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Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Forming of a Nation . . .

coverby lyle e davis

I find it fascinating to go exploring into the past . . . tracking down and reading the memories of those who have gone before us.

Letters from the pioneers give us a much clearer picture of the sights, sounds, smells, and life in “the good old days.”

Jumping around, from territory to territory, from state to state, from the United States, as it was then known, to uncharted territory, makes for some fascinating reading:

from a young lady, Blanche P. Waldo, in Minnehaha County, South Dakota:

SIOUX FALLS, Sept. 12, 1878

This September afternoon, Marion, my eldest sister, and Jennie, my younger, sit on the summit of one of the beautiful bluffs of Sioux Falls, a delightful little village in the south-eastern part of Dakota territory. As I gaze around me from this height of 200 feet, or perhaps more, I see our beautiful Sioux River winding its way through a lovely valley, and tumbling over mighty rocks, forming a foaming cataract. Oh! how beautiful the large island, covered with verdure is on this barren prairie. This island contains nine acres of ground, and its principal trees are elm and oak. Sioux Falls is a thriving little place, and as we sit here, we can see the carpenters at work putting up the frames of business houses as well as residences, and the masons venering them with brick. The largest hotel of the place is a large venered building. I smile when I think of the surprise Eastern people manifest as they see the beautiful residences, elegantly furnished of some of our citizens. Before us lies the railroad which was finished through here last month, and on which they are now at work. A great many strangers are coming in every day, some seeking fortunes, and others pleasures; among the latter are six gentlemen, friends of ours, from Evansville, Wisconsin, our former place of residence, surprise us by stepping in upon us unexpectedly. We had a very pleasant visit with them. One mile beyond the depot is the cemetery, on the hillside; it is a beautiful yet lovely spot, and a cherished place for us, because alas! one year ago, we laid all that remained of our beautiful and dearly beloved sister there, and only last month a little niece; just a little while and we too may be laid there. Our home is just at the foot of the bluff, and Marion and husband think it is a pretty place. Now I am no story writer, my friends, but please accept my poor description of my western home.

Blanche P. Waldo

Printed in the Evansville Review, September 25, 1878, p. 3, col. 4, Evansville, Wisconsin

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