dam across the creek. Built by the WPA way back when. It’s amazing how much the WPA and the CCC built that is still being used today. What a legacy all these years later.

Here’s a link to the Jesse James Tour facebook page.

And here is some more information about Jesse James and the Split Rock Creek. And yet even more information about this beautiful creek in southeast South Dakota.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

Sioux Valley Baptist Church

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Earlier this month I drove up to southeast South Dakota for the annual family reunion on my father’s side of the family. It was fun, connecting with my cousin and his family and an aunt and uncle and met many other relatives. The day of the reunion it is tradition to attend the services at Sioux Valley Baptist Church, a small country church on a dirt road on land donated by my great great grandfather, Nels Norgaard, back in 1888.

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It usually has about six or seven people attend but on Norgaard Sunday it was full. Quite a testament to the church and its people that they have kept it going for 131 years.

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My uncle said that the interior is just like it was when he was a kid, the furnishings, paintings on the wall, and the decorations and he is in his 80’s now.

Sioux Valley Baptist Church family # Church #southdakota
Photo from 2013

The high point of the service has always been the singing. There was a family member who was really talented but he passed away. It was hard to replace him on piano but hey youtube was at the ready and so we sang “It is Well with my Soul”, “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder”, and everybody’s favorite “The King is Coming” a great song about redemption. It starts out slow and builds to a climax. The lyrics include:

"Happy faces line the hallways
Those whose lives have been redeemed
Broken homes that He has mended
Those from prison He has freed
Little children and the aged
Hand in hand stand all aglow
Who were crippled, broken, ruined
Clad in garments white as snow"

Every stanza ends with, “Praise God, He is coming for me!”

I don’t care whether you are believer or not, the idea and the imagery is wonderful!!

Later on we had a picnic in Del Rapids with everybody. Here is a photo of some of us. Can you spot me? Or at least the top of my head?

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I am linking with Our World Tuesday



Stagecoach Skywatch

Last weekend I drove up to southeast South Dakota for a family reunion. I met up with my aunt and uncle from the east coast and my cousin and his family from the west coast and joined countless others in a weekend of learning about the family, visiting, seeing the sights and other activities. One evening under a beautiful blue sky at a relative’s farm a gorgeous stagecoach powered by two beautiful horses showed up. A “Surprise” by our host.

And it wasn’t just for looking at, we were all offered rides and I do believe every single person there had a short ride or two.

Some even got to ride shotgun with the driver.

It was a beautiful sight.

Smiles all around inside. You can’t ride a coach and be unhappy.

My aunt and uncle from the east coast loved it.

They were there for a while making sure everybody got to ride. I loved the shadows on the stage. The workmanship and finish on the coach was exquisite.

Shotgun was a favorite of the younger set. They had the ability to climb up the wheel to get there!

It was a get together that nobody there will soon forget.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Skywatch Friday – South Dakota Skies

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South Dakota is truly part of the breadbasket of the world. As far as you can see and for miles beyond is soybeans like this field or corn. To most of us it is just a matter of patriotism when our government announces possible sanctions of agricultural exports to Russia for their misbehavior to Ukraine. To a lot of farmers it means a possible loss of markets and lower prices for their crops. Nothing is cost free.

Skywatch Friday

The Damn Dam of Flandreau

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The Damn Dam spans the Big Sioux River just outside the small town of Flandreau, South Dakota where my dad spent his boyhood. He and his brothers and another friend all went in together and bought a canoe and lived what sounded like the Tom Sawyer life on the lake behind the dam. Fishing, camping, canoeing, and “hanging out.”  It still looks like a good place to hang out.

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It was called the Damn Dam by my mother and my Aunt who were very tired of visiting the dam every year and never missed an opportunity to not go. It was all in good fun though. My Dad and his brother still like to go and I like to go because they like to go and they have great stories. The stories get better ever year. I’m much to polite to say anything about that though.

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Cousin Robert, Dad, and his brother at the Damn Dam.

Of Grain Elevators, Courthouses, and Bars

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I was in the tiny little town of Flandreau, South Dakota. Flandreau, like lots of other small towns across the Midwest USA has grain elevators. They look simultaneously timeless and recently unused. They seem to be the tallest structures in town.

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The grounds are neat and tidy though. Everything in the upper midwest seems neat and tidy.

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Near the grain elevators is one of the largest quonset huts I’ve ever seen. It also didn’t look to be used but the grass is neatly mowed. The morning that I took all these pics the sky was as gray as the metal on the structures.

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This is the Moody County Courthouse. Moody County had its few days in the national news early in 2004 when a jury sitting in this courthouse sent South Dakota’s Governor Bill Janklow to jail for manslaughter for killing a motorcyclist while speeding and running a stoplight. They are still talking about it in town. You don’t want to mess around with the citizens of the rural midwest. If you do they’ll send you somewhere where you can reflect on your actions, for a good long while.

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Bars in South Dakota are serious business. You go there to drink. If you want to eat you go to you a restaurant. And no, your kids are definitely not welcome here. Here in Oklahoma if you want to have a bar you have to serve food also. The Bar-X Lounge in Flandreau is a bar’s bar. If you want to buy decent beer in Flandreau (no, Bud Light is NOT decent beer) you go the Bar-X Lounge and stand in a little alcove and get your beer. No unmasculine browsing or looking at a lists or anything, you stand up like a man and see if they got what you want. If you have a problem with that I think it best you don’t say anything about it. Not that I’m trying to tell you what to do or anything.

The best part of the Bar-X is that my Dad and his brother are friends with the owner (or one of the owners or a former owner, I’m not really sure.) Eddie is his name and he is a heck of a guy. I’ve been hearing stories about him all my life and finally got to meet him for a few minutes.

 

 

Hey, have you ever wandered around a small town early on a Sunday morning?

Check out the action in Flandreau here.

InSPIREd Sunday – Sioux Valley Baptist Church

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Sioux Valley Baptist Church is a small clapboard church sitting on a dirt road a few miles from Trent, South Dakota and right across the Big Sioux River from my Great Great Grandfather’s original homestead. He donated the land the church sits on. The church was dedicated in 1888 and has been in service ever since. It is a tradition in my Dad’s family that they attend services in connection with the annual reunion. It is pretty cool to see the church still holding services and knowing that my ancestors had a hand in getting it started.

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The service is simple and heartfelt. The music is great. The prayers and praises concern thankfulness for a safe rodeo season and livestock showings at the County Fair, concerns about illnesses. Somehow the pastor, Rita Webber remembers everything and mentions it during the prayers. The sermon is likewise great.

Somehow this is all accomplished without powerpoint slides, amplified guitars, video segments and all that. Totally Old School and relaxing.

InSPIREd Sunday

William G. Milne House, Dell Rapids, South Dakota

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Last week I went to South Dakota for a family reunion. The main activity is a big picnic at the City Park in Dell Rapids. I’m not very good with large groups so I am not one to mingle and merge and start conversations up. Nor am I into shoving my camera into the faces of people. After the picnic there is kind of an “afterparty” at the homes of one of the relatives and in this lot smaller group I’m a lot more comfortable.

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The get together itself is great but the house also fascinates me. It has always seemed perfect to me. My great grandfather bought it in the mid 1940’s when he retired from farming and it has been in and out of the family ever since. I remember crashing in the living room one weekend in the late 1970’s during the reunion weekend.

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So somebody at the get together mentioned that it was designed by an architect named Dow. So of course I start googling around and low and behold it I find out that it is a house with a name, the “William G. Milne House” and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Moreover, it is considered to be a Queen Anne Style house and was built in 1902.. It was designed by a Wallace L. Dow who apparently was a famous architect who designed a great number of public and private buildings during his career. Of course I felt a little guilty thinking about drinking beer on the back porch of such a distinguished house. Not too guilty, just a little guilty you understand.

I have a little history with the house. Like I said that my Great Grandfather owned it for a time. My dad has slides from a trip we took one Christmas in the late 1950’s.

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This a family shot. I’m the good looking guy sitting on the lady’s lap. That lady is my grandmother. Brother Bob is the guy in red at the bottom of the photo.

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And here is me on the staircase of the house. I can’t believe I had so much hair. Where did it all go? I love those suspenders also.

Anyway, I love serendipity. How about you? Have you made some interesting connections lately?