Sanders: History is meant to be shared |

Sanders: History is meant to be shared

One of the perks of researching history is connecting other people of like interests and learning “new” history from others. In the early days when Hot Springs, S.D., had a small population, many of the people became relatives due to marriage. As succeeding generations scattered across the country, family connections were lost.

By happenstance I have had the opportunity to facilitate renewing family ties. I’m sort of a matchmaker without the romantic overtones.

While searching for information on “Doc” Ellis T. Peirce of Hot Springs I got acquainted with Emily, one of his family members and we shared information. As time went on, because of my website and books, I heard from an Evans from Washington state, who is a great, great grandson of the late Fred Evans, an early day entrepreneur in Hot Springs.

Euphonious landmarks in the town include Evans Plunge, Evans Hotel, Evans Quarry and Evanston Block. As Evans and I visited it became apparent that he is a cousin to Emily. I told him about her and he was astounded to learn of her, especially since they live 30 miles apart. Since then they have shared photos and stories, trying to piece their history together.

“These were all done without the aid of formal geneaology, just good old-fashined putting two and two together.”

Currently I am working to get two groups — one from California and one from New York — together as they are of the same family line, descended from John Stabler, one the first men to own the cave at Wind Cave National Park, located 25 miles from our farm. They are not only related to each other but the California bunch has photos and memorabilia to share with the others who have very little information. Fourteen years ago, I corresponded with the lady in California and she sent me copies.

These were all done without the aid of formal genealogy, just good old-fashioned putting two and two together.

A highlight is when a person makes contact and gives information on a never before known to me fact of local history. Out of the blue I received 47 photos, several showing a 1903 fire in upper town Hot Springs that was news to me. Also in the grouping were photos of early day private train cars and women in all their fine millinery. It is difficult to imagine how fashionably dressed and delicately coiffured women could remain lovely while surrounded by dirt streets and when their transports were buggies and stagecoaches, yet they did.

After receiving the news on the fire, I checked with other local history buffs and none had heard of it. We went to the old newspaper and found the stories. We got the facts as they say.

We discovered that before the locally quarried sandstone buildings that currently stand, the buildings on that block were wood and that is what burned. We had assumed stone was the first and only construction on that site. Were it not for a woman from New Jersey, we would not have known.

All in all it goes back to my mantra, history is meant to be shared.❖