Ground River Roundup

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of winter. I’m sick of the snow, the cold, and I’m especially sick of the wind. Since that two day blizzard roared through here over Christmas these guys have spent every day plowing out the roads so they can get the livestock fed. The weather certainly messed up our plans to celebrate Christmas and the New Year, but thankfully those of us that entertained the flu bug during the holiday season have gotten healed up.

Betty Olsom Guest Columnist

The week before Christmas the Buffalo paper had an interesting article about an Army veteran from the Battle of the Slim Buttes receiving the Medal of Honor for his bravery during the battle that took place just ten miles south of our ranch. Former Hettinger resident Jim Muth sent me a clipping from his local paper in Elko, Nevada about Robert Smith, aka Harry Reynolds, being awarded the Medal of Honor 140 years after the battle. The Medal of Honor was presented to Reynolds’ grandson, Jerry Reynolds, by Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei. Harry Reynolds served as a drummer boy in the Civil War before enlisting in the US Army in 1872 under the pseudonym Robert Smith.

Smith fought in the Battle of the Slim Buttes in Dakota Territory on Sept. 9, 1876, where he was gravely wounded three times as he endeavored to dislodge the hostile Indians secreted in a ravine. President Rutherford B. Hayes approved the Medal of Honor for Smith in 1877 for showing “special bravery,” according to Army records. But the award never made it to the veteran, who was born in Memphis, Tenn. as Harry Reynolds but used an alias for unknown reasons. Smith returned to using his birth name after his discharge from the Army, then later moved to Elko, Nev. While he talked with his family about his experiences in the Indian Wars, he died in 1930 without knowing he won the award.

Reub and I planned to venture out on New Years Eve to attend the wedding of Savanna Sperle and Patrick Washburn, but the battery was dead on our car and we couldn’t get it started. Congratulations to the newlyweds anyway! After charging the battery all night, we were able to attend church on New Years Day and then spent the rest of the day hunkered down in front of the woodstove. Henry and Linda Mohagen were in North Dakota spending the holidays with their kids, so Iver Heier gave the sermon. Casey had planned to give the sermon, but he was in so much pain after his shoulder surgery a couple days earlier that he turned the job over to Iver.

Some of Taz and Amanda’s friends came to visit them on New Years Day. Tal Wammen came home from his job with NASA to celebrate Christmas with his family, and Kami Elshere and Jace Jenson also came to visit and see little Copper Rayne.

Another snow storm roared through here on Monday, making the drifts even taller and harder to get through and blocking all the trails these guys had dug out. They moved a pile of snow again on Tuesday and Taz finally got the gas tank dug out so he could refill the tank on his caking pickup. Trig loaded his snowmobile in Casey’s pickup and went coyote hunting up at Raymond Lee’s place with Sterling. They got four coyotes up there, but right after Trig left Taz saw two coyotes down south of our place. No shortage of them anywhere!

After hearing what the weatherman predicted for the following day, I canceled the Great Western Cattle Trail meeting we were going to have on Wednesday in Spearfish. We had it set for that date so GWCTA members Sen. Lance Russell and Rep. Chuck Turbiville could attend before the start of the legislative session this coming week, but it was too nasty for anyone to be out in this kind of weather if it isn’t absolutely necessary. The next meeting will probably be toward the end of March after the legislative session is over.

School started in Harding County on Wednesday so, even though it was 16 below zero and windy that morning, Trig and Missy went to town. Amanda’s friends hosted a baby shower for Copper Rayne that afternoon at Ann Parfrey’s house in Buffalo. Thankfully it had warmed up a little by then.

The guys got the road to the highway open Thursday morning and we fought the road to Hettinger that afternoon for Reub’s appointment with Mary Eggebo, but we headed for home as quick as we could.

The weather wasn’t much better on Friday for our old friend Leonard Hanson’s funeral in Hettinger. Leonard, age 76, passed away on New Years Eve and he will be buried in the Lodgepole Cemetery next to his wife, Dyann. Leonard was the best piano player ever. He played with the Satellites and everyone in this area loved to dance to their music.

Victor Besler, 94, passed away in California on Friday. Victor was the oldest of ten Besler boys born to Chris and Julia Besler from Bison. We haven’t heard about his funeral arrangements yet.

These families have our sympathy.

It was 20 below zero here Saturday and there was another snowstorm on Sunday. Most of the schools in this area were either starting two hours late or canceled on Monday. Did I mention I’m sick of winter?

I’ll leave you with this:

It’s winter in South Dakota,

And the gentle breezes blow,

Seventy miles an hour

At twenty-nine below.

Oh, how I love the Dakotas,

When the snow’s up to your butt,

You take a breath of winter air

And your nose gets frozen shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful

So I guess I’ll hang around.

I could never leave the Dakotas

‘Cause I’m frozen to the ground!!

Betty Olson is a South Dakota rancher and state legislator for District 28.