This blog is dedicated to the memory of my Aunt Lorene, who was the insiration for wanting to have another South Dakota Reunion, and to my Uncle George, who decided to make this journey, and to share this time with family.
Saturday afternoon, we drove from White River, east on Hwy 44 to find the Cedar Butte Cemetery, a small, untended plot of land, where my Grandmother, Mary Hutchinson Joslin’s two brothers are buried.
Having found the cemetery, our next step was to uncover the headstones for my great uncles, Neen and Bobby. My great–grandmother had planted some purple iris at her sons grave sites. This iris has grown untended, to overtake a large area. We dug out the headstones, and preserved some of the iris, as we had done in 1996. That iris now grows at our Seneca Way house in Sioux City, as well as at the cabin in Farmerville, and in Monroe, in my families yards, and other places that I might not have named from those who took some cuttings. I took some of the bulbs, this time, to plant in Brian’s yard in Sioux City.
Cornelius ‘Neen’ Hutchinson died in WW1 and his brother Bobby had died at 5 years old.
And then….there was, also, incredible beauty………
Further down Hwy 44, about 20.9 miles from the intersection of Hwy 44 and Hwy 83 in White River, lies the Homestead Site – which is currently owned by the Berry family who ranches it. To get down to where the homestead was, you have to turn off the road, and drive through two gates. Then, you see why my grandparents, Virgil and Mary Joslin, fell in love with this land……..My mother, Ruth, lived the first 6 years of her life here, and she, along with her brothers, George and Jim, were able to help us find the ‘landmarks’…..
The old basement foundation….deteriorating over the years…..
From there……..we noted where the old barn would have stood.
And we found the location of the old well.
And the pond that my grandfather had dug. It never saw any water in it when they had the homestead.
The dust bowl drought years came in the early 1930’s. No rain….no crops….the land dried up and blew away……people had to move to find work and a means to support their families. In 1934, Virgil and Mary Joslin and their family pulled up stakes and moved…..eventually settling in Missouri.
The Homestead story is a legacy of dreams dreamed and of the pioneer spirit and grit and the hard work that it takes to bring those dreams to fruition. Of dealing with the hardships that life sometimes brings……. and of starting over with dignity…..when necessary and making a new beginning……