Glorious Fourth of July and Other Stories from the Plains

Stories bring us together. The simple question “Do you remember when?” easily evolves into an elaboration of details that fill out an event’s narrative. In my family, there are stories that have been retold so often that, even when the incident happened before I was born, I can pick up on the telling in a matter of seconds. As we craft and pass down these family legacies, we develop an understanding of our history and relate cultural traditions to new generations.

CS 26.jpgRecently, the subject of how we tell stories has been on my mind due to an upcoming South Dakota Historical Society Press book. In Glorious Fourth of July and Other Stories from the Plains, the artwork and family stories by Catherine Rademacher Gibson, as recounted by her daughter Mary Gibson Sprague, share a common narrative with stories from my own family such stories showcase the lives of our own grandparents and great-grandparents in the small communities that still sprinkle the Great Plains landscape. What is unique about this book are the paintings that accompany the stories. Created for her husband at the end of his life, Catherine dubbed them “Memory Paintings.” Their vibrant colors give additional insight into times gone by.

The artwork entertains and draws you in. In the story “Line Storm,” Catherine’s father races home to avoid a rainstorm. When he gets to his destination, lo and behold, the back seat is wet! He was only able to stay half-way ahead of the inclement weather. Catherine’s communication of the story with both words and CS 05.jpgartwork recalls to me the thunderstorms that roll over the prairie, as well as my grandfather’s story about his first time in a car. “My brother whipped it up to fifteen miles an hour, and I was hanging on for dear life,” he would exclaim.  In the story “Cyclone,” Catherine’s use of color charms the eye as objects fly through the air and her characters huddle in the flooded basement. In her work, I see my own ancestors waiting out the storm, imagining the scene they would find once it was safe enough to ascend the stairs back to reality.

The episodes recounted in Glorious Fourth of July are a delightful look at a past era that remains ever-present through the act of telling our stories. It provides the perfect opportunity to both reflect and share with others both young and old.


—Jennifer McIntyre

"Muskrat and Skunk, Sinkpe na Maka" Author is on Tour

Illustrator and author Donald F. Montileaux is celebrating the release of his latest book with readers young and old.

Muskrat and Skunk, Sinkpe na Maka: A Lakota Drum Story written and illustrated by Donald F. Montileaux with a Lakota translation by Agnes Gay was released this October, 2017. Since it became available, Montileaux has both signed books and read to local children. Below are pictures from his events at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Prairie Edge in Rapid City, South Dakota.

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Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, 22 Oct. 2017

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Prairie Edge Trading Co. & Galleries, 28 Oct. 2017


More information about Muskrat and Skunk, Sinkpe na Maka can be found by clicking here.

Pioneer Girl Perspectives is Shipping Out!

Earlier this year, the Pioneer Girl Project announced that Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder would be coming out on May 18, 2017; well, that day is here! Orders for Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Nancy Tystad Koupal, can now be placed with your local bookseller or the South Dakota Historical Society Press online at or by calling (605) 773-6009.

The book’s contents include:

  • “Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder,” an Introduction by editor Nancy Tystad Koupal
  • “Speech for the Detroit Book Fair, 1937,” by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • “The Strange Case of the Bloody Benders: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and Yellow Journalism,” by Caroline Fraser
  • “‘Raise a Loud Yell’: Rose Wilder Lane, Working Writer,” by Amy Mattson Lauters
  • Pioneer Girl: Its Roundabout Path into Print,” by William Anderson
  • “Little Myths on the Prairie,” by Michael Patrick Hearn
  • “Her Stories Take You with Her: The Lasting Appeal of Laura Ingalls Wilder,” an interview with Noel Silverman
  • “Laura Ingalls Wilder as a Midwestern Pioneer Girl,” by John E. Miller
  • “Women’s Place: Family, Home, and Farm,” by Paula M. Nelson
  • “Fairy Tale, Folklore, and the Little House in the Deep Dark Woods,” by Sallie Ketcham
  • “The Myth of Happy Childhood (and Other Myths about Frontiers, Families, and Growing Up),” by Elizabeth Jameson
  • “Frontier Families and the Little House Where Nobody Dies,” by Ann Romines

“The essays offer a rich diversity of subject matter. . . . All are even-handed in their treatment of Wilder’s life and writing, not glossing over views she held that clash with modern sensibilities. These informative essays will be of considerable interest to Wilder fans and scholars.”—Publishers Weekly

From all of us at the Pioneer Girl Project, thank you for following us on this publishing journey. Stay tuned for news of our next projects.

Paul Goble, Storyteller Review

"Paul Goble, Storyteller" is highly recommended by the "Midwest Book Review"

Cutting-edge and sometimes controversial, the stunning art of Paul Goble (b. 1933-2017) evokes many emotions. Carl Logan with the Midwest Book Review says that the January 2017 publication Paul Goble, Storyteller is "exceptionally well written, illustrated, organized and presented, . . . an impressively informed and informative biographical study that is very highly recommended."

Paul Goble received the Caldecott Medal for his book The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses in 1979, and he wrote and illustrated over forty children's books in his lifetime. His other South Dakota Historical Society Press book is Walking Along.



Pioneer Girl Perspectives Update

"Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder" will be available May 18, 2017

Earlier, the Pioneer Girl Project announced that Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder would be coming out in 2017, and it’s on its way—set your calendars for May 18!

Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder takes a serious look at Wilder’s working life and at circumstances that developed her points of view. Along the way, authors William T. Anderson, Caroline Fraser, Michael Patrick Hearn, Elizabeth Jameson, Sallie Ketcham, Amy Mattson Lauters, John E. Miller, Paula M. Nelson, and Ann Romines explore the relationship between Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, as well as their path to the Little House novels. Editor Nancy Tystad Koupal also includes an interview with Little House Heritage Trust representative Noel Silverman, who has worked with Wilder’s works for over forty-five years, and annotates Wilder’s 1937 speech about the Little House series given at the Detroit book fair.

This rich source book from these Wilder scholars from across North America will also explore, among other topics, the interplay of folklore in the Little House novels, women’s place on the American frontier, Rose Wilder Lane’s writing career, the strange episode of the Benders in Kansas, Wilder’s midwestern identity, and society’s ideas of childhood.

Continue to follow the Pioneer Girl Project website for more updates.

“Nebraska History” Reviews “Red Cloud: Oglala Legend”

"While covering the span of Red Cloud's life, McDermott clearly demonstrates how Red Cloud rose to power, 'first becoming a heralded warrior, second a band chief, and third a leader who fought to preserve his people's way of life,'"


New Hugh Glass Biography Now Available from State Historical Society

Readers now have access to the real story of frontiersman Hugh Glass, recently portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the Oscar-winning blockbuster The Revenant.

Hugh Glass: Grizzly Survivor is written by James D. McLaird and published by the South Dakota State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, which is also the location of the only known letter written by the infamous trapper.

Hugh Glass: Grizzly Survivor tells the story of the most famous grizzly-bear attack in the history of the American West, taking readers along Glass’s 200-mile crawl across the plains and his journey of revenge against those who abandoned him. The exploits of Glass have long provided fertile ground for articles, books and film, but the real man remains a mystery.

Historian McLaird traces the threads of the legend back in time and revisits what readers know—or think they know—about Glass and his ordeal. Along the way, McLaird examines the story itself and how it reflects our changing view of the West, the development of the fur trade and the complicated relationship between humans and grizzly bears. The result is a comprehensive biography of a larger-than-life character whose fantastic story of survival has fired imaginations for nearly 200 years.

“The legend of Hugh Glass continues to occupy a significant place in American folklore,” says Nancy Tystad Koupal, director of the South Dakota Historical Society Press. “This book is the first accurate biography that looks at the believability of other narratives written about him.”

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James Bridger, pictured above,
is one of the men who potentially
deserted Glass.

McLaird is professor emeritus of history at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell. He is the author of the second South Dakota Biography Series book “Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane: Deadwood Legends” and numerous articles on the Black Hills and the American West.

McLaird will discuss the book at the monthly History & Heritage Book Club on Tuesday, June 14, at 7 p.m. CDT at the Cultural Heritage Center.

Hugh Glass is made possible in part by the Deadwood Publications Fund provided by the City of Deadwood and the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission.

Hugh Glass: Grizzly Survivor is the latest addition to the South Dakota Biography Series published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press. The book is available for $14.95, plus shipping and tax. It can be purchased directly from the South Dakota Historical Society Press at or by calling (605) 773-6009.

Baseball, politics, and the open range headline latest State Historical Society journal

Twenty-six seasons of professional baseball in Aberdeen, the fortunes of Democratic politicians in the state, and a memorable incident in the life of legendary cattleman George Edward (“Ed”) Lemmon are featured in the Summer 2016 issue of South Dakota History, the quarterly journal of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

Twenty-six seasons of professional baseball in Aberdeen, the fortunes of Democratic politicians in the state, and a memorable incident in the life of legendary cattleman George Edward (“Ed”) Lemmon are featured in the Summer 2016 issue of South Dakota History, the quarterly journal of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

Jon K. Lauck’s article, “‘It disappeared as quickly as it came’: The Democratic Surge and the Republican Comeback in South Dakota Politics, 1970–1980,” examines the heyday of the state Democratic Party in the 1970s, when Richard F. Kneip won three consecutive gubernatorial elections. As conservatism reasserted itself later in the decade, Democrats, including Senator George S. McGovern, fell out of favor with South Dakota voters, allowing Republicans to return to dominance. Lauck is president of the Midwestern History Association.

“‘Keep Pro Baseball’: The Aberdeen Pheasants Baseball Team, 1946–1971,” tells the story of the city’s link to “big-league” baseball. The community’s pride in its team was on full display in June 1964, when the Baltimore Orioles played an exhibition game with their minor-league affiliate in Aberdeen, which went on to win that year’s Northern League championship. Although the Pheasants had a core of dedicated fans, waning interest in minor-league baseball spelled doom for the Northern League in 1971. Author Daryl Webb is an assistant professor of history at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

An excerpt from Nathan Sanderson’s book Controlled Recklessness: Ed Lemmon and the Open Range, published in 2015 by the South Dakota Historical Society Press, follows Lemmon from a crippling range accident in South Dakota to a stay at his father’s Nebraska farm as he contemplated whether to continue the cattleman’s life. Lemmon went on to help found several towns west of the Missouri River, including the South Dakota community that bears his name. Sanderson is a policy advisor to Governor Dennis Daugaard.

Charles “Deacon” Phillippe, who learned to play baseball in Dakota Territory and went on to become the winning pitcher in the first game of the first modern World Series in 1903, is highlighted in the “Dakota Images” that is a feature of each issue of South Dakota History.

South Dakota History is a benefit of membership in the South Dakota State Historical Society. For information on membership, call (605) 773-6000. Individual issues may be purchased for $10 plus tax and shipping by calling (605) 773-6009.

Controlled Recklessness: Ed Lemmon and the Open Range can be purchased by visiting or calling (605) 773-6009.

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