It’s summer time and the living is easy or so the old song “Summertime” proclaims. But in our nick of the woods, summer time is definitely not an easy time in farm country with all the things that have to get done before winter returns. And this year is especially busy due to an all-important; very special time that is happening right here in the Grand Old State of South Dakota. Hopefully, each of you has already joined in on the hoopla. If you haven’t, well, then, read on for an inspiration. And the story goes like this…
Hubby and I were recently invited to a birthday party. Going to a birthday party is always fun and this invitation even boasted special entertainment highlighted with scrumptious birthday cake and ice cream. That promise of cake and ice cream propelled us to Lake Norden on the night of July 3, 2014. And what a night it was!
We discovered that Lake Norden was not only celebrating the Fourth of July with a pork barbeque, fireworks, music, and a fireman’s water fight, but they were also hosting a 125th birthday party for South Dakota’s statehood. What an undertaking for a small town of 468 people.
If you haven’t ever been to Lake Norden, it’s a great place to visit with its three or is it four museums and its lively community center. It was at the main street community center where Jim and I were brought up short on our lack of knowledge about the momentous struggle undertaken to obtain statehood for South Dakota. This is kind of hard for me to admit since I taught South Dakota history for many years, but I definitely learned a few new facts from the special guest who enlightened us with his personal experiences.
Governor Mellette’s Presentation
There’s nothing like learning the facts “straight from the horse’s mouth.” In this case, South Dakota Humanities scholar John Timm of Sioux Falls admirably portrayed Governor Arthur Calvin Mellette right down to his shoe strings. He let us know the actual facts and the long fight to win statehood with words quoted directly from Governor Mellette’s personal diary. It was indeed a most inspiring presentation and one that I hope more people have the opportunity to witness.
Timm took center stage attired in a black dress suit, top hat, gold spectacles, white gloves, and dark cane which depicted the style of the 1890’s. His persona was so complete that comparing a portrait of Governor Mellette to John Timm caused me to do a double take. The resemblance was unbelievable.
After the presentation or should I say, performance, we were served birthday cake and ice cream and enjoyed visiting further with John Timm and his research on our first governor. He has written a book entitled “And the Last Shall be First” which I have just finished reading. It’s a good read and I highly recommend it.
But there is one section in Timm’s book which caused me some concern. As the last territorial governor, Arthur Calvin Mellette was given the challenge of dividing the entire Dakota Territory into two states by President Harrison. Mellette had many diverse factions, people, politicians, and places to consider in this division. Just think—what if Mellette had divided the territory north and south instead of east and west? How different our state would be today. Hmm?
Many events are planned for this summer and later this fall. The big one that I am kind of eyeing is the Historic Wagon Train that will be traveling from Yankton to Pierre. I would love to ride along for a day and then take in some of the sights and festivities that so many places will be hosting. Oh for the good stories.
If you are interested in the wagon train or other community events, visit our state’s website and you will find all sorts of events and things to do in celebrating our 125th Statehood Anniversary.
Now, have you been inspired by this article? I hope so. Get out there and celebrate our 125th Anniversary! South Dakota is indeed a grand state with grand traditions and should be celebrated in a grand way by every locality. Happy 125th South Dakota!
Jane Green and her husband, Jim, live near Clark. Contact Jane for some public speaking, to order one of her books, or to register your comments. E-mail her at: email@example.com.