Miller, South Dakota

After staying in Kennebec we took I 90 to Chamberlin, SD, where we stopped for breakfast at a nice little cafe. We discovered we were very close to the Saint Joseph Indian school where they had a Lakota museum and cultural center. It was easy to find, was beautiful, and wonderfully informational. The small building had exhibits on the people of the ancient Plains gave understanding on how the Lakota tribes and culture. The influence of European explorers and settlers was also discussed. As we broke treaties and more settlers moved into their homeland, they were pushed from one area to another. When they stood up for their rights and there was trouble, they were jailed or killed and blamed for what happened. There was a showing of current art that was on the experience at Wounded Knee. Poetry and writings were combined with visual art and powerfully expressed how the historic event still impacts their lives. IMG_2305

There were beautiful quilts for sale and one of the men taking charge of the gift shop explained to Bridget and I how the women were taught to quilt after all the buffalo had been killed. The large star became the design for the Lakota, representing the Morning Star, an important part of Sioux ceremonies. It represents the direction from which spirits travel to earth and is a link between the living and the dead. Bridget and I fell in love with these quilts we each bought one Bridget’s is pink and mine is green.

We were going to take county roads up to Miller, but missed a turn, so we returned to I-90 and continued on our way. Just before we were going to turn off the Interstate, we saw a sign for a tractor museum. Excited, we stopped and met a lovely 85-year-old man took us on a tour to see all the tractors. There were mostly John Deere tractors in the two barns, but there was also one which came as a mail-order kit and the farmed used an old Model A or T for the mechanical sections. In one of the barns was the metal contraption that was the local jail, only used for the town drunks. There was also a church and one-room school house, each of which had been moved to this location. This man was a rancher who had lived in that area of South Dakota for a long time and made little side cracks one of which was “not all farmers are poor.” As a matter fact, he was going to go up to Miller the next day to get his plane and fly somewhere.

But we were going to Miller using the county road right next to the museum. OK, I hear you asking why. But in Cedar Township of Hand County, SD in the early 20th century (possibly in 1900), my grandfather and his sister, Julia, joined his grandfather, grandmother, aunts and uncles to homestead a claim each. Patrick Dunn was my grandfather’s grandfather and one of our ancestors who came to the United States at about the age of 20. My Aunt Peggy made a copy of her Aunt Kate’s genealogy that stated he “came to America around 1840 from Ireland. The(sic) cam over in a sailing ship. It took six weeks. Settled in Baltimore, Maryland then Ohio and the Illinois. (I think he and his wife, Mary Murray came separately because in the 1910 census it is stated she arrived in 1850, but that is inconclusive.). She (Mary) became a seamstress (and) later went west with (the) Baltimore and Ohio Railway. Stopped in Chenoa Illinois (sic) and bought land and established a home. Later at the encouragement of her brother (they) went to the Dakota territory 1853.” My father (Patrick Flanagan) recorded that they were married in 1850 in Ohio.

We were unable to locate where Martin’s and Julia’s claims were, but the land today is rich and grows good crops of corn, soy beans, and sun flowers. In Miller, we made a visit to St. Ann’s Church and Cemetery. Many Dunns were buried in that cemetery, including Patrick Dunn, our immigrant ancestor.

4 thoughts on “Miller, South Dakota”

  1. Wow! I am envious of your travels. How amazing to walk in the footsteps of your ancestors –
    To see where they were buried and to know that because of them – you are here.
    The Lakota experience must have been heavy… 😦
    Journey on and keep sharing
    ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s