Section A: Beginnings
Press & Dakotan

Section A: Beginnings


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PRESS & DAKOTAN SATURDAY, AUGUST 6, 2011 PAGE 18A: YANKTON 150 Frontier From Page 17A another rise was on the way from above and that we must get out. They planned to go to Meckling to warn people there but when Mr. Ainsworth, one of the men, saw there were nine of us to be moved, he decided to go back with us with his skiff. He said the women could not ride but must walk along on the ice and hold to the boats so they could have a support when they broke through the ice So we started across the ice for the bluffs. Connett and Redrick had the big boat with their two children in it and their two women walking beside it. Mr. Ainsworth and myself had his skiff with my little girl in it and my wife holding to the stern. Every few P&D ARCHIVE PHOTO minutes some one would break through the Sod houses like these were common in Yankton s earliest days. During a long rainy ice into the water and pull themselves out spell, it continued to rain in the house for several days after the skies had cleared by holding onto the boat. The women sank outside and mother kept tin pans about the floor to catch the drips, recalled one deeper into the water as they were weaker pioneer. in the arms and hands. About an hour after dark, we reached what had been open water Like all other homes at that time, our GEORGE H. MINER in the afternoon but was now full of running first house was built of cotton-wood logs ice. We had traveled about two miles and My first recollections as a little fellow are with roof made of slabs covered first with had a half mile more to make to reach land. that the business section of the town was prairie grass and then dirt. During rainy We could see lanterns waiting for us on the located on the Levee or river bank. I rememweather, lambs quarters were plentiful on bluff so we pushed in and jumped aboard. ber the Press, later the Press and Dakotan the roof and among my early recollections After a few rods, the water coated with ice newspaper, Mills and Purdy Drug store, are times when my mother would send me French Joe s Dance Hall, also other dance so rapidly it was impossible to make headup on the roof to cut greens for the family way. Thin ice would break and slip one on halls, the old city hall, Bramble and Miner. ... dinner. During a long rainy spell, it contintop another until finally it became strong The flood was in the year of 81. It ued to rain in the enough to bear our washed out the town of Green Island, Nehouse for several weights on boards. To witness, with your mind s braska and I helped Jim Marsh after the days after the skies We pulled the boats ... During this flood 42 people were eye, a myriad of (grasshoppers) had cleared outside flood.on one brick house. This was the only on top of the ice to seen and mother kept tin house that remained after the flood. Rev. prevent them from alight ... it is best to imagine a pans about the floor Seccombe, Congregational minister, lost his freezing in and to catch the drips. floated down stream quite heavy snowfall in midchurch, which went down the river like a Farm methods for about two miles summer, the flakes as large as a steamboat. Two boys on the roof of the too have changed, where the moving brick house saw their home float by. They 25 cent piece, completely filling for instance, corn ice halted and we saw two men with a skiff and offered $500 if planting. In the early they would save their parents who were in a went into camp for the air, and covering the earth days after the field the night. The the house floating by. They were reluctant had been laboriwomen and children as rapidly and completely as a but finally decided to try and on arriving at ously plowed with packed themselves heavy snow will do in winter. the house they saw the couple hanging on an ox team and 12into the big boat like with their heads just above the rafters. inch walking plow sardines with one They thought it was impossible to get them. quilt to a family. It was a cold, freezing night, a 15-acre tract being an average size The couple pleaded and promised to pay field at that time a contrivance was used them five hundred dollars which was in a we had nothing to eat and our clothing was to mark rows both ways. This was done by wet and frozen. trunk in the lower part of the home. They placing four wooden runners across the April 5 Most of us found our feet were saved. The house finally landed near a field lengthwise and crosswise. The corn and legs badly swollen. Just as we prebluff four miles down the river. The trunk seed was then planted with a hoe at the inpared to start for shore, all the ice in the was found and also the money that was tersections. channel started to break suddenly and promised to them. My dad s warehouse Indians, who were thickly settled along moved down stream with us. The big rise contained flour and this was covered with had reached us. The ice gorged around the the river at that time and were willing to nine feet of water. He had a skiff stationed to work for a little of the white man s food, big boat with the women and children in it a platform in front of the mill. The men often helped my father with the planting. laughed at this when they saw it but before and crushed large holes in each side of the One incident I recall occurred when I nightfall they were glad to take a ride in it forward end. By lifting the damaged end was about 7 years old. My uncle Abe (A. when he went. On this they floated to the upon the ice we kept it afloat until other L. Van Osdel) ... had brought me a single front door of the Portland Hotel. Boats were ice gorged underneath it. From there we left high and dry after the flood. One double worked back all in one boat to the solid ice barreled pistol from Sioux City and I was proud of my prowess with it. Indians deck steamboat floated over the land past we had left the night before. Loose ice were helping my father at that time and the Milwaukee Depot and landed near started and ran full from shore to shore. they found much amusement in having Stone s farm now called the Gurney Nursery Had we succeeded in reaching clear water me shoot at the great flocks of black farm. The boats were taken back to water in the morning we should have been birds. The Indians were never without much the same way that houses are moved. wrecked. their guns. One day they gave me blank ... When I attended the fourth grade From the spot where we were macaps for my pistol and told me to take school Yankton had an earthquake. When rooned, we could look about with a glass careful aim and to be sure to get down the building shook, we all thought it was Mr. and saw the Metcalf crew coming from low. When they had taken aim behind me Bristol shaking the furnace in the basement. Meckling with about 75 people. They had they would say, Now Shoot. Of course I The quake was strong enough to shake a jar two or three skiffs and some boards. They of butter off the scales in Capt. Lavender s were near the Redrick house when the rise always got a bird, not realizing they had grocery store. shot it. came. The house, barn, windmill and my ... At the time of the last big Indian pa When I was about five, mother and I house were floated off by the rise. The rade in Yankton there were about 700 of party from Meckling reached us just as the were preparing to go to the Morey place, them. They camped on the prairie northnow owned by Wm. J. Magorien. As we water began to clear. We had patched our east of the Milwaukee depot near the old were about to start we saw a number of broken boat and all together we made a race track. Among them were two old squaws coming across the field. Mother start. The bluff shore was lined with peosquaws who did house work for my mother bolted the door and instructed me not to ple, teams and boats, powerless to render when I was a tiny tot. They immediately recmake a sound. After lowering the blinds aid. Now, however, large skiffs met us half ognized me saying Georgie, and emphawe stood in the middle of the room waitway across the channel, took our lead rope sized their speech by drawing a finger ing for them to go away but they circled and pulled us rapidly to the shore. the house several times and then camped across their nose where I have a blue vein. In later years I was bailiff under District A. L. WEST on the door-steps. After waiting for some Attorney Campbell at the time Brave Bear time mother decided to open the door. Sixty-nine years of continuous resiwas hanged in the court yard. I have a picThey always wanted to bargain for bread dence in Yankton county, to which he ture in my possession that was drawn by came as a lad of three years, is the unusual and this time they offered to trade a sack him in colored pencil. It is a picture of an Inrecord of A. L. West, of Mission Hill. Within of feathers for bread. My mother knew dian on horseback. His photograph is the only way to get rid of them was to the range of his memory is much of the pasted on the side of the picture. Just behistory of this section. make a deal. Some time later, however, fore he went to the gallows he gave this to A. L. West, known to his intimate she discovered the feathers were of her me and said Me Go Good Bye and he friends as Lou West, tells of the early own which she had brought from Iowa pointed upwards. days in the following language: and stored at the Van Osdel place. ... Hertz From Page 3A Yankton has some of the best medical care anywhere, with a large regional hospital, a thriving medical clinic, a specialty hospital and the Human Services Center, just to name a few offerings. There is a strong local manufacturing base: One report in recent years stated that Yankton County had more manufacturing jobs per capita than any other county in South Dakota. Yankton s agricultural base has remained strong. The tourism industry has flourished thanks in great part to Lewis and Clark Lake and the recreational opportu- nities that have sprung up with it. Yankton s educational base has also done well and this is true despite the fact that grand, old Yankton College closed its doors in 1984. The town still has a college, a strong public school system, a growing private school and a burgeoning technical education program. (Also, Yankton College still remains a player in fostering educational opportunities here.) The arts have flourished in Yankton, with the town nurturing several art galleries and hosting the summer arts festival each August in conjunction with one of the community s biggest drawing cards: the annual Riverboat Days celebration. The list could go on. I m not a Yankton native, but I am from the Yankton area, and I ve watched this community grow and change all my life. I remember when you came in from the west of town on Highway 314 and Ninth Street curved into Summit St. I remember when Riverside Park was a barron place, virtually Yankton s backside. I remember (and was, in fact, born in) the old Sacred Heart Hospital. I remember when heading out to Lewis and Clark Lake meant you had to turn south and drive below Chalkstone Hill. I remember seeing movies in the Dakota Theatre. I remember when there was virtually nothing on the west side of Broadway north of McDonalds. I remember when there was no McDonalds. I remember when there was no mall, J ary 6,1975,a anu shel tered w orkshop opened on W est 9th Street w ith 9 cl ient w orkers .T he prog ram w as orig inaly a part ofthe l m entalheal center th . L ater the tw o separated and the nam e ofthe prog ram w as chang ed to C om m u nity Projects U nl ited. In 1978,the im prog ram m oved and becam e a new corporation know n as the Yankton A rea A dju stm ent Training C enter Inc. Today ou r nam e is A bil B u il ity ding Services. W e provide services to approxim atel 137 peopl A B S y e. ow ns eig ht residentialf ities,and the peopl w e su pport rent or ow n at acil e nu m erou s l ocations arou nd Yankton. A bil B u il ity ding Services is a private not-f or-prof com m u nity ag ency it that em phasizes becom ing person centered in practice as w el as in pl l anning . T he The officer and prisoner were shackled toCHAS. EDMUNDS gether. On the way they passed the open Coming to Yankton as a boy of 12 in the grave, waiting for the body of the doomed year 1964, Charles P. Edmunds has always been one of the best mines of information man. McCall showed no signs of concern or fear, but talked very little. He said goodon early Dakota days, because of an obbye to the officer as he mounted the platserving and retentive mind, and because of form, to last one to whom he spoke, and the active part he played in the affairs of the latter did not go up on the platform. the Territory. Although the approximate location of The Edmunds family arrived on SepMcCall's grave can be determined, Mr. Edtember 4, 1864. The settlers were still munds says he has been unable to fix the nervous about the Indians, although the exact spot because in subsequent years the Minnesota outbreak was two years behind highway boundaries have been changed. It and the army was engaged in chasing the is quite possible the grave has been dug up hostile tribes westward. The Wiseman in grading. massacre in Nebraska had occurred just one year before. GEORGE W. KINGSBURY (WRITINGS) The Yankton Stockade had disappeared, There was considerable uneasiness but some of the earthworks were still in evi- during the summer of 1864 in the farming dence when he arrived, Mr. Edmunds says. settlements regarding Indians; but what Within a very few years these had been lev- was fifty-fold more harmful to the general eled off as the town grew, streets were welfare and prosperity of the territory was graded and buildings erected. the first grasshopper raid experienced by ... He was appointed deputy United the white settlers. States marshal in the fall of 1873 for Dakota Thus Kingsbury opens his chapter on Territory, by J. H. Burdick, the then United the grasshopper plague of 1864 in Volume I States marshal, and served through his adof his history of Dakota Territory. ... ministration, and also under John B. RayWriting further Kingsbury says: mond, until 1882, when he went into the It occurred in July (1864) just after the banking business with his father and New York colony had got fairly settled in brother Will. comfortable quarters; and while it was the ... In his position as deputy United first, it was the worst and most complete States marshal Mr. Edmunds was required scourge of the kind that ever visited the to travel much over the Territory, and it territory. brought him into close touch with condi It was a most unfortunate disaster tions and people on the frontier. He became coming at the time it did. The insects acquainted with all the well known piocame down at midday while the bright sun neers of Dakota, and has a vast fund of inwas shining; the fields gave promise of a formation on them and on innumerable moderate harvest incidents in Dakota gardens (Jack) McCall was a mild ap- and the fair condihistory. were in It was his duty to pearing fellow and not at all of tion, producing a vago to the Black Hills riety of summer and bring witnesses the desperado type. He pleaded vegetables but all to Yankton for the not guilty at his trial, and alwere covered litertrial of Jack McCall, ally by the myriads hanged here for the ways claimed he had shot Wild of these ferocious killing of Wild Bill insects who deBill because of some deal in Hickok at Deadwood, voured and dewhich he said the latter had and McCall was in stroyed every green his custody in Yank- beat him out of some money. thing, even the ton up to the time of the trees, But I never believed that. I think leaves on on the the hanging. the grass McCall was a prairie, the family he did it for the notoriety. mild appearing felwashing hanging in low and not at all of the open air, and inthe desperado type, Mr. Edmunds says. jured many of the tents in which new ar He pleaded not guilty at his trial, and alrivals had their temporary homes. The ways claimed he had shot Wild Bill because insects remained all night and departed of some deal in which he said the latter had next morning as abruptly as they came. beat him out of some money. But I never Several of the newcomers and some of believed that. I think he did it for the notori- the members of the New York colony beety. He liked the spotlight. Hickok had a came so affected and discouraged at the wide reputation as a dead shot, and quick frightful damage inflicted that they yoked on the draw. Maybe McCall thought he up their cattle and left the territory intendcould gain popularity and notoriety by puting to settle in Iowa. ... ting him out of the way and get away with Kingsbury says that no history of the it; and he nearly did. The miners court let Dakotas would be complete without the him go. But the federal government then story of the grasshopper plague and its efwent after him and brought him back to fect upon the settlements and immigraYankton. tion, and states that the scourge of 1864 Wild Bill was shot while sitting at a card was the beginning of the grasshopper aftable in a Deadwood saloon with Doc fliction which continued to impoverish Massey, and early day river man, and three and harass our settlers more or less for others. Hickok had an invariable rule never the succeeding ten years. to sit with his back to a door, for obvious To such an extent did the infliction reasons, but on this occasion Massey took grow that the United States government the wall chair, and for some reason Hickok sent out an expert commission from Washdid not insist on his rule, according to Mr. ington to investigate the insect and disEdmunds Possibly he figured he could take cover, if possible, its origin and its habits, a chance safely once. and from the report of that commission we McCall strolled in and immediately have considerable information and much opened fire, shooting Hickok from behind. more from actual contact. ... The latter was killed instantly, but even as To witness, with your mind s eye, a he died he threw both his guns from his myriad of these pests alight, presuming holsters and they were found clenched in you have never looked upon such an invahis hands on the table. McCall would sion with your physical eye, it is best to never have got him except from behind, imagine a quite heavy snowfall in midsumMr. Edmunds says. mer, the flakes as large as a 25 cent piece, He was a good prisoner, the Yankton completely filling the air, and covering the man continued. We kept him in the small earth as rapidly and completely as a heavy federal jail on Linn street, about where the snow will do in winter, says Kingsbury. Henry Tammen, Sr., home now stands, and Just imagine these flakes falling for an planned to build a scaffold there to hang hour and then the earth a mass of life, him, but residents in that neighborhood ob- crowding upon everything out of doors jected, so it was decided to take it out of and indoors if permitted to enter, cover town. The scaffold was built just southeast the bushes and trees and the grass, the of the State Hospital, near the knoll, and it fences and the walls of buildings so comseemed like nearly everybody in Yankton pletely as to effectually conceal them from came out for the hanging. view and in as brief a time as it takes to The deputy marshal and a priest rode tell it, stripping the tree of its foliage and with McCall out to the spot in an open rig. devouring the grass and the gardens. and I remember when the addition was built onto the mall. And there are probably dozens of other little things that would seem odd now if I devoted far more time to searching my memories. And these memories are actually quite modest when compared to other recollections that longtime Yankton natives could share with you. I encourage you to ask them, talk to them and find out where we were, once upon a time. The key now, of course, is where 150year-old Yankton goes next. If the past is any indication, it has some big things awaiting it. Yankton is the type of community that is always poised for better things: This place offers good quality of life with a lot to do; it is far enough away from places like Sioux Falls, Sioux City and Omaha that it doesn t get sucked into an urban rush; and it is close enough to places like Sioux Falls, Sioux City and Omaha to provide convenient access to those urban offerings without having to take on the burden of that urban rush. Yankton s future can also be guided by its rich past, which is really part of the spirit behind this 150th anniversary section you are reading now. It s an effort to remind you that Yankton has a lot of practice at this whole survival business, and it has always found ways to do a lot more than just survive. In that sense, perhaps the past can serve as a template for the future. That would be the finest testament to Yankton s 19th century settlers that the 21st century could ever offer. org anization s m ission is Providing O pportu nities f or E nriched L ives. Peopl are at the e center ofperson centered pl anning and this incl des having the opportu nity to l their u ead ow n pl U l atel A bil B u il an. tim y ity ding Services w ants to su pport peopl to have f l e u l l ives. A bil B u il ity ding Services in prou d to be part ofthe g row th,devel opm ent and history ofthe Yankton com m u nity. W e are prou d of the opportu nities and su pport w e have been abl to achieve throu g h the com m itm ent e and dedication of ou r l eaders in val ing al u l peopl w ho l in ou r com m u nity. e ive 909 W. 23rd Street, Yankton, SD 605.665.2518
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