Early photographers would go to many heights to get just the right picture angle.  Harry Hersey liked to take aerial photos and built this tall tripod to use to get those beloved photos.  Harry and his brother Tom were photographers in Mitchell for many years.  This photo was taken on the Dakota Wesleyan Campus; in the background on the right is the president’s house, Science Hall (center), College Hall on the left.

Published in the January 22nd, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

Photo from the Carnegie Archives.  

Circa after 1900
How did stores get their cream and other dairy products in the early days? One way consisted of farmers who would drop their excess dairy products at various locations and the products would be collected for resale in towns. This is just one of those collection vehicles.  Sitting in the cream wagon are Theodore F. King and Rev. David Powell.  Theodore F. King hauled cream from outlaying stations to Mt. Vernon.  Mr. King came to the Mt. Vernon area about 1900.  Rev. Powell was the minister of the Methodist Church in Mt. Vernon.  Standing at the back of the wagon is Ole Rygg and John Silvas. 

Photo donated by Florence Althon. 

Published in the April 30th, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

Pictured is South Sanborn Boulevard looking south from 1st Avenue and Sanborn Boulevard intersection.  As you can see, this photo was taken before the viaduct was built.  The city of Mitchell first started discussing the construction of a viaduct as early as 1914.  Since Sanborn Boulevard was a busy street, the residents of Mitchell were concerned for the pedestrians and traffic that had to cross the railroad tracks to get from one side of the city to the other.  In 1939, Mayor George Fredericks made it his mission to get the viaduct constructed.  Construction began on the viaduct in 1949 and was completed in 1950. The first viaduct was demolished in 2000 and its replacement opened in 2001.   Shown on the left is Mitchell Hide Company, which was owned by Henry G. Gwynn.  S. Sanborn St. Mitchell’s  Most Popular Boulevard, Mitchell, S. D. by Hersey Photography.

Published in the April 23rd, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

Leeland Art Studio captured the Dode Fisk Circus as it paraded up Main Street, June 22, 1909, from the Omaha Train Depot to the Driving Park (now Hitchcock Park), where they set up for their shows.  The circus consisted of 19 train cars to haul all of its equipment.  The circus was brought to town by the Elks Lodge, who were trying to raise money to help with the expense of constructing a new building.   The crowds were so poor that they did not realize any money.  The circus gloated of having a Mammoth Menagerie of Wild Animals, 8 famously funny clowns, “Ding” the largest trained elephant in the world, 5 thrilling Dare-devil Aerial Acts, Roman Ballet and 2 Big Uniformed premium Concert Bands.  The Elks also held a drawing for a cow to be given away during the circus.  The cow was won by Charles G. Woods.  Some of the local businesses seen here are: The Varsity Place at 305 N. Main, (now a vacant lot, building razed at the same time as the Champeny Building) which was a confectionary.  At 301 N. Main in the Champeny Building was the Mitchell Candy Company, (removed due to structural damages).  Across the street to the south of that was the Western Bank Building, (being renovated into apartments and new businesses).  Notice the windows on the first floor of the Western Bank Building, they are now bricked over.  Next to that was the Mitchell National Bank Building (now Tickled Pink).

Published in the February 5th, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

Photo from the Carnegie Archives.

An ad from the 1902 City Directory.  According to the 1902 and 1907-08 City Directories, The Mitchell Printing Company sat at 105 West 3rd Avenue. It printed two of the early newspapers, The Daily Republican and The Weekly Capital.  Eventually, the business published The Daily Republic and its address changed to 113 West 3rd Avenue.  The Carnegie Library built in 1903 was located to the west at 119 West 3rd Avenue and is now the Carnegie Resource Center.  This former location of the Mitchell Printing Company is now a parking lot for Ticked Pink.

Published in the April 9th, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

This 1939 advertising board for the Corn Palace Festival Shows once stood proudly in front of the Corn Palace for all to see.  It tells of the entertainment slated for September 25-September 30, 1939.  The main act to perform was Paul Whiteman and his orchestra, plus Rosco Ates (the stuttering comedian from Hollywood), Hollywood Glamour Girls, The Olympic Trio, Hudson Wonders and Whitson Brothers.  Admission was 25 cents for children, 75 cents for general admission and $1.25 for reserved seating.  Mayors of 86 towns in South Dakota were invited to be guests of Mitchell’s Mayor, George Fredericks, to attend any of the Corn Palace Shows during the Festival.  Lyle Swenson is shown here with the original 1939 advertising board, now housed in the Corn Palace Room at the Carnegie Resource Center, 119 West Third Avenue in Mitchell.  The Carnegie Resource Center invites everyone to come in and see this board and numerous other Corn Palace memorabilia displayed there.  Admission is free and hours are Monday through Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Published in the March 5th, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

Carnegie Archives Photo.

Bowling has been part of Mitchell’s recreational activities for many years. The top Hersey photo is of Rozum Motor Company, located at 5th Avenue and Main Street in 1939. In 1941 an eight-lane bowling alley was opened at 510 N. Main in the basement of the building. Notice in the bottom photo, part of the windows and the brick wall were removed to put in a doorway. Mitchell Bowling Center owned by J. B. and Clarence Shearer had previously been located at 108 E. 3rd Avenue. Shearers purchased Mitchell Bowling Center in 1939 from P. W. Huntemer. Shearers later sold the business to Phil Thompson in 1949. The Bowling Center was in this building until December 10, 1959, when it moved to the new building at 1500 N. Duff and was then called Village Bowl. Village Bowl  burned down on July 16, 1975, and was rebuilt and reopened in 1976. The first Village Bowl was a 20-lane alley, while the second was built as a 24-lane alley. There were several other bowling alleys in town as early as 1907. Scharnweber Brothers had a billiards and bowling parlor at 106 N. Main (bowling alley was on 2nd floor). The J. W. Elliott Billiards and Bowling Parlor was at 308 N. Main (bowling alley on 2nd floor), now Harve’s Pro Print. Scott Brothers opened a bowling alley, December 4, 1907, in the basement of the Widmann Hotel located the corner 1st Avenue and Main Street, now Casey’s.

Published in the January 8th, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

Photo from the Carnegie Archives.

The Widmann Hotel sat at the SE corner of Main and First Avenue in Mitchell, SD where Casey’s now sits.  Construction of the building started in 1902 and finished in October 1904. The hotel had two large boilers that furnished steam for the electric generators (capacityof 600 lights) and heat and hot water to each room in the hotel. This boiler was installed in 1914 at a cost of $616.02. In 1912 boilers in the Widmann also furnished heat for the Navin Hotel across the street to the west where the Navin Apartments are today.

Published in the April 16th, 2022 Mitchell Republic

Photo found in the Carnegie Archives of an unknown male swimmer - circa 1935
Swimming suit ad from Sears, Spring 1935 catalog
Our unknown swimmer was right in style according to the ad from a Sears catalog in 1935.  How the times have changed! The ad reads: Left, an elasticized “Speed Suit” suspended from the shoulders.  Center, trunks with a separate tuck-in shirt. Right, a “two-purpose suit” whose top attaches with a zipper.
According to https://witness2fashion.wordpress.com  men were required to wear swimwear that covered their nipples until the mid-1930’s.  By 1934, it was more acceptable for men to swim bare-chested but not all beaches were liberal in this view. This all wool swimming attire was available for around $1.50. 
If anyone recognizes the unknown swimmer, please contact the Carnegie Resource Center at 605-996-3209 or email at info@mitchellcarnegie.com.  Our mailing address is 119 W 3rd Ave, Mitchell, SD  57301.

Published in the April 2nd, 2022 Mitchell Republic

With March Madness upon us, it is fun to look back at some vintage photos to remind us that this frenzy isn’t new.  Even though the current term is used for college basketball tournaments where it is a fast single-elimination, the excitement seems to carry over into all levels of competition. This 1947 Whittier grade school team look very determined and ready to win some ballgames. From left to right: Spencer Brady, Don Reynolds, Orva Sweeney, Don Giese, Andy Wiblemo.

Photo donated by Ron Ross.

Published in the March 12th, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

​Back in Time 2022.

Entertainment options in 1903 were quite different than today. These articles give just a snippet into the lives of early Mitchellites.  The A O U W is the Ancient Order of United Workmen.  It started after the Civil War and became an organization to provide social and financial support.  It was the first of the "fraternal benefit societies", organizations that would offer several types of insurance.  The A O U W Hall was located at 109 Main in 1902 and at 214 Main in 1908 according to the City Directories from those years.  The Order disestablished in 1952.
Calico is a very versatile cotton cloth that can be dyed many different colors and can have a wide variety of small patterns.

Published in the March 19th, 2022 Mitchell Republic

Webster Cook & Company (Wilton C., Wm H. Webster, and Jasper L Cook) was located at 90 S Main Street in Mitchell, SD. The 1907-1908 City Directory says they were a general hardware, sporting goods and hay tools distributor. There are three Websters(William H., Wilton C. and Leonard B.) listed in the 1902 directory as being in business as the Webster WH & Company at the same address.
The 1900 Gravity Washer in the ad was considered a real time saver and it should make wash day almost FUN! It was a wooden tub that oscillated when human power was used to move the crank on the side of the tub back and forth. The washer was considered to be easier on clothes to make them last longer; it even bragged that such delicate items as laces could be washed in the machine. Other ads say that this machine could wash a load in six minutes with little effort. To encourage sales, the washer was often offered to buyers on a trial basis for 30 days. If the buyer wanted a  wringer, they could get that for an added price. Around 1920 the electric motor was added which made it more convenient. However, leaking water and electricity was a recipe for accidents, some of them fatal. A similar washer is being advertised for $495 on ebay. Don’t think we would trade our computer-chipped washers in for this model.

Published in the January 1st, 2022 Mitchell Republic. 

From the Carnegie Archives.

Widmann Fire.

Fire destroyed the four-story Widmann Hotel and two other buildings on April 14, 1950.  The fire, believed to have originated in the Moose Club Rooms, which occupied the north-east corner of the first floor, was discovered at about 7:55 a.m., by Mrs. Robert Miller, a maid at the hotel.   An explosion about noon, believed to be ammonia in the hotel’s refrigeration plant, injured two fireman and several spectators. Most of the guests were reported to have formed a human chain by joining hands and were lead through the smoke to safety, 62 guests were evacuated from the hotel.  A total of 11 businesses were destroyed in the fire.  The blaze jumped across First Avenue, north from the Widmann and destroyed Kress Drug which also contained apartments on the second and third floor.  The drug store building also housed Waters Paint and Glass and Nobis Barber Shop was in the basement.  Pickwick Bar just south of the Widmann was also gutted.  Assisted by fireman from 24 neighboring towns, the fire department battled a hopeless fight against the blaze.

Published in the January 29th, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

Photo from the Carnegie Archives.

First school built in Mitchell was known as “West Side” school, but was renamed“Whittier Elementary.” The original wooden building was built in 1880-81 in Mitchell, Dakota Territory at a cost of $7,000 on land donated by the C.M. and St. Paul Railway Co. (SD became a state in 1889.) It first sat facing west on the north end of the block; then in 1864 was moved to the southwest corner of the block to make room for Central. The new brick Whittier built in 1936 was located at the corner of West 2nd Ave. & Sanborn St. The average monthly teacher’s salary in 1886 was $27.88 for males and $24.75 for females. The population of Davison County in 1885 was 5,940. (The building on the right side of the picture is the First Methodist Church located at 421 W 4th facing north. Now a private home.)The old wooden Whittier school was moved to 209 W 2nd Ave. in193. Koch Apartment Buildings purchased the building to convert to apartments.

Published in the May 7th, 2022 Mitchell Republic. 

Published in the February 26th, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

From the Carnegie Archives.

Elton Hill’s photo of Mitchell’s City Hall - circa 1920
The city offered the building to be used as a temporary state Capital, even though it was still under construction if Mitchell won the race for South Dakota state capital. Mitchell stated that this would save the state money until another arrangement could be made. Mitchell did not win the vote to become the South Dakota state capital.

This building sat on the northeast corner of West Second and Rowley Street. City Hall was built in 1904 by A.J. Kings who built many other buildings of the time including the Carnegie Library (now Carnegie Resource Center), Masonic Temple, Elks Lodge, Methodist and St. Joe Hospitals, Holy Family Catholic Church and Dreamland Ball Room.  This building was razed in the 1960’s because the building had become unstable due to land settling; it was built on land that at one time was a slough. A parking lot now occupies the space.

Published in the February 12th, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

From the Carnegie Archives.


L.E. Stair captured a milestone of Mitchell development – the paving of the streets.  The date on the picture is July 1912.  Several onlookers were keeping track of the progress.

Published in the May 14th, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

With the hope of spring and summer around the corner, thoughts turn to a great place to see your friends, get cooled off or enjoy an ice cream treat. This Zesto Shoppe located at 422 South Sanborn, circa early 1950’s, owned by Wilbur (Buzz) C. Oligmiller served that purpose.  The house to the right of the Zesto at 424 South Sanborn was owned at the time by Millard and Goldien Cain and was eventually removed to become a parking lot for the Zesto. The business changed hands and is owned by Roxie Ackman and Brittany Royston. Although the Zesto closes during the winter months, its opening each year is looked forward to by many patrons which is March 4th in 2022. Today’s Zesto is located at 212 W 1st Avenue in Mitchell, SD with indoor and outdoor seating featuring fast foods, ice cream and frozen yogurt.  The old location is now the Hungry Dog featuring gourmet, locally sourced hot dogs, hand crafted sandwiches and house made soups.

Published in the March 2nd, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

From the Carnegie Archives.

These men are identified as Yahne, Cooper, Martin Tischler, John Anderson and George Wallace with one man unidentified. This area was the Anderson farm that was to become Lake Mitchell.  The men cut the trees and processed the logs into lumber, clearing the land for lake to be built.  This land was sold to the City of Mitchell by Joe, Charlie and John Anderson.  The building of the lake was started in 1928 and completed in 1929. 

This photo was donated to the Mitchell Area Historical Society by Lee Anderson of Spearfish, South Dakota.

Published in the January 15th, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

Early Settlement of Mitchell at Firesteel 1879

Mitchell had its beginnings at a little settlement called Firesteel located about 2 miles east of Mitchell near the mouth of the Firesteel creek. The settlers had hopes of the railroad making a station at Firesteel, but the railroad decided that the danger of flooding was too great at this location and moved their building site to what is now Mitchell.  Not to be deterred many of the settlers of Firesteel moved their buildings to the railroad location and established the town of Mitchell. Businesses shown in the photo include Wm Van Eps (a general store), a harness shop, a law and land office, and Valley House.  Photos of early Mitchell clearly show the Wm Van Eps store. The Carnegie Resource Center has a monograph titled Firesteel, Birthplace of Mitchell, SD written by Ethel Dowdell Abild in 1980 recounting the experiences of Mrs. Louise Greene Hammer, an early settler, up to 1944.   Louise’s adventure as a nine-year-old coming to Dakota Territory in a covered wagon in 1870 with her family tell of the everyday life of an early pioneer in Dakota Territory. Heman Greene was her father who helped survey the town of Mitchell and built the first house in Firesteel.  Ethel Dowdell Abild is a relative of Louise Greene Hammer. If you want to learn about how Mitchell and the surrounding areas became settled, come down to the Carnegie Resource Center and find yourself taken back to the pioneering days in Dakota Territory in such writings as the Ethel Dowdell Abild’s recounting of Louise Greene Hammer’s experiences and EARLY PIONEERING IN DAVISON COUNTY by Nellie M. Lindsey as well as many other documents.

Published in the March 26th, 2022 Mitchell Republic.

When the founding fathers and citizens of Davison County were of the opinion that the area was permanent and stable, talk of a place to hold county business arose. Davison County was established in 1874 with different boundaries than today. Mitchell had been established as the County Seat. The money for the construction of the building was from the selling of warrants (bonds) to be no bigger that $500 with no more than 7 percent interest.  A canvas was taken with 264 for and 56 against the venture.  The contract was given to H.H. Calhoune, who was also the architect. It turned out that he was unable to finish the project and settled with the county.  The commissioners decided to take on the job of finishing the project.  Originally, the plan was to have the building completed by December 31, 1882, but it was not able to be occupied until late 1883.  The building was to cost no more than $20,000 but it went over budget. It was an elegant building in its day and served the public for 50 years until the current building was built in 1935.  Davison County had simply outgrown the capacity of the first Davison County Court House.


Published in the May 21st, 2022 Mitchell Republic.