Looking back and pushing forward
Published: Thursday, May 1st, 2014
Over a century ago in 1879, a man by the name of Adam Royhl decided to make his way west to the Dakota Territory. At age 21, the pioneer left his family and everything he knew to pursue the opportunities in what would become South Dakota. Royhl traveled from his home in Wisconsin to Marshall, Minn., by train, and then made the journey to Arlington by foot. As he walked, Royhl depended on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter, and he spent one night sleeping on a haystack.
When Royhl arrived in Kingsbury County, he had very little. But through hard work and perseverance, he made something of himself. Royhl farmed, ran a meat business, bought and sold grain, and then served as a senator in the state Legislature, a school board member, vice president of First National Bank and postmaster under President Taft.
South Dakota’s history is full of people like Royhl who took the risk to come here and start a new life. People who arrived with nothing and found success and happiness here. People who spent their lives establishing and serving their communities.
As we celebrate our 125th anniversary of statehood this year, I hope we’ll take the opportunity to remember the people like Royhl who built our state. Communities across the state have already begun to plan events to do just that. Pickstown is dedicating a new museum in June. Garretson is holding a 125th celebration and all school reunion in July. And a fall wagon train from Yankton to Pierre is being organized.
But South Dakota’s 125th shouldn’t just be about looking back – it should also be an occasion to look forward and do something to better our state for future generations.
Twenty-five years ago when we celebrated South Dakota’s centennial, people all across the state donated their time to work on community projects. The people in Midland built a stage for their city park. Doland raffled off a 1989 brand new Pontiac Grand Am and used the profits to buy new street signs and upgrade the athletic fields. The people in Frankfort created a new community center. Huron restored the Old Stone Church. Milbank created a veterans memorial. Madison restored its railroad depot.
I hope more communities will consider starting projects or holding events to commemorate our anniversary. If you’re interested in organizing a 125th project or event, visit 125.sd.gov and click on “Celebration Communities.”
People like Adam Royhl came to South Dakota over a century ago because they believed life would be better here. As we pause to recognize what we’ve already achieved, let’s also use the opportunity to accomplish something more. With your help, our next 125 years will be even greater than the last.
—Submitted by Gov. Dennis Daugaard
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