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Snow started in October, ended in late April

No one expected a severe winter in 1936-1937 because the entire Midwest was suffering from a severe drought.  After a summer of scorching temperatures and little rain, October brought much-appreciated cooler temperatures.  However, the month also brought a surprise—the season’s first snow.  No one in the city was unhappy with the three-inch accumulation; it provided some much-needed moisture.

The November 1 edition of the Aberdeen American News included a cold and snowy winter forecast, but townspeople took this news lightly, given the existing drought conditions.  Imagine their shock on Monday, November 2, when the paper’s headlines announced that highways all across the region were blocked after eight inches of heavy, wet snow fell during the night.  Another inch and a half fell on Tuesday, November 3, Election Day.  City crews scrambled to clean the streets so people could get to the polls.  Laborers from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) helped out when the snowplow broke leaving the crews no choice but to remove the snow by hand.  Turnout for the election was moderate with only the hardiest venturing out.

By the end of November’s first week, Aberdeen had received more than 17 inches of snow.  Four-foot drifts blocked roads in the county leaving many people stranded in the city.  County officials began discussions about purchasing a new snowplow.  Trains were still able to travel, but many events were cancelled.

Toward the end of November, temperatures warmed to the upper 50s.  It was 58 degrees on November 20, but on the 23rd it was cold enough for another three-inch snowfall.  A Chinook wind blew into the city on November 25 and melted the snow. A dust storm was actually reported after that.

December started with temperatures in the mid 30s, but by the December 7, another seven-and-a-quarter inches of snow fell and temperatures plummeted.  Within a few days, moderate temperatures returned to melt much of that snow.  Another storm on December 27 coated telegraph and phone wires with ice as temperatures dropped enough to change the rain to snow.

The city barely had time to recover from that storm when it was hit with what the newspaper called the season’s worst storm on January 2.  Five inches of wind-driven snow stopped all air and ground traffic.  Area residents had lost telephone service in the previous storm, but now there were more than 100 poles down in the area.  The only way Dakota Central Telephone Company workers could reach the damaged poles was by horse-drawn bobsleds.

Temperatures dropped to minus 19 by January 5, yet repair crews continued their efforts to fix the power and phone lines.  Aberdeen recorded the coldest temperature in the nation on January 9 when the mercury dropped to minus 23.  Ten days later, it was even colder (minus 24) when the Aberdeen firefighters were called to an alarm at the Ward Hotel.  The city received another 11 inches of snow on January 20 bringing January’s snowfall total to 26 inches.  The severe cold continued throughout January; schools in Leola, Wetonka, and Richmond cancelled classes until further notice.

February brought little relief.  A surprise storm on February 3 dropped only one inch of new snow, but it was driven by such high winds that all roads out of the city were blocked.  Conditions became so bad by February 7, the Brown County Commission abandoned all efforts to keep county roads open.  A total of 71.5 inches of snow had fallen in the county since the first October snowstorm.  Snow stood three feet deep on the level.  Crews of twenty-five men worked to keep the rail lines open using rotary snowplows to blast through the twelve-foot drifts that covered the tracks.

By mid-February supplies in many small towns were dwindling.  People were in danger, having little food, fuel, or access to medical facilities.  Relief came when temperatures rose to the upper 30s and 40s, which helped in the clean-up efforts.  Supply trains were able to reach the remote areas of the state on February 13.  Two days later another snow storm again stalled all rail traffic.  Newspapers reported drifts along the rail lines to be 800 feet long and 20 feet deep!  Rotary snowplows were able to clear only four miles of track in a twenty-four hour period.  Total snowfall for February was 13.2 inches.

As March arrived, so did warmer temperatures.  The entire month was mild with temperatures in the 30s and 40s.  A few days had temperatures in the upper 50s, and much of the season’s snow melted.  However, on March 24 the headlines read, “City Digs Out After 13 Inch Storm.”  Three inches of moisture in the form of rain, sleet and snow fell on this area in 24 hours.  Telephone, telegraph and electric wires were coated with up to two inches of ice.  Utility poles and trees snapped leaving more damage for the already overworked crews to repair and/or clean up.  The cost to the electric company was $310,000; Dakota Central Telephone estimated its damages at $350,000.  There were 124 broken phone lines in Aberdeen alone.

April brought more snow; an additional nine and a half inches coated the area in 18 hours April 2.  Despite all this, businessmen rejoiced because the area would finally have its moisture replenished, and the crops would once again be good.  The season’s final five inches of snow came on April 25. Most residents couldn’t remember a year that had such a late snowstorm.

In all, Aberdeen received 109.8 inches of snow during the winter of 1936-1937, which remains in the record books as the city’s snowiest winter.

(From: Looking Back: Vol II by Sue Gates)


First Aberdeen Radio Station Went Live Jan. 21, 1935

Aberdeen residents enjoyed radio for several years prior to 1935 but had no access to a local radio station. They listened to stations with signals strong enough to reach the Aberdeen area from various parts of the country. Then the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) approved an application from the Aberdeen Broadcast Company requesting permission to construct a radio broadcasting station in Aberdeen, SD. The FCC assigned the new station an operating frequency of 1420 kilocycles and call letters, which included letters from the town’s name, KABN. Broadcast hours were limited to daylight hours, and with only 100 watts of power, the station’s listening area was very limited.
KABN’s parent company, the Aberdeen Broadcast Company, was comprised of about sixty local investors, including Harvey Jewett, Jr. who was one of the company’s original incorporators along with Dr. F. Koren and Robert Dean both of Watertown.
When KABN went on the air for the first tim
e, it had seven employees, including Anthony Fahy, station manager; William Dean, production manager and chief announcer; Cyril Colahan and Ed Soike announcers; Miss Fay Soliday hostess and studio pianist; Delbert Hunt chief engineer, and C. W. Baker assistant engineer.
Aberdeen’s new radio station offered a variety of programming including news (which was provided each day by the Aberdeen American News), weather reports, and announcements of time and temperature readings. Athletic events, school programs, music and other items of public interest were also regular features. Out-of-town organizations had the opportunity to promote their events through special broadcasts. At the time, musical or theatrical programs heard on the radio were live from the studio. Over 500 peopl
e applied to serve as one of KABN’s live entertainment artists.
Aberdeen’s KABN officially signed on for the first time at 6:30 A.M. on Monday, January 21, 1935. Originally the broadcast studio and business office were located on the sixth floor of the Ward Hotel in rooms specially outfitted to house the new RCA radio equipment, which was state-of-the-art.
Soon after it began operations, KABN’s call letters changed to KABR, and its studio moved to the second floor of the building at 119 S Main St. In 1938 a larger tower and a new transmitter plant were built near Wylie Park, and the station’s power was increased to 1000 watts. The original KABR went off the air in 1949.
A new, less powerful station using those same call letters began broadcasting in 1952. The station’s call letters changed to KDBQ in 1979 when the station became part of another local network of stations. Today Aberdeen listeners’ turning their radio dials to 1420 will hear the broadcasts of ESPN radio as one of the Hub City Radio network of stations.


Photos shown are: an ad for it's first broadcast and the KABR transmitter building erected in 1938 east of Wylie Park.

What was happening in Aberdeen in 1970?

One year shy of its 90th birthday, Aberdeen was home to more than 26,000 people—an increase of 3,000 from 1960.
In 1970 Aberdeen boasted 6 public parks, 2 modern hospitals, 2 indoor movie theaters and a drive-in theater, 2 golf courses, 2 bowling alleys (32 lanes at the Village Bowl and 12 lanes at Super City), and one daily newspaper.
Educational facilities included 2 colleges, 11 public schools, 3 parochial schools, one business college, the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Stewart’s School of Hairstyling. There were 3 banks and one savings and loan association.
In June there were 504 new high school graduates in Aberdeen—417 from Central and 87 from Roncalli. During the 1969-1970 school year, one of the public school board’s major issues involved the student dress code—more specifically the “hair code” for male students. The board suspended the portion of the “hair code” dealing with length but male students were still required to be clean-shaven. Girls were required to wear dresses or skirts; jeans or slacks of any kind were taboo.
Northern State College graduated 321 students, Presentation Junior College had 84 students and the Aberdeen School of Commerce had 71.
Aberdeen’s first daycare center opened on June 1 in the YWCA.
Moviegoers could view films at the Orpheum and the Capitol theaters downtown or at the Starlite Drive-In on the southwest edge of the city. Aberdeen’s newest golf course, Prairiewood, was in the final stages of construction; work on the 18-hole course had started in 1969. Two homes were under construction on lots adjoining the golf course; future homeowners had purchased several other course-side lots.
Food specials at Fairway Foods included a six pack of Coca-Cola for 46 cents (plus bottle deposit), rump roast for 78 cents a pound; eight rolls of bathroom tissue for 69 cents, Betty Crocker cake mixes - four boxes for $1, a two-pound can of ButterNut Coffee for $1.29, and ten pounds of red potatoes for 79 cents.
A home with 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, a large dining area, family room with fireplace and sliding glass doors to a sundeck, and an attached garage was available in the May Overby Elementary School neighborhood of south Aberdeen for $33,000. Rent for a 3-bedroom home on the north side was $115 a month. Spaulding Auto was offering 1970 Ford Mustang hardtops with 351 V-8 engine for $3,133 or a 1970 Ford Falcon four-door sedan with a 6-cylinder engine for $2,666.

Also, in 1970, the Norwestern Bank/Western Union building was donated to the citizens of Brown County for use as a museum. Pictured is our DPM building as it was in 1970.


Aberdeen’s “New” Post Office opens in January 1938

Aberdeen’s second post office and federal building was built in 1937 and opened in January 1938 to fill the need for a larger post office and a central location for other federal agencies with offices elsewhere in community. A site on 4th Ave S. between Lincoln and Washington Streets, one block east of the 1904 post office building, was purchased for $41,000 in the spring of 1936.
The cornerstone was laid on October 11, 1937. A small lead and copper box containing a history of the Aberdeen’s postal service, photographs of the 1904 post office building and officials involved in the construction of the new building, a list of local, county, and state officials, a list of stamps available for sale, and a current Almanac were placed behind the cornerstone.
On December 18, 1937, the project engineer presented the postmaster with 4,000 keys for locks throughout the building. The postmaster, after receiving the keys, said “It’s my baby now, a fine Christmas present.” A series of public tours took place on Christmas and New Year’s afternoons and the two Sundays following those holidays. Nearly 6,000 persons took advantage of those opportunities to view the new building.
In the days following the Christmas holiday, workmen began moving the tenants from their existing offices to their new quarters. The FBI moved its operation from the Ward Hotel; the Biological Survey and Farm Credit Administration offices moved from the Chamber of Commerce building; the Social Security field office moved from the Dakota National Bank building, and the Brown County Agricultural Extension office relocated from the Brown County Courthouse. The first floor was devoted to the post office, which boasted a spacious lobby 112 feet long and 18 feet wide. Behind the lobby, the postmaster’s office was in one corner with the remaining space being used for the mail workroom, which measured 92 by 50 feet. The second floor was home to the IRS. The third floor housed various department offices while the fourth floor was devoted to courtrooms, judge’s chambers, jury rooms and offices for the U.S. Marshall and U.S. Attorney. The basement housed offices for the Army recruiters and biological survey teams with additional space available for other agencies, if needed.
The post office move, its 8th in the city’s 57-year history, began after the close of business on Saturday, January 15. The lobby of the new building was open from 2 to 5 P.M. on January 16 for patrons to deposit first class mail to be stamped with a special seal inscribed with “First Dispatch, New Post Office Building, Aberdeen, South Dakota, January 16, 1938, George L. Kemper, Postmaster” to commemorate the day.
A new federal building was completed in 1974, with most of the federal agencies making the move across the avenue to that structure. The main post office station was moved to S. 5th St. on September 25, 1976. The post office in this building was closed a few years ago.


Life in Aberdeen in 1935 was much the same as it is today. Residents shopped, enjoyed a variety of entertainment offerings, and searched for housing and jobs. They could find all the information they needed to plan their schedules in the local newspaper, which they received by home delivery each evening and Sunday morning for $6 annually. Here is a look at some of the news on Dec. 5, 1935.
A small notation on the front page of the Thursday, December 5, 1935, issue of The Aberdeen Evening News reminded residents that there were only sixteen shopping days until Christmas. Yes, the math is correct; stores were not open seven days a week back then.
Advertisements within the paper listed many gift ideas for those who had not yet completed their holiday shopping. At Sudow’s, a women’s clothing store, a fur-trimmed winter coat was on sale for $12.95 (reduced from $19.75-$22.50); and a wool sweater, a pair of leather gloves, or a satin pajama and robe set were only $1.98 each.
Those shopping for children’s gifts could find bargains at the Gamble Store where a set of aluminum doll dishes was only 79 cents. A Union Pacific windup train set with 103 inches of track was also available for 79 cents.
Weekend specials at the McDiarmid-Slater Grocery Store included two cans of Libby fancy pumpkin for 25 cents, three cans of Libby tomato juice for 25 cents, a five-pound pail of fresh honey for 49 cents, hamburger 10 cents a pound, lutefisk just 8 cents a pound, and beef short ribs 9 ½ cents a pound.
Area entertainment schedules were very busy prior to the holidays. Several dances were planned for the upcoming days. Carter’s Hall was featuring a Blue Ribbon Club Party Dance on Thursday evening, and Wally Erickson and his 11-piece orchestra would be providing dance music at the Trianon on Saturday evening. Friday night dancing scheduled at Savo Hall featured music by the Rainbow Kids.
For those preferring movies to dancing, the Orpheum was showing Black Fury starring Paul Muni; tickets were 15 cents each. The Capitol was showing Bright Lights starring Joe E. Brown. Grand Exit was at the Lyric while In Old Santa Fe was at the Time. The Man from Gun Town was playing at the Majestic.
Two homes were listed for sale in the want ad section. One was a five-room bungalow with a full basement, hot water heat and a garage on paved road available for $2,750; the other, an eight-room house on pavement with hot water heat in southeast Aberdeen, was priced at $1,850. Ten rental homes were listed with monthly payments from $12.50 to $40.
(This story from "Looking Back, Vol. II" by Sue Gates)

“Homespun Holidays” at the

Dacotah Prairie Museum


You are cordially invited to a holiday extravaganza at the Dacotah Prairie Museum on Saturday, December 12 from 1-4:00pm! “Homespun Holidays” will feature live Christmas music, cookie decorating, hand crafted decorations and ornaments for the children, a buffet of holiday treats and our historic Museum sparkling with Christmas around the building.

Lovely Christmas music played live on a vintage 1890s piano by Director Sue Gates will entertain throughout the afternoon. Also on 2nd floor, see the glittering display of Christmas Tree Lane which fills the entire west wing with unique trees and wreaths trimmed in their holiday finest. A wonderful treat for young and old! Be sure to bring a non-perishable item of food to share with the needy. The white sleigh draped with holiday fabric in Christmas Tree Lane will be the collection point. Traditional paper chains will be taught and each child can experience the historic Christmas craft of long ago.

First floor will include an opportunity to decorate Christmas cookies to eat or take home. Pinecone door swags and shining snow flake ornaments will allow children to hand craft their own keepsake for Christmas. A collection of delectable holiday cookies and candies will be available to guests adding the smells and tastes of homemade holiday treats. Gingerbread houses will be on display throughout the Museum, these edible dwellings reminders of homespun embellishments.

Get a head start on your holiday shopping in our Museum Gift Shop. Discover unique Christmas ornaments and gifts, vintage toys, historic dolls, South Dakota and area books, and many other treasures of the season that you just won’t find anywhere else. New this year is an entire table displaying South Dakota made products and baskets including these items for your hard-to-buy-for loved ones.

Beautiful holiday music, glittering displays, gifts and treasures to buy and hot cider and cookies all welcome you to “Homespun Holidays” December 12 at the Dacotah Prairie Museum.


Clean yards = no dandelions
Aberdeen’s had some nice fall weather for yard clean-up this year. Aberdonians have been preoccupied with their lawns almost since the beginning. In 1909 Mayor Alva Aldrich urged all citizens to attack the dandelions in their yards and surrounding properties in order to present a “spotless town” to the many visitors expected for the upcoming SD Statehood 20th anniversary celebration. He declared June 2 Dandelion Day and hoped the city’s residents would “strive to eradicate this evil from their lawns.”
How did the “evil” dandelion come to be in Aberdeen? It wasn’t here when the pioneers arrived in their covered wagons and when the railroad decided to make our town the “Hub City” of their tracks. An early-day clergyman introduced the plant to Aberdeen when he sowed dandelion seeds that he’d saved from his East Coast garden. East Coast gardeners considered it to be an attractive and colorful flower bed perennial rather than a weed. His Aberdeen neighbors admired the unique yellow blooms, and the reverend, proud of his unusual crop, shared seeds with anyone interested. These imported seeds thrived in Aberdeen’s climate and soil and soon became the bane of local gardeners who found it impossible to confine the plants to their gardens. Dandelions were growing everywhere and spreading quickly throughout the countryside as the prairie winds and birds carried the seeds to new areas.
By 1909 the Reverend’s innocent plantings had spread statewide, and the dandelion’s status in South Dakota changed from garden flower to noxious weed. Mayor Aldrich believed Aberdeen residents had sufficient pride in their community to put forth the effort required to comply with his dandelion eradication request.
Aldrich’s 1909 efforts provided temporary relief, but by 1911 Aberdeen’s dandelion situation had become even worse. That summer workers tilled the lawns of the Brown County Courthouse and planted potatoes in an effort to curb the dandelion growth in those lawns. This scheme was temporarily successful, and the planting yielded nearly 100 bushels of potatoes that the cooks at the Brown County jail used in meals prepared for the prisoners.
Park Superintendent S.H. Anderson put forth yet another plea to attend to the city’s dandelion problem in 1924. He said that the only way to get rid of the plants was to “dig ’em up.” Five years later the “Dandy Lion” became the “new enemy on the battlefield of city spruce-up efforts.” A newspaper column of April 26, 1929, reminded readers “this time of year the dandelions are fresh and tender and green, which makes them mighty good for eating.” Citizens were again urged to dig them up so the city could be rid of them permanently.
Aberdeen’s most aggressive effort against the dandelion came in 1935 when the local American Legion sponsored another “Dandelion Day.” The group offered a 10-cent per bushel bounty on the weed, making it worth almost as much as a bushel of wheat. Dandelion pullers were to deliver their harvest to the post office on May 25, 1935, for payment.
One of the participants in this effort was a very clever 5-year-old boy who calmly sat in his wagon on the sideline of the Milwaukee Railroad grounds while railroad employees dug the dandelions from the station yard and left them to wilt. The lad quickly loaded the discarded weeds into his wagon and headed to the post office to collect his payment. Over 50,000 pounds were collected from citizens that day!
Today, over 100 years after Mayor Alva Aldrich first declared war on Aberdeen’s dandelions, the fight to eradicate the pesky weed from Aberdeen lawns continues.
Pictures are Melgaard Flower Garden (w/o dandelions!) in the 1920s or 30s and the S.C. Hedger House's vast backyard garden in 1910.


Aberdeen's New Auditorium Opens Nov. 1938
The opening of Aberdeen’s new auditorium in November of 1938 gave the city a place to host large gatherings for the first time in 36 years after a 1902 fire had destroyed the Grain Palace.
In 1934 the American Legion urged city officials to consider building an auditorium to make Aberdeen more competitive as a convention site. In 1935 city officials prepared a Public Works Administration (PWA) application for an auditorium; it was denied. During the next two years, local officials worked to keep hopes for the auditorium alive. Finally, in 1937, organizers invited Aberdeen’s school officials to become involved, suggesting a new joint-use facility would provide much-needed additional space for student activities.
The school board became eager partners and agreed to sponsor a $150,000 bond issue for the project, which voters approved in a special election. Soon a second PWA application was prepared, submitted, and approved. The auditorium project received a $135,000 grant and a $165,000 loan from the PWA.
The site for this facility was school-owned property adjacent to the high school. Site preparation began January 11, 1938. On May 31, students and school officials held an impromptu ceremony to lay the building’s cornerstone. By the following November, the auditorium was complete and ready for use. During the summer months, workers remodeled the school’s old auditorium, which became the school library.
The Aberdeen school board planned a week-long open house to showcase the new facility. They invited people within a fifty-mile radius to enjoy all the events during “Auditorium Week,” November 6-13, 1938. More than 11,000 people attended. A dedication program preceded the tour schedule to recognize the efforts of those involved. Fifty-six years prior, in 1882, F.H. Hagerty and William Lloyd had donated a city block between South Washington and Jay Streets as the site for Aberdeen’s first schoolhouse. In 1911, Aberdeen Central High School replaced the original school on that property, which was adjacent to the new auditorium.
The design of the theater included an ample stage area and seating for 1,600. Colors used in the décor were ultramarine blue, brown and gray. It was equipped with a Hammond electric organ, a Steinway concert grand piano, and a projection machine. Its potential uses included general high school assemblies, dramatic productions, grand opera and other musical productions.
The auditorium/arena balconies offered seating for about 2,000 spectators, and its open floor space, when set with chairs, provided another 3,200 seats. The massive floor was ideal for basketball games, conventions, automobile/machinery exhibits, indoor circuses, and community dances.
The Aberdeen-Civic Auditorium was the first facility in the country built in a city the size of Aberdeen (17,000) to serve both the schools and the community. Even after the Aberdeen Public School system built a new high school on the south edge of town, the Civic Arena and Theater continue to serve Aberdeen and the surrounding communities with events, sports, and the Yeldez Circus every April.


Major fires in Aberdeen’s History.

Destructive fires have been part of Aberdeen’s history since the town’s earliest days. There were no major fires during the first two years of Aberdeen’s existence, but the young town’s luck ran out in November 1883 when fire destroyed a livery stable. Residents realized the town was not prepared to fight fires and that a fire department was needed. In Dec of 1883 Aberdeen had its first volunteer Hook & Ladder Company. In May of 1890 Aberdeen hired its first paid firefighters and purchased a horse-drawn fire wagon. Since that time Aberdeen has not lost a single firefighter life as a result of fire-related injuries.
Some of Aberdeen’s major fires:
1902: the Interstate Grain Palace. The Grain Palace stood where Malchow’s Furniture Store now stands, at the corner of Main Street and Fifth Avenue southwest. The building’s interior with its decorations of grains, grasses, corn stalks and bunting burned very quickly. Company L of the 4th South Dakota Infantry Regiment had used the building to store its equipment including more than 2,000 live rifle cartridges that exploded during the fire adding an extra dimension of danger for the firefighters and nearby homeowners.
1910: the Gottschalk Theatre, due to faulty electrical wiring. It also destroyed many surrounding businesses.
1911: Chicago Milwaukee Railroad Depot, an oil stove exploded and the flames from the blast found their way to several nearby boxcars loaded with barrels of gasoline and oil.
1926: the Sherman Hotel and the Ward Hotel both survived fires and rebuilt.
1937: the Ward Hotel, a second fire destroyed all the guestrooms but was rebuilt again.
In subsequent years, fire destroyed or severely damaged several of Aberdeen’s major businesses and attractions: the city ballpark grandstand in August 1951; Parsch Hardware, The Sportsman’s Bar, the Empire Hotel, and White Cross Cleaners all in 1952; and the Kurda Elevator in July 1963. Dakota Sash and Door burned in March 1965, The Flame Cafe in February 1966, Safeguard Industries in November 1972, Tiffany Laundry in December 1988, and Taylor Laundry in November 2002.
The Sportsman’s Bar relocated after its 1952 fire, opening in a building adjacent to the Dacotah Prairie Museum. Fire destroyed the bar a second time on July 1, 1973, when lightning struck the bar’s electrical service box and ignited the building. Firefighters battled the fire from the museum’s second floor windows from what is now known as the Helen Bergh Education Room.
Pictured: Empire Hotel Fire 1952, Fire Truck 1924, Depot Fire 1911, Horse-drawn Fire Truck 1912



President William Howard Taft visited Aberdeen in 1911, twelve years after President William McKinley visited the city. Taft used a special rail car that year for a six-week, 13,000-mile tour of 24 western states. President Taft was scheduled to visit 10 South Dakota towns, including Aberdeen, as his train traveled from Wyoming toward Minnesota. October 23, 1911, the day of his local stop, was designated as “Taft Day” in Aberdeen, and elaborate plans were set forth by local businessmen. Organizers expected thousands of people to travel to the city for the occasion and planned activities including band concerts, exhibitions by the fire department, and field drill exhibitions performed on Main Street by the soldiers of Company L of the 4th South Dakota Infantry Regiment to occupy the crowds until the president’s arrival.
Local merchants seized the opportunity to capitalize on the occasion by remaining open until 10 P.M. and offering sales so significant that one newspaper account stated, “The discriminating buyer will be able to cover the entire expenses of the trip to the Hub City by the savings made on goods purchased at the special discount sales offered for Taft Day.”
When the president arrived at the Northwestern Depot, autos were lined up on the brick pavement adjacent to the tracks to carry the entourage to Northern Normal (NSU) where the president planned to speak to the students of the college as well as pupils from the local public and parochial schools. President Taft spoke briefly at the college, and then the motorcade reformed to parade back to the Commercial Club on the corner of Lincoln and 1st Ave SE where he delivered a talk from the Club’s second-floor balcony. Horse-drawn and motorized vehicles were temporarily banned from the area so the massive audience could gather on the courthouse lawn and in all adjacent spaces.
After his speech, the president was escorted inside where he enjoyed a banquet with 150 local and area businessmen. The six-course meal was prepared under the supervision of J.R. Hubbart, the manager of the Ward Hotel. The banquet was expected to be the most elaborate affair ever given in the state. President Taft boarded his train after the banquet and departed at 12:40 A.M. for Minnesota where he planned stops in several small towns on his way to Minneapolis. An estimated 12,000 people saw President Taft at some point during his seven-hour stay in Aberdeen.


Sherman Hotel once “largest hotel west of Minneapolis”
The Sherman House was one of Aberdeen’s first and longest running hotels, opening in 1881 just one month after the town’s founding, and serving the traveling public for nearly one hundred years. Sherman House opened in grand style with approximately 160 people in attendance. Guests danced in the spacious dining room; refreshments were served about midnight. Following that, several speakers addressed the crowd. The dancing continued until the “wee small hours.” Everyone in attendance declared the opening to be “the most enjoyable event of the season” and congratulated owner James Ringrose on opening one of the finest hotels in the area. The hotel was large enough for 100 guests and boasted a well-stocked bar, a large billiard room, and a livery stable. The Sherman House quickly became the center of many of Aberdeen’s social events. Mr. Ringrose expanded his hotel in 1887 with a brick addition, which increased his capacity by 43 rooms. Nearly 20 years later on the night of November 22, 1906, fire destroyed the Sherman House. Oddly enough, the brick section was totally destroyed, but the original frame building was relatively untouched. Newspapers claimed, “Practically every resident of Aberdeen not sick in bed or too aged to appear was on Main Street and the adjoining avenues watching the fire.” The hotel was quickly rebuilt on the same site as the original, the corner of 3rd Ave and S. Main St. A grand opening and ball was held in November of 1908. A huge crowd numbering nearly 1,000 was in attendance, and three orchestras provided dance music throughout the evening. The new Sherman House was a four-story building with 120 guest rooms and 50 baths, most placed between two guest rooms. In addition, each hall had a public toilet. Room rates were $1 and up per night.
Another fire occurred on the night of June 26, 1926, destroying the entire north wing. Again the owners rebuilt the Sherman Hotel, reopening it for business later that same year.
In 1966 the upper three floors of the Sherman Hotel were removed, and its new roof would serve as the parking deck for a new downtown parking ramp. The hotel’s first floor became a connecting point to the ramp. The original frame structure, still located on Lincoln Street, was demolished as part of the parking ramp construction.
In 1977 what was left of the hotel was demolished along with the ramp to make room for a planned low-income rental complex. Finally in 1980 the Sherman Apartments, a 51-unit housing facility for the elderly, was built on the site.
Pictured are two building photos, one from 1920s and one from 1950s. Interior lobby photo from 1950.


National Women's History Month - There are so many fantastic women who made an impact in our area. We've enjoyed sharing their stories with you this month.

Mother John Hughes, Miss Mary Ellen Butler, and Sister Aloysius Chriswell arrived in Aberdeen, on October 4, 1886 to establish the Aberdeen community of Presentation Sisters and serve as educators in the Catholic school built by Father Haire.
The sisters opened Presentation Academy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in November of 1888 to serve over 90 students.
The sisters began their work in healthcare in 1900 when a diphtheria epidemic hit Aberdeen. They turned their Academy into a temporary hospital—on the site of the present day Avera St. Luke’s Hospital.
In 1901 the sisters officially started St. Luke’s hospital as a result of their work with the sick the previous year.

The sisters continue their mission of social justice and sharing the vision of their foundress, Nano Nagle. Not just in the region but worldwide.

Pictured below is a photo of Presentation Heights 1950-1960 era.


National Women's History Month - Continuing our mission to tell the stories of the inhabitants of the Dakota Prairie, here is another trail-blazing woman who made an impact on Aberdeen & Brown County.

DELPHINE “DEL” JANUSZ... was elected to the Brown County Commission in 1974 as the first Republican elected in 12 years. She was elected commission chair in 1976 by the four male Democrats with whom she served. In 1981 she was elected as Aberdeen’s mayor, THE CITY'S FIRST WOMAN to serve in that capacity. She held that office for five years and resigned in 1986 to concentrate on her candidacy for the state legislature.


National Women's History Month - Celebrating successful women from Aberdeen & Brown County:

FRANCES CRANMER GREENMAN... was born in Aberdeen in 1890 and left in 1905 to pursue an education at Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC. She earned the school’s prestigious Gold Medal after 4 years of study and moved to New York City for further studies.
In 1915 she married John Greenman, a Minnesota banker. She had her first SOLO SHOW at the New Gallery in New York City in 1924 and soon after the family moved to New York where she was a frequent exhibitor at local galleries.
Eventually she made her way to HOLLYWOOD and painted portraits of both Mary Pickford and Dolores del Rio. She returned to Minnesota and became an instructor at the Minneapolis School of Art.
She enjoyed her chosen career for over 50 years, passing away in 1981.

Francis Cranmer Greenman painted this portrait of Mabel Ulrich in 1931. Greenman was known for masterfully catching both the faces and personalities of her subjects. (Collection Minnesota Historical Society) (from Minn Public Radio website MPR)


National Women's History Month - Remarkable women from Aberdeen & Brown County highlights:

DOROTHY REHFELD... was admitted to the South Dakota Bar on May 1, 1914 becoming Aberdeen’s FIRST WOMAN ATTORNEY. In 1915 she was granted rights to practice in federal court.
In 1917 she opened her own practice making her the state’s first woman to have AN INDEPENDENT PRACTICE.
She was selected as one of 12 American delegates to the International Woman’s Suffrage Alliance Congress held in Geneva, Switzerland in 1920 and worked tirelessly for women’s voting rights.

She was listed in “Who’s Who” for several years before she retired to California.


The DPM continues to share stories about great women from Aberdeen and Brown County:

DR. OLGA HANSEN... was born on a farm near Hecla, SD on March 18, 1890. She attended country school through grade 8 then came to Aberdeen to finish high school. (See 1908 High School graduation photo below, lower right.)
She received a teaching certificate from Northern Normal and Industrial School (now NSU).
She earned a BS from the University of Minnesota in 1913 and her MD in 1915. She was the ONLY FEMALE in her medical school class.
For 10 years she was the HEAD OF THE CARDIAC CLINIC at the University of Minnesota Outpatient Department. She was the first doctor in Minnesota to treat a patient in a diabetic coma with insulin.

She practiced in Minneapolis for 55 years, retiring in 1970. She passed away in 1979.


The DPM is celebrating National Women's History Month.

All month we will be telling you about some spectacular women from Aberdeen and Brown County.

DR. LEONA DIX WILBER... came to Dakota Territory at age 5 with her family in 1870 and settled in Yankton. She began her dental practice in Yankton in 1883 - THE ONLY WOMAN DENTIST in the Dakotas. She moved to Aberdeen in 1903 and opened a practice with her brother George that they maintained for nearly 20 years. She married Henry Wilber in 1914; he passed away in 1929.

Dr. Dix Wilber died in Aberdeen in December 1950 at age 85.

Check out the National Women's History Month website link