South Dakota

My husband’s uncle, Bobby Cole was born in South Dakota, where he lived for all of his young life. I don’t know all the details of how he met my husband’s aunt, Linda “Knox” Cole, except that they met in Colstrip, Montana, when her parents were living there. It is my thought that Bobby was working at the coal mine in Colstrip, when a certain girl caught his eye. Once he met Linda, he was smitten. He knew she was the love of his life, and he was right. They were married on December 29th, 1965, and their marriage would last until Bobby’s passing on May 30, 2014. Of course, I don’t know these details for sure, except that my husband, Bob Schulenberg told me that they met in Colstrip. I also know that Colstrip is a coal mining town…or at least a coal processing town. So, it made sense that mining and coal was the reason Bobby was there. And in the end, it was fate, I guess…or a really good move.

Bobby was raised on his parents’ farm, so the country lifestyle was in his blood, but like many kids, the idea of a change of pace can be very appealing…not to mention getting away from home. Kids, once they graduate from high school tend to either want to move out and get a job or head off to college. For Bobby, the choice was to move to Colstrip, Montana was the best decision he ever made. Once Linda and Bobby met, they never looked back. The dated a while, and then went to Las Vegas, Nevada to get married. Following their wedding, Linda and Bobby would go on to have two children…a daughter, Sheila and a son, Patrick. Since that time, their lives were blessed with multiple grandchildren. While they passed away at a younger age, they lived a good life.

Eventually, life would take Linda and Bobby in an unexpected direction. After the hotel they owned in Kennebec, South Dakota, burned to the ground, they decided that since Kennebec was a small town and business was going nowhere, it was time to leave. They moved to Winnemucca, Nevada, and lived there the rest of their lives. Today would have been Bobby’s 79th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Bobby. We love and miss you very much.

My grand-niece, Melanie Harman is married to my grand-nephew, Jake Harman. Jake is quick to say that Melanie is an amazing woman who puts up with him constantly yelling, “Mom help!!” It is only every now and then that she tells him to “shut it!!” You see, Jake is not calling for him mom, but calling Melanie “Mom,” because she is the mother of his children, and she often says she has four children, and not three, because Jake is just “a big kid” at heart.

Melanie is always putting others ahead of her own needs…everyone in fact, and especially her kids. When Jake first met his sweet wife, the first thing he noticed about her was just how sweet and kind she was. She was also quiet, but Jake says that the longer they are together, the more like him she becomes. That is common, as people are married a number of years. Jake says that she can be randomly rude, just like he is. They are joking, of course, and it usually brings a round of laughter for them and those who know them. Melanie is Jake’s best friend, and he says he falls in love with her more and more every day. Jake is a jokester, yet even with all his picking on her, he marvels that Melanie still chooses to wake up to him every morning. Jake attributes their marital success to God, because as Jake says, “Only God could make some one as perfect as her, and only God would bless a sinner like me with her.”

Melanie is a hard working woman. She works 6½ hours a day as a bus aid then 4 hours cleaning buildings for Cleaning Solutions. Then she goes home to take care of her three kids or as she says four, because as Melanie says and we all know, Jake often acts like one!! To demonstrate that fact, the family recently made a trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. On their way back to Casper, Wyoming, there were about 100 Wall Drug billboards and at every single one of them Jake would tap her arm over and over and say, “Mom…Mom…Mom!! Look…look!!” Melanie would look at it and then look at Jake and say, “You do that one more time, and I’m going to beat you!!” She never did, of course, because she is full of love…even for people they don’t know.

Sometimes, when Jake is driving his bus for the disabled, the family comes and rides the bus with him when he is on the route busses. Melanie can talk to anyone, and that shows on the bus. No matter who starts talking to her, she never tells them to stop talking to her or leave her alone, no matter how mixed up they might be. Melanie always listens and talks with them. Melanie has a kind heart and that shows in all she does. The developmentally disabled can see that kindness in a person more than other people can. They can tell that it’s okay to talk to some people. They see that kindness in Melanie, and so do I. Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Melanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The other day, while in the Black Hills, I was spending time in one of my favorite pastimes…people watching. Keystone, South Dakota is an interesting mix of people, and somehow everyone gets along and mingles with ease. There is no animosity in Keystone. Everyone is in a relaxed, party mood and even when they are waiting in line to order food, and the line is really long, and things are taking some time, nobody gets upset. They are kind to each other and they are patient. I watched people from all walks of life. There were bikers standing next to what appeared to me to be a doctor and his family, and there were smiles all around. People helped those who needed help, opened doors for each other; and by the way, color made no difference. In the year following a year of riots, unrest, racism, and rudeness, this was Heaven.

Of course, we were in South Dakota…a Republican state that did not close down for Covid. I’m not going to get too deeply into politics here, but it is impossible not to notice the difference in the states. I was in Keystone when President Trump was at Rushmore, and there were protests, but no real violence, no riots, and no vandalism. People were just different there…more polite, more civil, more caring. Even in the midst of a protest, when people were calling out their own views, there was no violence. That means something. It means that people can disagree without being hateful. It also means that certain things were not going to be tolerated, and those who would act out should know they would be arrested. Of course, the police were everywhere, and having a police presence is crucial to keeping order. I am aware that there are good cops and bad cops, but in Keystone, it seemed that the police officers were good and caring, because they wanted the honor that went with being good cops.

There are also good people and bad people, and there are those who are paid to be evil. And those are the worst kind of all. People talk about the naivete of the rural people of our country, but I think they are some of the best people there are. Those good old fashioned values, caring about your neighbors, helping others, and not looking at the color of someone’s skin, those are the kind of people I see in rural America. I wouldn’t want to live in a big city, because I think you lose a lot of that loving, caring lifestyle. That is what we need to work toward getting back in this country…a more caring lifestyle.

A couple of days ago, my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I went for a hike through a South Dakota ghost town called Spokane. It was founded in 1890 to extract precious gold, the mine proved richer in silver, copper, zinc, mica and graphite. The town hit its stride in 1927 with its biggest year ever totaling $144,742 in profits which helped fund the school building whose bones can still be seen, at least for now. The tow is rapidly deteriorating, so they won’t be around much longer. By 1940, the mine and town were all but abandoned. The town limped along, with the manager’s house being the last one to be abandoned in the 1970s. The Spokane Mine was discovered in 1889 by Sylvester Judd more or less by accident. As the story goes, “he had placed a rock (likely galena or cerussite) from the outcrop on his wooden stove. He was amazed when he found molten lead coming from the mineral.” The town was formed the same year the mine began operations, in 1890, but it was not the town or it’s dilapidated buildings, but rather the tragic history of the place that caught my attention.

A man named James Shepard, or Jim as he was know to family and friends in Spokane, heard about the gold rush in the Black Hills and decided to take his family from North Carolina, to the town of Spokane to stake his claim. A local man named Frank Cox had not kept up assessment work on the Spokane Mine, which he himself had “jumped” when it had been neglected by someone else. It isn’t the best way to stake a claim, but it is legal apparently. Jim had enough to stake his claim to the mine, so he claimed it and on June 21, 1908, when he drove his stake at the site. Jim was well liked and since he did things right, people respected him and his family.

Frank Cox’s wife, the Sunday school teacher, observed the staking of the claim by Shepard while riding to the schoolhouse and informed her husband. Then the real trouble began. That evening, Jim rode his horse to bring his free-roaming milk cow back to the house. According to his account, when he had his guard down, Frank and his son Henry stepped out from behind some trees. Frank yelled, “You son-of-a-bitch, you have driven your last stake!” and shot Jim with a shotgun. He was able to ride home, where his wife, Jessie, frantically helped him into bed and rode for help.

Jessie went to the Hoffman home and told them that Jim had been shot. Edgar H. Hoffman, who was 12 years old, never forgot that night. “Mrs. Shepard was a tall, dark mountain woman. Her clothes and the saddle were soaked and spotted with blood,” he said. A neighbor rode to the nearest doctor, but that was 17 miles away in Custer. It was an awful stormy night with heavy rain and lightning flashes. Not an easy way to make such an important trip. The next morning, the doctor and sheriff arrived to just in time to hear hear Jim’s dying words…words that incriminated Frank and Henry. The town was horribly shaken by the murder. The crowd could only be described as “angry and hostile” at Jim’s funeral.

“In order to prevent violence, the minister had the congregation point the finger of guilt at whoever they felt had committed the murder. Everyone pointed the finger at the Cox house. From then on, the Coxes were ostracized by the Spokane community and they sent their son away to relatives,” wrote Inez Shepard Shafer, Jim Shepard’s only surviving child.

In the July 10, 1909 edition of the Keystone Record, it was stated that the trial was “one of the longest and hardest fought preliminary hearings ever held in Custer County. It was thought at first by friends of Cox that he would have no trouble in proving an alibi, as he was at the Ideal [mine] all day Sunday and slept there that night. This is true, but there was about an hour and a half in the evening he was unable to account for, and about the time the shooting was supposed to have taken place. It is unfortunate for all concerned, and if Cox proves his innocence, and many believe he will, the chances are we will never know who killed James Shepard.”

For years, my husband, Bob and I went to visit his Aunt Linda and Uncle Bobby Cole in Kennebec, South Dakota once a year. It was something we all looked forward to. Kennebec is a really small town, with very little to do, so we had the chance to slow down our busy lives, play cards, drink coffee, and visit. For us it was a nice change, for Linda and Bobby, I suppose it was life as usual. Another nice thing was that no babysitters were needed. Our girls Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce were little at that time, and would need to be watched if we went out as couples. The played with Linda and Bobby’s kids, Sheila Gregory and Pat Cole. Everyone had a great time.

Linda and Bobby owned a small hotel in Kennebec, so a place to stay was no problem. Unfortunately, the hotel was hit by lightning, and the resulting fire was bad enough to make the hotel uninhabitable, so the trips to Kennebec just stopped. While they knew the strike was close, Linda and Bobby didn’t know it had hit the hotel, until they smelled the burning wood from the upstairs rooms. The hotel was deemed a total loss. Very few rooms were unaffected…by smoke damage, if not fire damage. The last time I saw the hotel, it was a charred shell of what it had once been. It was a sad time for everyone, because it was the beginning of change…a change that would end the yearly trips to Kennebec. After weighing the options, Linda and Bobby decided to move to Winnemucca, Nevada. While my in-laws tried to see Linda and Bobby during their snowbird days, with the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease in my mother-in-law, and the advancement of COPD in my father-in-law, their snowbird days came to an abrupt end too.

The kids were all grown and married, so the trips we made were just Bob and me…and those trips were few and far between. Nevada was just not a place we got to very often, and they didn’t travel much anymore either. After her sister, my mother-in-law’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Linda couldn’t bear to see her sister not remembering her anymore, so they couldn’t make themselves visit. That was probably the saddest part of all this change. Even before my mother-in-law passed away in January of 2018, Linda passed away in September of 2016. The husbands, Walt Schulenberg, my father-in-law, passed away in May of 2013 and Bobby passed away in May of 2014. In just a short time, they were all gone, and even more had changed than before. Now, all we have are the memories that surface from time to time, especially on birthdays. Today would have been Linda’s 74th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Linda. We love and miss you very much.

Our aunt, Linda Cole was the middle child of my husband, Bob’s Grandma and Grandpa Knox. She and her husband, Bobby moved to Kennebec, South Dakota early in their marriage, and raised their two children, Sheila Gregory and Patrick Cole. In Kennebec, Linda and Bobby owned a hotel, and when people came to visit, they always had enough room for everyone to stay. My husband, Bob and I took our girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce to visit them once a year. It was a nice trip for us and they got to see family too. Running a hotel didn’t leave much time to travel, so the family that came to visit them was often the only time the saw the rest of us. Linda’s sister, Joann Schulenberg and her husband, Walt, my in-laws went often too. We all went in the summer, so it was often really hot in Kennebec. Nevertheless, the visits were fun, and I will always be glad we went.

Later, after a fire burned most of the hotel down, the family moved to Winnemucca, Nevada, where Linda and Bobby both found work in the casinos. They really liked working there and also enjoyed gambling on their days off. I don’t know how they fared in their gambling, but they didn’t really spend a huge amount of time at it. They liked the warmth and easy winters, and enjoyed the place they had out in the country. It was quiet, and that was nice after the noise of the casinos.

My in-laws visited them periodically in their travels as snowbirds, and the sisters got to know each other again. For so many years they had lived far away from each other, that they were more like acquaintances than sisters sometimes. The girls’ younger sister, Margee lives here in Casper. She and Linda talked on the telephone often, and they were very close. It was hard on the sisters to be so far away from Linda, but as time goes on, you get used to things.

In May of 2014, Linda lost her husband, Bobby, and then Linda passed away in September of 2016. It had been a number of years since her sisters had seen Linda, and that made her passing especially sad. It always seemed as if there would be time, but when time ran out, it left only sadness where Linda had been. We can only look forward to seeing her again in Heaven. Today would have been Linda’s 73rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Linda. We love and miss you very much.

My mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg was the eldest of her parents three living children. Her older brother Everett passed away at birth. The second living child was Linda Cole, who was born 15 years after her older sister. Following Linda, youngest sister, Margaret was born three years later. It was almost like having two separate families, because Joann was practically grown up by the time her younger siblings arrived. In reality, Linda and Margee grew up with nieces and nephews, some of whom were closer in age to them than their own sister was, and there sister was almost like a second mother to them.

Linda grew up and married Bobby Cole on December 29, 1965. Their marriage was blessed with a daughter, Sheila and a son, Patrick, both of whom are married and have children of their own now. Linda and Bobby ran a hotel in Kennebec, South Dakota for most of the years while their children were growing up. They loved the small town of Kennebec, and the social scene in the area. For a number of years, they were a part of a square dance club. I remember all their great dance clothes, and how much they loved being part of that club. I think it was the most fun they had in a long time.

Unfortunately, the economy in Kennebec wasn’t doing too well, and after they lost their hotel to a fire, they decided that it was time for a change. The decided to move to Winnemucca, Nevada. they thought that the gambling might be just the ticket for them. The both found work in the casinos there, and dabbled in gambling on their time off. They really enjoyed their lives in Winnemucca. They were in a warmer climate, and far away from the harsh South Dakota winters. They would live out the remainder of their lives in Winnemucca. Bobby passed away on May 30, 2014, of cancer. After his passing, Linda seemed content to stay in Winnemucca, until her passing on September 22, 2016 of a heart attack. We miss them both very much. Today would have been Linda’s 71st birthday. Happy birthday in heaven Linda. We love you.

The other day, while reading an article about notable Native Americans, I came across a name that was familiar to me, but really didn’t seem like a Native American name. The name was Renville, the same name as my grand-nephew, James Renville. Immediately, I wondered if there might be a connection between Chief Gabriel Renville and my grand-nephew. The search didn’t take very long, before I had my answer. Gabriel Renville is my grand-nephew, James’ 1st cousin 7 times removed. I find that to be extremely amazing to think that James is related to an Indian chief. With that information, I wanted to fine out more abut this man.

Chief Gabriel Renville was a mixed-blood Santee Sioux—his father was half French and his mother half-Scottish. He was born in April of 1825 at Big Stone Lake, South Dakota. Renville was the treaty chief of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Santee tribes and signed the 1867 treaty, which established the boundaries of the Lake Traverse Reservation. One source called him a Champion of Excellence.

He was careful to protect his people as much as he could, and was also instrumental in saving the lives of many white captives. During the 1862 Uprising, Renville opposed Little Crow and was influential in keeping many of the Santee out of the war. He lost a large amount of property, including horses appropriated by the hostile savages, or destroyed in consequence of his position to their murderous course. Renville served as chief of scouts for General Sibley during the campaign against the Sioux in 1863.

Even though Chief Renville was an ally of the whites, it didn’t help him when he settled on the reservation. The government agent there, Moses N. Adams, considered him hostile. Renville was the leader of the “scout party” which was in conflict with the “good church” Indians. I’m sure that was common in those days. Renville preserved many of the traditional Santee customs of polygamy and dancing, and he ignored Christianity, but he was not opposed to economic progress and he and his followers became successful farmers on the reservation. However, the Sisseton agent favored the “church” Indians.

Renville and other leaders of the traditional Indians accused Adams of discriminating against them in the disposition of supplies and equipment. He said Adams favored the idle church-goers instead of encouraging them to work….a situation not unlike the current welfare system. Agent Adams considered Renville a detriment and removed the chief form the reservation executive board which Adams had organized to carry out his policies. It was a move that was considered extreme. In 1874 Renville was finally successful in securing a government investigation of the Adam’s activities. The outcome of the investigation was an official censure of Adams. Chief Renville continued to practice the old Santee customs, yet he encouraged the Indians to farm. This progressive influence was greatly missed after his death in August 1892.

When a construction project begins, it usually takes a matter of a few months to complete. That is not how it works when carving a large sculpture, such as Mount Rushmore. Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore, a batholith in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota, United States. It was the vision of Doane Robinson, who thought that carving the faces of famous people in the Granite of the Black Hills region, would bring tourists to the region. Robinson’s vision has proven to be an amazing success. His original idea was to put the sculpture in the area of the Needles, but the chosen sculptor, Gutzon Borglum rejected the idea because of the poor quality of the granite, and strong opposition from the Native American Groups in the area. I’m glad it didn’t go in the needles area, because they have a beauty all their own, and it would have been a shame to change them.

They settled on Mount Rushmore, which also has the advantage of facing southeast for maximum sun exposure, which makes the faces of our presidents stand out in an amazing way. Robinson wanted it to feature American West heroes like Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud, and Buffalo Bill Cody, but Borglum decided the sculpture should have broader appeal and chose the four presidents. Borglum created the sculpture’s design and oversaw the project’s execution from 1927 to 1941 with the help of his son, Lincoln Borglum. When I think of the years it too to complete the sculpture, I wonder if it was what was expected, or just the way it came down. Mount Rushmore features 60-foot sculptures of the heads of four United States presidents…George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). After securing federal funding through the enthusiastic sponsorship of “Mount Rushmore’s great political patron” US Senator Peter Norbeck, construction on the memorial began in 1927, and the presidents’ faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Upon Gutzon Borglum’s death in March 1941, his son Lincoln Borglum took over as leader of the construction project. Each president was originally to be depicted from head to waist.

The memorial park covers 1,278.45 acres and is 5,725 feet above sea level, and while the sculpture work officially ended on October 31, 1941, due to lack of funding and the very real possibility of a United States entrance into World War II. Mount Rushmore has become an iconic symbol of the United States, and it has appeared in works of fiction, as well as being discussed or depicted in other popular works. It has also been featured a number of movies. It attracts over two million visitors annually. It’s amazing to me that what started out to be a tourist attraction, quickly became a must see place for every patriotic American. My husband and I love to go to the Black Hills, and with the close proximity to our Casper, Wyoming home, we take a week every summer to go and enjoy the beauty and patriotism that now resides there.

251093_10150211571587794_861544_nMy niece, Michelle Stevens has been in school for much of her life. Of course, she went through the normal public school, at which time she discovered her amazing talent in the area of art. She also discovered that she was an excellent teacher. Put the two together, and you have a career. With that goal in mind, Michelle set out right after high school to study to become an art teacher. If you think that doctors go to college a long time for their degrees, you will find yourself amazed about the length of time an art teacher has to go. I suppose it is partly the double major, but when you think about the fact that teachers need 4 years, you will begin to understand just how much there is to learn about art. Michelle has been in college for a little over ten years now…but that study time has come to a close. Michelle will wait to march with her class, but with the end of this semester, came the end of her schooling, and her Bachelors Degree. She is done, except for one last day of student teaching today. What a great birthday present that is!!

I’m sure that there must be a feeling of, almost disconnect right now, because Michelle has been in school for make-your-hands-dirtyso long. Nevertheless, there also must be feelings of elation and even relief, because the long years of preparation are over, and she can start her career. Michelle is going to make an excellent teacher, and I know that any child she teaches will be very blessed to have her for their art teacher. Her abilities are amazing. I’m not sure what grade Michelle will be teaching, or if she will be teaching multiple grades. She will stay in Spearfish, South Dakota, probably substitute teaching for the rest of this school year, and then I have learned that the plan is possibly to move back to Casper, Wyoming and begin her career here. I know that we would all love that, but I also know that people have to go where the jobs are. I just pray that the jobs will be here for her, because I know that her family would love having her back home so much.

It’s funny that an artist really must get dirty and messy to craft the beautiful pieces of artwork they make. I never really thought of Michelle as being one of those people who would love to get dirty, but I kind of think Michelle-Stevens-drawingshe is. I guess it goes with the career. I haven’t had the opportunity to see all of Michelle’s work, by any stretch of the imagination, but what I have seen is beautiful. I think that every artist has their personal favorite works, and while I’m not sure which one is Michelle’s favorite, I have a favorite of her works. It takes me to a place of peace. A place I love to be…the outdoors. It makes me think of a hike, and coming up of a bench where you can look out over the countryside and drink in all it’s beauty. It might be a simple sketch, and maybe Michelle doesn’t even think it is beautiful, but I do, and they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so there you have it. Today is Michelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Michelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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