Sunday, December 21, 2008

1920 ~ Two Wagner Girls Pose a Horse Drawn Passenger Wagon in front of the Fish & Hunter Warehouse

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Bill Beshara DHS55 says his picture is from around 1920. It shows Loretta DHS32 and Florence Wagner DHS30.  Loretta later became Mrs. Fred Gravelle and they ran Merritt's Grocery at 93 Sherman Street for years.  Florence was a long time stenographer for the Adams Brothers Wholesale.

The Wagner girl's Father Chalk Wagner and Deadwood Benefactor W. E. Adams were both inducted by the Deadwood Historical Preservation Committee into the 2008 Deadwood Wall of Fame.  A posting of these two men's achievements and contributions to Deadwood is in the works.  The Wagner Grand Daughter Sandy Gravelle Beshara DHS57  attended the dedication with her family members.

In terms of mode of transportation, notice the contrasting motor vehicle in background.  Deadwood has always been progressive. Two years after Alexander Bell's telephone patent, the Black Hills Telephone Company opened operations in Deadwood in 1878. It was an historic event since it was also the first telephone exchange in the territory and it came into existence the same year that the first commercial switchboard was placed in operation in faraway New Haven, Connecticut, demonstrating that the metropolis of the Black Hills was a progressive as the older Eastern community.  Paul Rewman, manager for the Black Hills Telephone Co. was the company's first resident and business subscriber.  There were 14 telephones in operation in Deadwood by December of 1879 (from editor Bob Lee's "Gold-Gals-Guns-Guts").   Annie Talent is recognized as the first white woman to enter the Black Hills/Deadwood region with the 1874 Gordon-Russell expedition.  She wrote about the telegraph reaching Deadwood in 1876.  The telegraph provided infastructure that accomodated the early arrival of the telephone. 
In 1879 most of the Deadwood Main Street business section burned and or was torn down.  It was rebuilt then ravaged by a flood in 1883 which also destroyed the main school located by Whitewood Creek.  Deadwood progressively rebuilt more fireproof/floodprotected and recovered again.  The current school building location is on higher ground and all the ward schools were combined into the new building location.  The DHS Cannon arrived from the US War Department and was installed in front of new school in 1899.  It remains in its original location aimed down Pine Street.  Annie Talent died in 1901 but she was very active in Pennington County education management but was unpopular in contemporary views of Indian rights support.  So you wonder what positive infulence she played in the development of the Deadwood Schools and their excellent reputation, facilities, faculty, staff, administrators, and students.

Deadwood High School and Grade School ceased to exist in 1972 when it was merged into the Lead School District.  The 1924 brick Deadwood School building remains today like proponent Dr. Howe envisioned as Deadwood Mayor.  The 1902/1904 portion of original building site that housed the high school study hall was destroyed by children arsonists in 1987.  The brick building inside is still familiar, very clean with school odor that brings back fond memories.  It is only a middle school now. The school district is considering making the the whole facility surplus at a consultant's study suggestion.  This could mean "The Home of Deadwood High School" building might become another historic building converted to gambling.

A closing comment on the wagon picture above, the almost never changing old  Homestake Slime Plant 1906 is in the far background.  But true to the progressive Deadwood spirit it is being remade into the Deadwood Mountain Grand Hotel and Casino.  See following video of progress:


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