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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Roslyn in Day County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Pioneering in Dakota

Prairie Fires

 
 
Pioneering in Dakota Marker image. Click for full size.
By Ruth VanSteenwyk, April 16, 2016
1. Pioneering in Dakota Marker
Inscription.
Pioneering was never easy. In Dakota, drought, and grasshoppers, blizzard, and prairie fires were all occupational hazards. In sparse timbered areas, the settlers lived in dugouts and sod houses, enduring the hardships common to all frontiersmen.

Betsy Dalager, a widow with five children, accompanied by her mother, Guri, (Mrs. Peder Anderson Schobakken) migrated from Glenwood, Minnesota to Raritan township, Day County in May, 1884, by oxdrawn wagon. By 1886, they had a house, a barn, a well, several cows, and the vitally necessary plowed fireguards. On April 17, John Dodd, living three miles to the south, set a fire to burn out his slough. A strong window took his fire beyond his control. It fired the haystacks near the barn. Betsty and Guri, in seeking to save the livestock, were trapped by the fire in the burning barn. Betsy ran out, her clothes aflame and jumped into the well. The barn became Guriís funeral pyre. The children had sought safety in the plowed firebreak and after the hot earth had cooled, helped their mother out of the well. Betsy lived through a long battle with burns, but rheumatism left her a cripple. For 36 years this slight figure in a wheel chair was the symbol of the indomitable spirit which had brought her to Day County.

This episode happened four and one quarter miles west from
Pioneering in Dakota Marker image. Click for full size.
By Ruth VanSteenwyk, April 16, 2016
2. Pioneering in Dakota Marker
this marker. This marker is designed as a tribute to the courage of those who suffered tribulation and deprivation in the settlement of Day County. It is believed by kinsman to be the first recorded death by a prairie fire in what is now South Dakota.

Erected by the great grandchildren of Guri Schobakken, who 80 years later called South Dakota their home.
 
Erected 1967 by South Dakota State Highway Commission and Herman Chilson, Borchild Peters, Esther Chilson, and Clara Lee.
 
Location. 45° 27.382′ N, 97° 30.602′ W. Marker is near Roslyn, South Dakota, in Day County. Marker is at the intersection of State Highway 25 and 133rd Street, on the right when traveling south on State Highway 25. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Roslyn SD 57261, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Fight at Webster (approx. 8.1 miles away); Edgar S. McFadden (approx. 8.1 miles away); Sigurd Anderson (approx. 8.1 miles away); WWII Plane Crash Holds Memories (approx. 8.1 miles away); Webster (approx. 8.1 miles away); Bulldozing the Landscape (approx. 13.8 miles away); Andrew Jackson Fisk Historic Trail (approx. 13.9 miles away); Guard House (approx. 13.9 miles away).
 
Categories. DisastersSettlements & Settlers
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 19, 2017. This page originally submitted on January 16, 2017, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 251 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on January 16, 2017, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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