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Brad is the best to work with. He knows every aspect of buying and selling a house. He was with us every step of the way as we sold our old house and bought a new one. There were things we wanted to change in the house and because of his construction knowledge, he knew what was possible. It was a fast experience too! I would highly recommend him.

– Roxie

Brad is a skilled craftsman and did a painstaking job of designing and constructing our deck. He is friendly, patient, responsive, thorough and also proved to be very flexible in accommodating changes in design that we made in the midst of the project. We were extremely happy with the outcome and look forward to the next phase of our project with Brad.

– Megan & Lyle

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March/April 2019 30 FRESH AND FABULOUS

On point ensembles from Mainstream Boutique steal the show during a day spent out and about in Aberdeen.


Are your hobbies “phenomenal,” “amazing,” and “awesome?” If not, you might want to take some advice from Aberdeen’s amatuer astronomers and start looking up!


Your source for what’s happening in Aberdeen


Never miss an event in the Hub City


By kids, for kids. Aberdeen’s YAPAtorium holds space for youth to learn, grow, and pursue their interests.


Brittany Walberg’s lifetime love of horses has naturally evolved into business ownership at El Jo Mar Arabians.

2 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2019


Don’t blink or you’ll miss it! Our state flower, the pasque flower, blooms in Brown County, but only for a short period of time between the end of March and the first weeks of May.



April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. Find out how the parents with the Aberdeen Area Autism Spectrum Disorder Parent Support Group are making sure local families have a friend when it comes to raising their children with special needs.


Alexz Smith hosts some of the most innovative and successful volleyball training programs for athletes and coaches in the state. Learn about her Matchbox Volleyball Club and upcoming athletic facility, Matchbox Recreation.


Would you like to express your patriotism in a positive way and give back to military and service personnel? 13 Stripes Supply Company makes it possible to do both.




Old grave markers give glimpses into our region’s culture and history. Take a step back in time with this story that walks you through three Aberdeen cemeteries.

John L.W. Zietlow beat the odds to establish one of the most successful telephone companies in history, right here in Aberdeen.


Myth: You’re too busy to organize your home. Carrie Bartscher, design consultant with Ultimate Kitchen & Bath and We Do Closets, has simple strategies for getting your living quarters in springclean shape.

ON THE COVER Coming in for a close look at the camera are JustaFashion Diva (left) and Habina. Both fillies reside at El Jo Mar Arabians in north Aberdeen. Established in 1973, El Jo Mar has since grown to be a well-respected presence on the horse circuit for their talents in breeding, training, and showmanship. Owner Brittany Walberg puts in a lot of heart and a lot of hours to carry El Jo Mar’s programming into the future. Read all about her and her business on page 18. El Jo Mar photo by Troy McQuillen. Pasque flower insert by K.C. Jensen.






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When my husband and I moved back to South Dakota almost 10 years ago, it was a bit of a shock to us. Sometimes it still is when we realize we’ve again lived in our hometown for close to a decade. I had always imagined myself living in a large city, preferably somewhere warm like Hawaii or Mexico—in fact, I did live there, but only for a semester of college. We had grown up in this area of South Dakota, so for us it was just ordinary, and definitely not on the list of magical locations to spend the rest of your life. The place we ended up had to be somewhere near mountains and oceans and more postcard-worthy views. When we had our first daughter, though, we started to look at our surroundings in a different light. Where in the world did we want our kids to grow up? The answer was outside. We wanted them to have room to run and play with neighbor kids, going back and forth between each other’s yards all afternoon. We wanted them to get close to horses and chickens and caterpillars and be completely covered in dirt at the end of the day. This is the childhood they get to have in our little hometown just west of Aberdeen. I haven’t always considered this area to be a part of the beautiful outdoors, but seeing it with fresh eyes as the place we’re raising our own kids has changed that. With them, I’ve set out to find the wonders that we do have here. Thankfully, there are so many. In this early spring issue of Aberdeen Magazine, we’re happy to be sharing some of them with you, right when we know everyone is wanting more than ever to get outside. One of our best features is the sky. On page 36 we get to meet some of Aberdeen’s amateur astronomers and hear their tips for becoming a beginner stargazer. It’s easy to miss some of our great outdoors if we’re not paying attention. Page 44 talks about our elusive state flower and where you can find it in Brown County between now and the first weeks of May. We’ll also get to know the horses at El Jo Mar Arabians and their caretaker, Brittany Walberg, on page 18. And while it might seem unusual at first, our story on page 40 shows the beauty and intrigue of visiting generations past on a trip to see old grave markers in Aberdeen’s cemeteries. The world is amazing. Go everywhere. But if you stay home, I guarantee there are adventures waiting to be had here too.


T H IS ISS U E ’ S C O NT R I B UTO R S CARRIE BARTSCHER is a wife and mother to a one-year-old, so she knows what organizing and tidying up a space is all about! She uses her talents as a design consultant with Ultimate Kitchen & Bath to help clients complete the home projects of their dreams.

PATRICK GALLAGHER is a regular contributor commenting on Aberdeen’s personality, food options, and history.

DEIDRE KADLEC is a stay-at-home mom who can most often be found anywhere but at home. She and her husband Nathan have six children, all with their own busy schedules. Besides spending time with her family, she enjoys big dinners and sleeping in past 8:00 AM.

MIKE MCCAFFERTY is an avid historian, accomplished writer, professional fisherman, and trainer. His passion is Great Plains history, and he currently serves as chairman of the Dacotah Prairie Museum Board. Mike has had over 200 articles printed in outdoor magazines throughout the Midwest and Canada.

CHRISTINA SHILMAN is a wife, mom to an amazing little boy, mental health therapist, and owner of Paisley Tree Photography. Her photography business specializes in weddings, seniors, families, children, and lifestyle sessions. She loves capturing authentic and unforgettable moments for her clients.

MAINSTREAM BOUTIQUE Julie Fischbach, Nikki Reigle, and Tayler Horstman of Mainstream Boutique modeled for our fashion photo shoot on page 30. Not only did they model, but these three lovely ladies also put together all the outfits and accessories for the shoot.

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PUBLISHER Troy McQuillen

DESIGN Eliot Lucas

AD SALES Abby McQuillen abby@mcquillencreative.com

PUBLICATION OFFICE McQuillen Creative Group 423 S. Main St., Suite 1 Aberdeen SD, 57401 (605) 226-3481

PRINTING Midstates Printing

SUBMISSIONS Aberdeen Magazine welcomes your input. Message us your story ideas, drop off historic photos, or stop in for a chat. Email us at: troy@mcquillencreative.com

WEBSITE www.aberdeenmag.com

PRIVACY STATEMENT Any personal information, email addresses, or contact submitted to the editorial office or online via our Facebook page will not be sold or distributed. Aberdeen Magazine does wish to publish public comments and attitudes regarding Aberdeen, therefore written submissions and comments on our Facebook page implies permission to utilize said information in editorial content. Aberdeen Magazine is produced exclusively in Aberdeen, South Dakota. All content is copyright with all rights reserved. No content may be shared, copied, scanned, or posted online without permission. Please just ask us first. We’re pretty flexible.



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 Erin Ochsner (left) and Lindsey Brooks recently opened Wanderlust Boutique inside Audra’s Day Spa and Salon.

BEAUTY MEETS BOUTIQUE What is it like to manage your own boutique? “It’s like Christmas every day!” says Erin Ochsner. Erin coowns Wanderlust Boutique with her friend and business partner Lindsey Brooks. The two opened the women’s clothing and apparel store in December inside Audra’s Day Spa and Salon at 18 2nd Ave Southeast, Suite 1. Unboxing items they’ve chosen for customers and hanging them on their handmade racks is a favorite, Christmas Day—like part of running their business. But these entrepreneurs have a first love before even fashion: math. Both studied finance at NSU and work in accounting at their full-time jobs. Lindsey says, “We know numbers, so it was a matter of what kind of business do we want to do with that.” Wanderlust Boutique carries tops, Kancan jeans, shoes, and accessories, all of which cost between $10 and $45. They cater to curvy and petite frames by stocking sizes small through 3XL.

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Shoppers can expect to find more neutral colors versus bold prints, along with many options for basic layering pieces that can be dressed up or worn casual. Lindsey is also the creator of ModernMama Design Co. Her handcrafted earrings, bandannas, headbands, and bags are on the shelves at Wanderlust. Erin and Lindsey intentionally opened their boutique inside a salon to give customers a more comfortable and private shopping experience. Lindsey says, “It’s not a big, busy store and there aren’t sales people following you around. Women can come here to get their hair done at Audra’s, get a new outfit at the boutique, and just really relax and feel pampered.” // — Jenny Roth  Wanderlust Boutique is open during Audra’s regular daytime appointments, as well as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 5:00-7:00 PM, Saturdays 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, and Sundays 1:00-4:00 PM. Or, shop online at www.wanderlustboutiquellc.com.

ALL OR NOTHING Spring is the perfect time to hit the refresh button on those monotonous routines that creep up during the winter months in our professional and personal lives. For the third year in a row, people from Aberdeen and the surrounding communities can get re-motivated for the seasons ahead by attending Day of Distinction. Happening on April 12 at the Ramkota Convention Center, the 2019 Day of Distinction will bring speakers and breakout sessions focused on topics like gratitude, leadership, and combating stress and burnout in the workplace. Attendees will leave the day-long conference with ideas on how they can give all that they can, instead of feeling burned out and forced into giving nothing. Day of Distinction is a task force of the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce. Seven area professionals put the event together. Task force member Taylor Wensmann says their hope is to provide an event that inspires professionals to keep improving in all aspects of their lives. “We want to spark that passion in people to create a better life for themselves, which in turn leads to a better Aberdeen community as a whole.” // — Jenny Roth  To register for Day of Distinction, visit www.aberdeen-chamber.com/DOD.

 Two members of the task force for Aberdeen’s Day of Distinction are Taylor Wensmann (left) and Garrett Brunmaier. The motivational event will take place April 12 at the Ramkota.

Photos by Troy McQuillen


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A culture’s music tells its story. At a concert performed by the Emilia Amper Band in April, Aberdeen will get to experience tales from Sweden, the string ensembles home country. Vocalist and musician Emilia Amper will lead the group as they light up the stage with their vibrant musical energy. A Grammy-award winner, Emilia is known around the world for her talents on the nyckelharpa, or key harp, an instrument that has been a part of Swedish folk music for hundreds of years. Aberdeen is the group’s only stop in South Dakota as they travel on the Folkefest Tour through Arts Midwest. They will perform at various schools and venues before finishing their week-long residency with a public concert at 7:30 PM on April 12 at the ARCC Library Auditorium. Emilia’s visit to Aberdeen is meant to bring joy through music and a deeper understanding of Nordic traditions and history. // — Jenny Roth  Learn more about the Emilia Amper Band concert by contacting the Aberdeen Area Arts Council at 605-226-1557 or visiting www.aberdeenareaartscouncil.com.

 Pictured in NSU’s upcoming Harvey C. Jewett IV Regional Science Education Center are Dr. Josh Hagen and Dr. Alyssa Kiesow.

GROWING WITH THE PROGRAM In 2007, NSU’s biology and chemistry programs had nearly 80 students enrolled. Today, they have three times that many. This increase in students has naturally brought in more faculty and staff to the science department, as well as an expansion in course options and research topics. It only makes sense then that NSU instructors and students alike are looking to the years ahead with enthusiasm as the Harvey C. Jewett IV Regional Science Education Center is being built on campus. This two-story, 50,000-square-foot building will be state of the art and designed with the future of science learning in mind. The new addition, located at the corner of 12th Avenue Southeast and South State Street, is being made possible by private donations. It would take pages to list all the features the new center will have in comparison to the space the science department occupies now. Indoors, the facility has well-planned labs with showcase windows, research stations for handson learning, and study pods plugged in throughout that invite students to stay and collaborate on projects together outside of class. Faculty offices are placed strategically nearby all of this, giving students easy access to their professors. Biology will get to thrive

outdoors in both a greenhouse and area dedicated to native prairie plants. A new cadaver lab and imaging suite will also enhance NSU’s programming. With this building, the university hopes to add new opportunities to their science department, including a graduate program and updates to their current undergrad curriculum. Dr. Alyssa Kiesow, NSU professor of biology and department chair, says, “We’re looking at creative ways to hit what the labor market needs are for our students. One way we’re doing this right now is by revamping our program to be more comprehensive for those going into science education.” Science teachers are considered a “hot job,” meaning they’re in high demand in South Dakota and all over the country. The new science education center is an important addition for not only NSU, but for all students from the surrounding regions. It will reach a wide range of ages, hosting summer youth science camps as well as teacher workshops. Grants have already been received to host imaging workshops for middle school students and instructors that are scheduled to take place as soon as 2020. Dr. Kiesow says, “We’re going to focus especially on those middle school students— getting them excited about science and then making sure that excitement continues to grow.” // — Jenny Roth  The Harvey C. Jewett IV Regional Science Education Center will be ready for use by the fall of 2019. To keep up with the construction progress, visit www.northern.edu/master-plan.

Photo by Troy McQuillen

Photo courtesy of Emilia Amper



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 A rendering of the new SDSBVI campus shows how the facility will look once complete.

BUILDING A NEW BEGINNING Aberdeen is home to a school that is truly one of a kind. The South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired moved their campus here from Gary, a small town on the Minnesota border, in 1961. They have operated from the same building ever since, but not for long. Through donations given to the Educational Impact Campaign, the SDSBVI will receive a brand-new facility with an estimated move-in date of 2020. School superintendent, Marje Kaiser, spoke with us about the project and why the Aberdeen community has made it so special. “The support we’ve had to do this has been absolutely overwhelming. In

the monetary donations, and just in the amount of people I talk to on a daily basis who say, ‘We’re so happy for the school and that this is moving forward.’” She goes on to add that what the SDSBVI has in Aberdeen is unlike anything she has seen anywhere else because of its proximity and relationship with Northern. “Nobody has a setup like this. We collaborate with NSU on many things, particularly their teacher education program.” Once the new SDSBVI is complete, their students will also have access to NSU’s athletic fields for recreational use. The new school will be built on 3.5 acres of land on the former site of NSU’s Jerde Hall.

Construction has been well prepared every step of the way, starting first with its design by Christopher Downey. Mr. Downey worked as an architect for 30 years before losing his sight and is now one of the only blind architects in the world. Marje says, “The materials and acoustic elements he included in the building are unique to someone who knows that side of things.” Faculty and students have added their ideas for what they want to see in the facility, namely making it more home-like for the children living on campus and up to date with the technology needs of today’s classrooms. Moving to a new space will be a positive direction for the school, but it admittedly brings mixed emotions for some, especially students who are on campus now and very familiar with their current building. To help ease the transition, Journey Construction is including students in each phase of the building process. Marje says, “They’re letting students and teachers go on site and taking the time to share with us the steps of construction and how a building comes to be.” Marje has lived at the school with her family for 17 years. She hints that once the students and staff are settled in at their new facility, she will be looking to retire. The timing feels right to leave the school she loves on the brink of a good future. “It will be a great opportunity for someone with fresh ideas to come in and take this to the next level. With this building, the stage will be set.” // — Jenny Roth  More details on the SDSBVI building project can be found at www.northern.edu/master-plan.

Image courtesy of SDSBVI


 Women professionals network at last year’s Women’s Business Conference. The event is returning to Aberdeen on March 29.

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This one is for the girls. The Women’s Business Conference is returning to Aberdeen on March 29 at the Best Western Ramkota. The South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity Women’s Business Center, located at BHSU in Spearfish, is the conference creator. SD CEO assistant director, Andrea Bakeberg, says this event is held in Aberdeen to serve women who are living and working in the eastern part of the state. “Our purpose is to be inspirational, but we also want women to leave with real tools and ideas they can implement at work or in their companies right away.” The event’s keynote speaker is Meg Manke, a South Dakota native, COO, and author. Meg can relate to career obstacles unique to living in smaller communities and has tangible advice for thinking innovatively to overcome them. She will speak about creating a company culture that makes people want to stay, as well as the positive ways coworkers and supervisors can give and receive feedback at work. Attendees will also get to connect with their business peers through an entrepreneurial segment and executive panel made up of Aberdeen area women professionals who are sharing their real stories of failure and success. // — Jenny Roth  To register for the Women’s Business Conference, go to www.BHSU.edu/SDCEO.

Photo courtesy of SD CEO



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April 5 & 6, 7:00 PM Holum Expo BuildingFairgrounds Tickets at the door, price TBD  Bull riding athletes are descending on Aberdeen for a weekend of competition in front of a cheering crowd. For more information, check out the event’s Facebook page.


April 13, 6:00 PM Boys & Girls Club of Aberdeen Area For tickets, call 605-225-8714 Ext. 104  Attention foodies, this event was made to delight your taste buds. Wines, spirits, and beer selections from around the world are paired with hors d’ oeuvres, cheeses, and other treats made by local chefs. Winefest Renaissance sells out, so make sure to get your tickets in advance.


March 9, 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM Dakota Event Center Free admission  Talented area craftspeople are displaying their wares under one roof to bring Aberdeen a handmade, up-cycled shopping experience. Sip a coffee or mimosa and browse vendors to find those perfect home decor pieces and treasures.


March 16, 1:00 - 5:00 PM Dakota Event Center $30  Kick off St. Patrick’s Day weekend with an afternoon of live music, bean bags competition, and of course, craft beer. Your entry fee covers the unlimited tasting of over 30 brews.

April 27, 5:00 - 9:00 PM Dakota Event Center $15-$35  Comic magician Jared Sherlock is taking the stage to both amaze his audience and make them laugh. The Minneapolis-based personality is the entertainment portion of a dinner show hosted to support the work of Lutheran Social Services.


March 22, 7:00 - 11:00 PM Dakota Event Center $15  The Barstool Prophets are headlining a night of fun and entertainment with proceeds benefiting SPURS Therapeutic Riding Center. Many live and silent auction items will also be up for grabs. Purchase tickets at the door, or in advance at the Hitch ‘N Post or by calling 605-226-1099.



March 30, 5:00 PM Dakota Event Center For tickets, call 605-226-2100  As their annual fundraising ball reaches its 40th anniversary, the Aberdeen Catholic School System invites the community to an evening of celebration. Cocktails begin at 5:00 PM, dinner and live auction at 6:45 PM, and dancing at 9:00 PM.

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April 6, 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM & April 7, 12:00 - 6:00 PM Select area businesses Free admission  Hit the road and go shopping! Stores specializing in handcrafted and vintage goods are teaming up and giving away door prizes to customers who travel from business to business with their “road trip ticket.” For a list of participating shops, visit the event’s Facebook page.

April 22, 3:00 - 6:00 PM Central Park Free admission  Green Aberdeen invites you to celebrate Earth Day by spending the afternoon at Central Park. Listen to speakers and live music, visit informational booths, and take part in activities, all while learning about how we can take care of our home planet.


April 18, 19, and 20 Aberdeen Civic Arena Free admission for children preschool-8th grade  It wouldn’t be spring in Aberdeen without the return of the circus. Choose from a variety of performance times taking place Thursday afternoon through Saturday evening. More details are at www.yelduz.com.

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THE YOUNG PEOPLE’S PLACE Youth have room to thrive at the YAPAtorium by JENNY ROTH

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ometimes the difference a place m a ke s c a n’ t b e measured in statistics but is felt in the moment by the people who are there. The YAPAtorium is a place like that. While it might not be possible to keep records of the exact impact this youth center makes, what we do know is it’s a safe and welcoming space in our community where preteens and teens can go to just be themselves. There are no fees or costs for kids ages 11 to 17 to spend time at YAPA, which stands for Youth-Adult Partnership of Aberdeen. Equally important, the facility is free from the pressures of a party scene. If kids have an interest, whether that’s leading a student organization or joining a band, they can pursue that here, but none of the available programming is required or graded. Walking in, you’ll first notice how the walls are adorned with artwork made by YAPA students. Comfy furniture with access to Netflix and gaming

consoles are set up near tables for doing homework or enjoying a bite from the snack bar. There’s a room dedicated to performing live music, and another piled high with art supplies, books, and board games. It fits the look of a teen hangout, and as supervisor Nick Eilts explains, that’s because all the activities you find here came directly from the young people who use the center. “Kids know their own generation. If you ask them what would bring their friends here, they’ll tell you and be spot on. As staff we just have to be ready to listen and see how we can make those things work.” Having fun is the goal, but YAPA serves another important purpose when hosting programs and events. Nick says, “Kids come here to enjoy themselves and that’s a big part of what we do. What I love about YAPA specifically though is we also provide these positive experiences with the intention to show kids how to be successful students and members of their community.” A youth board is responsible for planning the center’s happenings.

Photos by Troy McQuillen

 Logan Gordan is one of the many Aberdeen students who takes part in the opportunities offered at the YAPAtorium Youth Center.

 Chase Galbraith (left) and Gabe Franson play a guitar hero video game at YAPA.

“What I love about YAPA specifically is we also provide these positive experiences with the intention to show kids how to be successful students and members of their community.”

 Hunter Jung relaxes at YAPA with some computer time.  Artwork made by YAPA students hangs on the walls while youth enjoy the center’s gaming stations.

Right now, many of the board members are 11 and 12-year-olds who are new to being on a committee and representing their peers. Having a young board makes sense. When YAPA first opened in 2005, it served teens ages 13 and up and focused mainly on providing alternative events for high schoolers. As time went on, they moved the age restriction back to 11. Nick says, “It became pretty obvious that middle schoolers needed stuff to do as well, and almost more so, than high schoolers who can drive, have jobs, and earn spending money.” On average, 15 to 30 patrons spend time at YAPA on weekdays, with upward of 30 to 40 walking through the doors on weekends. Nick served as an assistant supervisor during YAPA’s inaugural year. He later went on to work as a teacher elsewhere before returning to the youth center in 2017. His decision to rejoin the YAPA crew had a lot to do with how highly he thinks of the facility. “Sometimes you run into adults who used to come to YAPA as kids. They’ve lived in other cities that don’t have a center like this and they say, ‘Wow, what we had growing up was really a great opportunity.’ The activities here can point kids in a good direction by helping them land their first job or developing a skill they can put on a college application, or even just finding a new hobby that they enjoy. The fact that we value those things here speaks a lot for Aberdeen.” Along with Nick, a group of parttime assistant supervisors works at the YAPAtorium. Supervisors take on a mentorship-type role when relating with YAPA students, and choosing the right staff is key. Nick says the team he has now is very dedicated to what they do. “We’re march/april 2019 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


 Tables at YAPA are for homework, having a snack, and hanging out with friends.  Wenceslao Vargas (left) and Christian Diter take advantage of YAPA’s gaming consoles.

 YAPA’s weekly schedule is created by the kids and changes frequently to fit what they like to do.

here to have conversations with the kids— to make jokes and do activities together. It’s about giving them the chance to have more positive interactions with adults, even if that’s as simple as being available if someone wants to play a board game.” The center receives some public funding as an agency of Aberdeen Parks & Rec, but staffing is made possible primarily by fundraising and grants. To raise money, you can often find YAPA students and staff behind the concession stand at the Civic Arena or selling their specialty, waffle sandwiches, at city-wide events. Nick says YAPA stays active year-round in these efforts. The good news is it doesn’t feel like work most of the

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time. “The kids are so bright and funny and just good company. My body might feel tired after a long weekend of concessions, but mentally it feels good that we worked hard and achieved what we set out to do.” He acknowledges that many people who support YAPA aren’t necessarily coming forward because they’re hungry, but because they want to see the organization remain in the community. To keep going for the generations to come, the YAPAtorium will have to continue listening to its regular patrons. It has always been the kids who make YAPA what it is, and they’ll be the ones to take it into the future. Nick says, “It used to be

concerts that brought kids to the center, now that’s less popular and we’ve switched to gaming nights and holiday parties. We’re always willing to shift our programming in that way so they’ll keep attending what we have to offer.” In recent years they’ve added new events to welcome international students to Aberdeen, as well as more opportunities for kids to get outside, like their weekend morning “skate church” sessions at the skatepark. No matter what YAPA does next, what will remain consistent is their purpose: being the young people’s place. Nick says, “We want kids to look back on the time they spent at YAPA and see it was this place that required nothing or little and gave so much. That’s what I’m hoping.” //  To get in touch with the YAPAtorium, call 605-6263595 or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ TheYAPAtorium.

Photos by Troy McQuillen

 Space is set aside at YAPA for art, books, and board games.

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TAKING Brittany Walberg leads El Jo Mar Arabians with a steady hand by JENNY ROTH photos by TROY MCQUILLEN

18 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2019

the Reins

 From left, JustaFashion Diva (blue halter), Habina (behind), and Daggers The Merlin (right) stand with Brittany Walberg, owner of El Jo Mar Arabians.

t’s safe to say that Brittany Walberg isn’t afraid of hard work. Seven days a week you can find her quietly going about her chores at El Jo Mar Arabians in north Aberdeen. Here, there are at least 30 horses in her care at all times. Feeding them, watering them, turning them out to pasture, and cleaning their stalls takes up most of her mornings. Afternoons are for working horses and giving riding lessons, then doing more chores. When her work is finished at the barn, there are still administrative tasks left to do that go along with operating the business she has owned for almost four years. Breeding and working with horses are the parts of this job she loves the most. She says doing the paperwork has required a bit more of a learning curve to get used to. The day I visited El Jo Mar for this story happened to be a cold one. When I met Brittany, she was dressed in overalls from head to foot and shoveling out a horse stall. We sat down right in the middle of the horse tack and smell of hay to talk, throwing a ball every now and then for her dogs who wanted to be involved by playing fetch. Just beside us in a warm office her young daughter was taking an afternoon nap, and outside her husband Jeremy was busy checking off to-do items in the tractor. In her calm and straightforward manner, the Frederick native explained what it takes to run El Jo Mar. It isn’t atypical for her to put in 12-hour plus days, and when I asked her how she finds time for herself she replied with a smile, “Good question!” In all seriousness, she does have clients that can help her take care of the barn for a day or two so she can take some time off with family. Yet her advice to anyone thinking about starting their own business is to be ready to put in the time. “You have to be very dedicated. And if you have good connections with people in your field, stay in touch with them. They can help you if you feel frustrated or need some guidance.” For Brittany, one of her most significant business mentors has been Marg Forseth. Marg founded El Jo Mar in 1973 and put it on the map as a national champion Arabian breeding program. In 2015 she sold El Jo Mar to Brittany, but their friendship reaches back much further. Brittany’s first word as a child was “horse” and her parents gave her her first horse, a mini, when she was six years old. After her mini, she moved on to a quarter horse and took part in both shows and rodeos. It was in junior high school that she started taking riding lessons at El Jo Mar. She says, “I’d always had an innate interest in horses and it grew from there. When I started coming to El Jo Mar that’s when things really took off for me,


march/april 2019 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


 Olivia Whitney, a riding student at El Jo Mar, puts a halter on The Harlot, an Arabian mare.

“I’d always had an innate interest in horses and it grew from there. When I started coming to El Jo Mar that’s when things really took off for me, especially with my English style of riding.”

 Brittany gives a riding lesson to (l-r) Eliza Wurgler, Olivia Whitney, and Marcie Fites.

 Louie, a three-year-old Thoroughbred who is being trained at El Jo Mar.

20 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2019

especially with my English style of riding.” Most horse programs in the area focus on the western style of riding, whereas El Jo Mar has set themselves apart by being more of an English barn, the latter of which is recognizable by sports like jumping and dressage. Along with riding lessons, Brittany started doing student internships at El Jo Mar where she learned to train horses. She then attended the University of Minnesota in Crookston for equine science and ag business, spending her breaks from school in Aberdeen helping at El Jo Mar. When Marg was ready to retire, she offered the business to Brittany, and the rest is history. Brittany says, “I think she felt like it was going to be in good hands because I had been here all this time, learning from and traveling with her.” The traveling she refers to is their frequent road trips during horse show

season. From April through September, Brittany, her show clients, and their horses hit the road at least twice a month. They go all over the country and into Canada to compete, taking with them on average four to six horses every trip. Brittany explains why shows mean so much to her and her riders. “For kids taking riding lessons, those lessons are like their practices and the horse shows are where they get to go compete against others and see what they can do.” Seeing her clients excel at shows means a lot in many ways. “This last year we took one of our youth, who takes riding lessons here, to the Canadian Nationals on a horse that Marg and I bred, raised, and then sold to a client. They won a Canadian youth national championship and numerous other awards, and for us to see this youth achieve that on a horse we brought up, it’s really exciting for us.”


 The barn at El Jo Mar serves as a space for riding lessons during the colder months.

For a long time El Jo Mar was solely Arabians, a horse breed that held a special place for Marg. Brittany has expanded to show pintos and half-Arabians, and boards additional breeds like paints, quarters, and minis. With their success on the show circuit it might seem like only the best of the best take horse lessons at El Jo Mar, but that’s not the case. They have everyone from people who have never been on a horse all the way to national champion riders in their programs. During the winter months, Brittany gives about 30 riding lessons each week. This is her slower season though, as she gives closer to 70 lessons every week in the summer. She says her goal with lessons is first and foremost that students enjoy them and get a love for the horse. “I want them to learn some basic knowledge about a horse and to have fun. Once that’s established, I’m willing to take them wherever they want, whether that’s trail riding, showing, or another direction.” And beginners are encouraged to give lessons a try. “Children as young as five years old can start. We keep it really positive and take it as slow as they need, letting them groom the horses and then leading the horse around for them to make sure they’re comfortable riding.”

 Significant View, a paint horse, is a broodmare at El Jo Mar Arabians.

El Jo Mar has been in Aberdeen for almost half a century. That kind of longevity is certainly something to be proud of, but more than that, their reputation in the horse riding and showing community is the achievement of a lifetime. When it comes to horses, they know what they’re doing, and they couple that with an all-encompassing passion for seeing their clients and horses be successful. Brittany says, “I feel like we have a nice voice in the community and I hope to continue to grow that. I’d like to see it on a bigger scale, with more national champions, an expanded breeding program, and by adding improvements and updates to our facility.” She continues,“I don’t think there really ever is an end for your business, you have to try and always envision new things and keep it exciting and interesting for people.” Luckily for area riders, this girl who loves horses doesn’t plan on taking a break anytime soon. //  To learn more about El Jo Mar Arabians, call Brittany Walberg at 605-380-8496 or visit www.eljomararabians.com.

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BEING THE LIGHT The Aberdeen Area Autism Spectrum Disorder Parent Support Group wraps its arms around local families by JENNY ROTH

 Krista Bau and son Zachary.


son’s diagnosis for the first time and everything that has happened since, her voice is poised and steady, even during the parts that can bring tears. And she absolutely lights up when talking about her son, his quirks and his victories, and all the small yet significant gains her family has celebrated in recent years. It leaves the impression that she has always been a confident speaker on the subject, yet she wants other parents to know that in reality her son was diagnosed at age two, and it wasn’t until he was nearly four that she was ready to attend a support group meeting for the first time. She says, “In the beginning I’d start to cry at even just saying the word autism. Any parent with a child with a disability will tell you there’s a kind of grieving process that happens when your child is first diagnosed. It took me quite a while to figure out what it all meant.” Last year the CDC determined that one in every 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Still, it can be difficult to find local resources and others who are walking a similar path. When Krista did begin reaching out to other parents, the Aberdeen Area ASD Parent Support Group was just getting underway. She says without a doubt spending time with other families has helped to ease her feelings of isolation. “You do feel alone even though you know there are so many parents out there going through the same things. Once I found that there was this support group, it was like I’d found a friend that understood.” Krista has since stepped into a leadership role with the Aberdeen Area ASD Parent Support Group. It isn’t something she expected to take on, but it falls in place with her desire

“Once I found that there was this support group, it was like I’d found a friend that understood.” to learn all that she can about ASD and to share that knowledge generously with other parents. About this consistent pursuit to both understand and give back, she says, “I knew that if I was in a good place at some point then I could help other people too.” Krista dedicates much of her time to collecting information, connecting with state and local agencies that serve individuals with disabilities, and helping parents facing new diagnosis feel like they have a welcoming place they can turn to. She has also aligned herself professionally with groups that support people with disabilities. Just recently, in addition to working at her full-time job with NSU’s TRIO Student Support Services, she joined the board at South Dakota Parent Connection, co-taught a class for special education students at NSU, and obtained her master’s degree in special education. She says, “I want to know more information and to be educated, and to use that to assist someone else if I can.” Another important reason why she has begun to share her story and advocate more is to be a voice for all the ways a disability diagnosis can affect the entire family. “Before joining this support group I was so focused on getting my son help that I forgot to think about myself,

Photos by Christina Shilman, Paisley Tree Photography


acing something when it breaks your heart is one thing. Lifting others up in the process is entirely another. The parents leading the Aberdeen Area Autism Spectrum Disorder Parent Support Group do the latter. If you asked them, they would most likely say they are just normal parents, doing their best to take care of their children like everyone else. But the way they advocate for area families, while also navigating their own journeys of raising children with disabilities, shows their true colors of fearlessness and grace. K r i s t a B a u i s t h e g ro u p’s c o o r d i n a t o r. S h e s t a r t e d looking for support in the community after her son Zachary, who was born in 2010, was diagnosed with autism. When she shares the story of hearing her

 Krista Bau, a leader with the Aberdeen Area Autism Spectrum Disorder Parent Support Group, plays at the library with her son Zachary.

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES AND CHILDREN IN THE ABERDEEN AREA Aberdeen Area Autism Spectrum Disorder Parent Support Group www.facebook.com/ AberdeenAreaASDParentSupportGroup South Dakota Parent Connection Aberdeen Office This nonprofit serves families caring for children with autism and all disabilities. They can provide information, training, and resources, helping families to feel informed about everything from getting a diagnosis to understanding special education law. Located first in Sioux Falls, they opened their Aberdeen office in August 2018. To reach Aberdeen’s SD Parent Connection, call 605-681-0709 or email aberdeen@sdparent.org.

my marriage, my next child. Not only does the child with a disability have their own challenges, but so do the siblings, parents, and grandparents. It changes family dynamics and your day-to-day life.” Currently the Aberdeen Area ASD Parent Support Group meets the first Wednesday of the month at the Millstone Family Restaurant. These meetings are a chance for parents to talk about both the good times and the struggles. Krista says, “We do visit about our bad days and problem solve together. But there’s also a uniqueness about our kids that really makes us smile, and we share about that part of it too.” More than being a listening ear, the group is focused on pointing families in the right direction and getting them in touch with professionals who can guide them further. Krista explains, “We’re here to support parents and give them the resources they need, so we take the talking with them a little bit further by also asking, ‘How can we help you?’” Along with meetings, the group organizes quarterly outings that give children, parents, and siblings the chance to get out and about together. Krista says, “It can be so hard to do things like go to a restaurant or to a store to run a simple errand in some instances. The outings are a way for us to do some of those normal

things and be a part of our community.” So far, they’ve been able to bowl, skate at Skateaway, visit Storybook Land, and have their own day at Aberdeen’s annual pumpkin patch for kids. April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. In a demonstration of acceptance and understanding for those living with autism, on this day people across the globe wear something blue, and major landmarks switch their lighting to the same color, in a campaign to “Light It Up Blue.” Even if you do not have a child with autism in your life, there are ways you can show up for families who do on World Autism Awareness Day and every day. Krista says, “Sometimes I think of autism as an invisible disability because there’s no physical indicators, so when my son acts differently in public people don’t expect that and it can throw them off. I think it’s as easy as seeing someone who is having a hard time with their child in public and giving them that look that says, ‘You’re doing a good job Mom, it’s OK, I understand.’” She adds, “And it helps by being kind to everybody, even when they’re not struggling. The more kindness we can give—not just to people with disabilities but in general, all the time—the less daunting it would be to get a diagnosis like autism.” //

Northeastern Mental Health Center www.nemhc.org Hub Area Birth to Three Connections 605-622-5992

STATE AND NATIONWIDE South Dakota Center for Disabilities, University of South Dakota www.usd.edu/medicine/ center-for-disabilities Lighting the Way, Augustana www.augie.edu/lighting-way State of SD Division of Developmental Disabilities dhs.sd.gov /developmentaldisabilities/default.aspx Autism Speaks www.autismspeaks.org National Autism Association www.nationalautismassociation.org

march/april 2019 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE



SET UP FOR SUCCESS On the line and behind the scenes with Alexz Smith and her Matchbox Volleyball Club by DEIDRE KADLEC


n any given day, you can find a volleyball rolling around the back of Alexz Smith’s car. Smith has to keep her vehicle stocked with volleyball essentials at all times because she and her Matchbox Volleyball Club are currently gym hopping around the Aberdeen community. Gym space is extremely limited, requiring a reservation at least one year in advance. Thankfully, all of that is about to change. Matchbox Recreation, established in September 2017, will soon have a place to call home. Their 12,000-square-foot building, which will not only be set up for volleyball, but basketball, pickleball, and indoor soccer as well, is scheduled to be complete by May of this year. While the concept of a private athletic facility is new to this region, it is something commonly seen nationwide. But what Smith describes so passionately is about much more than just a building. Smith herself began playing volleyball at a young age. In fact, she doesn’t ever remember not playing. In 2005 and 2006, she was a part of two championship teams with the Northwestern Wildcats. A few years after graduating, she came back to be the assistant coach at her alma mater, alongside Nora Groft. After being mentored by Groft, Smith had a strong desire to pass on the torch. Her program focuses on the development of not only the athletes, but the coaches as well. “That’s exactly what this is,” Smith explains, “Volleyball coaches creating new volleyball coaches, and volleyball players creating new volleyball players.” Experienced coaches are paired with young coaches where they are encouraged to learn from one another in an effort to create a new generation of elite coaches. Smith takes great pride in

“This is the community that has supported me my whole life and it’s my turn to support the community”

24 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2019

 Alexz Smith is the force behind the Matchbox Volleyball Club and Matchbox Recreation Center in Aberdeen.

Photos by Troy McQuillen

 The Matchbox Recreation Center is being built just northeast of the Aberdeen Mall, near the corner of Centennial Street South and Milwaukee Avenue Northeast.

her endeavors and is confident in the work going on. “The best part of our program is our coaches,” she says. Groft and Hayley Swenson, the assistant coach at Presentation College, are among the twenty coaches at Matchbox. The recruitment and retention of female coaches is an issue Smith has been focused on for years. Coaches, across the board, are predominantly male. In the United States, you will find that only 39 percent of volleyball coaches are female. South Dakota aims to sway the nationwide percentage, with 80 percent of our volleyball coaches being female. Smith credits this increase to the growing popularity of volleyball in South Dakota. Volleyball is currently the top girls team sport in the state. Because of this, Smith saw a growing need for off-season opportunities for the girls to play. “I felt God call me to serve the volleyball community,” she shares, “and I’m here to serve through sport instruction.” There are over 200 athletes in the Matchbox Club program. It is designed for ages 8 to 18 and consists of 2 to 6 month seasons, based on the age of the participant. The pay to play competition includes both practices and tournaments. And not to leave the boys out, there will be a volleyball program starting for them in the fall of 2019. Along with the volleyball club, Matchbox also offers private lessons and small group trainings. Club members receive these lessons at a discount. In the future, the Aberdeen community will likely see numerous youth and adult tournaments run out of the Matchbox Recreation Center. Their front foyer will be set up with restrooms,

 Once complete, the Matchbox Recreation Center will be set up for volleyball, basketball, pickleball, and indoor soccer.

concessions, and their Matchbox Pro Shop. Smith designs all the gear for Matchbox, right down to the logo, font, and colors. How did she come up with the name, you may ask? “Don’t overthink it,” she jokes, “it’s a box where matches are played.” However, the logo itself has a little deeper meaning for her. She chose the font and colors because they are her favorite, an intentional decision to remind herself that this business venture is an extension of who she is and something she can be proud of. Smith, her husband Ben, and their two-year-old son Ellett feel at home in Aberdeen. “This is the community that has supported me my whole life and it’s my turn to support the community,” she says. She is sincerely looking forward to sharing this new opportunity with the Aberdeen area. And while Smith’s entrepreneurial spirit, knowledge of the game, and thirst for excellence are palpable, it’s her love for her coaches and athletes that will make this building feel like home. // march/april 2019 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE



 Justin Feickert (left) and Rich Achen operate 13 Stripes Supply Company.

SHOWING THEIRSTRIPES Justin Feickert and Rich Achen are changing the conversation around patriotism with their new venture, 13 Stripes Supply Company. by JENNY ROTH

26 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2019

 13 Stripes has apparel options (left) and can put patriotic sayings on products like tumblers and mugs (right).  Personalized, customizable indoor/outdoor signs are the most popular items made by 13 Stripes.

With a friendship that goes back 20 years and counting, you get the feeling that Justin Feickert and Rich Achen have a lot of stories to share. Maybe one of the most interesting is how the two became battle buddies, or soldiers who look out for each other in and out of combat. As “young pups” in 1998 they hadn’t yet met, but both enlisted in the U.S. National Guard just days apart and were assigned to the same unit, the 2nd of the 147th Field Artillery from Aberdeen. They quickly became friends on their first guard drill. Rich jokes the two got along right away because Justin “was as cocky as I was, so we became pretty good friends.” In all seriousness, he continues, “I’m very fortunate to have him in my life because I consider him my brother.” Fast forward a few years, and Justin was close to getting out of the military when the attacks on 9/11 happened. He was put on a stop loss, and later he and Rich served with their unit in Iraq for 14 months during Operation Iraqi Freedom II, providing security on supply missions and during elections, among other duties.

After they came home from Iraq, Justin was honorably discharged, and Rich still serves today. The two have remained close friends while growing their families and careers. As Justin says, “We’re battle buddies, and that’s pretty much a lifetime thing.” Justin is the CEO of Quality Quick Print and the father of four. Rich owns Frederick Seed and has a family of five children. With busy schedules, staying in each other’s lives can be a challenge, but the start up they founded together in 2017 is providing a way for them to keep in contact more and more. That start up is 13 Stripes Supply Company. The business, which is more like a nonprofit, is named for the American flag, military, and the ways they use their profits to give back to causes important to them. 13 Stripes creates products that make it easy for anyone to show their patriotism. Wooden and metal indoor/outdoor signs are their main sellers, but they also make things like mugs, greeting cards, and apparel. With every purchase, 13 percent of the sale goes toward a nonprofit or charity that benefits military, veteran, law enforcement, or fire and rescue personnel. Justin explains, “We don’t pay ourselves, we don’t make salaries off this, we’re doing it because we love giving that 13 percent back. It’s awesome because we first get to give our time in putting together the product, then

Photos by Troy McQuillen

 Justin and Rich use messages for their merchandise that are both patriotic and positive (left). Hats are new to the 13 Stripes product line (bottom left).

march/april 2019 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


we get to see people enjoying it and having something patriotic on display, and along with all of that we get to give something to those military and public service people who deserve it so much.” Since getting off the ground and running, they’ve been able to donate over $1000 to groups such as the Navy Seal Foundation, the family member’s fund for Aberdeen’s 452nd Reserve, and a veteran memorial fishing tournament that raises money for veteran suicide awareness. When customers check out in the 13 Stripes online store, they can choose which cause they want their purchase to go toward. Besides giving back, Justin and Rich want 13 Stripes to stand out in another important way. The company didn’t just come to be because of their friendship, but because they wanted to create positive conversations around patriotism. They strongly believe that being patriotic is a good thing, and instead of just talking about it, they wanted to do something that gave people the opportunity to show their pride in their country. Recent events like kneeling at the national anthem can cause parties on both sides of the debate to fall into a negative mindset. Justin and Rich’s business stands apart from many patriotic gear companies out there because they only create designs with positive messages.

28 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2019

They don’t print things that take a political side or that mock another’s view. Instead, they opt for personal pieces that can be customized to include options like the name of the service person, or the Oath of Enlistment sworn by everyone who joins the military. Justin says, “We didn’t want 13 Stripes to be controversial or negative because that’s not what we want our kids to see. We want them to see us being respectful, even when we don’t agree with someone on an issue. Our products make it possible for everyone, no matter what their lifestyle or views, to show their patriotism.” 13 Stripes has a big mission and it all starts local. They want to get the American flag hanging on every wall in the U.S. while giving back that 13 percent, but first they want to be known in the Aberdeen area as a reliable place to get gifts for service personnel and patriotic decor. Their product designs are created in Aberdeen and most everything is produced at Quality Quick Print. The sanding, cutting, and edge burning of the wood for their signs are tasks Justin and Rich handle on their own, wanting to be as hands on as possible with the merchandise they send out. When choosing raw materials, they take care in making sure everything is American-made. Since Rich still serves in the National Guard and is a member of the

Frederick Area Fire Department, he is the one usually connecting with customers in person. Justin follows through on orders as they come into Quality Quick Print, and his wife, Toni, does the administrative work for 13 Stripes. Most of their sales so far have come from word of mouth. Even though this new business is just getting started, it is Justin and Rich’s hope that it continues long into the future. They admit it gets hectic at times as they are trying to work 13 Stripes, build their fulltime businesses, and keep up with their active families. To manage everything, they set aside time on their calendars that is only for 13 Stripes. As their kids get older, they want to involve them by having them take the lead in things like promoting the products via social media. No matter how large or small 13 Stripes turns out to be, Justin says they will always be a positive option for showing patriotism. “Often times people want to show their thanks or support for veterans and police officers, but they aren’t sure how or what to give them. A personalized sign with their name or branch is different than the usual gift, and just a very meaningful and thoughtful way to say thank you.” //  To learn more about 13 Stripes Supply Company, visit www.13stripessupply.com or call 605-216-1909.

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 Tayler Horstman models an early spring look at CJ’s Patisserie.

Fresh and Fabulous Transition your winter wardrobe into a new spring look 30


 Spring is for layers, lighter jackets, and not putting away those ankle booties until all the snow is gone.

 From left, Nikki, Tayler, and Julie of Mainstream Boutique enjoy a girls’ day out at Tip & Toe Nails.

Jackets. For. Days. Ladies, it’s time to put away the winter coat for something lighter—in texture, and in the form of those soft, pastel colors. We know, we know, you’re probably thinking, “But wait, our early spring style still needs to keep us warm on most days,” and you’re right. The secret? It’s all about the layers. A light jacket or cardigan worn over a sweater adds another dimension to your outfit AND gives you a chic option to put on if you’re out and about and the weather turns cool. On these pages, Mainstream Boutique shows you the jackets, the layers, and the accessories that can naturally transform your winter look into one fit for the season ahead. // — Jenny Roth  Thank you to Ken’s SuperFair Foods, CJ’s Patisserie, and Tip & Toe Nails for welcoming this photo shoot into your businesses.

 This cozy cardigan and hat combo is a must. Pair it with a solid or neutral colored shirt and statement necklace.

march/april 2019 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


 Mainstream Boutique’s bracelet bar lets you mix and match designs to create an accessory that is perfectly you.  The next stop on the girls’ day out was to grab delicious drinks at Ken’s Gourmet Coffee Shop.

 Julie wears a distressed denim jacket (above and left). Nikki models a jacket option in light pink, while Tayler stays warm in a light gray sweater (above).  Kevin Fiedler of Ken’s SuperFair Foods gives recommendations on what to try from the gourmet coffee menu.






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THE SKY’S NO LIMIT Stargazing is the hobby that never fails to amaze by PATRICK GALLAGHER One of my favorite college classes was astronomy. I remember being home from school for Thanksgiving and pointing out the constellation Orion to a girl I liked, but it made no more impression than talking about the quadratic equation. When I saw it again a few months ago, it was Orion that got me thinking there must be other people in Aberdeen who know way more about the sky than I do. I was right. These amateur astronomers used words like “awesome,” “amazing,” and “phenomenal.” That’s a pretty good hobby. And they all want you to gaze at the stars too.

36 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2019

Starting Out

“When I was little, Dad would take me outside, and we’d lie on the ground and look at the sky,” Jacki Omland said. “He’d talk about the constellations that we saw.” Jacki has loved the sky since her youth in northern Minnesota. “At our farm, there was no such thing as farm lights or trees,” she said. “You could see horizon to horizon. We were so far north we saw the aurora borealis 150 nights a year.” At the University of North Dakota, she took astronomy from a professor who “looked like Einstein” and had students stay all night on top of a building to look through

a telescope. When she came to Aberdeen to teach at Central, she tried to convince her principal to offer an astronomy class. “The principal said okay if you can get 20 kids to sign up,” she remembered. “Sixty signed up.” Today teaching online and video high school science classes for Northern, she taps into her own youthful wonder with an activity in which students lie on the ground, look at the sky, and compare what they see to a star chart. “I grew up in the generation of the Apollo missions,” said Kurt Drube, who teaches at Holgate, and he got into astronomy when he was young. That first flame died out until about ten years ago when he got interested again. He started looking at the sky with binoculars until he knew almost instinctively what would be up there at any time. Similarly, Tim Sersen said, “When I got married, I interned in Minnesota and used binoculars to look at the sky. I got an astronomy magazine which had a great monthly guide to the sky.” The recently retired minister at Aberdeen’s Good Shepherd Lutheran first got the astronomy bug in third grade. He got a couple

Photo by Troy McQuillen

 From left, Kurt Drube, Del Rohrbach, and Jacki Omland are amatuer astronomers who stargaze in the Aberdeen area.

 Aberdeen Parks & Rec hosts beginner astronomy classes, like the one pictured here at the Kuhnert Arboretum, to help new skygazers grow their interest in the hobby.


Aberdeen’s local astronomers tend to have some similar pieces of advice for would-be stargazers: yy Don’t buy a telescope! At least not right away. yy Get outside and just look at the stars. Learn the sky. Then when you have a telescope you’ll know where to point it. There are lots of resources to help you know what you’re seeing.  A telescope photo of the 2017 solar eclipse, taken in Central City, NE, by Kurt Drube.

telescopes in his youth, but it wasn’t until he was an adult that he came to understand the sky. As a kid, Del Rohrbach “had a lot of curiosity about the sky,” although, he laughed, “I always thought Orion’s belt was the Big Dipper.” His interest faded until he grew up and moved to Las Vegas, where he met someone with a telescope and was intrigued all over again. “There was good sky there, it was less cold, and the air in the desert was stable,” he told me while we stood outside on a 15-degree November night. Then he said, “Sometimes I miss the desert.”

Looking Up

As Del’s interest returned, he bought a telescope and was able to look closely at Orion’s belt. “I saw the nebula there and was amazed! I was hooked.” And, he added, “I got ‘aperture fever,’ always needing bigger and bigger telescopes.” He laughed, “It never ends.” When he saw the Andromeda galaxy, he wanted a still bigger telescope and got one with a 17.5-inch diameter mirror. It comes in two pieces, each about four feet long, and you need a

ladder to assemble and look through it (for easier transportation, he also has a 10-inch telescope about half as tall as the big one). Kurt felt the fever too: “I got a telescope, then another, then another. You think, ‘I want more!’” The Central golf coach added, “It’s like wanting a new driver to get that extra 10 yards.” Tim, on the other hand, still uses the secondhand telescope he bought when he moved to Illinois in 1981. “I’m kind of ‘old school’ versus high tech,” he said. Proving it, when we met, he brought a planisphere, a paper star chart with a map of the sky—you spin it around to align with the date and time you’re stargazing, and it shows you what’s overhead. There are great mobile apps for astronomy, but “starting with those will never let you learn where things are in the sky.” On that point, he remembered a stargazing party in Illinois: “A man brought a telescope that was so big he had a crane in his truck so he could move and assemble it.” When it was all put together, “The guy asked where to point it.” All these folks stressed learning the sky before spending a lot of money on the hobby. Our four astronomers have watched the sky from great and unusual places. The best place Kurt has ever watched the sky was Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Observatory, which is on top of a volcano. “It was awesome to see the sky up there,” he said. “You’re looking through half of the atmosphere you’d get on the ground. I never saw so

yy Start with binoculars. Consult a star chart or a monthly astronomy magazine. “You can see a lot with binoculars,” Tim said, “and the sky rewards you if you work with it.” yy Get out of town—but just a few miles. Even the lights of Aberdeen hide amazing things. Plus, avoid nights with a bright moon, which is even worse. yy Then, maybe, buy a telescope. But research first.



A class for new skygazers who look up and wonder, “What’s that?” will take place at the ARCC on the evenings of March 12 and 19 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Participants should call the Parks & Rec office at 605-626-7015 by March 7 to sign up. There is no cost to attend. Bring binoculars, a telescope, or just yourself!

march/april 2019 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


 A close-up view of the moon, courtesy of Kurt Drube.

 Aberdeen astronomers use a variety of equipment when it comes to stargazing.  A stunning shot of Saturn, captured by Kurt Drube.

“I saw the nebula there and was amazed! I was hooked.” many stars.” One of Del’s favorites was a place he didn’t even get to look. He went to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, which was set up for anyone to look through its massive telescopes, but the weather didn’t cooperate. “Still, I got to see the telescope that Clyde Tombaugh used to discover Pluto,” he said. “It was awesome.” Jacki remembers a daytime experience, when she was in Norway above the Arctic Circle on the summer solstice and witnessed the sun never setting: “The sun just makes a big circle in the Northern sky during the day.” Tim loved gazing from the wide open spaces of Wyoming, but he had to get creative when he lived in more congested, and light-polluted, Illinois— “Rural cemeteries are a good place to find dark sky.” While Aberdeen’s amateur astronomers have traveled to great places to look at the stars, you can see the sky anywhere, even here. As Tim told people who asked how he could leave the Tetons, Wind River, and other beautiful Wyoming places to come to South Dakota: “We’ll still have the sky.” For best viewing, however, you do need to get a little ways out of town. Even the

38 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2019

light pollution of Aberdeen can hide much of what’s up there. Fortunately, Jacki noted, “You just have to get a few miles out of town, and it can be phenomenal.” Sadly, Jacki added, the best time to stargaze is in the winter, “when the air is crisp and clear.” Plus, the longer nights offer more viewing time. Although it may be more comfortable, Tim noted that summer may only offer a couple hours of astronomical night (when the sun is far enough below the horizon not to scatter light in the atmosphere—and muddy a good view). But the sky changes every night as the Earth moves through it, so you want to look throughout the year.

Sharing the Experience

And you should share the experience. “You can do astronomy alone,” Kurt said, “but you can also enjoy doing it with others. The best experience is the reactions people have when they look through the telescope.” All these astronomers look for ways to share their passion with others. Kurt has taken his telescope to Wylie Park

during the day, such as when sunspot activity was high, and let people look. He also sets up his telescopes at Holgate on dark mornings before school, just to let kids see what’s up there. Similarly, Del has set his telescope up in the parking lot at work to let others see planets. Jacki sets her telescope up on the sidewalk in front of her house. “I like to get people interested,” she said. “A jogger stopped once to make sure I’d be there a while so he could bring his kids back.” When she taught at Central, she took the school’s portable planetarium to the mall and to other schools to spark interest. In the mid-2000s, she ran a six-week Upward Bound summer program at NSU. Years later, one girl got word back to Jacki that, thanks to that program, she was majoring in astronomy at the University of Minnesota. As another way to share the experience, Kurt and Tim launched Star Parties for the Aberdeen Parks and Recreation Department in 2017. They’ve taken their telescopes to the Kuhnert Arboretum several times over the past couple summers and invited visitors to look at the skies. “The sky is different each month, so we planned around that, and people saw different things,” Kurt said. At one point, he added, “We showed people first Venus, then Mars, then Jupiter with its stripes of clouds and its four Galilean moons, then Saturn and its rings.” Then, he smiled, “Their eyes go wide! That’s why I do it. That’s awesome!” The sky is awesome, and so are Aberdeen’s local sky evangelists, who invite you to check it out too. Del told me Orion “never fails to amaze.” Neither does the sky. I guess that girl all those years ago didn’t know what she was missing. Neither did I. //

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OF AGES The Cemeteries and Tombstones of Aberdeen

 A large monument with a Union soldier overlooks a circle of Civil War veterans’ graves at Riverside Cemetery.

40 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2019

hen I was a kid, my wacky red-headed aunt visited from New England and showed off her latest hobby: gravestone rubbing. You held tracing paper against a tombstone and rubbed a pencil or crayon on the paper until the engravings appeared. I carried paper and crayon with me when we visited family graves in Redfield and Ashton. My hobby lasted about as long as her visit, but an interest in tombstones and cemeteries stayed—or more likely, returned (probably around age 50). I found that the tombstones and cemeteries in Aberdeen have something to say. I visited three cemeteries in town and the men who maintain them: Ryan Smith at Riverside, Jeff Swank at Sacred Heart, and Paul Anderson at St. Mary’s. (Sunset Gardens is a much newer cemetery without the century-old tombstones I was looking for.) Riverside opened in 1886, both a sign of a growing city and an alternative to burials in nearby farm fields. Sacred Heart Cemetery opened in 1895, and St. Mary’s in 1908. Among the three cemeteries, there have been about 19,000 to 20,000 burials. It may seem odd to visit a cemetery other than to pay your respects, but I wanted to see how other people have remembered their loved ones. The cemeteries aren’t museums, but there’s history and culture there. Riverside makes it easy with a brochure for a selfguided tour. I think all the caretakers agree with Ryan Smith’s observation: “I learn something new every time I go around the cemetery.” A public cemetery, Riverside is operated by the City, while Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s are Catholic. In addition to parishioners, Sacred Heart reserved space for the Presentation Sisters, most of whose burials are in the north central area. There’s a large crucifix at the west end and a small grotto and altar at the east. A second group of Sisters’ graves is about 100 yards south. In both sections, the small, simple stones, in their rows and columns and diagonals, are as orderly as a military cemetery. Not surprisingly, all three cemeteries have many veterans’ graves. For decades, military markers have stayed generally the same, a narrow white stone, five feet long with about half showing above ground. It is

Photos by Troy McQuillen


 The Lamont obelisk at Riverside Cemetery.

 Sacred Heart Cemetery has sections reserved for Presentation Sisters.  Lambs are typically found on tombstones for children and infants.

engraved with the deceased’s name and brief service history. Flat stones have become more common and, Paul Anderson says, the white stones are no longer available except for national military cemeteries. Now, veterans can get flat markers or brass plates that can be attached to stones. The circle in the old part of Riverside south of Melgaard Road is the Civil War area containing several Union veterans’ graves dating back to the late nineteenth century—marked with the white stones. A large monument with a Union soldier on top overlooks the circle. Ryan says, “I’ve been told that the soldier should face south as a sign of unification, but ours faces north.” He shrugs, “Pierre has one too, and it faces west.” Confederate veteran C. Boyd Barrett, who came to Aberdeen in 1884, is buried elsewhere in the cemetery. Tombstones may never have been as varied and individualistic as they are today given the technology and willingness to engrave almost anything, but those century-old stones have a charming kind of primitive originality. Jeff Swank notes, “The early stones are thicker and often made by hand. Newer ones are made with machines, which allows them to be thinner.” He also cautions, “Some old stones weren’t engraved deeply enough and the lettering is fading away.” Several markers in all three cemeteries are unreadable today. In addition, many old monuments are tilting, sinking into the ground, or breaking. “You can kind of tell the haves from the have nots by looking at the stones,” Jeff says, “but some of the simple stones stand up just as well.” Paul Anderson observes a difference between the Catholic cemeteries, “St. Mary’s doesn’t have the large stones that Sacred Heart has. The German-Russians here didn’t have anything when they came here.” Some older stones at St. Mary’s are engraved in German. The largest tombstones are at Riverside. The Lamont obelisk is 20 feet tall, and the Easton monument if massive—about six feet high by six feet wide by two feet deep. The Kyle and Narregang stones are nearly identical (except for color) five-foot

 The Kyle and Narregang family stones at Riverside are five-foot tall pedestals with large spheres.

march/april 2019 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


 The Father Joseph Schell Memorial Chapel at St. Mary's Cemetery is used annualy for a Memorial Day service.

tall pedestals holding large spheres. There are many other grand markers, particularly near the Civil War circle. At the other extreme, each cemetery has graves with very simple markers—or none at all. There are several homemade crosses fashioned from wood iron pipes, many of which mark a grave but do not identify the deceased. At Sacred Heart, Jeff showed me one unmarked pipe cross that gets repainted every few years, but he doesn’t know by whom. Paul says the same thing happens to a concrete cross at St. Mary’s. At Riverside, one grave is marked by a metal sign like a license plate attached to a fence post. This last is in the indigent section of the cemetery, where burials are paid for by the County. Most graves there have very small ground level markers, often without names, and some graves are unmarked. Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s also have unmarked graves. Most are still documented in the cemetery records, but Paul Anderson reports that more than once he’s begun to dig a new grave and found an unmarked, unrecorded burial. An unremembered grave is a stark reminder to count your blessings and look out for your neighbor.

42 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2019

In between these extremes are a range of interesting memorials in an array of shapes and sizes. In the early 1900s, white obelisks about five feet tall and maybe six inches by six inches—like miniature Washington Monuments— were common. These often have a cross attached to the top, many of which have disappeared over time, and were probably more affordable than the also widespread rectangular stones that are about four feet high, three feet wide, and a foot thick. Several markers are cast iron crosses of various designs that look a little like oversized lawn ornaments with a name plate attached. A few markers appear to be almost homemade accumulations of various stones adhered together into the standard arching shape. Riverside has a few stones carved to look like tree trunks. In addition to crosses engraved or attached to a marker, many stones feature flowers, palms, bibles, vases, columns, cubes and tubes, vases, birds, and lambs. The lambs are typically on tombstones for children and infants. Poignantly, all three cemeteries have special areas, sometimes called “babylands,” where infants were buried, sometimes secretly and hurriedly. There’s less use of these areas now, particularly because there are simply fewer infant deaths and those babies are usually buried in family plots. Paul Anderson says he has to be careful if he’s doing a rare burial in the babyland and hope that he doesn’t dig into an unmarked grave.

Riverside has graves of some locally famous and infamous people. One of the more intriguing memorials isn’t there anymore—it was blown up. The Brown brothers owned a bank on Main Street, and when the bank failed before the Great Depression, someone bombed the family’s cemetery monument. All that’s left now is its flat pedestal. Emil Victor is the only person ever to be hanged in Brown County. His very simple flat grave marker is pretty nondescript—except for the engraving of a noose. The Matthews Mausoleum, which holds only Wilbur Matthews, was broken into years ago. The perpetrators were caught and imprisoned. St. Mary’s has a sort of mausoleum of its own in the center of the cemetery. After the death of one of the parish’s first pastors, Father Joseph Schell, the parish raised money to construct a chapel in his memory, which can seat about 40 people and is the site of a popular annual Memorial Day service. Father Schell and his successor are both buried under the chapel, and there is space for six more pastors to be buried there as well. Cemeteries are made for the dead, of course—and the living. That’s who’s responsible for the markers of all kinds— not just for supplying them but tending to them too, such as repainting in secret. Not all care is so mysterious, of course. Families visit graves on Memorial Day, birthdays and anniversaries, and some even water and mow the grass at their loved ones’ plots. Love doesn’t end. All three cemeteries mentioned have space for thousands of new burials—at least 10,000 in total. That estimate increases as more and more cremated remains are interred. Multiple “cremains” can be buried in the space of a traditional grave. It’s an efficient use of space, but as Paul Anderson notes while looking at the tombstones across the cemetery, “But then we won’t see these anymore.” When I looked around the cemetery too, I was struck by how right its randomness seemed. The diverse array of markers, the imprecise rows and columns, the leaning and sinking as well as new, sparkling tombstones—the diversity of names—the grand monuments, the modest markers, and the unknowns. The cemetery was a tableaux of grandeur and poverty, remembered and forgotten, mutuality and difference, order and messiness—all in one place. Very democratic. Very American. //

Photos by Troy McQuillen

 The Matthews Mausoleum at Riverside, which holds only Wilbur Matthews who passed away in 1917. At the time of his death he was a banker and real estate agent.


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 A pasque flower wakes up in spring, photo by Isaac Full.



BUT MIGHTY WELCOMER South Dakota’s state flower blooms in Brown County. You just have to know where to look. by JENNY ROTH


n South Dakota we have our winters, and if we’re honest, I t h i n k we take a little bit of pride in how we battle the months of cold and come out the other side. Sub-zero temps and freezing rain? Sounds like a typical Tuesday, no big deal. We’re South Dakotans, we’ve got this. We wear sweatshirts when it’s 30 degrees Fahrenheit and catch our fish through the ice. It takes a certain edge to live here, a bit of grit. It’s no wonder then that our state flower is the pasque flower. If you’ve seen it, you know this flower is short with a quiet lavender color and soft, fuzzy leaves. But don’t let its delicate appearance deceive you. The pasque is every bit as bold and persevering as any other South Dakotan. I’ve found it on April days, blooming while snow and hail fall around it, and on lateMarch afternoons where the thermometer read below freezing just that morning.

44 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2019

 Photos by K.C. Jensen

If you’ve never seen a wild pasque flower, there are a few tips for finding them growing in and around Brown County. To start, they only grow on native prairie that hasn’t been farmed in the past, preferring the south-facing side of dry hillsides and hilltops or open wooded areas. Pastures that were grazed late during the prior summer are another good place to search. Since most of the land in Brown County is flat, farmed ground, the flower can be trickier to find, but Chris Goldade, a regional program manager for South Dakota Game Fish and Parks, says it’s definitely possible to spot the spring welcomer in this part of the

state. “In Brown County along some of the creeks and streams you can find nice native prairie. By Foote Creek, near the hills that drop off into Richmond Lake at places, and in northern Brown around Willow Dam near hills that roll into the Elm River are some of places I’ve seen them.” Finding a blooming pasque has as much to do with timing as location. The word pasque means Easter or Passover, and it’s likely the first European inhabitants to the region named it so for flowering during these holidays. Some still refer to it as the Easter flower, May flower, or even prairie crocus. Most South Dakota plant handbooks agree that the pasque




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 Pasque flowers grow low to the ground, with soft leaves and purple sepals. Photo by Linda Harms.  Photo by K.C. Jensen  The pasque flower only blooms for a few weeks. Photo by Isaac Full.

usually blooms between April 15 and May 1. Depending on the year and conditions, it can flower earlier. Once it has bloomed, it will lose its sepals (or petals) in about two weeks. The window is small for finding them while they’re showing off their shades of purple, and since they’re one of the first flowering plants of the season, people aren’t usually on the lookout and miss them. When it isn’t in bloom, it can be even more difficult to identify the pasque flower. As is common for a tundra flower, it survives by growing low to the ground and staying out of the wind and is soon overtaken by taller plants. Chris says an easy way to determine if a plant is a pasque is to pull off a little bit of leaf material, crush it between your fingers, and sniff gently. “It has a strong ammonia smell, it’ll almost burn your nasal passage if you sniff it too strongly. That ammonia odor is how you can tell it apart from other species that look similar to it in its vegetative leaf state.”

46 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE march/april 2019

If you do find a pasque flower, enjoy it, but it’s best to not disturb it or try and move it to your garden. Chris explains, “Like most of our native plants, it has a very deep root system and trying to transplant it is going to be a lot of shock to it. It likely wouldn’t survive.” The pasque flower has important uses, both historically and in present day. American Indians living in the Dakotas used it to some extent medicinally as a counter-irritant for painful ailments such as rheumatism. Today, it is a key species that professionals use to identify if an area is truly native prairie or not. Perhaps it serves the most important role for early pollinators, as it is one of the only flowering plants available for their food source in the early spring. It is a tradition in my family to go looking for the pasque flower around this time of year, right when we are starting to grow

especially anxious for the weather to change. Between the end of March and early May, when the afternoon sun is noticeably warmer, we set out in coats and boots to hillsides near our farm where we know the flower likes to frequent. Finding the flecks of purple among the halfmelted piles of snow and still brown grass is a reassurance that everything else will soon follow the pasque’s lead and grow again after the long winter rest. South Dakotans have had pride in our small but sturdy state bloom for a long time, even before legislators made it our official flower in 1903. Perhaps Badger Clark, a South Dakota poet laureate, described our love for this tiny flower that grows when few other things can best when he wrote, “A starlet of hope with center of joy. For out of the cold turf at the edge of the snows. The brave little, grave little pasque flower grows.” // Written in memory of George Mohr, my friend and a friend to many people and many flowers.  A special thank you to Chris Goldade of SDGFP for providing information for this story, and to the many nature lovers in the South Dakota Plants & Wildlife Facebook group who submitted their pasque flower photographs. If you’ve found pasque flowers in or around Brown County, write to us and let us know!

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H o w J o h n Z i e t l o w b u i lt a m u lt i m i l l i o n - d o l l a r t e l e c o m m u n i c at i o n company in Aberdeen by MIKE MCCAFFERTY

ohn L.W. Zietlow was born in Greotzien, Germany, on December 8, 1850, the son of a farmer named Ferdinand Zietlow. He attended the finest national schools in Germany and learned the skill of watchmaking from an expert artisan. Sometime during his youth, his father left the family for parts unknown. In 1867, at the age of 17, Zietlow made the decision to come to America. It is uncertain which immigration port he came through, but at that time New York City and Philadelphia handled almost all immigrants coming into the U.S. Upon entering the country, Zietlow made his way to Wisconsin and gained employment in the area sawmills, gradually moving up in the ranks. He prided himself on tinkering with and improving the ways of doing things mechanically, putting his watchmaking talents to use in other areas. In 1873, a terrible accident occurred at the sawmill and Zietlow lost his right arm to just above his elbow. While recovering in the hospital, the bank that he and others in the area used went bankrupt, and he lost all his savings. When he was well enough, the sawmill he had worked for helped pay his tuition to attend a commercial college in Naperville, Illinois, where he took a six-month course in bookkeeping, penmanship, and business law. Upon graduation, he returned to the sawmill as a scaler and soon moved up to the position of

superintendent. On March 4, 1878, Zietlow married the love of his life, Miss Martha Hewitt, in Newton, Wisconsin. Their first child, John Ford Zietlow, was born in 1879. In 1880, Zietlow accepted a manager position with a small startup company and moved his family to Stillwater, Minnesota. The company, which was to become the Northwestern Manufacturing and Car Company, was looking at a variety of products including telephone service

Photos by Troy McQuillen

 The Dacotah Prairie Museum is home to much of the early telecommunication equipment designed by John Zietlow.

 A Dakota Central Telephone Company stock certificate, part of the Zietlow collection at the Museum.

and portable sawmills. They were unique in that many of their employees were convicts from the local prison. It was here that Zietlow met one such convict named Charles Emner, who was also an extremely talented electrician. The two men took a liking to each other and began playing around with the new invention—the telephone. They bought two mail-order phone kits and greatly improved the sound and transmission quality of the equipment. Zietlow’s daughter Essie was born in Stillwater in 1883. Toward the fall of that same year, he saw a newspaper article that told the tale of a Dakota Territory farmer named Ferdinand Zietlow who had been badly burned. He immediately went to Dakota Territory and confirmed that this was indeed his estranged father. His father died shortly afterward from his injuries. Zietlow then moved his wife and children from Stillwater to claim the family homestead, located near the towns of Athol and Ashton in Spink County. He gave up the corporate life to be a one-armed farmer, which was difficult at best. His second daughter, Nina, was born in Athol. Zietlow toiled on the farm but kept tinkering with the telephone too. He was aware of Alexander Graham Bell’s efforts to provide telephone service and how he was doing it, but he pursued a different way. A fellow inventor from Germany, Phillip Reis, had invented a machine that transmitted musical notes over a wire, but he was never able to transmit language that could be understood. The Reis phone used different electrical principles than march/april 2019 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE


Bell’s system. Zietlow tinkered with this system and created his own similar phone. He discovered that a small adjustment to Reis’ original wiring schematics made it transmit language that was easily understandable and was quite clear with little or no interference. It was much better than Bell’s system. In early 1886, Zietlow received a letter from his convict friend Charles Emner, who had served his time and moved to Washington, D.C., where he hit it big in real estate investments. Emner encouraged Zietlow to get into the telephone business and offered to help him with financing. As word spread of Zietlow’s plans, several prominent Aberdeen investors, including A.C. Mellette, approached him about starting a telephone company. With backing from Emner, Zietlow started the Dakota Emner Telephone Company in September 1886 and a second company,

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the Aberdeen Telephone Company, a month later with financial backing from local investors. He then moved to Aberdeen to set up the phone service to Aberdeen, Columbia, and Bath. Zietlow himself set all the poles, strung all the wire, built the switchboard for his new phone technology and service, and signed up subscribers. By February 1887 the system was operational along a 10-mile maze of wires servicing 60 phones. His wife and children worked as phone operators and messengers. With everything in place, Zietlow patented his phone and began using it in his companies. Bell got word of Zietlow’s start up phone company, and in 1887 his attorneys began to sue Zietlow and his companies for patent infringement. This tactic had worked well for Bell, as he had crushed the Western Union Company, Thomas Edison, and everybody else in court who

 This map shows the numerous toll routes operated by Zietlow’s Dakota Central Telephone Company. As you can see, the lines served many counties in the area.

had dared to try and compete with him. Being the sharp businessman, promoter, and top-notch mechanic that he was, Zietlow didn’t get himself caught up in the Bell legal game. By developing and utilizing totally different technology, and receiving his own patent, he left Bell with no legal leg to stand on. Bell tried numerous times to sue Zietlow but lost each time. He finally gave up in 1896. Zietlow’s telephone company began to struggle in the early 1890s. By 1896 he was in debt to the tune of $5,000 with only $1.50 in cash capital on hand. He had spent $20,000 of his own money so far, and many of the early local investors had become discouraged and faded away. To get out of debt and save the company,

 Due to a sawmill accident in his early days, Zietlow lost his right arm to just above his elbow.

Zietlow decided he must expand phone services to Redfield. To promote this and raise the needed funding, he sold tickets to buyers for $1 each that entitled them to make four calls per ticket when the line was completed. His promotion was successful. He raised enough money to hire crews to set the poles and string the wire in the new system from Aberdeen to Redfield. This new effort by Zietlow not only saved the company but gave it worldwide prominence. From this time on the city of Aberdeen was the world leader in telephones per person, with one phone for every 6.5 people! During this same time, the city of New York had one phone for every 14.5 people, and the national average for cities was one phone for every 22 people. John Zietlow’s dedication and determination made Aberdeen a growing telecommunication center. The success of Zietlow’s gamble to save his company resulted in the Dakota Emner Telephone Company and the Aberdeen Telephone Company combining to form the Dakota Central Lines Company in 1898. That same year, the Western Dakota Telephone Company was formed to connect Aberdeen to Eureka. After merging, the Dakota Central Lines Company immediately bought the new Western Dakota Telephone Company, as well as the Watertown Telephone Exchange. Business boomed and the company grew. In 1904  The Dacotah Prairie Museum in Aberdeen has an extensive collection of Zietlow records and artifacts on display, including the original switchboard he designed to utilize his unique system.

it was again reorganized into the Dakota Central Telephone Company. Zietlow then purchased the First National Bank building, on the corner of South Main and Second Avenue, and moved his business there. On November 6, 1905, Zietlow’s telephone company and Aberdeen scored another first in telephone history. Aberdeen was the first city in the United States to have automatic dial service! It also now owned 10,000 miles of transmission lines connecting all of eastern South Dakota, some of eastern Minnesota, and most of southern North Dakota. In nine years, from 1896 to 1905, John Zietlow turned his debt-ridden, on the brink of bankruptcy telephone company into a juggernaut now worth several million dollars. Over the next 12 years, Zietlow’s Dakota Central Telephone Company grew and grew. New innovations made for better phone service, and in 1917 another first in the history of telephone service occurred in Aberdeen. Zietlow’s phone company was the first to provide commercial long-distance dial service in the United States when the service was introduced to customers in Aberdeen, Huron, and Watertown. The line was completed December 5 of that year by John Wicks, an engineer for the Automatic Electric Company. The dial switching equipment was located in Doland. John Zietlow died on November 14, 1922, at his home in Aberdeen. At the time of his death, the Dakota Central Telephone Company was the second largest employer in the state of South Dakota, behind Homestake Gold Mine. In terms of assets it was the largest company in the state, valued at over $5,000,000. In 1928, four years after his death, Zietlow’s company was sold to TriState Telephone, who then sold it to Northwestern Bell in 1934. However, despite these companies buying it, they kept the name Dakota Central Telephone Company until 1942 when by a court order Dakota Central Telephone Company was dissolved. It was the most successful independent telephone company in history. Right here in Aberdeen. //  SOURCES: Dacotah Prairie Museum The History Committee of the Brown County Museum and Historical Society. History of Brown County, 1980 Gates, Sue. J.L.W. Zietlow and his Dakota Telephone Company, www.sdpb.org Telecommunications History Group. Dakota Central Telephone Co., www.telcomhistory.org march/april 2019 ABERDEEN MAGAZINE



HELLO SPRING, GOODBYE CLUTTER! An organizing how-to for the busy household by CARRIE BARTSCHER, Design Consultant at Ultimate Kitchen & Bath and We Do Closets As a working mom, I have fought the cleaning and organizing war for years. It always seems to be a losing battle, like a revolving door that smacks you in the face with each dirty sock left on the carpet. However, I recently decided to start fighting back, and then, pure coincidence, Marie Kondo appeared on Netflix. I discovered organizing and cleaning are inextricably linked, and one cannot be had without the other. Simply learning this minuscule idea has changed the way my household works, and I can say the techniques I’ve applied have helped me create a sense of domestic peace. Let me preface this by saying Marie Kondo’s methods may not work for everyone, and honestly, not everything she does works for me either. What I have found is that a combination of multiple theories is best. So, take some of these tips and adapt them to what works for your lifestyle and your time.

1 Turn your hangers all the same way in your closet. When you hang your clothes back up, turn that hanger the other way. After a year, gather everything you haven’t worn from the original placed hangers and take those clothes to donate! This is a very simple technique for removing unused items from your closet and takes less than five minutes.


3 Drawer organizers create so much more space than you think, and you can use them in your kitchen, bathrooms, dressers, closets, or anywhere!


5 Put kitchen appliances and dishware that you don’t use often (think Christmas baking dishes) in a cabinet that is out of the way and hard to reach in the kitchen. This will free up space for the items you use more frequently.

6 4 Turn laundry right side out before laundering. Clothing will get cleaner, and you will save time when folding or hanging things up.

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Throw out leftovers after three days. If you haven’t eaten them in that time, you won’t! If you don’t plan to eat at home for a few days, freeze the leftovers for another meal some other time.

Create a cleaning schedule and organize it by category. Focus on daily, weekly, and monthly chores, and stick to it! But be reasonable with yourself, if you need to modify, modify!

Invest in see-through boxes and totes. This way, you can organize your items by category and see exactly what’s inside them for easy access.


When you bring the mail in, go through it right away. File bills and other items that need attention and throw any junk mail that will just clutter on a counter or desk.


Make your bed every morning after you get up. A tidy bedroom feels more inviting after a long day and looks better, too! Overall, the best part about cleaning and organizing has been how much more time I have for myself and my family. My weekends aren’t encompassed with cleaning, and the mess has become easier to manage. Even something as simple as putting away the dishes every night has freed up my time with the added benefit of waking up refreshed. Through my version of the tidying process, I have won a major victory, and have thoroughly enjoyed watching the dust bunnies raise their white flags! //

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Aberdeen Magazine March/April 2019  

Aberdeen, South Dakota's community lifestyle magazine.

Aberdeen Magazine March/April 2019  

Aberdeen, South Dakota's community lifestyle magazine.