Some Comments on the Publication History of
Roadside History of South Dakota
By Linda M. Hasselstrom, 2004
I signed the contract to write Roadside History of South Dakota
on February 15, 1988. The first edition of the book appeared from Mountain Press of Missoula, MT, in 1994-- nearly seven years later. In the intervening time, my husband and father both died, I moved from the ranch I loved, and I was fortunate enough to write and publish several other books. The entire story of the creation of this book could fill another book, but it is sufficient to say various aspects of the book have been a source of frustration for years.
I had accepted the contract as a simple money-making project, and I knew considerably less about the publishing business than I know now. I blame myself entirely for the problems, since my motivations for the writing were purely mercenary-- but I’ve paid for that sin many times over! My husband George R. Snell, warned me that I should not entangle myself in the project.
During this time I also-- reluctantly-- made the change from writing on my old reliable Underwood typewriter to computers. I changed computers twice, lost files, lost research books to thieves, and rewrote the book several times to suit the conflicting visions of two different editors. (For example, the first editor required me to delete all the specific dates and footnotes showing the sources of information, and insert subheads to make the text more readable. The second one required me to delete the subheads, and wanted to know the sources of each historical fact or anecdote. But the press had lost my original manuscript, and in changing computers, I’d lost the original files, so I had to try to recreate much of the research.)
In February, 1992, I delivered what I believed to be the final draft of the manuscript, knowing that at nearly 600 pages, it was too long. At that time, I wrote to the editor,
“I see a Roadside History as anecdotal, funny, intriguing, disjointed, filled with bits of history not found in standard works; a book that might inspire a visitor to stop at an unusual place, or to find a more complete history of an event; a book that makes long, flat highways more interesting, that provides a big of information, laughter, insight, opinion that might create argument. At each rewrite, I have been frustrated by your suggestion that I remove most of that material, replacing it with historical overviews and opinions which I do not feel qualified to make.”
I suggested then, and continue to believe, that a reader who wants serious history should read books by South Dakota’s many excellent historians. Helpfully, I furnished reading suggestions throughout the book, along with a fat bibliography of additional sources.
During the two-year editing process which followed, many segments of the book were deleted; I once threatened to publish an unexpurgated version. My file labeled ROADSIDE OUT contains twelve pages on the fur trade in Dakota; about thirty pages on Lakota culture; three pages on Ben Reifel. Eliminated were chapters of background on the settlement of Dakota Territory, on West River homesteading, on the National Grasslands, on the Sioux Uprising, on South Dakota weather and topography. Gone are Susan B. Anthony and Eva Nichols. Gone: Mrs. Paul Pacquette, Mrs. J. B. Greenway, Mrs. John Stanage, Mrs. Aaron Hammond, Mrs. John Goodwin; Mrs. Charles S. White–none of their first names recorded, of course, since they were considered extensions of their husbands.
Dr. Jenny Murphy, one of the first women to drive a car in Yankton, disappeared, as did stories about pioneers Amun O. Ringsrud, August and Gustav Mittelstaedt, Jim Frederick, Dr. H. J. Churchill, Charlie Streeter, Harvey Fellows, Tim Coleman, Robert Carr, Christine Kunz Boehler, the Young Ladies Guild, the Finnish pioneers near Watertown. I’d analyzed the significant political battles between Clint Roberts and Tom Daschle. Charles Francois Picotte disappeared, except for the information I managed to squeeze into a cutline beside his photo. Sections on modern writers like Elizabeth Cook-Lynn vanished.
Photos were another problem. At that time, the directors of state historical collections were charging the usual copying prices of $3 to $7 per photo, but had also added a “publication” charge of $25 each. Photo expenses for a book are usually borne by the author. I’d found 400 photographs I wanted to use in the book; for them I would have had to pay more than $10,000. Since neither I nor my publisher could afford the cost, I wrote letters to state officials, including the governor, in protest. Eventually I borrowed photographs from several other historians’ collections. (Some wish to remain anonymous, so thanks again, folks!) One of the most generous was Helen Rezatto, a friend who was regarded as an amateur historian, but whose books are a lot more fun to read than many histories. (The Making of the Two Dakotas; Kill a Man–Start a Cemetery; Tales of the Black Hills
.) Few modern photographs appear, because the publisher suggested that I provide them myself, and I couldn’t afford to drive around the state taking pictures.
Some of these errors were originally mine; in some cases, I sent corrections in time for them to be made before the original publication, but somehow that did not happen. In a couple of cases, I failed to note and correct errors inserted by an editor or typographer. And frankly, I was so sick of the book I was not as careful as I might have been.
By that time, George had been dead for several years, but I acknowledged how right he had been to advise me against the time-consuming undertaking; hence the dedication, “To George, who knew better.”
In the book’s introduction, I looked to the future, saying, “Errors surely exist; if you’ve never made a mistake, feel free to point mine out. Otherwise, smile smugly, read on, and keep quiet.” Nevertheless, I began receiving comments, suggestions, and corrections as soon as the book appeared. I have kept all these in a file, hoping to make changes each time a new edition of the book appears.
Advised that a second printing of the book would appear in 1998, I sent an extensive list of corrections and changes to Mountain Press on March 5, 1997. The publishers patiently explained that inserting corrections would require too much typesetting, more proofreading, more editorial costs. If corrections resulted in changes in pagination, the entire book, including the index, would have to be typeset and proofed and printed again. This, I realize now, is often the case with books of this nature. Changes and updates cost too much money, so most publishers prefer to simply reprint from original materials. The changes have never been made.
The book is now in its third edition, but the publisher has not yet been sufficiently inspired by sales profits to reprint an edition which allows for changes and corrections.
Further, my writing and editing on other subjects keep my time fully occupied. While I am still fascinated by South Dakota history, and have a pretty wide-ranging collection of sources, at age 61 I have neither the time nor the inclination to rewrite the book-- even if a publisher wanted me to do so, and it would afford an opportunity to correct every existing error. At the end of my acknowledgments [p. xvi] I thanked my friends for putting up with my complaints about the difficulty of this job, and rhetorically asked, “Aren’t you glad it’s over?” Little did I know: it may never be over.
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Corrections to Roadside History of South Dakota
By Linda M. Hasselstrom
I’ve been frustrated for years by the knowledge that many errors exist in the text of this book. So when I met Rachel Rasmussen in Vermillion in December of 2003, and she suggested that I put the corrections on my web site, I was delighted (and embarrassed not to have thought of that solution myself.) Thanks, Rachel.
As the book’s author, I feel responsible for the book’s errors, and will keep updating this web site with corrections.
Find Something Wrong?
Anyone who wishes to suggest changes or corrections
should send them to me at:
PO Box 169
Hermosa, SD 57744
Or send me an e-mail, using the link in the left-hand column of this website.
Please include your qualifications, that is, explain why you know I erred, and documentation for the correction you are suggesting.
I’ll continue to collect corrections in the hope that someday I will see them incorporated into the published book.
The corrections and additions below are listed in order by page.
: Two (not twenty) million years ago: glacial lakes form in eastern South Dakota
P. 15, l. 3
: Two (not twenty) million years ago, masses of ice advanced. . .
P. 21, l. 21
; Gayville is east of Yankton, not west
: John Banvard
More information on John Banvard can be found in “Watertown’s John Banvard, Artist and Showman,” by Joanita Kant, South Dakota History Vol. 27, Nos. 1 & 2, Spring/Summer 1997, pp. 1-20.
: Sioux Falls had more than a hundred thousand residents in 1990. It now occupies more than 55 square miles of Minnehaha and Lincoln counties, having more than doubled in size since 1975.
: By 1985, Augustana college had more than 1800 students (not almost nine hundred).
P. 58, l. 15-16
: Boehenen Memorial Museum at Prairie Village contains exhibits. . .(Prairie Village omitted)
A letter from historian Duane Schrag, dated September 18, 1998, outlined my many inadvertent errors in regard to the Hutterites and Mennonites.
First, Mr. Schrag notes that while some Mennonites do drink alcoholic beverages, “The ladies of the Freeman Academy Women’s Auxiliary, who put on the feed to raise money for the private Christian school, have never served beer at this function and are offended at the suggestion.”
I am heartily sorry to have offended the ladies, many of whom have expressed their outrage to me personally. As with everything in the book, I did have a source for this statement, but it was obviously incorrect.
Alcoholic beverages are NOT served at Schmeckfest!
The festival includes displays and demonstrations of traditional and ethnic handicraft and culinary arts displays, and attendees can buy various delicacies– but no beer.
Mr. Schrag also notes that “the designation “Hutterian” is usually used as an adjective, i.e. “Hutterian groups”as you do two sentences later or as in “Hutterian Brethren” as they officially call themselves. “Hutterites” is generally the accepted noun form.”
Also on p. 73
, quoting Ray Ring’s article in High Country News, I said these settlers inadvertently brought seeds from Russian thistle with their crops, thus introducing it to the new world.
Mr. Schrag notes, “To be sure, the weed undoubtedly was introduced by German-Russians. But Mennonites and Hutterites constituted only 20 percent of the German-Russian immigrants, 80 percent having been Lutheran, Catholic, and Reformed. (Richard Sallet’s Russian-German Settlements in the United States.) Since they all settled at the same times regionally, the earliest ones in South Dakota in 1873 and the majority in 1874, there is virtually no way to determine whose seeds included the thistle seed. Very likely more than one group carried the ever-present thistle seed.”
Mr. Schrag notes, as I also pointed out, that the likeliest source of this myth was the anti-German hysteria of World War One. I am convinced that Mr. Schrag’s logic is correct, Ray Ring’s statements notwithstanding, and again, I apologize to the Hutterite and Mennonite communities. Some folks at the time even suggested that the Mennonites deliberately introduced the thistle seed as revenge, but I dismissed that notion. Mr. Schrag adds that “It looks as though people recognized this and generously changed the story to one that has the Mennonites accidentally introducing the seed rather than deliberately.” But the fact probably is that the seed was inevitably introduced by many immigrants at the time, and it would be impossible to isolate its source. Again, my apologies are sincere.
Finally, on pp. 74-75
, I discuss the abuse the Hutterites suffered during World War I for refusing to bear arms. But as Mr. Schrag notes, “You neglect to relate that two brothers– Michael and John Hofer– died as a result of this abuse at Fort Leavenworth, where they were incarcerated.” For more on the abuse to which Hutterites were subjected, see Hutterite CO’s During World War I, edited by Patrick Murphy.
P. 75, paragraph 4
: Norwegian-born O.E. Rolvaag, author of Giants in the Earth, lived (but was not born) in Canton. . .
: It’s more likely the prehistoric Indians drove the buffalo herd over the clay cliff six hundred years ago, (not six thousand).
P. 115, l. 14
: Lawrence Welk was offered an audition by Chan (not Chad) Gurney.
: In 1997, attempts were being made to privatize several of the state’s museums. I sent this replacement for the third paragraph, and the beginning of the fourth:
“Several locations in Pierre, as well as other state towns, house artifacts from the state’s history, though administration is subject to change as the state slashes budgets to meet changing economic conditions. The State Agricultural Heritage Museum is located in Brookings, and the Smith-Zimmerman State Museum in Madison. The Soldier’s and Sailor’s World War Memorial directly across from the state’s Capitol building once housed archival collections, but is now home to Military and Veterans’ Affairs. The sandstone memorial, built in 1932 to honor those who died in World War I, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
“The South Dakota Historical Resource Center– modern language for “museum”– is in the Cultural Heritage Center. Dedicated at the state’s centennial celebration in 1989, this is a unique earth-covered building. . .”
: Bust of Sitting Bull
The Rapid City Journal, May 3, 1998, p. C7, says the bust weighs seven tons, not three.
P. 193, paragraph 2
: In April, 1873 (not 1872), when the railroad came through, Lieutenant Colonel Custer and his Seventh Cavalry troopers camped in the vicinity of Yankton and Tabor for a time.
: The information in the cutline below the photograph was furnished by the Yankton County Historical Society. Still, I am reliably informed the photograph, while it is looking east, is not of Third street from the corner of Walnut.
P. 219, paragraph 4
: The Crow Creek Indian Reservation occupies half the county, and Episcopal churches in Fort Thompson (not Gann Valley) use hymnals in both English and Lakota.
P. 251, line 4
: “he struck a vein of water coming through thick blue shale from the Fox Hills sandstone (according to Gries’s Roadside Geology of South Dakota).
P. 257, line 2
: The calcite crystals are unusual, but they are found in other geologic locations.
: I noted that Old Three Toes was at least twenty years old, but if Charlie Wilson had met him in 1912, he was at least 23. (Of course, it might not have been the same wolf.)
P. 373, paragraph 3
: This paragraph – originally written from information supplied by officials of Jewel Cave National Monument– was the cause of acrimonious exchanges between me, Mountain Press, and officials at the cave who threatened to stop selling the book if changes were not made. On March 1, 1997, on the basis of information received from monument officials, I asked Mountain Press to substitute the following for the existing paragraph:
“Jewel Cave, thirteen miles west of Custer, was originally developed as a mine by Frank and Albert Michaud. It might have ended up looking like the Homestake Mining Company’s Open Cut in Lead, but wiser heads prevailed, and it was turned into a national monument. Jewel Cave contains spectacular crystals, first mined, then protected for their beauty, Spelunkers Herb and Jan Conn have probably spent more time underground than above it. They’ve mapped more than fifty miles of new passageways since September, 1959, work that still influences modern cavers conducting surveys and scientific studies. Jewel Cave, at more than 100 miles, now ranks as the fourth longest cave in the world. Some passages are not now and probably never will be open to the public. The Miseries, a ninety-minute half-mile series of passages so narrow it sometimes removes the cavers’ jeans, is the only known entrance to regions of the cave still uncharted. If Jewel is connected to Wind Cave, twenty-two miles south of Custer– as some spelunkers believe– the resulting single cave would probably be the longest in the world. Air volume studies lead some researchers to estimate that only five percent of the cave has been explored. Both caves contain unusual and delicate underground formations in sparkling shades of color.”
As I noted in my letter at that time, the cave’s surveyed length was 77 miles when I did my research–seven years before the book appeared in print. Monument officials wanted me to include the 1997 known length of 108.45 miles, but the corrections were not inserted into the book at that time. Moreover, a story by Paul Higbee in the January/February, 1998, issue of South Dakota Magazine (“Explorers of a World Unseen”), gives the official length as 110 miles. The official length may be longer now, due to ongoing exploration. Check a current source!
I still recommend Herb and Jann Conn’s book, The Jewel Cave Adventure: Fifty Miles of Discovery Under South Dakota, published in 1977 by the National Speleological Society. In 1959, Jewel Cave was still considered a small cave, but the Conns received a special use permit from the National Park Service, meaning they could enter the cave to explore at any time as long as they mapped their routes. The two named their finds: mighty Tight Street, Long Winded Passage, Carnegie Hall, Torture Chamber– logging the cave’s 50th mile on December 4, 1973. Read the book– especially if you, like me, can’t stand tight, dark places.
: Hall, Bert L. Roundup Years: Old Muddy to the Black Hills, originally published in Pierre by the State Publishing Company in 1956, was republished in 2000 by the Western South Dakota Buck-a-roos, and reviewed by Larry McMurtry. At that time, 1,000 copies of the 696-page book, first-hand accounts from the men who rode the open range of western South Dakota, were available for $100.
, index omitted Augustana College, 46
, index omitted Center for Western Studies, 46
, index omitted Prairie Village, 58
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