FREEMAN: Dr. Nathan Bates, a University of South Dakota professor, told a group of about two-dozen people at the Bethel Church Saturday evening, Oct. 30, that he’s thrilled with what he’s discovered at Heritage Hall Museum & Archives (HHM&A).
Bates, who spent time poring through the archives this summer, told the crowd he’s planning to incorporate the resources here into his German language curriculum at USD in Vermillion. The program was sponsored by HHM&A, which operates as an independent not-for-profit organization. Bates received a grant from the South Dakota Humanities Council for this project.
The archives are providing Bates with stories, personal histories and journals, documents, books and audio recordings that will help expand students’ perspectives on the impact use of German has had in shaping community life and development.
Bates singled out three examples that have caught his attention thus far.
• Daniel Unruh’s Arithmetic Book, dated 1833 and which he used in Russia, which includes bright graphic designs and notes about family history.
• A pamphlet written in 1926 by J. John Friesen, a professor at Freeman College, advocating for the use of German in the Freeman community because, in part, it represents “the higher moral ground of German culture.
• Correspondence between F.C. Ortman of Freeman and John R. Thierstein of Bluffton, Ohio in which they discuss their views about German in the World War I era.
Each, in its own way, offers insights into the attitudes and practices that were an important part of community life in the decades following the arrival of the Germans from Russia in the 1870s, Bates said.
Bates says he plans to return to continue and expand his research and have his students use the archives as a resource for their studies. That, he said, will allow them to make connections between South Dakota and the global community.
“It’s not just language,” he said. “It’s a passport to the larger world.”
The wealth of what is available in the archives and their proximity to Vermillion makes Freeman an ideal partner for his program and he’s eager to see what that will provide.
“I’m enthusiastically diving into the deep end of the pool,” he said.
FREEMAN, S.D.: German-speaking immigrants arriving in South Dakota in the late 1800s were the most widespread of all the ethnic groups. A South Dakota State Historical Society publication notes people of German heritage are found in almost every county and town in the state. The majority of them are Germans from Russia, those who lived in the Ukraine and Black Sea areas for nearly a century before coming to America in the 1870s.
That’s certainly true in the larger Freeman area and that brought Dr. Nathan Bates, a University of South Dakota professor, to Heritage Hall Museum & Archives (HHM&A) this summer. He will be sharing some of what he discovered about the local use of German in those early decades in an Oct. 30 program starting at 7 p.m., at the historic Bethel Church on the HHM&A complex. Note the program has been rescheduled from Oct. 23. The title of his presentation is “Our German Language.”
“Freeman was a good choice to begin this project because of its considerable German heritage and its proximity to USD,” Bates said in a news release. “There are many communities in South Dakota with a strong German heritage, but Freeman also had the advantage of having a museum and archives with many resources in German.”
The archives provided Bates with stories, personal histories and journals, documents, books and audio recordings.
Of particular importance, he said, were documents that reveal something about the attitudes toward learning German in South Dakota and toward German immigrants toward World War I.
“With 37.6% of the state identifying as German-American according to a 2019 study by the United States Census Bureau, German has certainly had a substantial influence on the identity and demographics of our state,” he said.
His Saturday evening presentation will include what he describes as “some interesting insights into why German was spoken here and why it experienced significant decline.”
Bates plans to develop a special topics course for the German major at USD focused on German South Dakotan immigrant artifacts.
“They speak not only to our state’s heritage and how that heritage defines who we are today, but it also gives students an opportunity to orient South Dakota’s identity and heritage with the international community of German practitioners,” he said
Bates began his preliminary research in March of this year before receiving a grant from the South Dakota Humanities Council in May.
“I finished my grant-funded trips in August, but my partnership with the museum in Freeman has only just begun,” he said.
Admission will be charged at the door ($7; HHM&A members $5). For more information call 605-925-7545; the museum is open noon to 4 p.m. weekdays and morning and weekends by appointment October through April.
Phyllis Schrag will take the stage as Francis Perkins in Freeman Sunday afternoon, Oct. 10.
Schrag, a former Freeman community resident who appeared in leading roles in a number of Schmeckfest musicals, is presenting “Francis Perkins - A Powerful Influence.” The one-woman show is scheduled at 3 p.m., at the historic Bethel Church located on the Heritage Hall Museum & Archives complex.
Schrag, who is a South Dakota Humanities Scholar, is providing a first-person encounter with Perkins, who served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945 and the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet. Perkins was also an American sociologist and workers-right advocate.
Because of limited seating – with Covid-19 protocols and social distancing – tickets are being sold in advance. To order tickets or for more information, call 605-925-7545, email email@example.com or stop at the museum, which is open 9-4 weekdays and 1-4 weekends. Note that the museum will be closed Oct. 1-10 for renovation. Ticket orders should be placed by Wednesday, Oct. 6.
This is not Schrag’s first appearance at the Freeman museum. In 1983 Heritage Hall Museum & Archives and the Freeman Arts Council sponsored her in portraying Emily Dickinson in a one-person play titled “The Belle of Amherst.” Schrag later presented that production in the early 1990s throughout the state with a Touring Program Grant from the South Dakota Arts Council.
Schrag and her husband, Larry, are now residents of Ames, Iowa.
The program is sponsored by Heritage Hall Museum & Archives with support from the South Dakota Humanities Council.
In mid-August the U.S. Census Bureau released additional 2020 Census results that include county population totals. The report shows that the population in Hutchinson, McCook and Turner counties all increased slightly. The total population of the three counties now stands at 21,782, up 2.2 from 2010s 21,308
Initial results from the United States 2020 Census Bureau were announced the last week of April. They show the United States has a population of 331,449,281. An increase of 7.4% from the 2010 Census, it's the second-smallest increase since 1790, when the first census was conducted.
"We were interested in the South Dakota trends, particularly local counties," says Tim L. Waltner, communication/education coordinator at Heritage Hall Museum & Archives in Freeman.
"While the state population grew by 72,487, statewide 33 – exactly half of the state's 66 counties – lost population," he said. "Most of that came in Lincoln, Minnehaha and Pennington counties – Sioux Falls and Rapid City, the three counties with the largest populations in the state.
Lincoln (#3), at 65,161, is up 45.4%; Minnehaha (#1), at 197,214, is up 16.2%; Pennington #2), at 109,222, is up 8.2%
Hutchinson, McCook and Turner counties were among those that gained population, although at a significantly lower rate than the "big three."
Hutchinson County, at 7,427, is up 1.1% from 7,343. McCook County, at 5,682, is also up 1.1% from 5,618. Turner County shows the largest of the local three; 8,673, up 3.9% from 8,347. That reflects its proximity to rapidly growing Minnehaha and Lincoln counties.
"We also took a closer look at the population trends since immigrants arrived here in the 1870s." he said. "In a nutshell, population in Hutchinson, McCook and Turner counties grew steadily until the 1930s. The total of the three-county area in the 1930 Census was 39,111. The 2020 Census reveals it has steadily declined to 21,782, a loss of 44% of the population over the last 90 years."
"It's a fascinating trend, reflected in the accompanying graphics," he said.
That reflects a combination of fewer farms, smaller families and outmigration – primarily young people, Waltner said.
The 2020 Census reveals changes in the size and distribution of the population across the United States. The population of U.S. metro areas grew by 9% from 2010 to 2020, resulting in 86% of the population living in U.S. metro areas in 2020, compared to 85% in 2010.
"Many counties within metro areas saw growth, especially those in the south and west. However, as we've been seeing in our annual population estimates, our nation is growing slower than it used to," said Marc Perry, a senior demographer at the Census Bureau. "This decline is evident at the local level where around 52% of the counties in the United States saw their 2020 Census populations decrease from their 2010 Census populations."
It showed that the adult (age 18 and older) population group grew 10.1% to 258.3 million people over the decade.
"More than three-quarters, 77.9%, of the U.S. population were age 18 and over," said Andrew Roberts, chief of the Sex and Age Statistics Branch in the Census Bureau's Population Division. "The adult population grew faster than the nation as a whole. By comparison, the population under age 18 was 73.1 million in 2020, a decline of 1.4% from the 2010 Census."
Additional details, including small-town populations, will be available in 2020 Census data releases scheduled for later this year.
It's the start of a new school year and Heritage Hall Museum & Archives (HHM&A) is extending an invitation to educators across southeastern South Dakota to use the museum as a classroom for their students.
A letter recently sent to regional educators notes, "Heritage Hall Museum & Archives is filled with great history and more than 25,000 square feet of a wide array of interesting artifacts and exhibits. The items in our museum tell the immigration story of settlers who arrived in southeastern Dakota Territory in the 1870s, persevered and helped build the Freeman community.
"With more than 20,000 artifacts, our exhibits are an excellent resource for studies on South Dakota and Native American history."
Tim L. Waltner, whose responsibilities at HHM&A include working with the museum’s educational program, said the idea isn’t new; area schools have scheduled field trips as part of their studies over the years.
"But with concerns about Covid-19, that didn't happen last year," he said. "We’re looking forward to welcoming students back this year." However, he added, the museum continues to follow CDC guidelines to ensure all guests feel safe when visiting.
"The history of this part of South Dakota is rich and diverse," he said. "We believe that students and educators alike will be fascinated by what they can discover at our museum.” The museum has developed special interactive activities for youth throughout the year and Waltner said museum staff will adapt them to fit specific requests from educators.
The museum staff includes Terry Quam, a retired school administrator who is curator and part of the team that can help create a unique classroom experience for visiting students.
"We're looking forward to partnering with teachers in developing specific curriculum as part of a special focus or age group," Waltner said.
"Our 1927 bi-plane, the horse-drawn hearse and ice coffin, our general store, town jail, summer kitchen, print shop, doctor and dentist offices, vintage cars and motorcycles, and agriculture exhibits tell stories of the Germans-from-Russia immigrants who settled in this region nearly 150 years ago,” he said. “Plus, we’ve got a working model railroad.”
The complex includes two large exhibit halls, two historic churches and a one-room country school that can be used literally as a classroom. A historic 1879 home is under restoration and scheduled to open in spring.
The neighboring Prairie Arboretum offers a complementary experience for both education and recreation.
The museum offers special package admission options for schools to make field trips affordable and will recognize businesses and organizations who sponsor/underwrite school trips to the museum.
“We’re happy to give teachers a complimentary tour of the museum to see what we have to offer,” Waltner said. “Just give us a call.”
To learn more about the museum's school program, call 605-925-7545 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Diamond Valley School, which was located a mile and a half south of Freeman, was moved to Freema
2020 census shows steady three-decade increase in South Dakota population
Initial results from the United States 2020 Census Bureau were announced the last week of April, showing a total of331,449,281 residents of the United States. That represents an increase of 7.4% from the 2010 count of 308,745,538; it’s the second-smallest decade-long growth rate since the first census was taken in 1790.
The 2020 census shows that 37 of the 50 states grew more slowly in the 2010s than in the previous decade. Three states lost population – Illinois, Mississippi and West Virginia; that the largest number of states that saw a decline since the 1980s.
However, South Dakota was among the 13 states that showed an increase in rate of growth from 2010 to 2020 – 8.9% compared to 7.9% from 2000 to 2010.
“We were curious about how that compares to previous decades,” says Tim L. Waltner, communication/education coordinator at Heritage Hall Museum & Archives in Freeman. “So we did a little digging into the history; that’s what we do. Here’s what we discovered.”
A review of census numbers going back to 1860 shows South Dakota has seen a steady rate of population growth in the past three decades; from 696,004 residents in 1900 to886,667 in 2020.
“But, as the accompanying chart shows,” Waltner says, “the most dramatic increase in population in our history came in the last three decades of the 19th century.” Census figures show that the territory/state grew from 4,837 residents in 1860 to 401,570 residents by 1900. That growth continue until the 1930s when it reached 692,849.
“The Dust Bowl and the economic impact of the Great Depression resulted in many South Dakotans leaving the state,” he said. “The state’s population declined by more than 50,000 – a loss of about 7% between 1930 and 1940. It remained relatively stable for most of the remainder of the century before the steady increase since 1990.”
“But if we want to look at the real big picture of South Dakota’s population,” Waltner said, “that means going back a lot farther.”
The land we know as South Dakota has been home to humans going back several thousand years, he noted. The first inhabitants, Paleoindian hunter-gatherers arrived as glaciers that covered the northern half of the North American continent began to gradually melt. That exposed new land for occupation around 17,500-14,500 years ago. Those Paleoindian hunter-gatherers disappeared from the area around 5000 BC. Later residents included the Mound Builders, Arikara, Hidatsa, Mandan and Sioux (Dakota and Lakota). European contact began in the 1740s, when French explorers and fur traders began exploring the region. In 1762 the region became part of Spanish Louisiana.
In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory and President Thomas Jefferson organized the "Lewis and Clark Expedition" to explore the newly acquired western portion of the country that included what today is South Dakota. An American fur trading post was established at present-day Fort Pierre in 1817; that began American settlement of the region. In 1858 the Yankton Sioux signed the 1858 Treaty, which ceded most of present-day eastern South Dakota to the United States.
Land speculators founded two of eastern South Dakota's largest present-day cities: Sioux Falls in 1856 and Yankton in and 1859.
Dakota Territory was established in 1861 by the United States government (today North Dakota, South Dakota, and parts of Montana and Wyoming). The 1862 Homestead Act drew thousands of European immigrants as well as people from the eastern United States.
“That’s where our community’s story begins,” Waltner said. “The influx of Germans-from Russia-immigrants who settled in Hutchinson, McCook and Turner counties established the larger Freeman community we know today. The arrival of the railroad in 1879 spawned our local towns.”
The 2020 census results are being released in several stages. This first release of total populations for states was scheduled for December 2020. But the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters delayed the release until now. Much more detail about population trends is expected to be shared later this year, including changes in cities and counties.
“We’re eager to learn what that will tell us about our part of South Dakota,” Waltner said. “We look forward to sharing that with folks as well.”
“Our archives are filled with history about the story of our roots, immigration and settling on the prairie nearly 150 years ago. We’re open daily weekdays and weekend afternoons. We’re also open by appointment; call 605-925-7545,” Waltner noted.
A quick look at a few 2020 census numbers
Utah is the fastest-growing state at 18.4 percent compared to 2010.
Idaho is the fastest-growing second at 17.3 percent.
Our neighbor North Dakota grew by 15.8% in the last decade.
West Virginia lost the most population, down 3.2 percent from 2010.
California is the most-populated state at 39,538,223
Texas is the second-most-populated state at 29,145,505
Florida and New York swapped rankings from previous census; Florida is now third and New York fourth in population.
South Dakota remains 46th in population ranking in the United States.
Wyoming is the least-populated state at 576,851.
Vermont is the second-least-populated state at 643,077.
Gas station modeled after FJC Station
FREEMAN: A new gas station exhibit debuts in the transportation exhibit area of Heritage Hall Museum & Archives this week and some folks who see it may feel that it looks a bit familiar.
That, says Marnette (Ortman) Hofer, executive director and archivist of HHM&A, is no coincidence.
“I’ve been intrigued by the number of gas stations in our community in the first half of the last century,” Hofer says. “We’ve been wanting to consolidate elements scattered throughout the museum for some time and creating a gas station exhibit seemed like a fun project.”
Ortman and her museum staff decided to utilize an area in the Unruh-Tieszen wing to do that.
“Once we got started we saw the potential to do something even bigger,” she said.
That led to the decision to model the exterior after the Main Street Freeman Junior College Service Station that operated in the 1930s and 40s on the site where Stucky Electric is today. The distinctive peaked-roof profile of that station was a common design in that era.
“It’s been a fun project,” she said. “The ideas just kept flowing.”
That includes putting a Model T inside the station “for repairs,” she said. The interior also includes tools, parts and other items one would expect in a gas station in that era. The exhibit includes a brief history of the FJC Service Station.
It bears the name “Graber’s Service Station,” honoring Linden Graber and his late father, Cleon, who’ve played major roles in the museum’s development, particularly in the transportation exhibits.
The new exhibit is part of a major renovation of the Unruh-Tieszen Wing, which houses the museum’s transportation and agriculture historical exhibits.
“I think people will enjoy the new look,” she said.
Like everyone, Heritage Hall Museum & Archives felt the impact of COVID-19, Hofer noted.
“We saw less than 10 percent of the visitors we have come to expect in a year. That’s why we’re so looking forward to being open during the Freeman Academy Auxiliary “Drive-thru Schmeckfest” this weekend and next.”
The museum will be open both days both weekends from noon to 8 p.m. March 19-20 and 26-27. (Normal winter hours are weekdays from noon to 4 p.m.)
The extended hours also offer free admission for children age 12 and under when accompanied by adults. Hofer noted that the popular model train exhibit will also be running those days.
“We’re also looking forward to showing visitors our expanded mercantile, which features unique handcrafted items from local artisans,” she said.
Hofer says one unintended benefit of the reduced traffic at the museum over the past year is that it’s enabled the museum staff and volunteers to make some dramatic changes, particularly in the Unruh-Tieszen Wing.
“We’re excited to share what we’ve been working on,” she said. “I think that will be a highlight for people visiting the museum.”
And speaking of highlights, one of the projects has been installing – literally new “high lights,” – in the Unruh-Tieszen Wing.
New LED lighting has replaced the sodium-vapor bulbs and the difference is remarkable, Hofer said.
“Not only is it brighter, the colors are much truer,” she said. “The colors of the cars, trucks and tractors are much more authentic with the new light.”
Hofer noted that Donovan Friesen, recently elected as museum board chair, has spent scores of volunteer hours assisting Brian Skinner, facilities manager at the museum with projects, including the upgraded lighting.
And Friesen is not alone.
All the updated, revamped and rearranged displays in recent months wouldn’t have happened without a core group of volunteers, she said. Volunteers were instrumental in helping with the gas station project, particularly painting, she noted.
“I can’t say enough about how important our volunteers are to us,” she said.
Although there is an admission fee to tour the museum, the mercantile is open to the public at no charge. People are welcome to call 605-925-7545 or email email@example.com for more information or go online to heritagehallmuseum.com and on the Heritage Hall Museum and Archives Facebook page.
The exterior of a new gas station exhibit at Heritage Hall Museum & Archives is modeled after the Freeman College Service Station. Museum staff named it “Graber’s Service Station” in honor of Cleon and Linden Graber, who together have provided more than 35 years of leadership at the museum with particular interest in the transportation exhibits there. The Freeman College Service Station opened at Fifth and Main on July 1, 1933 as an enterprise to support the school. It remained in operation until 1948, when it was sold. The building was later used by Fred Haar Co. and Stucky Electric. It was demolished in 1984 when Janver Stucky put up a new building on the site for his business.
Local author S. Roy Kaufman and HHM&A director Marnette (Ortman) Hofer talk about his latest book.
Local author blends prehistory, birth, growth, maturity, decline and rebirth in review of a rural community
FREEMAN: A large threshing machine was the backdrop for a stimulating conversation about the agrarian roots – as well as the future – of a rural South Dakota community at Heritage Hall Museum & Archives in Freeman last week.
Local author S. Roy Kaufman sat down with Marnette (Ortman) Hofer, executive director and archivist of the Freeman museum Tuesday morning, Nov. 24, to talk about his latest book, The Drama of a Rural Community's Life Cycle. The conversation, fittingly held in the agricultural exhibit area in the Unruh-Tieszen wing of the museum, was recorded by Nathan Schrag for the museum and is available on the museum's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXXVFQqA3uM&feature=youtu.be
"We wish we could have done this as a public event," Hofer says, "but in the interest of health and safety in the current environment, we're sharing this using social media."
Kaufman describes the book as "an attempt to chronicle the birth, growth, maturity, decline and rebirth of the larger Freeman community."
Kaufman has a deep and abiding interest in the history of the Freeman community. He grew up on a farm in rural Freeman and, after pastoring five rural churches in Canada and the United States, returned and retired here. He has been curator at the museum for the past eight years. He also brings a philosophic and ethical perspective shaped by his experiences serving rural congregations for four decades.
"Agrarian cultures always carry in their life the agricultural wisdom and the faith heritage and values that form their cultural life," he says. "Rural communities are always a work in progress at some stage of their life cycle.”
"We wanted to get an inside peek at his motivations and to learn a bit more about why he put it together," Hofer said of the conversation she had with Kaufman. "We wanted to know why he thought it was important to write this book."
The conversation reveals all of that and more.
Kaufman talks about his personal history and growing interest in rural culture and his evolving views and perspectives.
“Agrarian culture is shaped by the way that people relate to the land – how they farm,” he says, noting that even within a given community, there are differences and unique approaches to agriculture based on values and faith perspectives.
“To understand the culture, you have to understand these communities … how they function and how they live.”
In the introduction to his book, Kaufman writes "This book and the story it tells are designed to describe some of the dynamics that enable rural communities and agrarian cultures to survive and thrive even in the midst of the imperial forces that have always exploited and oppressed them."
Kaufman begins with a focus on the land and then delves into the evolving relationship between the inhabitants of the earth and the earth itself. He explores the native culture that was here before immigrants arrived in the 1800s and the "doctrine of discovery." The middle section of the book looks at how the Freeman community matured in the 20th century – what was gained and what was lost. The final section is centered around both challenges and successes of efforts to revitalize the community in the current century.
"The agrarian cultures of the Freeman community are at a crucial time in their nearly 150-year history on this land," Kaufman said. "Local agrarian cultures need to re-invent themselves, both as local cultures and as agricultural entities in order to build a renewed rural community."
"I appreciate that he took this big view and then zeroed in the details," Hofer says. "That seems key to me."
Hofer likens Kaufman's approach to a device commonly used in film – opening with the wide shot and increasingly narrowly focusing on a specific area.
"It almost feels cinematic," she says. "It's like these satellite views of the universe and you see the Earth; you zoom in and see North America. Then further you see the Great Plains, southeastern South Dakota and then down to Freeman.
"To fully understand this community, we need the wider view, not just each of the little stories. You realize you're just a pebble in such a vast universe," she said. "But," she adds, "every moving piece affects the rest."
"At their best," Kaufman says, "agricultures understand they are called by the creator to participate in the unfolding of creation and life for the welfare of the whole creation."
"Our calling as humans is not to manage the world. It is rather to grow in our understanding of our place within the drama of life and reaction in which we find ourselves."
"His book runs the gamut – from pure history to theological implications; it's all-encompassing," Hofer says. "I appreciate how well researched it is and how thoroughly documented his history pieces are.
"It's almost a love letter to his home community," she says. "You feel his passion for the community. You feel his voice and it's a lonely voice."
Kaufman acknowledges that in the book.
"I often felt quite lonely, like a voice crying out in the wilderness," he writes.
"I respect the choices every farmer makes for his or her operation," Kaufman says. "There is no right way to farm and rural communities like Freeman are on a journey of discovery, as the changes in agricultural technology for the past century has shown. When we observe clearly harmful effects of our agricultural practices on the soil, plants, and animals in our care, we need to keep exploring other ways to farm. No one is to blame for how they farm. The failures, if such they be, are communal rather than personal. But together we can keep exploring agricultural practices that mitigate the damage agriculture can inflict on the soil, plants, and animals in our care."
But, he continues, "I finally began to realize that I was not alone."
Kaufman writes about the emergence of Rural Revival, a non-profit organization that meshes with his perspectives and includes "like-minded farmers and community members for support, networking and collaboration."
While the book focuses on Freeman – with a specific focus on the Mennonite church community here – Kaufman and Hofer agree the message goes far beyond that.
"The story is universal," Hofer said. “This is a scenario that plays out all over the world. It is a ‘drama’ that that plays out all over the world.”
“Birth, growth, life, death,” Kaufman says. “It’s a continual process and we’re all in it somewhere. It’s a challenge for us to figure out where we are in the drama. Which act are we in? Is it death or is it a new birth?”
In addition to resonating with area residents because of the local history and stories, Kaufman believes his book will appeal to those interested in South Dakota history, faith communities, educators, community developers, conservationists and, of course, those in the ag industry.
The timing of the interview – two days before Thanksgiving – is not coincidental.
"This is a traditional time to give thanks," Hofer says. "But it's also a time to reflect on not only what we have but to use what we have in responsible ways."
In the final chapter of his book, Kaufman writes this.
"Traditional agrarian cultures throughout the world and throughout history understand food to be sacred. It is sacred because it is the stuff of life; it is what sustains human life. It is sacred because its presence is always perceived to be gift, something given to us in a sacred and mysterious process of growth. We plant seeds and till the plants for food, but we have no ability to make seeds grow or plants produce their crop. We breed and tend animals for the food products they offer to us, but their lives are always a gift given to us and for us."
Kaufman is donating proceeds from his book to Heritage Hall Museum & Archives. It is for sale there as well as online at Amazon.com.
FREEMAN: For more than a century, Heritage Hall Museum and Archives (HHM&A) has been collecting and sharing the rich history of the greater Freeman community.
But recently, the non-profit organization has been collecting and sharing the rich “present” of the greater Freeman community.
“About a year ago we decided to give local artisans the opportunity to display and sell their wares in our museum,” explains Marnette (Ortman) Hofer, Executive Director and Archivist at HHM&A, which traces its roots back to Freeman College in 1911.
The HHM&A Mercantile was established last year in the lobby of the museum and has expanded in the months that followed. Today, it includes a wide array of items created by people who live here or have ties to the community. For example, you’ll find stained glass from Heidi Schrag, note cards from Polly Waltner and scarves from Kevin Gross. There are knitted items, birdhouses and art prints. There are books by authors who grew up in this community including Rodney Hofer, Jim Kaufman, S. Roy Kaufman and John D. Unruh Jr. You can learn more at heritagehallmuseum.com/museum-mercantile.
“We’re thrilled to support the creativity of these authors and artists,” Hofer says. “Our mission is to preserve and celebrate the lives of the people of this community and this is a natural extension of that mission.”
All items are sold by consignment and proceeds from the sale help support that mission, she explained.
The mercantile also includes T-shirts and notecards from the museum as well as items celebrating the South Dakota Chislic Festival. You can find a sample of items at http://heritagehallmuseum.com/museum-mercantile .
HHM&A is open from noon to 4 p.m., Mondays through Fridays except on holidays; winter hours continue through April. Hours are expanded May through September.
The mercantile and the archives are open to the public at no charge; anyone wanting research assistance is encouraged to call 605-925-7545 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. There is an admission fee to tour the museum
HHM&A is taking precautions because of COVID-19. Groups are limited to 10 or less, guests will be staggered and are asked to wear masks.
Additional information about the museum’s history and displays is available online at heritagehallmuseum.com and on the Heritage Hall Museum and Archives Facebook page.
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Heritage Hall Museum in Freeman, South Dakota tells the story of the German-from-Russia immigrants and others who settled in southeastern Dakota Territory in the 1870s. Our South Dakota museum has over 20,000 historical items on display!