Section C: Transitions
Press & Dakotan

Section C: Transitions


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PRESS & DAKOTAN SATURDAY, AUGUST 6, 2011 PAGE 12C: YANKTON 150 The History Of History Yankton Co. Historical Society And Museum Cherish The Past, Look To The Future BY DEREK BARTOS While the Yankton County Historical Society and the Dakota Territorial Museum are primarily involved in the history of others, the two have quite a background story themselves. The quest for the present-day historical society, which owns and operates the museum, began in 1960. With the Dakota Territorial Centennial to be celebrated the following year, Don Binder, president of the Yankton Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Yankton Centennial Committee, and Dr. W.F. Stanage, chairman of the History Committee of the Chamber, were interested in forming a permanent historical organization for Yankton. On Feb. 4, 1960, Stanage called a meeting of interested parties to organize such a society, and the Yankton County Historical Society was formed. The purpose of the society was set out as: to collect, preserve, exhibit and publish material for the study of the history of Yankton County; to acquire documents, letters, reports, pictures and relics; to obtain the narratives of pioneers; to obtain and safeguard a gallery of portraiture and events of the past and maintain it up to date and to promote it in all the schools in the county; and to study the history of the county and of the state of South Dakota. Although this society is still alive today, it was certainly not the first. There had been historical societies established in Yankton long before the current society was established, said Crystal Mensch-Nelson, director of the Dakota Territorial Museum. Those kind of came and went. In 1862, the Old Settlers Historical Association was organized and incorporated with limited membership by the first Legislature in the Dakota Territory. A year later, in 1863, the Dakota Historical and Library Association was formed to replace the previous organization, and the legislature of 1863 passed an act to unite the Old Settlers Historical Society of Dakota and the Historical and Library Association. In 1864, the incorporators met and effected a permanent organization, known as the Historical Society of Dakota, which was the parent organization of the present-day state historical society, now called the Historical Resources Center in Pierre. Before the museum was built, the society met in various places, including the Hotel Charles Gurney, WNAX studios, the Chamber of Commerce office, the Riviera Cafe, the Chateau Dining Room and the Kochi Motel Dining Room. Conversation revolved around improving the society and building a museum. Committees were appointed and fundraising ideas were discussed. Over time, funds to build a museum began to grow. While many were interested in building a museum, the structure used for Yankton s first museum, the Council or Senate building, was anything but new. The Territorial Council Building that sits to the south of us has quite an interesting story behind it, Mensch-Nelson said. The building was originally erected during the winter of 1861-1862 near the southeast corner of Broadway and Fourth Street. Some time after the first Historical ABOVE: The Dakota Territorial Museum moved into its current home at 610 Summit St. in 1971. (Dakota Territorial Museum photo) BELOW: The Mead Building on the Session, it was also used as a law office. old campus of the South Dakota Human Services Center may become the museum s Around 1893, it was sold and moved to new home. The Yankton County Historical Society has received grants recently to the Kaucher farm west of Yankton where go toward the preservation of the structure. (South Dakota Historical Preservation it was used as a granary and storage shed Society photo) for more than 40 years. Around 1933, the owner of the farm, Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company of Newark, N.J., donated the building to the Daniel Newcomb Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. A restoration project was undertaken, and the entire structure was torn down, rebuilt and restored. The restored building was first located at Riverside Park and was dedicated during the 75th anniversary of the Dakota Territory in 1936. To help cover the cost of the restoration, Lawrence Welk played for a dance in Yankton earlier in the year, and a patch quilt was also auctioned off for $150. Council Building was used as a Boy Scout Although the museum deals with the In 1953, the old building was moved to meeting hall. However, it was once again past, its eyes are on the future as well. West Side Park and was again dedicated, used as a museum when additional donaMuch of that future is focused on the this time as Yankton s Dakota Territorial tions were made and the space was Mead Building, which is being restored Museum. needed. for the purpose of becoming the muIn an effort to pay off the museum s Over the years, the museum has acseum s new home within the next 3-5 debt, numerous fundraising projects were quired many collections and exhibits. In years. held. Yankton and the surrounding com1976, the Gunderson Rural School House The Mead Building, located on the munities responded with donations of No. 15, which was used as a school from southern side of the Human Services money, as well as artifacts for display. 1906 to 1969, was moved to the museum Campus north of Yankton, was built in In anticipation of the Dakota Territory grounds. In 1978, the Old Great Northern 1909 and was originally the women s Centennial Celebration in 1961, the muRailway Depot was also moved to the mu- hospital. It was named after Dr. Leonard seum was given a new look with log cabin seum complex. Recently, the museum acC. Mead, who served as superintendent siding. quired the of the center from 1891-1920. ConIt was also Hovden Log structed in the Renaissance style, it is We plan for the Mead Building to not during this Cabin, which characteristic of many of the buildings time that the only be the museum, but it will also be a is being reon the campus with its symmetry and Yankton with research center and a cultural center storedopen-a rear open courtyard. County Hisgrand After being vacated in 1980, it entorical Socia place to hold banquets and to have ing planned dured 30 years of deterioration. In 2009, ety was for Aug. 5. traveling exhibits and other things we it was named one of the National Trust chartered. Menschfor Historic Preservation s 11 Most EnThe newly can t provide in the current museum be- Nelson said dangered Places in America. formed socithe interest cause we don t have enough room. The YCHS has leased the building ety instantly in various from the state with the intent of rehabilirecognized exhibits CRYSTAL MENSCH-NELSON tating the structure into a museum and the need for a varies. cultural center. larger mu It really Currently, the project s focus is on seum. Many existing buildings were congets spread out, she said. It seems like the roof restoration. Two Deadwood sidered, but ultimately the decision was the older visitors really enjoy seeing grants totaling $50,000 have been made to build a new facility. things they remember having in their Various fundraising projects were held awarded for this area. house when they were a kid like a to build the new museum, including a car Additionally, the YCHS has received handheld mixer versus an electric. For raffle and home town talent shows. $2,500 from the Favrot Fund of the Nathe little boys, it s the military items When the building was completed in tional Trust for Historic Preservation, 1970, the biggest task facing the historical seeing the cannon and the gatling gun which will go toward architectural fees. and some of our civil war items. For the society was moving all the exhibits into Mensch-Nelson said big plans are in the new museum. This was accomplished girls, it s usually the older dresses and tea sets and the toys the kids would play store for the building. with the help of local volunteers, the We plan for the Mead Building to not D.A.R. Auxiliary, Curator Joseph Vinatieri, with. only be the museum, but it will also be a Mensch-Nelson added that she has Vanita Grimm and her special helpers, as research center and a cultural center well as the local Boy Scout Troop No. 180. enjoyed the challenges of covering such a place to hold banquets and to have a history-rich region. When it was finally ready, the formal traveling exhibits and other things we It s been a lot of fun, she said. dedication and grand opening for the new can t provide in the current museum be There s never a day where I don t leave museum took place on May 30, 1971. cause we don t have enough room, she work without learning something new. By Aug. 12, 1973, the museum was said. You never know what is going to walk in debt free. the door. For some time the old Territorial Past Due: Yankton s Story Is Filled With Mysteries BY CRYSTAL MENSCH-NELSON Dakota Territorial Museum To summarize Yankton s history in just a few simple words is complicated if not almost impossible when it is speckled with numerous business and religious entrepreneurs, political giants, comfortable living, elaborate construction, immigration, dedication, bawdy houses, tyrants, and even murder. Just a glance through historic newspapers of Yankton would produce intriguing details about who visited whom and many flowery funeral entries. Although we are celebrating this year, our story actually began before 1861. The story of Yankton s history has been told and told again by the great historians of the 20th century and the minute details will always remain controversial. Did Lewis and Clark really wrap a Yankton Sioux child in an American flag when they arrived in 1804? And was that child the Yankton Sioux leader who signed over his native lands to the U.S. government in 1858 and whose name is unverified between Strike-the-Ree or Struck-bythe-Rhee? Where exactly was Jack McCall hanged and buried, and how many times has he been moved? Where did General George Custer stay in Yankton after an April blizzard nearly wiped out his 7th Cavalry? With the lack of responsible journalism in early newspapers, dime novels looking to make a quick buck with elaborate stories, and the inaccuracy of one s own personal memories, some things may just always be Yankton mysteries and local legends. On the other hand, many stories in Yankton s past are well worth the hunt. Although you may end up finding more questions than answers, it is the journey that will provide you with the most valuable information. However, in all humble efforts to tell our modern story, it began July 10, 1859, when the news of the treaty ratification arrived in present day Yankton. The steamboat Carrier traveled upstream while Old Strike s seemingly peaceful Yankton Sioux tribe packed their belongings and followed it to their new home. George D. Fiske, who already had an established home in the Frost Todd Trading Post building located in what was soon to be the town of Yankton, was then joined by a handful of other entrepreneurs. Initial surveying laid out claims for Charles Picotte who was instrumental in seeing the peaceful transiHISTORY | PAGE 16C Congratulations to the Press & Dakotan and the City of Yankton on your 150th Anniversary Locations: Connecting Point is proud to serve the Press & Dakotan and the Yankton business community. Since 1979 we have been connecting them with their employees, their customers and the world. For more information on how we can help you be more connected please call 605-361-8881. We work with businesses of all sizes, including government and education (both K-12 and Higher Education). 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The History of History
The History of History
Dakota Territorial Museum
Past Due: Yanktons Story Is Filled With Mysteries
Connecting Point Computer Center