Saturday, August 8, 2020

Don Shaw and his Trombonaires


     A quick look through the old Huron Daily Plainsmans has ample advertisements for local and area bands, playing at venues such as Daumino and the Band Box, and many more playing at barn dances throughout the county.  

     But Don Shaw and His Trombonaires was a unique band, consisting of brothers from Huron as well as others.  Don and brother Mike played the trombone, brother Sam played bass, and brother Bob played piano.  They were known as the "Trombonaires" due to the unusual arrangement of using 4 trombones rather than a saxophone section.

     The sons of Frederick Lonsdale and Nellie Belle Shaw, the family moved to Huron in 1924.  The earliest newspaper ads for the band began appearing in 1940 and appear steadily through June of 1957, with the exception of 1944 and 1945.  One newspaper account states that the band was composed of World War II veterans, which probably explains the absence of advertisements during that time period.  The band played all over the midwest - South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, even Kansas City on several occasions.

     One of the brothers, Bob, worked at the Weather Bureau in Huron until his enlistment during the war, but then joined his brothers in the band in 1946 as pianist.   He later led the Bob Shaw Quartet in Sioux Falls, and was personal pianist to Henry Mancini on his Hawaiian tour.  Bob was later inducted into the South Dakota Music Hall of Fame.


Huronite (Huron, SD) 14 Apr 1943
Huronite and Daily Plainsman (Huron, SD)  11 Dec 1946
Huronite and Daily Plainsman (Huron, SD) 08 April 1946
Huronite and Daily Plainsman (Huron, SD) 05 Sep 1946
Huronite and Daily Plainsman (Huron, SD) 25 Mar 1948
Hawarden Independent (Hawarden, IA) 04 Feb 1943
Kansas City Star (Kansas City, MO) 25 Mar 1956
Rapid City Journal (Rapid City, SD) 14 Oct 2015
numerous other newspapers noting places and dates

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Bertha, Huron's Civil War Memorial

Subtitled  "DUCK!!!"

Photo courtesy of Stan Phillippi

Whenever my parents drove us down 3rd street past the Beadle County courthouse, all three of us kids would duck down and laugh as we went past the cannon - just in case it should fire.  None of us really believed it would, but it was such a fun tradition that we couldn't help continuing it much long than we should have.

A group of young people from Miller enjoying the cannon, including my father-in-law and mother-in-law, on the left end.  Photo courtesy of Louise Ulmer.

Despite driving past that cannon thousands of times in my life, I always just assumed it was from the Civil War.  Well, here are the facts:

The cannon, known as "Bertha," is indeed as heavy as it looks - two tons.    It was gifted to the Beadle County Grand Army of the Republic as a memorial by the Kilpatrick Post No. 4 of the GAR.  They obtained it from Fort Schuyler, New York in 1907.  The cannon was made in 1861 to defend the fort, but was not necessarily used.

This wonderful piece of history was nearly lost in 1942 when metal was being collected for World War II.  Two tons of metal would certainly have helped the cause, and Huron's citizens were sharply divided over the issue.  The Historical Society argued that it was one of a kind and replacing it would be impossible, and that it serves as a memorial to those who fought in the Civil War.  Despite offers to build a different type of memorial, Bertha was saved from the scrap heap.

Above: The cannon sat on the grounds of the old courthouse, and (below)
at the current courthouse.

Last summer when I was in Huron with my grandkids, we drove down 3rd street past the cannon, and of course, we all ducked.  For old times' sake.  And next time, they'll get a history lesson as well.


Stan Phillippi (current photos)
Louise Ulmer
The Evening Huronite, 24 October 1942


Aberdeen Daily News
Aberdeen, South Dakota, Thursday, February 13, 1913


Old Historical Landmark of Pioneer Days is Totally Destroyed Today


People of Huron Had Been Wanting New Northwestern Passenger Station for Long Time - Loss About $30,000 - Insurance Expired at Noon

Huron, Dec. 13 - Fire this noon destroyed the old Depot hotel, the Chicago & Northwestern depot, baggage rooms, etc., causing a loss approximated at from $25,000 to $30,000 partly covered by insurance. The fire started about 11:20 this forenoon near the heating plant, and for a time it was feared that the flames would spread to adjoining buildings, but by 12:20 the first was under control, although the entire building was hopelessly damaged.

The residents of Huron have been anxious to have a new passenger station here, and the Chicago & Northwestern road has made countless promises to rebuild. The new passenger station now seems a certainty.

The main part of the building was an old historic landmark, having been erected by the Northwestern in the early territorial days when the road first entered this city. It has been enlarged at several times by the addition of a second story and wings, but the old building remained intact until laid low by the fire today. It figured quite prominently during the capital fight days.

There is a rumor current on the streets here to the effect that Manager Holbrook's insurance expired at noon today, but nothing suspicious is attached to the rumor, as the hotel was too good a money maker for any one connected with it to be implicated in its destruction.

The Birth of an Icon - Hurst's Corner

[photo courtesy of Google Earth]

      Few from my home town of Huron, South Dakota, won't recognize this local icon.  It's been in existence longer than most of us have, sitting right there on the corner of 2nd and Dakota.  The stories it could tell!  But thank goodness, it can't.

     Late May of 1939 brings the inception of legalized on-sale liquor to Huron - something not done since the saloons went out of business more than 20 years prior.  Hurst's Corner was first to obtain a license, followed quickly by the Marvin Hughitt Hotel and William E. Wagner.  Wagner was the proprietor of the Sportsman's Bar.

     South Dakota state law forbade both off- and on-sale of liquor in the same building, so some quick remodeling was done to be compliant.  Carl Daum became responsible for the off-sale part of the business, located in the center of the building and facing 2nd street, while owner S. A. Goethal would run the on-sale part.

     And here we are, 80+ years later, and Hurst's Corner is still there.

Google Earth
Evening Huronite, Huron, South Dakota, 23 May 1939, pg. 1
1940 Huron City Directory

F. C. W. Kuehn and the Kinyon Funeral Home in Huron, South Dakota

The building at 373 Wisconsin SW in Huron in recent years.

     Like many other local buildings, this one was designed by prominent architect F. C. W. Kuehn and built for Frank D. Kinyon to house his funeral home business.  A little about Kuehn: He was born in 1884 in LeMars, Iowa, and shortly afterward moved to a sod house with his family to Sanborn co., Dakota Territory. At the age of 19 (give or take) they moved to Huron. Here he married and had a family. He took correspondence courses in architecture and afterward worked with Huron architect George Issenhuth. In 1909, he opened his own office. He designed many school houses in the area, including several in Huron; however he also was involved with designing homes and other buildings as well as drawing county maps. He died in 1970.
     This building is described as a "two-story basement and brick building" for F. D. Kinyon, Plan No. H 3-30-7.
     Kinyon Funeral Home was established in Huron in 1915, originating in Bradley, SD. When relocating to Huron, Frank D. Kinyon took over the funeral home of John P. Walsh, which was located at 127 Third St. SW. The building pictured above, located on 4th and Wisconsin Ave., was finished and occupied in 1927. The business was run by Kinyon, who was later joined by his son, Frank I. Kinyon. In 1945, the elder Kinyon retired, and his son took a job as field representative for the American Red Cross in Battle Creek, Michigan.

     At that time, the building was sold to the American Legion Post #7 for $42,000.  Besides a new home for the Post, the Auxiliary and the junior organization of the Legion were also to be housed there.  The building continued in their ownership through at least 1992, and probably for some time afterward.

Current photo - Google Earth
Huron City Directories, 1926 - 1992
Daily Huronite, 03 June 1945

Daily Huronite and Plainsman, 28 June 1946

Friday, February 14, 2020

A Love Story that Lives On

     Bill Knutz and Lillian Christensen knew each other nearly their whole lives.  As children, their parents' farms were located around the corner from each other, less than a mile apart.  The children of both families attended the same rural school and formed close friendships throughout the years.  Bill and Lillian's brother Ray were best of friends, but it was Lillian really caught Bill's attention.

     Bill loved to tell their grandchildren the story of how they "laid claim to each other" in the third grade.  Bill's route to school took him past the Christensen farm.  One morning, Bill and his brother Howard, in their horse-drawn buggy, ran into Lillian and Raymond Christensen in their buggy. A race ensued, but unfortunately, the wheels of the two buggies became entangled and locked together.  Needless to say, the next day (and every day thereafter), Bill and Howard could be seen riding a single horse to school  The same thing held true for Lill and Ray.  But down the road a distance they would do a switch; Ray and Howard would end up on one horse, and Bill and Lillian on the other.

At Sunnyside school, early 1920s, Bill Knutz and Lillian Christensen (marked with X)

     On one occasion, when the kids were in third grade, Bill got sick and missed a few days of school.  The teacher asked Lillian to sit next to him and show him the lesson.  Bill said, "I got a feeling all through my body, like I wanted to put my arm around her waist and give her a hug."

     One of Bill's favorite stories was when Lillian wanted to see if he was an honorable fellow, or a snitch.  One day at school, a girl named Harriet dropped her mitten.  Ray grabbed it and hung it on a nail in the barn.  The teacher asked Lillian who did it, and she said it was Bill.  Bill did not "squeal" on Ray, even though he had to spend noon hours inside all week.  And he married her anyway!

     As teenagers, Lillian moved to town and took a job as a nanny.  Bill worked as a farm hand for Mr. Peterson, whose daughter had a crush on Bill and would stop at nothing to get him.  Lettters and messages for Bill would not be delivered and she tried everything she could to get Bill's attention focused away from Lillian and on to her.  At Christmas Bill was invited to Christensen's for a Christmas Day celebration.  He had to borrow a horse from Mr. Peterson to get there.  His daughter was furious when she found out, and even more so when he went back to Christensen's to celebrate New Year's Day!  She told him he should spend the day with her, and asked, "What if Daddy won't let you have the pony?" to which he replied, "I'll walk then."

     A few summers later, Bill and Ray went to Nebraska to work as farm laborers.  Bill diligently saved his pay, but on the way back they stopped at a pawn shop and he found a saxophone.  He said he had always wanted to play one, and despite no musical training and no ability to read music, he decided to spend the $10 and buy it.  He also came back home with a black onyx and diamond ring for Lillian.

   Bill and Lillian had planned to get married for quite a while before it actually happened.  This was during the Great Depression, and their primary problem was a lack of money.  But they finally decided to go ahead anyway, and on Dec. 28, 1935, they jumped in Bill's car and drove to nearby Miller, where their friends Henry and Grace Speirs witnessed their wedding.  Lillian had a government job that paid better than farming, and because jobs were saved for single women, they did not tell anyone of their marriage.  However, when Bill's car was spotted overnight down the street from Lillian's apartment, to save their good names they were forced to make an announcement, and Lillian had to resign from her job.

     And the rest is history.  There were good times, and there were bad times, but they stuck it out together.  What stuck with me as a child was how respectfully they treated each other even when they disagreed; how Grandpa bent over backwards to take care of his wife, family and home, and how Grandma did all she could to take care of Grandpa and was fiercely protective of him.  Though both of them are gone now, it's a love story that lives on.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Using Shutterfly to Preserve Your Family's Stories

One evening, I got an email from a friend suggesting I check out a free 8x8 hardcover book Shutterfly was offering.  It was a game changer as far as recording my family history is concerned.

I took some of my favorite digitized photos of my grandparents and put them together in a simple format, just to familiarize myself with the ins and outs of making a book.  They offer pre-made templates and a"drag and drop" process that is easy to use. It was a relatively endeavor, and I got a nice little book my granddaughters enjoyed.

But this type of book was not what I was envisioning... I wanted something far more customizable with the ability to add much more text, and I had my own vision for format, backgrounds, and layout.  I wanted a way to preserve my family's stories, and to be able to add photos and maps to make them come to life.  Shutterfly has an "advanced editing" mode, which allows the user to customize every page, and it's relatively intuitive - a plus for people like me who hate to read instructions.

I began with a book of the family stories I'd grown up hearing, things that had been passed down from generation to generation, and interesting things about our ancestors.  One thing I learned: I had way more stories and anecdotes than I realized!  I put a second book together, followed by two more books of stories from my own childhood, recalling events involving my grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other people my granddaughters will never meet or know.  But they'll know them through these books.

When those books were finished, I wrote another of the history of my grandmother-in-law's pheasant farm, which was well-known in that locale, and had the honor of donating pheasants to the national zoo.  I put together another book detailing the life of my great-grandfather, a Danish immigrant who led a rather interesting life.  "The Grandma Book" is a tribute to the lives of my grandmothers - some have just one page, others have several pages of both stories and photos.  But all of my more recent grandmothers are represented.

Besides the blatant genealogy-oriented books, I came up with a few other ideas to sneak in a little family history.  I put together a book of the quilts I own, some of which I created, and others that are family heirlooms; each page tells a little about the quilt, its pattern name and its significance.   Another book contains favorite recipes from five generations of our family's cooks.   I put this book together early in the year, and when Shutterfly periodically offered a free or half-priced book I'd get another copy of it until I had enough to give as Christmas presents.  I also sneaked in a photo of each cook and a little of her background, and the significance of each recipe.  It was a unique and useful gift that was well-received.

I will take this opportunity to say that I have no affiliation with Shutterfly, and they are not the only company that offers this kind of service.  There are a million other ways you can use services of this kind to enhance your family history and leave something behind that almost anyone in the family would enjoy reading.