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