County Museum donors offer a challenge

Dr. Bruce Ramsdell was the speaker at Sunday’s annual meeting of the Moody County Historical Society.

Two longtime members of the Moody County Historical Society are challenging the broader community with a matching gift campaign as MCHS looks to take on several new expansion and acquisition projects.
The Museum’s Board of Directors announced this past weekend at their annual meeting held Sunday, Jan. 12 at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, that brothers Dr. Bruce Ramsdell and Scott Ramsdell have each graciously donated up to $5,000 toward new projects. Some of the initiatives planned include the development of a kiosk for visitors to more easily research and access the museum’s digital materials, footings to mount a section of the historic Crescent Street Bridge that was saved during demolition last fall, painting the recently donated Claim shack and furnishing it with time appropriate items, and installing a light for the flag pole so that it will continually remain on display. Directors would also like to supply the Museum’s new Director, Caitlyn Drietz, with a laptop needed for presentations in-house and elsewhere.
The board is hoping matching donors will help MCHS raise $20,000 altogether, that is the goal to fund the new projects and avoid dipping into savings. The Museum is also hosting a pancake feed fundraiser on March 19th.
At Sunday’s annual meeting, Dr. Ramsdell was the guest speaker.
Ramsdell spoke about his family history in the region, especially about his Aunt Oney Ramsdell,aka Sarah Leone Ramsdell. She was the oldest child of Wm the Sheriff Ramsdell who first came to Moody County in 1876. Dr. Ramsdell said that Oney held down and managed the land the Ramsdell Family claimed in Alliance, Blinsmon and Grovena townships while her father returned to Osage, Iowa. Family say letters show that she “served as her father’s hostess as he grappled with the fight over which city would become the capital of the new state of South Dakota during his time in the 1888 Dakota Territorial Legislature in Bismarck. She remained devoted to her parents, the Methodist Church, and the community of Flandreau until her early death at age 66.
“I know it’s cliche but we only know the present by understanding the past,” said Dr. Ramsdell, of why he made his most recent gift and continues to offer the museum ongoing support. He added that the match challenge comes at a critical point.
“We have the confluence of people and circumstance providing an opportunity to make our museum great. We can’t let this moment pass us by.”
“Aunt Oney died 101 years ago,” said Ramsdell. “She was an unsung contributor to the settlement of Moody County. She was unapologetically single, never intending to marry, yet served as a major contributor towards the success of her family and community.”
Board of Directors re-elected were Berdeyne Bowen, Warren Jackson and Margo Zephier. Lynda Burggraff was elected as secretary to replace Ada Jorgenson who chose not to run for the board again.
For more on what new museum staff have been working on, lot onto MCHS’s website or social media pages. Drietz said that video/audio devices are now available for the Jones School, Depot and Claim Shack buildings. They are pre-recorded tours such as those in the River Bend Meeting House.

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