A South Dakota Prairie Story Part 1 (Anna Tells Mary’s Story)

Over the last few years, I’ve “inherited” my family’s genealogy on both sides. I guess the writer in the family is the natural home for those? Either way, I’m happy to hold onto things and to further research them as, of course, I’m an avid history lover.

south dakota prairie story

A South Dakota Prairie Story – Part 1
Anna tells Mary’s Story

My family history is rather interesting. I’m actually a 6th generation South Dakotan. My family came here to South Dakota from both Germany and Bohemia in the 1800’s and they’ve been here ever since. Some members have moved out of the state here and there, but mostly we’ve lived everywhere from the eastern side, to the middle, to the north west, and now in the western side. Perhaps that’s normal for a family to stay in the same area for so long? Either way, I always thought it was interesting.

I recently received some very special family stories. Handwritten stories by both my grandma (currently 95 years old) and her mother who passed away in 1974. My great-grandmother also wrote a little bit about her mother, my great-great-grandmother. I’ve found the stories to be fascinating. Not only the parts about my family and state history but just how they survived such a long time ago and some of the things they had to go through. We are so lucky in this modern age. (Of course, in 100 years someone will probably say the same thing about us and this day and age!)

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With permission from my family, I will be sharing some of these stories with you. Occasionally sections may be modified to fit within the blog post, but the stories I will be sharing will be coming to you straight from the prairie from more than 100 years ago. My grandma and my great-grandma were extremely brave and courageous woman and I look to them for encouragement in my own journey.

Perhaps, you will too.

I’m going to start these stories at the beginning of what I have and will continue to publish more as time allows.

Photo Courtesy of the SD Historical Society

Anna Tells Mary’s Story

I was the 9th child born to Mary and Micheal in February of 1892. There were 12 children in our family. I will begin my story by telling of my mother, Mary, who was born in Bohemia. She and her mother arrived in the United States when she was 14 years old and came to a town in South Dakota. She got a job there working in a hotel and washing clothes on a washboard for $2 per week. Every two weeks, her step-father came to get the money to go towards the support of the family. When the first wash machine came in, my mother cried because she thought she wouldn’t have a job any longer.

When Mary was 17, her mother and father arranged a marriage for her. It was just one of those things in those days, the parents chose a husband or wife for their children. What a life she must have had, one baby after another, and in those days, women had to work in the fields.

One time when Mary came in from the field, she found one of her babies choking on a mouth full of bread. Another time she came in and the kids had her best dress cut up for doll clothes.

Image Courtesy of Table Rock Historical Society

My mother told us stories about those that died in the blizzard of 1888. She talked about when babies were born in those days and there was only a midwife to help because doctors were scarce and far away at the time. Besides, it was only horses and buggies getting around in those days. Many women died in childbirth.


Watch for Anna’s Younger Years coming soon…


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  1. Love hearing about courageous women living back in history on the prairie. I grew up reading the Little House books and they fueled my absolute love of American History. Thank You for sharing your family’s history.

    1. There’s a great new biography about Laura Ingalls Wilder that I highly recommend. It’s called “Prairie Fires” by Caroline Fraser. Very informative history of America, as well.

  2. Isn’t it wonderful to have those stories? My beloved grandmother shared stories of her mother and grandmother who grew up in the mountains of West Virginia. I like to think I can draw on inner strength as they did. thank you

  3. I enjoy prairie stories as well, as they fuel gratitude for my current blessings! Little House on the Prairie has it’s companion story in this book: Lark Rise to Candleford. The stories are about life in 1880 England. You can watch the videos on youtube as well.

  4. A precious treasure….thank you for sharing. We must cherish the hardships of those before us as we admire their strength. How very blessed we are to have keepsakes of first hand experiences. Looking forward to more!

  5. So happy to see this first installment in my inbox this morning. Can’t wait to learn more about these amazing women. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing these, Merissa — our mom’s father/our grandfather was born in South Dakota. Don’t know exactly where, but I know I’ve seen it recently in some old papers. On the hunt!

  7. So much like my grandmother’s story. She was born in 1899 in ILL and traveled by covered wagon as a child to CO. She and my grandfather were married in CO lived in KS in a soddy and settlered in MO raising a family of 7 children. Times were very tough in the 30’s. I have written stories for both my grandmother and my Mom who just passed last
    sept. at the age of 98. Norma (always a Missourian)

  8. Love the 1st story and can’t wait to hear more! I love the frontier days, makes me very thankful for what i have.

  9. I love stories like that! I just found my way here, from Feedspot, and I look forward to reading more!

  10. I love this concept of you giving history. Blessings as you further seek the joy of sharing with others.

  11. What a rare treat for your followers to read of your family’s early settlement days in South Dakota! I believe every school child should be taught about the hardships, struggles and triumphs of those who “paved the way for us” to follow. Thank you so much!

  12. My family on both sides were S Dakotans.Four generations of us settled and most died there. I
    Lived there several times but now live at the foot of the Rockies.Guess the mountains appeal to
    People with prairie blood in them. Love your stories! Brings back memories of my family homestead!which was torn down for a restaurant and casino.Such is life!

  13. I am in awe of these women
    Strenght courage and diversity. I can never get enough of reading these wonderful stories. Thankyou for dharing

  14. I noticed in your story about the 1888 blizzard. There is a great book called “The Children’s Blizzard” by David Laskin. You have a great web page. Thank you.