History Anyone?

Posted: Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I love going to cemeteries. Not for funerals but just to hang out.
On a nice summer day I can spend hours in the peace and quiet of a cemetery walking amongst the tombstones, especially the real old ones, reading the names and dates trying to figure out the stories of those who lie a few feet below.
When my daughters were growing up and we’d go for a ride I’d often stop at a graveyard somewhere to explore.
At first I’m sure they thought ol’ dad was losin’ it but after a while they, too, kind of got into the "spirit" of things and, like me, learned to appreciate the underground history lessons there.
B-1880  D-1918                      B-1914  D- 1918                 B-1900  D-1918
We might conclude that a father has lost his 4 year old namesake..probably to the terrible flu epidemic of 1918.  Then his 18 year old son is killed overseas during World War I.
Could Harold, in his grief, have taken his own life or did the flu claim him too?
That’s part of the cemetery experience…wondering and imagining.
One of my first reports for Keloland News was about a former pioneer cemetery west of Marion Road in Sioux Falls that was going to be developed for housing even though some county historians insisted that people were still buried there. I wonder if anyone now living in that neighborhood has experienced the movie Poltergeist in real life.
Devil’s Gulch, GarretsonI’ve done many stories on the saga of Jesse James who may..or may not..have jumped his horse across the Devil’s Gulch at Garretson while on the run from the Northfield, Minnesota bank job. I even got a tour of the nearby cave where he allegedly holed up for a night.
I’ve always been fascinated by pioneer history like Ole Rolvaag wrote about in “Giants in the Earth” or Laura Ingalls Wilder in her “Little House” series of books.
I’ve done reports from the “Little Town on the Prairie” in DeSmet many times.
The most recent was about the five cottonwood trees that Pa Ingalls planted in 1880. They’re still there!
Somehow, they’ve managed to survive tornadoes, lightning, prairie fires and souvenir hunters for an amazing 127 years.
 Pa’s cottonwoods still survive on the Ingalls’ homestead
I loved visiting with Black Hills photographer, Paul Horsted, about his book in which he finds the exact location of old photographs and shows the same area as it appears today.
The comparisons are really interesting..
I had great fun interviewing a little old lady who just happened to be a teller at Security National Bank in 1934 when it was robbed by the John Dillinger gang.
During the heist, trigger-happy Baby Face Nelson opened fire with his machine gun, injuring the Sioux Falls police chief.
Public enemy #1 John DillingerAfter relieving the bank of $49,500,  Dillenger grabbed the teller and a few other hostages..then sped away in a big stolen car with gang members on the running boards..guns blazing away.Nobody died during the hold-up but there was a lot of lead flying through the air that day.
You can still see bullet holes in the old Sioux Falls bank.
After a blog I did last summer about the Perry Nature Area..which used to be the town of East Sioux Falls, I heard from Eric Renshaw who is obviously just as interested in stuff like that as I am…even more so.
He has put together a wonderful web site filled with pictures and history about Sioux Falls.
There are stories and images of theaters, breweries, trolleys, motels, hotels and other city landmarks.
The beauty of the old photos he has posted is that with a click most can be enlarged to reveal incredible detail unseen before without a magnifying glass.
To check it out for yourself,  click here.
Now, Linda says “I’m” going to be history if I don’t get off this computer and get some real work done.

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