Family histories needed for 2010 book

Family histories needed for 2010 book
Winning State Championships. The Growth of Girard's Auction Service and the Wakonda Heritage Manor. The loss of Main Street businesses. The consolidation of Wakonda School with Irene.

When you think about it, a lot has happened in the small community of Wakonda in the last 25 years. In fact, there's enough to fill a small book.

That's what community member Warren Kuhler and the Wakonda 2010 planning committee believe, anyway.

This fall, Kuhler and a committee of volunteers have started the arduous task of planning and creating Wakonda's third major historical record book – to coincide with Wakonda's quasquicentennial in 2010.

The last major history book, titled Wakonda, SD Centennial 1885-1985, was produced in 1985 to commemorate Wakonda's centennial. Back then, under Kuhler's direction, a committee of some 30-plus volunteers compiled a 704-page book that chronicled Wakonda's history from 1885 to 1985.

That book, which was wildly popular and sold close to 1,400 copies, included, among other things, stories about Main Street, Wakonda's founding, the railroad that once ran through Wakonda, and personal histories of various families living in the Wakonda area at the time.

The 2010 Wakonda book will pick up where the centennial book left off, chronicling Wakonda's history from 1985 to 2010. It will include a focus on how Main Street has changed, an overview of Wakonda's many sports conquests in the past two decades, and the recent school consolidation. It will also include pertinent information about outlying communities as well.

Though the 2010 book won't be as thick as the Centennial book, Kuhler anticipates that it will be a large book, chock-full of information.

"If you just think about Wakonda's Main Street in the past 25 years, there have been a lot of changes," says Kuhler.

Once again, a main feature of the history book will be the inclusion of the personal histories of families living in and around the Wakonda area. All families in the area are encouraged to be part of history by submitting family histories to the 2010 committee.

To make sure your family is included in the book, write up a one-page history and submit it to Warren Kuhler or Riva Sharples. If possible, please include a family photograph. The story can be submitted in handwritten form or via disk (jump drive or CD only, please). All materials submitted will be returned. Call 267-0092 or 267-2514 for more information. Histories are being accepted now.

If your family had its history published in the Wakonda centennial book, the committee encourages you to update and expand that history for the new book.

"I'm sure there have been a lot of changes to almost every family in 25 years," said Kuhler. "We hope the majority of families in the Wakonda area will participate."

Back in the fall of 1982, when the committee began researching and assembling the centennial history book, it seemed like an almost insurmountable task. The committee put in many long days and nights researching and writing stories.

Kuhler, who was the director of the nursing home in Viborg at the time, recalls coming home from work many times to find volunteers already in his house, working downstairs in the Kuhlers' unfinished basement.

"I gave keys to several members of the committee and they would come and let themselves in whenever they had time to work on the book," he remembers. "We just set up some tables down in the basement and people would be down there working on their various projects."

Of course, technology was different when that book was produced. The personal computer was virtually nonexistent in most households; people used paper and pen or the typewriter to write down their stories. For the committee, there was no Internet to surf for information or online databases to consult. Instead, volunteers spent many long days and nights pouring over photographs, culling through library and county records, examining historical documents, and typing up hand-written articles.

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