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1943: Reynolds featured member from Diamond Club

Bits By Betty
Lead Summary
Betty Mann, Rock County Historian

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on July 15, 1943.
If more people today had the same philosophy on life that Mrs. S.D. Reynolds, of Hardwick, has, there would be less complaining about the lack of gasoline for joy riding, and about meat, sugar, coffee, canned goods and fuel shortages.
This 78-year-old mother of eight children knows that it is possible to get along without a lot of things, because she has done it. Yet she is hale and hearty enough to maintain her own home, and has in her memory a priceless history of pioneer days in southeastern South Dakota as well as in Rock county.
Born Regina Glaser in Clayton county, Ohio, July 28, 1864, she moved at the age of two with her parents to Greeley, Ia., then to Strawberry Point, McGregor and finally to Walnut, before going to South Dakota where her life was filled with colorful incidents of pioneering.
Herded Pigs
The trip from Walnut, Iowa, to McCook county, South Dakota, was made by ox-team and covered wagon via Sioux Falls. Her father, Martin Glaser, took a preemption claim not far from Wall Lake. The lake abounded with fish, and oftentimes she and her brother caught a sack full of fish while they were herding cattle and pigs in that area.
“We’d fish all day,” Mrs. Reynolds recalls, “and when it came time to go home, we’d tie the gunny sack we kept them in to a white steer’s tail, and he’d carry them home for us.”
The fact that they were a long ways from church (the nearest Catholic church was then at Sioux Falls, about 15 miles away) did not keep them from observing Sunday in the house of worship.
Up at 4 a.m. on Sunday
“Mother would get up early,” Mrs. Reynolds reminisced, “and would pack a lunch and get us children ready. About 4 a.m. we’d leave by ox-team for Sioux Falls. The trip was long and tedious, but finally we would get to the Sioux river and we’d know we were almost there. We’d ford the river with the oxen, then we’d unyoke  them and let them graze while we walked about a mile up the hill to church. After we’d attended services, and we children had completed our catechism class, we’d be ready to start for home again.”
After living near Wall Lake for five years, the Glasers moved to Salem, S.D., where Mr. Glaser built the first residence ever erected in that town. It was a combination store and home, but because of the family’s hospitality, it soon developed into a boarding house. In addition to operating his store, Mr. Glaser served as a “squatter”, the pioneer day version of a real estate agent.
Because there was no well there, and no well diggers could be obtained, Mrs. Reynolds and her brother would haul water from the West Vermillion river in barrels drawn by oxen. They only had three barrels, she relates, so they had to make the trip often.
Business Ventures
The water hauling, however, became a profitable sideline for a while, until her father learned of her business tactics, and then the business “went up in smoke.” About that time, the railroad was being built through Salem, and the workers very often preferred water to beer. “For a while there, I was selling those railroaders water at a nickel a glass and was making a pretty good thing of it. I figured if they could pay a nickel a glass for beer across the street, that was easier to get than water, I should have something for my efforts. Father was of a different opinion, however, for when he heard about it, the water was given free of charge to anyone who wanted it. The following year, a well was dug, and that ended our water problems, but I want to tell you, when you haul water by barrel a distance of a mile, it’s mighty precious stuff, especially where you have to use it for drinking, cooking and washing.
Muslin Newspaper
The first winter there was one of the most difficult experienced in South Dakota. Not only was it cold, but the snow was so deep that travel was impossible. Several men on the railroad crew were snowed in all winter, and the printer of the newspaper there was unable to get paper to use on his press.
“His name was Jonas Rutman,” Mrs. Reynolds recalls, “and father helped him out of his predicament by allowing him to move his press into our store building. There, father let him have a couple of bolts of unbleached muslin, and he cut that up and printed the news on that.”
Had it not been for wild game, they would have been without meat long before the winter was over. Mrs. Reynolds states that they had dug a pit for the turn table for the railroad there, and wild antelope looking for food would wander near the village and into the pit where they were easily captured. Antelope meat that winter was one of their main courses. They had no sugar, but had plenty of hard candy, so the boarders used it in their coffee for sweetening. They had no milk, cream or butter.
Farm families of the community had greater difficulties. Mrs. Reynolds states that many of them were forced to grind wheat in old-fashioned coffee grinders and use it to make whole wheat pancakes, their only food for several days. Farm families who had no fuel to burn in some instances burned their furniture to keep warm while a blizzard was raging.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.

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