Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Interesting Story of Deadwood School by Dr. Howe

Dr. Howe's photo and the politics extract are from the book "Deadwood Doctor" by Dr. F. S. Howe MD (1876 - 1960). These are his words and a true story from a doctor who practiced in 1901 Deadwood, one of the last gold rush towns. He also gave to the community in many ways other than medical. We can thank him for being a part of 1922 vision to build a new school building that became our DHS home and was dedicated in 1924. The book is available from the Adams Museum http://www.adamsmuseumandhouse.org/ .

Chapter VII of the book reads in part:


I got into Deadwood politics accidentally and stayed in for 19 years because I’ve never believed in backing away from a good fight.

In 1917 I was appointed on the city council as an alderman from the third ward to take the place of a member of the council who had left Deadwood. I was a member of the council for 7 years. During much of that time I was president of the council and chairman of the finance committee.

About 1922 the Board of Education of the Deadwood School District decided that our old out-dated building must be replaced by a new and modern building. In order to get the necessary public support to pass a bond issue, they called public meetings. For a time these public meetings were a regular love feast. It seemed the unanimous opinion that Deadwood must have more modern school buildings. George V. Ayres proposed that we ask for a $250,000 bond issue. That almost took my breath away, but I thought if a man of Mr. Ayres’ experience believed that was what we needed, who was I to oppose it? At a later and I believe the last meeting, W. E. Adams, who was then mayor, got up and said, $50,000 and not one cent more.” Being mayor and the leading citizen of Deadwood at that time, that certainly threw a monkey wrench in the machinery.

This meeting really became hot. The late Charlie Keene who was enthusiastically for the new school facilities immediately got up and shook his finger in Mr. Adams’ face and said, “What this here town needs is some first class funerals.” Then the fight was on.

Mr. Adams lined up the Homestake Mining Company, both the C.B.&Q and C.&N.W.R.R. companies, and Horace Clark, the heaviest individual tax payer and property owner in Deadwood. Needless to say, this fight really became bitter. When election day finally came around, both sides were getting out every vote that could be found. Late in the afternoon, I found that the then Methodist minister and his wife had not voted. I made a trip to the house and the minister himself came to the door. I said, “Reverend K_________, you have not voted yet. We need your vote.” Much to my disgust, the Reverend said, “This is nothing but a down and out mining camp. You don’t need any new school.” I told him that he should go and vote against it if that was the way he felt.

We finally won out by a substantial majority in spite of all the opposition. However, our troubles were not over. Chambers Kellar, the Chief Attorney for the Homestake Mining Company, decided to go to court. A committee of which, as I remember, was headed by me, had a conference with Mr. Kellar and he finally agreed on a $175,000 issue instead of the $250,000 issue. We had the architects draw up new plans and sold the bonds. The best bid which we could get was $3,000 under par. Mr. Kellar stuck to his guns and said we had to get par for the bonds or make up the amount. In short order we raised the extra $3,000 and the contract was let.

Our present school was dedicated in 1924 and it now seems strange that we should have had such a bitter fight to get modern school buildings with gymnasium and auditorium. Chambers Kellar afterwards became one of my very best friends and up until the time of his death I admired and respected him . . .

Dr. Howe continuted his fight and became Deadwood Mayor for 6 terms. I wonder what that deleted $75,000 would have provided in those days?


Anonymous said...

I borrowed $1200 from Dr. Howe in 1959 to go the college. I wonder how many people he invested both faith, support and money in their future.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting Dr. Howe on; he was my doctor when I was a child and later Dr. Heidiprem and Dr. Flora who were with him. Dr. Howe delivered most of my brothers and sisters. Dr. Flora delivered my oldest son.

Dr. Howe was a mild mannered gentleman and very kind I always thought. He set a broken arm for me, among other things.

I too have his book. So glad you put some of it on the net so the newer generation will know him. Not only was he a wonderful and caring doctor, he was instrumental in determining the growth of Deadwood in those early days. Deadwood was lucky to have him choose us.

Great job as always. Thank you.

Post a Comment