Saturday, October 14, 2017

Cogan House tapped for National Register of Historic Places

The Arthur and Ellen Colgan House in Edgemont is one of six South Dakota properties recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, the official federal list of properties identified as important in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture. 

Built around 1900, the Arthur and Ellen Colgan House (shown at right) is located at 407 3rd St. in Edgemont.  It is listed in the National Register for its architectural significance as a transitional form occurring between the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles.  Distinguishing exterior features of the house include a wraparound porch with pedimented entries, cottage windows with leaded glass in a diamond and oval design and a three-sided bay window with decorative sawtooth woodwork. 

The State Historic Preservation Office of the State Historical Society works in conjunction with the National Park Service, which oversees the National Register program, to list the properties. 

"South Dakota's history is rich in American Indian culture, pioneer life and change," said Jay D. Vogt, state historic preservation officer and director of the State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. "Properties listed on the National Register are important for their role in South Dakota's culture, heritage and history. And when properties get listed, it shows that their owners take pride in their role in preserving that culture, heritage and history."

Buildings, sites, structures and objects at least 50 years old possessing historical significance may qualify for the National Register, according to Vogt. Properties must also maintain their historic location, design, materials and association. Listing on the National Register does not place any limitations on private property owners by the federal government. 

The other listed properties are the Happy Times Carousel in Faulkton, the First Presbyterian Church in Flandreau, the American Legion Community Hall in Fort Pierre, the McWhorter House in Miller and the Stadum-Green House in Sioux Falls.

For more information on the National Register or other historic preservation programs, contact the State Historic Preservation Office at the Cultural Heritage Center, 900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501-2217; telephone 605-773-3458 or website

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Deadwood dying?

by Larry Miller

Historic Deadwood is losing actor Kevin Costner's Midnight Star Casino and Restaurant after a run of nearly 26 years.  While the news hit local print and broadcast media in the Black Hills, we found an online casino review site with a rather fascinating take on the closing.

Downtown Deadwood at dusk. (SD Dept. of Tourism)
Writer Kevin Horridge of wrote that gaming revenues in Deadwood are down 3.5 percent this year and observed that – under the subheading Deadwood Dying – "No longer does the South Dakota history-rich town have the enticement of casinos to bring tourists to the remote hills."   Even if true, we doubt that spells the demise of Deadwood.

We're not big on gaming, but we're pleased at what it has done in bolstering the Deadwood economy since 1989 – and the significant residual benefits for historic preservation.

We wonder about plans to build a $40-50 million dollar casino and "entertainment destination" along the Missouri River at Yankton.  That idea was run up the flagpole earlier this year.

Of course, the real trick for folks promoting the Yankton initiative will be to get the South Dakota constitution amended.  They'll need the kind of latitude with gaming that thus far has been granted only to Deadwood.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

SD Cultural Heritage Center wins True West recognition

True West magazine has ranked the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre No. 9 on its list of “Top 10 Museums of the West 2017.”

“Home to the South Dakota State Museum and Archives, this center is attractive enough as a location to dig into the history collections of the state, but go there to also learn the stories of the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota people,” the magazine says in its September 2017 edition. “The ‘Proving Up’ exhibit features stories of explorers and settlers, ranging from the placing of the Verendrye Plate in 1743 on a hillside west of the city to the establishment of the state capital.”

Started in 1953, True West is the world’s oldest, continuously-published Western American magazine. The magazine has won multiple awards for its coverage of American Old West history.

South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre
“I am elated that our museum has been listed in the top ten history museums in the west by True West magazine,” said Jay D. Vogt, director of the South Dakota State Historical Society, headquartered at the Cultural Heritage Center. “This designation will hopefully bring new attention to the Cultural Heritage Center and the work that the State Historical Society is doing. Our goal is to reach people of all ages, and the museum is a key element in attracting visitors to the Cultural Heritage Center.”

Vogt said the museum tells compelling stories about the people of South Dakota, and is able to help illustrate those stories with some amazing artifacts, such as the Great Sioux Horse Effigy, the Verendrye Plate, the Jefferson Peace Medal, the President Harrison Statehood Pen and the Whitebird Congressional Code Talkers Medal.

“It is a great honor for us, coming from one of the most respected western history magazines in the nation,” said Jay Smith, museum director. “The recognition from True West is a sign that we continue to move in the right direction with the museum, in both our planning and execution, and that people are responding positively to our work. It allows us to reach out to a national audience in ways that are both tangible and in keeping with our mission.”

The Cultural Heritage Center was the only South Dakota museum to make the magazine’s top 10 list, which was topped by the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyo. The Days of ’76 Museum in Deadwood was listed among “12 More Museums to Know.”

The museum in the Cultural Heritage Center is open 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. CDT Monday-Saturday through Labor Day (9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. after Labor Day) and 1-4:30 p.m. on Sundays. There is a small admission fee for adults; children 17 and younger are always free.

Archives hours are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and the first Saturday of most months.

Call 605-773-3458 or visit for more information.


The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

State Historical Society Foundation seeks Western collectibles

Western collectibles that are no longer of value to their current owner are of value to the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation.

The foundation is organizing a Western collectibles auction that will take placeFriday, Sept. 15, at the Expo Center in Fort Pierre.
We’re encouraging people to check barns, sheds, basements and attics for items that are no longer of value to them and donate the items to the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation. The foundation will auction the items at the fundraiser that helps support the work of the South Dakota State Historical Society,” said foundation President Michael Lewis. The foundation is the nonprofit fundraising partner of the State Historical Society.
Examples of Western collectibles are fine art, antiques, historic firearms, books, Red Wing crocks, spurs, saddles and other items.
The auction will take place at the Expo Center in Fort Pierre the evening of Friday, Sept. 15, as part of the Fort Pierre Bicentennial Celebration. The deadline to donate items is Friday, Aug. 18.

For more information or to donate items, please call foundation Development Director Catherine Forsch at 605-773-6003.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Well worth the trip – the Anna Miller Museum in Newcastle

by Larry Miller

Our traipsing around the Black Hills region to explore out-of-the-way museums started a few years ago with friends Don Matthesen and Perry Beguin.  It's been a good way to experience some fellowship, learn a bit about local history, and perhaps discover – or occasionally revisit – some good places to eat along the way.

So one early morning last week (but well after sunrise!) we crowded in to my Toyota and set out on a trek to the southern Black Hills of Wyoming.

Our first objective, however, was to have breakfast at Dave's "Stage Stop Cafe" at Cheyenne Crossing south of Spearfish.  It did not disappoint.  Nourishment, after all, is important for explorers.  We were about to traverse steep hills and deep gulches in a quest for knowledge about earlier generations.  Many of those earlier folks were looking for gold.  Some settled for silver or even coal.  All were looking for opportunities.  And all of them would have enjoyed today's menu at Cheyenne Crossing! 

Anna Miller Museum is at 401 Delaware St. in Newcastle, Wyoming
Fueled by a good breakfast, we were soon scooting up U.S. 85 toward O'Neil Pass en route to our destination:  the Anna Miller Museum in Newcastle, Wyoming!

Perched on a knoll in the southeast part of town, the old sandstone building was built by the Works Project Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression and first used as a cavalry stable for the Wyoming Army National Guard.  

We arrived by 10 o'clock and spent the next couple of hours learning not only about why folks settled here, but also why many stayed.  

When the railroad came through these parts in the 1880s, coal was discovered north of town and gave rise to the Cambria coal mine.

Visitors to the museum will be delighted to find excellent exhibits and artifacts that reveal the fascinating development of Cambria, Wyoming – once a thriving community in its own right. 

In the spring of 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt came to town and made quite a splash.  And his visit is well documented.

Ranching and petroleum refining would bolster the economy, and the wildlife and scenery would add to the quality of life for early settlers.

Of course, two hours was only enough time to whet our appetites for more.   The museum research room is rich with resources and extremely well organized.  Family researchers and historians – both professional and amateurs – will find it helpful. 

The Anna Miller Museum is part of the Weston County Museum District.  It's open year 'round from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

And did we mention that it's free?  Of course, contributions are welcome and help support this classy little museum.  You'll find a sampling of museum exhibits, along with a bit of additional information –  in this Anna Miller Museum Gallery.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The man who got Calamity Jane to church

Dr. Charles B. Clark preached the sermon at the funeral of Martha Jane Canary, also known as Martha Jane Burke or Calamity Jane, at the Deadwood Methodist Church on Aug. 4, 1903. Calamity Jane had died at nearby Terry on Aug. 1.
Clark was pastor of the church. According to “Calamity Jane: The Woman and the Legend” by James D. McLaird, Clark emphasized Calamity Jane’s humanitarian acts during Deadwood’s early years in the eulogy. “Echoing popular sentiment, Clark asked, ‘How often amid the snows of winter did this woman find her way to the lonely cabin of the miner’ to help one suffering from illness?”
The minister’s son and namesake, poet Charles Badger Clark, often lamented that his father was the person to preside over Calamity Jane’s funeral.
“My father’s deeds of mercy are unnumbered, but such is the irony of human nature, he’ll be remembered longest, because he buried Calamity Jane,” Badger Clark was quoted as saying in articles by Helen F. Morganti.
Dr. Charles B. Clark
The elder Clark did, indeed, do much more than bury the notorious woman of the West. In his 57 years as a minister, the Rev. C.B. Clark built four churches and took more than 2,000 people into the church, most of them being converts under his preaching.
“The primary job of a preacher in those days was to preach and Dr. Clark could preach. His sermons were to the point and well thought out,” wrote Morganti.
In Clark’s obituary in the “Journal of Dakota Conference,” an unnamed minister is quoted as saying, “I think that all who heard him speak felt as I did --- that I was ashamed of every mean thing I had ever thought or done and wanted to do better. Dr. Clark loved men as he loved God; this made him a believer in them and a rare friend and sympathizer. In all the thirty-five years I was acquainted with him, I never heard him say an unkind thing of friend or foe.”
Badger Clark described his father as “a man of above middle height, had a full black beard which gave him a practical aspect but which was offset by kindly crinkles around his eyes. He wore the true badge of professional men of those days, the Prince Albert coat and topped the costume with a Stetson hat, always cocked slightly to the right.”
The Rev. C.B. Clark also possessed a mellow bass voice, a fluent command of English and a sunny temperament. 
Clark was born around 1840 in Sauquoit, N.Y. The family moved west in 1857, finally settling at Mount Pleasant, Iowa. He attended Iowa Wesleyan University, leaving to enlist in the 25th Iowa Infantry in 1862, fighting for the Union Army in the American Civil War. The private received a shell wound to his head at the battle of Arkansas Post in 1863 and was discharged from the service.
His injury resulted in the total loss of hearing in his right ear. He returned to Iowa, resumed his studies, was ordained as a Methodist minister and became a circuit-riding minister in Iowa. A patriotic man, Clark was active in the Grand Army of the Republic, serving as president of the South Dakota department of that organization for a year.
The work and outdoor life restored Clark’s strength, and he developed into an able and popular preacher, occupying some of the best pulpits in the Iowa conference.
Overwork took a toll on him, and, as Badger Clark put it, “doctors told him that he could remain a citizen of this world only if he dropped preaching and all the nerve-straining activities of his profession and took up outdoor work, not too heavy, for the rest of his life.”
The family moved to Dakota Territory in 1883 and homesteaded four miles south of Plankinton.
The minister’s health improved and he returned to his first love of preaching. He was appointed to the Methodist pastorate at Mitchell. He later became district superintendent at Mitchell and pastor at Huron. He was one of the original promoters of Dakota Wesleyan University, which conferred upon him an honorary doctor of divinity degree in 1892.
Clark accepted a transfer to Deadwood in 1898, as the health of his wife, Mary Ellen, was declining due to tuberculosis and he thought the change in altitude would benefit her. However, his wife died that October.
Clark married Rachel Anna Morris three years later. He closed his active ministry as chaplain at Battle Mountain Sanitarium in Hot Springs. He died in Hot Springs on June 10, 1921, and was buried in Graceland Cemetery in Mitchell.

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.