Country Life Revisited: A Driving Tour of Southeastern South Dakota


Introduction and Table of Contents



On August 16, 1987, Mitchell and I invited my grandparents, George J. and Hazel Lowell, to accompany us for an afternoon drive to various historical family locations west of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Our primary destination was the homestead of Grandma Lowell's grandparents, Adolph and Augusta Miller. Grandma Lowell spent time as a youngster on this farm, along with her brother Cliff and her father, Max Miller, after her mother was killed by lightning. Mitchell and I had never seen this farm, located 17 miles west of Sioux Falls. We had such a wonderful time that we extended our tour to visit the one-room country school where Grandma taught for two years, to see the site where Grandma and Grandpa attended grade school, and to visit farms belonging to other family members on my father's side.

At the time of this tour, Grandpa Lowell was 85; Grandma Lowell was 82. They had been married for 61 years.

I had not yet begun my genealogical research in earnest; many of the comments made by Grandma and Grandpa were new "facts" for me. During the tour, I was "introduced" to relatives whom I hadn't heard about before and saw specific farms for the first time that were associated with my ancestors.

We taped the afternoon's conversations. I then generated a complete audio recording and written transcript to document this oral history. I divided the recording and transcript into eleven parts, making it easier to manage and enjoy. The quality of several parts of the recording is poor, but still audible. I have edited the written transcript and have provided comments, when necessary. My additions are enclosed in square brackets [ ].

The tour was extraordinarily magical--educational, poignant, deeply moving, and emotional. While out in the country, a majestic thunderstorm moved through the area, briefly interrupting the sun and blue skies that we had been enjoying. A double rainbow appeared in the sky and the "pot of gold" was just to our left as we stopped on the country road that ran by various Lowell farms.

If desired, biographical information regarding family members whose names are mentioned in the written transcript can be accessed by clicking on any name that is underlined.

The following abbreviations are used in each part of the transcript to identify the speaker:


Gm = Hazel Louise Miller Lowell, "Grandma Lowell"

Gp = George John Lowell, "Grandpa Lowell"

J = Gerald Ray Lowell

M = Mitchell Scott Block


Enjoy the tour!

Gerald R. Lowell

December 19, 2011



PART 1:
  • Departing from Grandma and Grandpa Lowell’s home at 707 S. Menlo Ave., Sioux Falls, SD
  • George and Augusta Leubecher’s, Grandma Lowell's maternal grandparents, first home near the falls of the Sioux River in Sioux Falls, SD
  • West Sioux Rock Quarry
  • Death of Delores Niblick, Grandma Lowell's niece
  • Changes to 41st Street, Sioux Falls, SD






PART 2:
  • Thunderstorms the previous evening
  • John R. Lowell, Grandpa Lowell`s father, hauling hay to Sioux Falls, SD, to sell
  • The Lowell farms west of Sioux Falls, SD
  • The homestead of Joachim Volsch, Grandpa Lowell's maternal grandparents, located in Wall Lake Township, Minnehaha County, SD
  • Ray Brockhouse’s cadillac






PART 3:
  • The Volsch family
  • Sale of 1117 W. Madison, in Sioux Falls, SD, a home owned by Grandpa Lowell where I lived as a child
  • The Leubecher fraction of property across the road from the Adolph and Augusta Miller homestead
  • Approaching the entrance to the Miller homestead where Adolph Miller was killed by a dynamite explosion in April 1901
  • The years Grandma spent at this farm, now owned by her father, Max Miller, after the death of his wife, Ida Leubecher Miller, Grandma’s mother, from lightning, in August 1909
  • Beginning of the walk up the path to the Miller homestead






PART 4:
  • The outbuildings at the Adolph Miller homestead
  • Grandma Lowell and brother Cliff waiting for their father to return home to the family farm from his trips to Sioux Falls, SD
  • My discovery of the mantel from the front door of the farm house on the Adolph and Augusta Miller homestead
  • Walking back to the car after our visit to the homestead






PART 5:
  • Driving to the one-room school house west of Pumpkin Center, Minnehaha County, South Dakota, where Grandma Lowell taught school
  • Grandma Lowell’s trophies and ribbons for flower arranging won at annual Sioux Empire Fairs
  • Bones Stock Farm
  • Grandma Lowell reminisces about her years teaching
  • House where Grandma Lowell rented a room while teaching






PART 6:
  • Pumpkin Center, Minnehaha County, South Dakota
  • Grandma Lowell’s first school house as a teacher
  • County Jail prisoners shoveling snow outside her school house
  • Grandpa Lowell’s second car, a 1923 Hubmobile
  • Heading to Wall Lake






PART 7:
  • Recreation area at Wall Lake
  • Louis Volsch, Grandpa Lowell's uncle, and his roller rink at Wall Lake
  • Grandpa Lowell fishing at Wall Lake as a youngster
  • Driving through snow and blizzards to get Grandma Lowell to school






PART 8:
  • More snow stories
  • The location of the school house attended by Grandma and Grandpa Lowell when they were children
  • Heading to the Lowell farms
  • John Franklin "Jack" or "Johnny" Lowell’s farm
  • John Fairfield Lowell’s homestead, inherited by his son John Russell Lowell, and eventually purchased by Max Miller, Grandma Lowell’s father
  • The double rainbow ending in the pasture along the country road






PART 9:
  • John Fairfield Lowell farm property deeded to his daughter, Minnie Lowell McCartney
  • Minnie Lowell McCartney’s farm eventually inherited by her daughter, Flora McCartney Luker, Grandpa Lowell’s first cousin
  • Grandpa Lowell’s farm, eventually farmed by him and his oldest son, my father, George James "Jim" Lowell






PART 10:
  • Grandpa Lowell reminisces about walking to country school
  • The two female farmers
  • The steeples of St. Joseph Cathedral in Sioux Falls, visible from the Lowell farms
  • Grandma and Grandpa Lowell’s first drive to the Black Hills with friends Alex and Joy Feay






PART 11:
  • The illegal still at Ellis Corner outside Sioux Falls, SD
  • The various businesses along 12th street, Sioux Falls, SD
  • John F. "Jack" Lowell’s unwillingness to drive after he had moved to town and started using oxygen
  • The West Sioux Falls reunion, June 14-16, 1985
  • Arrival back at 707 S. Menlo, Sioux Falls, SD, and the end of our tour