Tag Archives: South Dakota

1941, Seattle

My great uncle, Everett Franklin Hay, lived in Seattle from 1939 to 1941, when he married his longtime girlfriend Grace Leek and his father George died from cancer.
My great uncle, Everett Franklin Hay, lived in Seattle from 1939 to 1941, when he married his longtime girlfriend, Grace Leek, and his father, George, died from cancer.

My great uncle died earlier this year, in February. He lived to the age of 101. Before his death, I interviewed him in-depth multiple times about his life and what he remembered.

He taught me a bunch, indulging what corn cribs are, the storms of the Dust Bowl, and a slew of humorous stories, his particular talent, which I wish had been documented in some way.

While living in Seattle, from 1939 to 1941, he was recorded in the phone book, which are quite hefty to lug around. He lived with the Neilson family, who came from the same South Dakota town as him, Lake Preston.

Nineteen forty-one was a pivotal year. Everett married his longtime girlfriend, his father died from cancer, and the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, prompting America’s entry into the Second World War.

The death of his father, George Hay, impelled him and his newlywed wife to return to South Dakota, where he took over operation of the family farm, until doctor’s orders made him give it up in 1953, the year they returned to the Pacific Northwest, moving to a berry farm in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.


Three million is a heckuva lot of cage-free chickens


A corporate food producer plans on building a big egg farm near Lake Preston, South Dakota, hometown of my grandmother and great grandparents. The place will house three million cage-free egg-laying hens. It sounds like it will be quite the operation.

I visited my great grandparents farmstead a few years back, during a family reunion. It was fun. I was there with my nephews and lots o’ cousins.

I don’t have many memories of the place, though cousins have told me that we did visit the homestead as kids. I do recall my great grandmother’s funeral, which must have been at the now-shuttered Methodist church in town. My younger brother was crying, having been scared by seeing her laying in an open casket.

There’s a museum in town with items related to the family, including a lot of her father’s items from his dentistry practice.

I spent quite a bit of time in South Dakota that summer and just scratched the surface doing research on the family. In Watertown, my mom’s hometown, I pored through microfilm of old newspapers for a few days and only got through a year or two.

I also learned that I had lived there for the first two years of my life, which I didn’t realize, as I was born in Iowa. I really need to get back there to explore some more. Maybe I should just pick up and go for a bit this summer.



A news story from the Rapid City Journal in western South Dakota

In 1997, a South Dakota man and Rams fan made a decision on a whim. He was thinking of a way to honor his favorite team. Maybe creating a web site devoted to the history of his Rams would do it. So he bought the domain losangelesrams.com, which, now that the team is returning to Southern California, may be worth quite a chunk of change. He never did anything with it, but it may turn out to be a great investment.


Aunt Pauline

Pauline Fromke Lentz

It’s small and a bit pixelated, but I finally found an image of my mom’s side of the family before they came to America from Germany, I think. She has a very stern look upon her face. It’s my mother’s great aunt, Pauline Fromke, wife of Herman Lentz and mother of Julius Lentz. Mom sometimes stayed at Julius’ home when she visited her hometown — Watertown, South Dakota — including just after Grandma died in 1986. Previously, I did find other photos of the family, including an early one of Herman.


Five Sisters


Yesterday I came across three documents¹ related to the premature death of my great-great-great grandfather John Shannon Boal. He must have known death was coming for him, because two weeks prior, on May 31ˢᵗ, 1878, he wrote up a will.

Little is known today about this branch of the family, primarily because of the untimely deaths, I think. The chain of traditions and stories being passed down from generation to generation was continually broken, which reminds me of a quote from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, a favorite of mine which I feature separately on my blog’s main page.

My great-great grandmother, Nettie Ann Boal Darling, eldest daughter of John S. Boal

“And some things
that should not have been
forgotten were lost.
History became legend.
Legend became myth.”

John’s eldest daughter, my great-great grandmother Nettie Boal, died young too, at the age of 26. His wife, her mother, died just shy of her 30th birthday. And the history, the tales, the anecdotes, went with them, sadly. I’ve been slowly, methodically gathering up what details I can.

Somehow the fact that Nettie had siblings, all sisters, had escaped the family tree that I had compiled from previous generations. I’d been working on it diligently for years, but somehow neglected this side until this year, when I discovered one sister and then another. And, now, thanks to the will, we have yet another.


Edna Boal had slipped through, unknown to us and perhaps even my great grandmother, Nettie’s daughter Geneva, who shared a middle name with her Aunt Stella. Three other sisters had passed unnoticed, too, for years: Estella, Blanche, and Jennie. Somehow they had been forgotten.

Nettie’s daughter Geneva Estella Darling Hay, my great grandmother & granddaughter of John Boal

After I asked Grandma about Nettie’s sisters, she did recount what she knew. My grandmother remembers her mother telling her about visiting Aunt Blanche in California, when she took a trip west to see her younger brother Walter. But that’s about all we know. That’s it.

John apparently served during the Civil War. But I’ve been unable to find any record that he did.

It’s sad. These people, relatives, and their stories have been lost. One of my goals is to get back as much as we can, to restore their lives in our memories.


  1. I will be writing about the other two documents, probate records involving the administration of John Boal’s estate and the care of the five children, and uploading them later.

June 3, 1945

A photo from my grandparents’ — Raymond ‘Ray’ Hill and Marilyn Hay — wedding at the family homestead near Lake Preston, South Dakota. (front row: Geneva Estella Darling Hay, Azalea Hay Davis | back row: Everett Hay, Raymond ‘Ray’ Hill, Marilyn Hay Hill, Grace Leek Hay, Grace Hay Stucke

This is a photo I’ve never seen before. I wonder what other gems are lurking out there long forgotten in someone’s attic that I’ve never seen and don’t know about. It’s a photo taken on my grandparents’ wedding day.

According to what my mother wrote on Facebook, starting with the back row, left to right, pictured are Betty — a good friend of my grandmother and the maid of honor at the wedding, her older brother Everett — who just celebrated his 100th birthday, the bride and groom — my grandparents, Ray and Marilyn, Everett’s wife Grace, and the youngest sibling of the five also named Grace. In the front row are my great grandmother, Geneva Estella Darling Hay, Marilyn’s older sister Azalea — known to some as Kay, and the pianist from the Lake Preston Methodist Church.

Apparently the wedding took place at the family farm just south of town, what their father George named Fair Haven Farm. The oldest sibling of them all, Lois, was pregnant at the time and didn’t attend.


A Rainbow of Nuts

SD_RCJ-1_kindlephoto-5819461I’m not a fan of the Rainbow folks. They are odd, strange people who like smoking marijuana. In my experience they are often so self-absorbed that they run roughshod over others.

So, I sympathize with the residents of the Black Hills, including some Native Americans, who aren’t happy that the commune-with-nature freaks are about to descend upon them in a torrent of bad behavior masked in a false façade of kumbaya spirit. The other day I happened upon the front page of the Rapid City Journal and read the story.

I had a thankfully brief experience with some of the Rainbow gang, years ago. A group of them had congregated in Oregon. It was probably one of their “regional” get-togethers.

While I was camping with a church group at Cape Perpetua on the Oregon coast, a large group of them banged drums and chanted into the wee hours of the morning. Meanwhile, I was trying to sleep. Their racket was driving me nuts.

I went so far as to walk into the middle of their gathering where I asked those who could or would pay attention to please quiet down. Many of them just laughed. My plea for peace and quiet was quite the hit. My presence was apparently very amusing to those assembled who were cognizant enough to recognize a stranger among them. I assumed they were in a drug-induced fog. It certainly looked like that way. Most, however, didn’t even acknowledge I was standing there. They were too wrapped up in themselves and their worlds to care.

After getting nowhere, I headed over to the camp host, who was staying in a big RV. I think I woke him from a soft slumber, which was understandable given the hour. His reaction was classic, after explaining that the damn hippies were making a lot of noise and keeping me up. It was the highlight of an otherwise dull evening.

“Oh, shit,” he said, with a look of real concern on his face.

He hurriedly walked down to the gathering. He may have even addressed the group. I hope he did. I don’t know because I left him to it and returned to my tent. He certainly looked like he was going to put an end to it. Sadly, however, there didn’t appear much he could do about it. No one listened.

Nor did anyone care. They were busy smoking their joints, hitting the drums, and communing with Mother Nature. I sure don’t understand why communing with nature and praying for a peaceful world can’t be quieter. The banging and commotion continued unabated for another hour or two. Finally, early into the morning, the noise started fading away. Even the smoke happy hippies were getting tired, thankfully. And I was able to get some shut eye.

I hope I never encounter them, or any of their like minded friends, again.