|Turning the page on SD history part 2|
|Friday, 16 November 2012 15:51|
And it's those struggles that have shaped this state into what it is today. Flames creep along the tree line. The orange glow of a wildfire at night leaves the land charred and blackened by day. Flood waters rise devastating Rapid City in the 1970s and Pierre in 2011. South Dakotans are no strangers to disasters and hardships. In fact in the state's earliest days hardships were expected by the thousands who decided to make South Dakota home. State Archivist Chelle Somsen says, "They had to be really hearty and determined people because to move here from a variety of different backgrounds and come into an unknown area, and set up a completely different, you know, help set up a town, and build your house and start farming or ranching the area, that's something you can't easily do." But in 1918 another challenge arose for residents across the state the Spanish Flu was spreading, becoming an epidemic across the country. Looking back through the archives, we see some pretty extreme measures were taken as fears of the flu ran rampant. A Rapid City Journal article reports a man being arrested for spitting on the ground an act that was prohibited at this time to stop the spread of the virus. Funerals were required to be held in open-air, well ventilated settings. Then-governor Norbeck hospitalized in Deadwood with the sickness as government flyers look to spread awareness and provide simple tips to stop the spread of the disease. This was a scary time in South Dakota with 60 flu deaths in Pennington County and 145 in Lawrence County. The state and its residents have since overcome this tragedy but because of the Archives, a true feel for that time in history remains in tact. Somsen says, "It's wonderful to hold or to look at photographs that someone has or gave to us of their family history. Or diaries documenting their travels here into this state and what they had to accomplish to set up their homestead and get their land, the weather and economics, just wonderful to read those types of accounts that talk about the early settlers in our state." And by looking back, Somsen says we can see South Dakotans are strong and determined and overcoming adversity is a large part of the State's history. Somsen says, "It's really, it kind of makes you proud of our heritage of our state, knowing the people that started here." If you're interested in learning more about the history of South Dakota the Archives is open seven days a week in Pierre. You can also check out the digital archives by visiting History.SD.gov and clicking on the Archives link on the right hand side of the page.