Politics, airshows, Wounded Knee headline latest State Historical Society journal

4601 cover imageAgitator Henry L. Loucks, World War I military air shows and events at Wounded Knee are chronicled in the Spring 2016 issue of “South Dakota History,” the quarterly journal of the South Dakota State Historical Society.


“‘Equal Opportunity for All, That’s All’: South Dakota’s Henry L. Loucks and the Fight for Reform, 1885–1928,” profiles the Deuel County farmer who rose to national prominence as a leader in the Farmers’ Alliance movement of the 1880s and 1890s. Although Loucks and his fellow reformers failed to create a viable third party in South Dakota, they left a lasting legacy with the initiative and referendum process now enshrined in the state constitution. The article’s author, Jeffrey A. Johnson, is an associate professor at Providence College in Rhode Island. 


In his article, “Flying Machines and War Bonds: The Victory Loan Flying Circus in South Dakota,” Alan L. Roesler documents the South Dakota performances of a military aircraft demonstration team that toured the Midwest to promote the sale of bonds to finance World War I. The air shows entertained large crowds in Aberdeen, Redfield and Sioux Falls in April 1919. Roesler, a retired geologist in Mesa, Ariz., is a member of the League of World War I Aviation Historians. 


Jerome A. Greene, a retired National Park Service historian, presents a never-before-published account of Wounded Knee and its aftermath in “An Artilleryman at Wounded Knee and White Clay Creek, 1890: The Reminiscence of Private John W. Comfort.”


Comfort’s memoir is the only known enlisted artilleryman’s perspective of the turmoil that left at least 200 Lakotas dead, with many more injured, and resulted in 66 army casualties. Greene provides explanatory notes and maps to help readers follow events.


Former State Historical Society director Dayton W. Canaday is highlighted in the “Dakota Images” biographical sketch that is a feature of each issue of “South Dakota History.” 


“South Dakota History” is a benefit of membership in the South Dakota State Historical Society. For information on membership, call (605) 773-6000. Individual issues may be purchased for $10 plus tax and shipping by calling (605) 773-6009.



Why I Love History, part 18

Marilyn Kratz wrote Umpire in a Skirt: The Amanda Clement Story for the SDSHS Press, which came out this April. Her children’s book looks at the life of the first paid female baseball umpire in the United States. Today, she takes a look at why she loves history.

I want to be Laura Ingalls Wilder when I grow up!

That’s how I usually start when I talk about my writing. I’ve always loved the “Little House” books, not just because of the endearing characters and engrossing stories, but because they’re about one of my favorite periods of history.

In my earlier days as a free lance writer, when I wrote almost exclusively for children’s magazines, I often wrote stories set on the Dakota prairies of the late 1880s. I can picture the hardy pioneers enduring hardships as they established their homes and developed communities. They inspire us to this day.

As I’ve branched out into writing for all ages, I continue to enjoy writing history. I like researching people, places, and events of years ago. My findings bring new insights into life in the past and new understandings of why we are where we are today.

Now that I’ve grown older myself, my own life is a source of historical material. It’s fun to write nostalgia pieces about my childhood growing up on a farm in southeastern South Dakota. Those pieces garner more comments than any other writing I do because so many people who read them grew up in similar circumstances and can relate to my experiences. Like me, they enjoy remembering the past.

From stories about the past in general to articles about my own past, I love to the escape in my imagination to the times I find in history. Writing about those times is one of my favorite ways of experiencing the history of days gone by.