Dalesburg Historical
History, heritage, community, and events

Local History

One-Hundredth Anniversary 1920 Towers & Basement

It was Sunday, October 17, 1920. It was Confirmation at Dalesburg Lutheran Church. The new towers and new basement had just been finished. The bell had been returned to its lofty perch. In April of that year, the previous single tower had been removed and Mr. Crane from Centerville had raised the remaining structure so that a basement could be added under the building. Gottfrid Anderson, a local carpenter was hired to lead the construction of the basement and to build two towers of different height in the front of the church. Volunteers – men and women – helped with the project throughout the year. Sunday Services were held at the Garfield Township Hall. Gottfrid Anderson left the project in September to go to Sweden. Herman Zetterlund and Nils Johnson were the leaders who finished the project.

On October 26-27, 1920 the congregation hosted a gathering of the Sioux Falls District.* At this gathering a new altar, a new pulpit, new altar chairs and electric lights supported by an electric generating plant were blessed.

The beginning of 1920 had seen the Pastor and his wife affected with influenza.

*Sioux Falls District of the Minnesota Conference of the Augustana Synod.


Gottfrid and Nils (Nels) now rest from their labors at the Dalesburg Baptist Church Cemetery.  Herman now rests from his labors at the Dalesburg Lutheran Cemetery.  The volunteers also rest from their labors, and… the Confirmation students also rest from the labor of their Confirmation recitation. 

Thank Be To God. 


Swedish Council of America’s Award of Merit

Ron Johnson was presented with the Swedish Council of America’s Award of Merit at a brunch hosted by Dalesburg Scandinavian Association on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at Dalesburg Lutheran Church.  Ron had been nominated by the other officers of Dalesburg Scandinavian Association.  For information about the Swedish Council of America’s Award of Merit, please go to:

http://www.swedishcouncil.org/?s=%22award+of+merit%22&x=0&y=0 and

http://www.swedishcouncil.org/sca-awards-recognition/award-of-merit/20 (Click on “2015 – AoM”)


1931 Vermillion Plain Talk article: “Dalesburg Band History Goes Back to Early Pioneer Days”

Plain Talk
Vermillion, South Dakota , July 30, 1931

“Dalesburg Band History Goes Back to Early Pioneer Days” by August Peterson
The Dalesburg band, which was organized in October, 1887, claims the distinction of being the first rural band organized in South Dakota, and what was then Dakota Territory, and the claim will not be seriously disputed. Tuesday evening, July 21, the band celebrated its 44th anniversary in Dalesburg at the bandstand, and the feature of the evening was the rendition of the first selection the old band gave at its first concert in the Dalesburg schoolhouse in January, 1888. During the anniversary program Fred Heglin, the first leader and director of the band, gave a comprehensive and interesting history of the organization, telling of the first inspirational impulse of the young men of that day to start a band among the farm boys, the hardships incident thereto as compared with today, as well as some of the humorous occurrences in that connection. Stress was laid on the comparison of 44 years ago with today, by saying that it was a common thing in those days to hear “out-of-door voices a half mile away, passing along the trails hauling building materials, returning home from neighbors, threshing, and walking with a pitchfork on the shoulder after the day’s work was done, or even the man and wife with a milk pail on their arms, going to do the milking; to hear people sing or hum a tune of folksongs, national airs or religious songs, the atmosphere seem surcharged with melodious contentment, while today when folks go out on the highway, they sit like bull frogs at the steering wheel and are mum.

“The 10th of October, 1887, may be said to be the birthday of the Dalesburg band.” Mr. Heglin said, “and how eager the boys were to feast their eyes on their first instruments, consigned from Lyon & Healy, Chicago, and hauled from Vermillion, was related by him, replete with humor and not a little pathos. Failing to find a hammer in their hurry to open the box in which the instruments were packed, they used his mother’s stovepoker, which broke in the attempt and after each one of the boys had made his initial trial on his instrument, she pronounced the bass drum as the finest instrument of them all, all the time lamenting over the broken stovepoker.

At the band’s first concert 44 years ago, there was a well-known young lady with a most pleasing voice who sang a song of youth, depicting the usual aspiration of life’s springtime. Last Tuesday evening at the band’s anniversary program this same lady sang ” When You and I Were Young Maggie.” The young lady referred to was none other than Miss Lizzie Ostlund, while at Tuesday night’s program she was Mrs. Fred Heglin, and to the astonished gathering of people who had come to pay their respects to the old band and leader and to enjoy the evening’s entertainment, the lady’s voice had lost none of its former charm, while a close observer might have detected a slight trace of pathos as the words, replete with life’s full meaning lent themself ready to the occasion.

Rev. C.J. Carlson, who was pastor of the Dalesburg Lutheran church and had just resigned a short time previous to the organization of the band, had expressed a wish to hear the band play before leaving the community. It was therefore arranged that the band, unknown to Rev. Carlson, go and serenade him on a certain evening shortly before his departure. Mr. Heglin related that the evening was very cold and as the band boys had not yet fully become accustomed to their new instruments, they knew nothing of the effect the temperature might have on their musical prowess. But there was also during that period, Mr. Heglin stated, the all-absorbing interest in the famous Indian chief, “Sitting Bull,” and his interference in the peaceful pursuits of the Dakota settlers. The papers at the time were full of stories of the Indian chief, and cold shivers went up the back of every homesteader throughout this region. When at last the band serenaders arrived at the parsonage, proceeding as quietly as possible for best effect, and having cautioned each other, no doubt, in making their most supreme effort to please the parson, imagine their surprise when, upon the word of their leader to play, that not a sound could be heard from any of their instruments with the exception of the drums. The rest were frozen up and Mr. Heglin said “they blew hard enough to take the top of a haystack off, without a sound emitting from one of the horns.” They had frozen, and only the monotonous beats of the drums were heard on the cold wintry night air while Rev. Carlson instinctively suspected the visitation of the famous “Sitting Bull” and his cohorts. After a short parley, the boys were invited to come in, thaw out their instruments, and they duly entertained the minister.

During the first winter, after the band had organized, the winter of 1888 with almost impassible roads and trails because of the heavy snow, it wasn’t uncommon for the band boys to wade through miles of from two to four feet of snow in going to and from their band meetings to practice. Hardship seemed to stimulate them to new efforts.
During the corn husking season of 1893 Emanuel Johnson, who arrived from Sweden that spring, was working for Jorgen Nelson, in Lodi. He had joined the Dalesburg band and in going to a band meeting at the Fred Heglin home one evening on horseback, the overflow of the bottom caused he and his horse to lose footing while crossing the bridge below the bluff on this side of the river. His tenor horn was lost in the tumble, the water reaching to the flank of the horse. But he recovered the horn, stopped at a clump of plum bushes to dry his clothes, and was on deck at band practice as though nothing had happened.

The members of the old band as first organized were as follows: Fred Heglin, leader and director; John E. Norelius, Andrew Lyckholm, Joseph Inberg, John Heglin , Chas. Hoyer, Peter Heglin, Emanuel Norelius, Andrew Strom and Oscar Sundstrom. So far as known, six of the original members are still living and Joseph Inberg is yet an active and valuable member of the present band. Fred Heglin, up to a few years ago, took active part in the band and on various occasions, even though not a resident of the community, lent his aid and best efforts for its continued success. Oscar Sundstrom, of Beresford, was present at the anniversary program and took part in the rendition of the first selection played by the old band, and by the generous applause rewarded them by the assembled multitude, numbering about 1,500, it is evident that people yet enjoy old-time music.

Throughout the 44 years of the band’s history. Mr. Heglin related, there were periods when the organization barely functioned, while at other times it would flourish to the great satisfaction of its founders. Not long after the band’s first entry as a rural musical organization, one member dropped out and in his stead, young Charles Lyckholm was substituted. He was then but a youngster in his “teens,” but owing to his great interest in music, it did not take long before he was the most accomplished player of them all. It was said that when young Charlie was first permitted to take the instrument home, it created not a little commotion, in that his father objected to the music discourse because he could
not sleep and accordingly the young musician was forced to find refuge down by the creek which ran along some distance from their home. But the worst was yet to come. Not being accustomed to the entertainment of such variety of music, the cattle stampeded and broke through all the fences of the farm, compelling his father to repair fences for days afterward.

The following year (1888) the band was engaged to furnish music at the midsummer picnic, held at the Hans Ostlund farm at Clay Point. As the whole countryside was even then accustomed to attend those gatherings, one may surmise that the band felt not a little proud of showing its accomplishments in the musical field. The leader, Mr. Heglin, asserts that the fact that a young man of that day being a member of the band, contributed not a little toward everyone in the organization entering the matrimonial harvest shortly, and adds that if the present band plays the proper kind of music, no gloomy bachelorhood need hamper the future environs of the Dalesburg band. There lived in that community at the time, Jonas Johnson, a well-known substantial citizen, who attended the band’s first outdoor concert, perhaps with some slight misgivings as to its musical value and entertainment. When the band had played its best selection, designated, Mr. Heglin states, as No. 2 in the beginner’s handbook, Mr. Johnson proudly marched up and volunteered that if the band would play that piece over again, he would give a $10 bill to the organization. Of course it was triumphantly repeated and the band’s treasury was duly enriched to that extent, and it was the first reward received publicly.

In the concluding remarks of the old band leader, Mr.Heglin stressed the value and advantage in having a musical organization such as the local band, and urged the people throughout the community to actively lend their moral and financial support. It furnished entertainment during its bi-weekly concerts which, if you should go elsewhere to enjoy, would cost at least a dollar per family in gas, oil and sundry items. The amount could as readily be given the local band instead, and at the same time stimulate community interest in numerous ways and for the benefit and enjoyment of all. His concluding message was: “Back them up by words and deeds and may the Dalesburg band have many more anniversaries with increased ability and service.”

As a mark of courtesy, Mr. Swedling, the present leader of the band, handed the baton over to the old veteran band leader, who led the band in the two concluding selections, which gained fresh applause from the appreciative audience. At the close of the program, various individuals expressed their thanks by substantial cash donations, one being a contribution of a five dollar bill from Emma Swedberg of Vermillion, as announced from the bandstand, and contributions by others in lesser amounts. Willard Danielson, manager of the present organization, announced that the next concert will be given on Tuesday evening, August 4, at which time several special selections will be rendered, and he assured the audience that this concert will be outstanding in several particulars and well worth attending.
Notes: The homestead of Hans and Martha Ostlund was located at 30962 University Road; or the Northeast corner of the intersection of University Road and Clay Point Street; or in the North Half of the Southwest Quarter and the North Half of the Southeast Quarter in Section 5, Prairie Center Township, Clay County. Lizzie Ostlund Heglin was their daughter.

The bandstand was in the village of Dalesburg, located 1.5 miles north of Hub City / Dalesburg Lutheran Church on University Road. Dalesburg School was located one mile north of Dalesburg Lutheran Church / Hub City on University Road.

For information about the firm Lyon & Healy in Chicago, visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyon_%26_Healy

If you want a printer -friendly version of this article, click here to download PDF.

Legends of St. Lucia

Legends of St. Lucia

What do Norse Vikings, Swedish farmers, an Italian peasant girl,
and an English Bishop have in common? Based on the reason we
are all here today, you might guess St. Lucia Day. And you would
be right. The interesting story is in who and the why.
Let’s start with the Norse Vikings. According to the old Julian
calendar, December 13 is the darkest day. In modern times with
our Gregorian calendar, we know this to be December 21st and
22nd.. the shortest day and the longest night for those of us, like the
Vikings, in the Northern Hemisphere.. otherwise known as the
Winter Solstice. This darkest day was not a day to be out on a
boat, but rather to be inside.. possibly burning a log to keep warm,
for a tradition that would later become the winter festival.. or
burning of the Yule Log.
Likewise, December 13 was the day the ancient pagan
Scandinavian farmers offered sacrifices for good crops for the
coming summer. These sacrifices would usually involve building
a ceremonial fire to light the night. The word Lucia refers to light
in several languages. It is perhaps in this way that the person of St.
Lucia, who we will talk about soon, became mingled with the
legends of Lucia in Scandinavian countries.
There are a number of old legends of Lucia in Sweden. An old
legend from the province of Dalsland, names Lucia as the bride of
light. The legend says that on December 13, Lucia will appear
riding in a lusse-cart, similar to a chariot, and if the cart breaks
down, you will get lice in your hair. On Lucia night, the threshing
of grain must be finished to insure a bountiful crop the next year,
the horses should have on winter shoes, and all new-born babies
should be baptized before Lucia night or the trolls would come and
whisk them away forever.
Another old legend tells of Lucia being seen in the Swedish
province of Vermland during a great famine. Lucia, robed in white
came across Lake Venern in a large ship. She commanded the ship
to dock at different places and distributed food to the starving
people. The people who lived in Vermland claimed Lucia was the
queen of supernatural beings and was a worker of miracles.
But these Nordic stories are more myth than fact. To understand
why we celebrate St. Lucia Day today, we need to look at the
actual person. An English bishop from the Seventh Century, St.
Aldhelm, gave us the story of St. Lucia as we know it today. His
story has not been proven to be historically correct, but his story
stresses why the young maiden Lucia was a Christian honored by
the early church.
Lucia was born in Syracuse, Sicily in Italy. Her mother, a widow,
raised her in the Christian faith. Lucia made a vow to God never
to marry and to devote her life to serving Christ and the poor.
There was a young man who wanted to marry Lucia. Lucia told
her mother her secret vow and asked for her inheritance which
would have been her dowry. Lucia used her inheritance to help the
poor and needy. The story tells of Lucia bringing food to the
Christians hiding in the caves. In order to bring with her as many
supplies as possible, she needed to have both hands free. She
solved this problem by attaching candles to a wreath on her head.
Meanwhile, the rejected young man accused her of aiding and
abetting the Christians. Lucia was brought before the Roman
Court and was asked to renounce her faith in Christ, but she
refused. The court condemned her to die a martyr’s death. Later
the Church declared Lucia a saint of the Church and patron saint of
the blind, as she had brought so much light to the world and yet it
is believed she lost her sight during her persecution. The story of
St. Lucia resonated particularly in Scandinavia where it became
mingled with those earlier Norse legends we discussed. Today it is
one of the very few saint days observed in Scandinavia.
So however the St. Lucia celebration came to be, the St. Lucia Day
celebration is a combination of remembering old folklore traditions
and honoring a saint. Put the two together, the religious and the
folklore, and you create a warm and joyous day dedicated to
finding of light in the darkness.
St. Lucia is not a preparation for Christmas in the same sense as
Advent is. It is a reminder of St. Lucia herself and her sacrificial
giving to the poor and her devotion to Christ. The life of St. Lucia
and a Lucia celebration direct us to Christ – the Light of the World.
A St. Lucia celebration stresses the importance of light and the
coming of light. Light as warmth, light as promise, light as hope,
light as life and light shining in the darkness. The Light of Christ
shining in our dark world.
Today we celebrate that light just as the Norse Vikings, Swedish
farmers, an Italian peasant girl, and an English Bishop all did.
Not used in this version:
Let’s begin with a little poem found in Traditional Swedish books:
Now light one thousand Christmas lights
On dark earth here tonight
One thousand, thousand also shine
To make the dark sky bright.
It is a beautiful poem that conjures up images of deep winter nights and a dark star-filled
sky. It speaks to the history of St. Lucia and the light that her memory brings to the
world. But who is St. Lucia and why do we celebrate her day?

Legends of St Lucia 2013 print version 

Celebration of The St. Lucia Tradition

the St. Lucia Tradition
Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 3:00 P.M.
“Fiddler Nelson”
“Welcome and Prayer”
Ron Johnson
“The Christmas Story”
Luke 2:1-20
English: Pastor Martens
Swedish: Ron Johnson
“Fiddler Nelson”
“Legends of St. Lucia”
Jeff Erickson
“Lucia Procession and Serving”
“The Santa Lucia Song”
“Nu Tändas Tusen Juleljus”
“Now Shine A Thousand Candles Bright”
“Presentation of the Lucia Court”
Joan Huot
“Jeg Er Så Glad Hver Julekveld”
“I Am So Glad Each Christmas Eve”
“Nu Är Det Jul Igen”
“Now Is It Christmas Again”

Lucia Program 2013

2013 Clay County Annual Gathering

Don’t make lunch or supper plans for Thursday, May 23rd. The Clay County Historic preservation Commission will hold its annual gathering at the W. H. Over Museum.  We enjoy getting together with friends and guests to delve into our past material culture, and invite all with an interest in local history to join us.

The makings of a princely sandwich will be provided during the noon hour, including bread from red Wagon Bakery, and greens from the greenhouse at the Heikes family farms.  An assortment of juices will be offered, along with home baked cookies.

Jim Wilson will start with a presentation on historic brick and show samples from the recently razed Danish barn and Bob Hansen, the accomplished traditional mason from Yankton will provide his expertise.  The mid-afternoon program will be an informal and evolving discussion of the role of trees in our development of this landscape with expert explanation by noted expert. Dr. Molly Rozum.  She will focus on why and how various kinds of trees came to appear on the plains.  There will be discussion of lumber milling technology featuring local experts Gene Hawkins and John Erikson.  There should be an opportunity to look at and actually use an historic tool or two.  The audience has been carefully seeded with a range of expertise, which should result in a fascinating free-wheeling discussion.

We will be joined by representatives of the South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office.

Joe Reiser has been persuaded to cook an evening meal for us – his barbecue is the real thing.  And then at 7:00 Pm Jim Stone will give us an update on his ongoing survey of historic barns of Clay County – and unveil a half-inch scale model of a barn that he has just completed.

A sense of place is especially important when so much of our culture is homogenized and disposable, and a community event focused on developing that solid foundation is a valuable opportunity.  Don’t miss this one.  A free, informative and fun community event.

For further information contact Jim Wilson at whitewilson@msn.com

Dalesburg Scandinavian Association Luncheon

Monday, November 12, 2012 in Beresford.

Luncheon and Annual Meeting of Dalesburg Scandinavian Association.

For details and to make a reservation, call Connie Richards (605-763-5128).  Free Lunch!

John Titanic Johnson

Did you know that Dalesburg has a connection to the Titanic?

Survivor John Johnson was on his way to Dalesburg on the Titanic. In later years he became known for this as John “Titanic” Johnson.

The Argus Leader recently did a story on Mr. Johnson in which our own Ron Johnson (no relation) provided them with additional background information. You can read the Argus Leader article here:


A relevant portion regarding Dalesburg:

Through the years, Ron Johnson of Clay County has collected documents and stories about John “Titanic” Johnson, who survived the disaster at age 14. Ron Johnson shared some of those items at the party. John Johnson was coming from his native Sweden to join his sister and father in South Dakota. “I’m not related to him,” Ron Johnson said. “But I’ll tell his story as long as I can.”

Should the link go away, here is the article in its entirety:

It may have been the 100th anniversary of one of the greatest disasters in modern history, but it was remembered Sunday with style.

About 170 people turned out to mark the sinking of the Titanic for dinner, drinks and re-enactments. Many were dressed in period costumes, or at least the costumes worn by wealthy first-class travelers and crew members.

The event, sponsored by Sioux Falls in the World, also served as a fundraiser for the South Dakota Symphony.

“We’ve been working pretty steady on it the last two and half months pulling it together,” said Larry Ort, Sioux Falls in the World’s chairman. Ort was dressed as Capt. Edward John Smith, who went down with his ship.

The event started with 150 tickets, but demand was so high it was expanded to 170, said Mike Saba, who played J. Bruce Ismay, the president of the White Star Line, who survived the disaster.

Paul Thompson played the part of Charles Lightoller, the highest ranking officer on the ship to survive the disaster. Lightoller was a critical witness during the subsequent inquiries who later served in the British Navy during World War I. In World War II, when the British were attempting to evacuate their Army from France, Lightoller piloted a small craft to help save men stranded at Dunkirk.

“He was generally considered to be a heroic and exemplary person,” Thompson said.

The family members of three survivors came from out of state for the event. Mike Fedorchak came from Bismarck, N.D. His great-grandmother, Thelma Thomas, was aboard the Titanic with a contingent of Lebanese family members who were immigrating to the United States.

After an iceberg sliced open the ship’s hull, Thomas got separated from Fedorchak’s great-uncle, who had Thomas’ infant. Thomas got on a life boat; the great-uncle got the baby on another lifeboat, but he himself perished, along with other members of the family.

“I think we lost nine or 10 family members that night,” Fedorchak said.

Through the years, Ron Johnson of Clay County has collected documents and stories about John “Titanic” Johnson, who survived the disaster at age 14. Ron Johnson shared some of those items at the party. John Johnson was coming from his native Sweden to join his sister and father in South Dakota.

“I’m not related to him,” Ron Johnson said. “But I’ll tell his story as long as I can.”

The Titanic was a big story for a lot of people in the Dakotas, Ron Johnson said, because so many people living here traveled in the northern Atlantic Ocean. And these weren’t the wealthy first-class passengers; they were, like John Johnson, riding in third class.

“We had a very high immigrant population from Scandinavia and Germany, and they traveled on those boats,” he said.

After the accident, John Johnson was put up in a first-class New York hotel, Ron Johnson said. His sister went there to find him but couldn’t at first because she was searching in third-class hotels. He joined the family in Clay County.

Dalesburg Heritage

Dalesburg is the name of a farming community in central Clay Count, South Dakota, United States of America.  The name Dalesburg (in Swedish: Dalsborg) is from Dalarna – the name of the province from where many of the first homesteaders came in central Sweden.

Today the residents of the Dalesburg Community are served by the Vermillion, Beresford, Centerville, and Burbank Post Offices.  The community is located between Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Sioux City, Iowa.