Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Roe-Dee-Oh :: Steer Wrestling

Sunday, August 21st - - Some had better luck than others...

Roe-Dee-Oh :: Bronc Riding

Sunday, August 21st - - After attending a community church service (very interesting mix of speakers), a pot luck dinner (good food), and driving along nearly every street in town looking for the “birthing house” where Ruth, Jim and George were born (we didn't have an address but did have a picture of the house, which was eventually located), we went to the Rodeo.

For many of the Joslin Clan, this was their first Rodeo. I had been to several but never to a “full-blown real” rodeo. It was a lot of fun but lasted much longer than any of us thought it would – more than four hours! And because it was so long and so much was going on, there will be several posts covering the activities, and probably two posts a day for the next few days – with LOTS of photos! For me, part of the fun was in trying to capture some decent images that showed the action and the excitement.

These next four pictures are of the same horse and rider. The horse went down but the rider stayed with him... incredible ability and athleticism on the part of both the rider and the horse!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's a Parade!

Saturday, August 20th - - There were numerous activities in Mellette County, South Dakota this week for their Centennial Celebration and annual Pioneer Days but today was the “big parade” in White River, the county seat, population 580 or thereabouts.

The Parade began with the American Legion Color Guard and the Community Band (on the float behind them) playing the National Anthem.

Of course, Horses were a big part of the parade. A little “artistic license” taken here with selective focus and sepia toning...

This four-horse team was quite impressive.

The “Centennial Christmas Tree” was decorated with sunflowers, amongst other things. The fields of Sunflowers in the area were so pretty and colorful.

Of course, there was some clowning around.

This gal was having way too much fun! I tried hard to get a full face photo of her but she was just moving around too quickly.

Quite the colorful character!

The parade was enjoyed by all. The threat of rain in the morning did not dampen spirits - the voice over the loudspeaker announced that we were part of the largest crowd ever in White River!

Joslin Rendezvous :: Cemetery Walk

Saturday, August 20th - - Each time the Joslin Clan has visited the homestead, they stop by the small Cedar Butte Cemetery where about ten people are buried including two of their Hutcheson relatives, brothers of their mother/grandmother Mary Matilda Hutcheson Joslin.

George and Jim opening the gate to the cemetery.

And each time they visit, they have to go hunting and digging for the gravestones! Many years ago someone planted a few Iris near the graves and they have multiplied and multiplied until they cover a rather large area, including the two graves. A little poking and prodding and the graves were found.

BORN JAN. 5, 1896
DIED APR 3, 1930

BORN OCT 1, 1918
DIED AUG. 17, 1923

And each time they visit, they take home a few of the Iris bulbs. It was quite a chore digging up the bulbs with a little garden trowel, but Fred persevered.

The Iris patch. In the center, to the left and right are the two Hutcheson graves.

The Joslin Clan – Babs, Richard, George, Joann, Ruth, Tim, Jim, and Sue.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Joslin Rendezvous :: The Homestead

If you had been a young man eager to begin a new life back in the early 1900s and you saw something like this photo below, would you have invested several years of your life trying to make a go of it?

South of Murdo in Mellette County, South Dakota

Twenty-five year old Virgil Newton Joslin did just that in 1916. Tired of working for other men he was determined to have a place of his own. He took up homesteading in west-central Mellette County, South Dakota, almost on the eastern edge of The Badlands. His first abode on the homestead was a dugout in the side of a hill. About the same time or shortly thereafter, his parents Luther and Phoebe (Elliott) Joslin joined him on the homestead. Two years later Virgil married Mary Matilda Hutcheson and he built what he called a “tar paper shack.” It was 12x16 feet, constructed of boards and covered in tar paper that was normally used for covering a roof before the shingles are put down.

Soon a son, Irwin, was born. In 1922, the tar paper shack was replaced by the beginnings of a “real” house - a concrete basement. A few years later a daughter was added to the family and then two more sons – Ruth, Jim, and George were all born in the nearest "large" town, White River.

A barn was built. A dam was constructed across a stream and a pond was dug. Virgil and Mary worked hard on their homestead. His parents helped as much as they could. Virgil still had to work for other men to help feed his growing family.

The dream house was never built. The family was caught up in the wrath of Mother Nature. It started with a prolonged drought. Irwin tells about the conditions in the early 1930s in his memoirs:
“For two or three years there was not enough rainfall to produce crops. Then the wind, which always blows in South Dakota, began picking up the dirt from the dry fields and we had dust storms. They might not have been as bad as in the Oklahoma dust bowl, but I recall them lasting for 2-3 days and the fine dust was everywhere...It literally blew all the dirt out of the fields as deep as it had been plowed.”
“In addition to the drought, depression and dust storms we had plagues of insects. Beetles overran the place once and ate anything green that was growing. Another year it was grasshoppers – the big kind that fly. They were so thick that, at times, when they flew over they made a shade like a cloud. they ate everything – even the dried bark off fence posts that had been in the ground for years. They also ate pitch fork handles because of the salty taste of perspiration from our hands.”
“During these times my father did as everyone else did, and kept borrowing money from the local bank and giving livestock and farm implements as collateral. The taxes on the land couldn't be paid in these years either. Everyone hoped for a better year – next year. but it came too late for most of them – their resources ended. My father finally had to just turn it all over to the banker and let the land go back for unpaid taxes. Then we left the homestead.”
In 1928, Luther and Phoebe Joslin had moved to Missouri where a daughter lived. Virgil and his family remained on the homestead until sometime in 1934 when they moved to Martin, South Dakota. A Sheriff's sale held at the homestead in May 1936 raised $2219.31 all of which went to the state. Soon thereafter, Virgil and Mary and the four children moved to Turkey Ridge, Pulaski County, Missouri not far from where his sister and parents lived.

In October 1986, 50 years after the family left Mellette County, South Dakota the four children of Virgil Joslin “revisited” their homestead. Over the years they returned several more times. George and his wife Lorene made a visit there in September of last year and learned that Mellette County was going to have its Centennial Celebration this year. Descendants of the early homesteaders were invited to return. George and Jim began planning the trip and invited me to join them. I'd heard so much about “The Homestead” that I just had to see it for myself!

I was standing a ways south of where the basement house was located, looking to the north. George was trying to determine where the barn had been – he's standing a little right of the center of the photo.

Hardly a trace of the buildings remain – just a few pieces of concrete where the basement house was dug out. Fred is walking down into the hole where the basement was. It is partially filled with debris and junk. When they were here in 1991, they could still see the square walls of the basement, which have begun to cave in.

Looking to the west from the location of the house.

The pond that Virgil dug out. It lies to the north of the house, below the hill.

The view to the East.

And, looking toward the south.

I was quite surprised to see so much green grass, especially this late in the summer, but it has been an unusually wet summer in South Dakota this year, unlike some areas of the country that are experiencing a prolonged drought. It does look inviting. Coming from a land with an abundance of trees and lakes and streams, I enjoy visiting these “desolate looking” places but I would find it difficult to live here. The folks that do have my admiration even if I do think they are a bit crazy!

The Joslin Clan – standing - Richard (descendant of Luther's daughter Phoebe), Me (descendant of Luther's sister Malissa), Tim (son of George), Babs (daughter of Irwin), Joann (daughter of Ruth), Fred (husband of Sue), Sue (daughter of Ruth). Seated are George, Ruth and Jim (children of Virgil). Irwin passed away in 1990. Ten people came from six states: Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri and Virginia!

Photographs taken August 20th and 21st.

Update August 30, 2011: Sue has additional photos of the visit to White River on her blog. Also, see her post The Homestead Tour.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Rather Corny Place

Friday, August 19th - - For four days I “meandered” through the eastern sides of North Dakota and South Dakota with no particular places in mind - I was essentially “killing” time as I had a very important appointment in Sioux Falls today.... I met one of my Joslin cousins at the airport and we drove 200+ miles on Interstate 90 to the small town of Murdo, South Dakota. You'll find out why in a few days...

Since Mitchell was on the way and we needed a break to stretch our legs, we stopped at the Corn Palace. I had been there with my mother back in 1976 and even though the designs have changed (they change every year) it was still pretty much as I remembered it – a fun stop.

Friend and Cousin Babs (3rd cousin once removed) on the left, “Corny” in the middle, and me.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Fargo Walk of Fame

Monday, August 15th - - Upon leaving Minnesota, I stopped at the Visitor Center in Fargo to see what there was to see in North Dakota. I wasn't going to be in the state long as I had a little Rendezvous in central South Dakota in a few days!

As I walking to the visitor center, I noticed a series of concrete “blocks” running alongside the sidewalk. Upon closer examination I saw footprints, hand prints and signatures of various celebrities preserved therein.

A little further along, a sign gave an explanation:
“Founded in 1989 by Fargo printer, Mike Stevens, the Walk of Fame was originally located on the city sidewalks of Mike's print shop, Express Print, in downtown Fargo. It was moved to the current site during the summer of 2000. The first inductee into the walk was Jazz trumpeter Al Hirt. Since then movie stars, musicians, authors, athletes, religious leaders and celebrities from all walks of life have joined the Walk of Fame. Mike privately funded all expenses for the first 95 celebrities, and felt it was a small way he could repay a community that's been so kind to him.”
So just call me a name dropper...

Hee Haw... Roy Clark.

He got kids to say the darnedest things! Art Linkletter.

Love these guys! The Oak Ridge Boys.

It was a long time ago, but I miss his television show; his humor. And he could sing pretty good too. Jimmy Dean.

What this guy could do with a basketball – amazing! Meadow Lark Lemon. I actually got to see him and the Globe Trotters play in person once and loved watching them perform on television.

He always came through and told us the rest of the story... Paul Harvey.

These fellows could sure put on a great show! Alabama.

A “Hoosier Gal” from Whitley County, Indiana - Janie Fricke.

I Love You, You Love Me… the big blue dinosaur, Barney. I can't tell you how many of his videos I watched over and over and over again with my nephew Zach, oh, 12-15 years ago! He's a big boy now!!

Gary knew what was going to happen before it happened – Gary Burghoff aka Radar O'Reilly.

He was one high-flying, fast-flying dude! Chuck Yeager.