HISTORY: Dells owns heritage of strong women
May 13. 2014 6:00AM
Often when we think of the settlement and progression of Dell Rapids, we think of the men. William Crisp, considered a “true pioneer,” his brother, Walter Crisp, was another early settler. Rev. William Hill was the first resident minister, and maybe even Lyman Merry.
These men were brave. They traveled long distances when there were no roads. They hunted and fished for food for their families. They did great things.
But behind every man is a woman. And in honor of Mothers Day I’d like to commend some of the outstanding women in Dell Rapids history.
Gina Smith Campbell was one of our early outstanding women. She was in San Francisco in April 1906, at the time of the famous earthquake.
Her account of the earthquake was the first accurate news to get out of San Francisco and was widely publicized.
In 1915 Campbell was commended for her efforts in soliciting the funds to build a bath house. The bath house grew in popularity. The Dell Rapids bathing beach became one of the most popular bath houses in the region. Thousands of people came here to Dell Rapids because of her efforts. And yet, she wasn’t be allowed to vote till 1919.
Campbell’s step mother, Anna Smith, was no stranger to excellence. Born in 1863 in Norway, she was sent to Berlin as a child. She passed the very difficult entrance examinations of the Royal School of Music. Then in 1879 her family came to this country. In 1893 Smith served as Sate Chairman of music for the woman’s building at the World’s Fair at Chicago. Again in 1895 she returned to Europe to continue her studies in music. Upon her return to Dell Rapids she married O.H. Smith and shared her love and passion with the community through teaching music.
Charlotte Elliott, plant pathologist, bacteriologist and botanist was born in 1883. She attended Stanford University from which she received the A.B. degree in 1907 and the A.M. degree in 1913. Elliot studied under L.R. Jones at the University of Wisconsin where she, the only woman student in the department, received her PhD in 1918.
An outstanding educated woman was still not allowed to vote for the local mayor.
As a member of the Botanical Society of Washington, she would eventually become their first woman president.
Other noteworthy women; Nellie and Mary Simpson, in charge of the quarry after their father’s death; Lorraine Summerside, who would eventually become the first woman on the Webster City Council; Nellie Harrington, who wrote several poetry books; Ruth Cobb, beautician for 70 years, the longest running business in Dell Rapids; Cathryn Schaefer, the first woman Realtor-Broker in South Dakota and least we not forget Catherine Heinemann, mother of 13 children.
Today, if we take a closer look at many of our more successful businesses, many of them are owned and operated by woman. Even within our education system, women outnumber the men.
Many of these women broke barriers when others objected, they traveled long distances alone in dangerous times, and they continued on when others laughed.
They did this not for themselves, but the betterment of the community and those who surrounded them.
Yesterday and today Dell Rapids has shaped and supported some truly remarkable women, a tradition surely to be carried on well into the future.
Happy Mother’s Day!