Monday, May 1, 2017

Rancher and community leader Hank Frawley dies at age 80

Hank Frawley with Elaine Albrecht's painting of the James Anderson ranch.

by Larry Miller

Life-long northern Black Hills rancher and civic leader Hank Frawley died April 22 at home on his beloved Centennial Valley ranch.

A third-generation pioneer of Lawrence County, Hank was a gentle man with a passion for preserving and sharing the history of this region.  He was particularly proud of of the Frawley ranches that stretched from one end of Centennial Valley to the other just east of Spearfish.  One of those was the James Anderson ranch (shown in the photo above) – known as the "upper ranch" among the Frawleys.

His grandfather was Henry Frawley, pioneer attorney and rancher who was among the first arrive in the rip-roaring days of early Deadwood.  His grandfather was as colorful character as you would find among the cast of characters who contributed to the history of the old west.

It was that story that led Hank to ask me some years ago to create a video about his grandfather.  Getting to know Hank and his wife, Molly, while working on that project was a blessing.  I know of no one who loved his family and his roots any more than this "gentle giant" of a man, whom I was proud to call a friend. 

Tom Griffith wrote this fine story about Hank for the Rapid City Journal:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A South Dakota Soldier prepared for World War I Combat

South Dakotan Ernest Roth answered when President Woodrow Wilson called for volunteers.
The United States had declared war against Germany on April 6, 1917, committing the country to join the Allied Powers of Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy and Japan in their efforts to defeat the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). The Great War had been raging since 1914.
Roth had been working as a carpenter and living with his uncle and aunt at Columbia when he decided to enlist. On April 25, 1917, he boarded the freight train for Aberdeen, where he went to the National Guard recruiting office and signed up. The next day, he was taken by train to Mobridge and transported to the headquarters of Company “L” of the 4th South Dakota infantry regiment. A total of 32,791 soldiers, sailors and marines from South Dakota served in the war, according to the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs.
Two soldiers training on a machine gun
(Courtesy of SD State Historical Society)
“In the forenoon of April 27, 1917, we were lined up and duly sworn in, thus making us full-fledged soldiers on paper although we were to learn the hard way that it required many, many months of intensive training and drilling on our part, much of it under a broiling sun, to become proficient at soldiering,” Roth wrote in his diary.
The World War I Reminiscence of Ernest Roth is kept in the South Dakota State Historical Society --State Archives manuscript collections. Find it online at, by clicking the Digital Archives icon, then selecting the Manuscript Collection and typing in “Ernest Roth.”
Two companies, both of the 4th South Dakota Infantry, were billeted in tents along a railroad siding about two miles northwest of Mobridge at Camp Pontis.
“When we arrived there the only buildings in evidence were the partly completed mess halls,” Roth wrote. “The company kitchens were set up in three or four old boxcars on railroad sidings. I was immediately set to work on the buildings under construction.”
Roth described infantry training at Camp Pontis as: reveille at 6 a.m. followed by calisthenics, breakfast, clean-up quarters, drill or hike (usually with full pack), lunch at noon, more drill, return to quarters for more clean-up, supper, and attend lectures and school.
Toward the end of September, rumors were rampant that the companies were going to be sent directly to the battlefields of Europe or to Mexico to prevent the Germans from coming over and entering the United States through Mexico.
“The facts were: the last two days of this month we loaded all the property of the Company as well as our own personal stuff into boxcars and on October 1, 1917, both companies from Camp Pontis entrained for a destination yet unknown,” Roth wrote.
Many people, some from Columbia, turned out to meet the train when it stopped at the Aberdeen depot. Crowds were always on hand to cheer on the troops whenever the train slowed to pass through a town, according to Roth.
The troops’ final destination was Camp Greene near Charlotte, N.C., where they were joined by other units comprising the entire 4th South Dakota regiment. Roth learned that the regiment was to be converted from infantry to machine gun battalions.
“The rank and file of the fellows were quite unhappy with the machine gun assignment as rumor had it that these units were always the first to be ordered into the front lines of combat in actual battle and were consequently referred to as ‘Suicide squads,’” Roth wrote.
Roth arrived at the battlefields in France in January 1918.
U.S. troops aboard a commandeered train in Germany
(Courtesy of SD State Historical Society)
In his diary, Roth shared some of his combat experiences. He wrote about meeting a battalion coming from the trenches that had a captain and enlisted men killed, experiencing a chemical weapons attack, marching for hours, walking through knee-deep mud, and preparing to go to the front lines.
On Nov. 11, 1918, Roth’s diary entry read, “Hostilities ceased at 11 a.m. This means – the war is officially over.”
By the time World War I ended, more than 9 million soldiers had been killed and 21 million more were wounded. An estimated 10 million civilians had been killed. A total of 554 South Dakotans died overseas who were killed in action or died from wounds, disease or other causes.
Roth returned to the United States in January 1919. After being discharged from the service, he went to Cresco, Iowa, where his father and stepmother lived. He later returned to Columbia and served as postmaster for 23 years. He died in Walla Walla, Wash., on June 7, 1976.

This moment in South Dakota history is provided by the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. Find us on the web at Contact us at to submit a story idea.

Historic South Dakota newspapers selected for digitization

The South Dakota State Historical Society has announced that more historical newspapers will be digitized as part of a federal grant.

In September the State Historical Society-Archives was awarded a second round of grant funding in the amount of $240,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to continue digitizing historical newspapers.

An advisory board made up of individuals from history and newspaper backgrounds met in November and March to select which titles would be digitized with this second round of federal funding. Among those selected and approved by the Library of Congress were the Deutscher Herold of Sioux Falls, the Lemmon Herald, the German and English editions of the Eureka Post, the De Smet Leader, the Madison Daily Leader and the Oglala Light of Pine Ridge. In total, 17 more South Dakota towns will be represented in the collection by the end of the project.

The project is part of Chronicling America, a Library of Congress initiative to develop an online database of select historical newspapers from around the United States. As part of the grant the South Dakota State Historical Society-Archives will digitize approximately 100 rolls of microfilmed newspapers pre-dating 1922 over two years.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Registration open for Youth Summer Camps in Deadwood

DEADWOOD – Deadwood History, Inc. in partnership with the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission will host a series of summer camps for area youth.  

Exploration Camp kicks off the summer camp series for children in grades K-2 for the 2017 – 2018 school year from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Days of ‘76 Museum on June 5 - 9. This year’s theme is S.P.A.R.K. Your Creativity. Campers will be learning about snapshots (photography), plants (nature), art, rocks (gold mining), and knowledge (science). Each day will include a related activity and/or craft project. The cost is $40 for members and $50 for non-members.
Archaeology Camp:  Session 1 for students going into grades 3-7 is scheduled for June 19 – 22, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Camp begins at the Days of ‘76 Museum with field work on the Pearson family property.  Students will learn archaeology, orienteering, mapping, and cataloging.  The cost is $45 for members and $50 for non-members.  Limited to 20 participants. 

Archaeology Camp:  Session 2 on June 26 – 29, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. is for students going into grades 3-7.  Camp begins at the Days of ‘76 Museum with field work on the Pearson family property.  Students will study archaeology, orienteering, mapping, and cataloging.  The cost is $45 for members and $50 for non-members.  Limited to 20 participants. 

On July 10 – 13 students will have the opportunity to participate in Mysteries at the Museum Camp, from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. for students going into grades K-2. Campers will be investigating and deciphering at the Days of ‘76 Museum. Participants will learn about Morse code, find secret messages written in invisible ink, and crack an enigmatic code to solve the museum’s mysteries. The cost is $40 for members and $50 for non-members.

Camp Chief Eagle wraps up the 2017 summer camp series on July 17 – 21 at the Days of ‘76 Museum from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. for students going into grades 3-7. Students will learn about Native American culture, lifestyle, beliefs, art, and music during this camp. Dallas Chief Eagle will teach children a traditional Native American hoop dance and there will be a performance on the last day of camp for parents to attend. The cost is $45 for members and $55 for non-members.

For more detailed information on the lessons and activities planned or to register for summer camp, please contact Shantel Pettit, Education Director, at 605-578-1657. A $10 non-refundable deposit is required per camp.  The deposit will be applied to the cost of each camp.  Scholarships are available.  The camps fill up quickly, so please reserve your space today. 

Summer Camps are co-sponsored by the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, Adams-Mastrovich Family Foundation, Deadwood History, KEVN Black Hills Fox, Twin City Hardware, Bill Haas, Jaci and Bill Pearson, Black Hills Pioneer, Pack Horse, Lead-Deadwood Regional Hospital, Mayor Turbiville Supporting Kids, Lynn’s Dakotamart, and the William Karl & Laura L. Haas Education Endowment.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Monday, March 6, 2017

Windows restored at historic All Angels Church

One of our favorite buildings in all of the Black Hills is nestled on a corner not far from downtown Spearfish.

It's the All Angels Episcopal Church, a structure with remarkable history – surpassed only by its beauty.

And that aging beauty has been significantly restored over the past many months, thanks to restoration work done on stained glass windows that give the structure its beauty and character.

Read about the project in this story from a recent edition of the Black Hills Pioneer.