Women of the Century (1893) – The South Dakota stories

In suffrage research, I’ve found a few South Dakota suffragists profiled in the book: Frances Willard and Mary Livermore, eds., American Women: Fifteen Hundred Biographies with over 1,400 Portraits, vol. 1, New York: Mast, Crowell & Kirkpatrick, 1893, and there are a few others in the book who spent part of their lives in South Dakota. So I thought I’d pull a list of those women included with the book’s description of their South Dakota connections (including the suffragists’ profiles from those pages of this site)…

Given the authors, there’s a heavy bias towards women who were active in religious or temperance work. I don’t know anything about their selection criteria. There is a nice index at the end organized by profession or occupation. Makes me wonder, despite shortcomings or biases, how many books there were in the nineteenth-century that approached women’s contributions this way…

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What I’m Reading 11

This set of recent good reads are just some interesting histories from edge to edge: a recent Atlas Obscura article about Sioux Falls’ divorce colony history, and a blog post from SD AIA about the architecture of fire lookout towers in the Black Hills.

The Legendary, Lavish Dinner Parties of South Dakota’s Divorce Colony,” Atlas Obscura, February 2019.
One of the articles quoted from the period is a 1908 article in American Magazine by George Fitch that is on GoogleBooks: “Shuffling Families in Sioux Falls: How a Little Town has become a Big City through its Divorce Industry.” [American Magazine 66(5) (September 1908), 442-451].

Lookout Architecture in the Black Hills,” April 2019, on Blueprint South Dakota, a blog from SD AIA. Cool structures and a great chance to learn about them, because they’re not super-accessible.

And some north-central stories in the newest historic preservation issue of South Dakota History, Brad Tennant’s “‘In the footsteps of the pioneer’: Ethnic Settlers and Their Churches in Brown County” and Robert J. Couser’s “Burckhard’s North Side Bakery of Aberdeen: A Community Staple for Four Generations.”

My copy of the issue 🙂

Ceiling-heaven for the Concert in Hoven

I was able to attend the Christmas concert held at the St. Anthony of Padua Church in Hoven, S.D. this past weekend.  I called for my ticket late but they still had spaces in the balcony seats.  Granted, there were people around me who wanted to see the performers (including friends and family) and were disappointed that some of the church columns obstructed their view, but I LOVED being so close to the church’s gorgeous ceiling in my corner of the balcony.  There are so many details to note all around the building–I highly recommend a visit, especially if you can make it to a future Christmas concert.

So here are some of my low-res cell phone photographs of a beautiful historic building before I settled in to listen to the wonderful music…

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My Many Favorites of the Gustav Johnson Glass Plate Collection, SD State Archives

Below are some (quite a few) of the 2,038 digital images from the Gustav Johnson glass plate collection at the South Dakota State Archives that caught my eye or peaked my interest.  There are so many wonderful images in this collection, both for historical reasons and photographic – some beautiful portraits…  And there were a surprising number of humorous images, a lot of smiles and some down-right hilarious, like the ‘breaking out of jail’ image or the series of “Deadman Valley Ranch.”

The images are scanned at a high-resolution, which is wonderful for looking at details of a farmyard, or a street scene, or the expression of a person’s face.  There are also a lot of unlabeled people/places, so I’m sure the Archives would accept additional information about images.

As 100-year-old glass plate images, many of the images are full of glorious imperfections that I’m sure are frustrating in cases (like this one that had distortion right over a couple’s faces, 2013-04-17-317), but I think they are kind of beautiful in their own way–and in some cases add beauty to the image: like the cracks on this image, 2013-07-19-312 or these that frame their subject 2013-07-01-347 and 2013-04-25-304.

A lot of the images are of Philip.  I made a section for wider views of the town of Philip, but there are lines in other categories that are also clearly or ostensibly also the Philip area.  And, there are many in the collection that I did not pull out for my list here.

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Haakon Horizons (Philip, SD: E.H. Baye, 1982), 296.

Gustav Johnson was a photographer who lived in Philip, Haakon County.  “Johnson was a familiar figure on the prairies surrounding Philip…. Johnson spent many days wandering from homestead to homestead in search of customers for his postcard art.  Frequently trailing in his shadow was his eldest daughter, Evelyn, her father’s able assistant… For several years he operated a small photography studio.  It was common for a Philip resident to pass the shop and find framed glass negatives sitting in the sun exposing light sensitive paper” [Haakon Horizons (Philip SD: E.H. Baye, 1982), 297].  His daughter, Evelyn Haberly, worked to “[preserve] the photographer’s contributions for future generations” [Haakon Horizons (Philip SD: E.H. Baye, 1982), 297].  From the State Archives’ photo description: “Information about Gustav Johnson’s photographs can be found in “Haakon Horizons” by Elsie Hey Baye, 1982 and “A Pictorial History of the Philip Area Featuring the photographic art of Gustav Johnson” by the Taylor Publishing Company, 1987.”

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New book on Early SD Churches from SDHS Press

The South Dakota Historical Society Press has volume 6 of its Historic Preservation Series coming out soon, “Early Churches in South Dakota.”  The bulk of the book was written by, and features the photography of, Robert W. Sebesta, but I was asked to write a brief introduction essay.  It’s unexpectedly kind of super exciting for me to see my name on a book for the first time… maybe someday I’ll have a book of my own…

Find more about the book and ways to pre-order before its released in August 2018, here.


P.S. July 2018:  I got to see a copy and there is a misprint on page 1–for the Dakota name of the First Presbyterian Church, it was printed as Whakapapa’s instead of Wakpaipaksan Okadiciye.

A Huron Sojourn

Huron, South Dakota is the home of the South Dakota State Fair and a hub of the annual pheasant hunting season.  Industry in town has also meant a growing immigrant population and some moderate white-flight to the nearest small towns.  In the past, my time in Huron had been very brief, but I got to spend the day there recently.  What follows are some of the historic places I came across over the day–the only place I failed to capture was Manolis, one of two Greek delis left in town, so you’ll just have to go yourself sometime–lunch there was DELICIOUS.  If you have other information on construction date and/or architect/builder for any of these buildings, please let me know.

So here goes the tour… Continue reading

Blue Cloud Abbey / Abbey of the Hills

View from east, Blue Cloud  Abbey, Marvin SD, July 2015, photograph by author.

View from east, Blue Cloud Abbey, Marvin SD, July 2015, photograph by author.

I recently stayed at the former Blue Cloud Abbey, now privately-owned as Abbey of the Hills Inn and Retreat Center outside Marvin, Grant County.  It’s located a short way off I-29 on the coteau looking towards Milbank in the east.

It was an experiment, to see what it was all about, and it was partly inspired by my visit in June to St. John’s Abbey in Minnesota–I wanted to see what our state’s Modernist abbey was like.  I’d had a brief idea about the place from photos I’d seen, stories from friends, and a brief ‘just curious’ bit of research into the architect.  It’s a far more special, tactile experience to explore while you’re living at the place, even for a short time.  The abbey is expansive, almost entirely stone or stone clad.  The stone on the exterior and in the church is warm and glowing and intricate.  The guide of an evening history tour, on which I tagged along, thought it was limestone transported from Indiana (where their archabbey was).  Then, I loved stumbling on the smaller details in the clean lines of the side altars, the red stone on the altar steps, the mid-century recessed lights, and the bubble glass in the side doors of the sanctuary that all filled out and rounded out the design.  The stained glass in the sanctuary played with the light in beautiful ways.  The use of a lot of green tile through the interior and the few rooms with a lot of dark, wood paneling took getting used to, but other interior features were delightful, like the molded tile in the dining room and the variety of linoleum and mosaic flooring.

The Blue Cloud Abbey was founded in the 1940s to provide support for Catholic missions to the Sioux reservations in the Dakotas.  The abbey was founded by the Order of St. Benedict under the Archabbey at St. Meinrad, Indiana.  It was named for Blue Cloud – Mahpiyato, an Ihanktonwan Sioux leader who supported the Church’s work.   The monks worked on the missions, at area churches, studied in four rooms of library materials, quilted, ran a farm, built a greenhouse, made bread, and demonstrated hospitality by welcoming retreat-goers of many faiths.  The abbey had also included a great collection of material culture and photographs at their American Indian Culture Research Center.  When the abbey closed, the collection was deposited with the Center for Western Studies in Sioux Falls, who are working on digitizing part of the collection.

The Abbey of the Hills has posted a bit on the sites’ history on their website here. (Check the tabs for ‘About: Our Story’ and ‘Explore: Tour’).

Some additional history on the architect, Edo Belli, out of Chicago, from the Art Institute of Chicago: summary, oral history interview.

And now, a selection of my photos from the trip…

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