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Unit 7


Notable South Dakotans, 1900-1950


Lesson 3
Charles Badger Clark, Jr., and Ida Anding McNeil


     Before long, South Dakota had poets and writers to sing its praises. One of the best known was a man named Badger.

Charles Badger Clark, Jr.

     Charles Badger Clark, Jr., wrote cowboy poetry. He painted word pictures of cowboys at work. He praised western values. He sang of the beauty of the Black Hills. Clark was only three months old when he came to South Dakota in 1883. By the time he graduated from high school, he had lived in the towns of Plankinton, Mitchell, Huron, and Deadwood.

Charles Badger Clark
Photo courtesy of South Dakota State Historical Society


     Then his life changed. He got tuberculosis. A dry climate often helped to cure this disease. Clark spent four years as a ranch hand near Tombstone, Arizona. He wrote poems about working on the ranch. His stepmother sent one to a magazine. The magazine was called the Pacific Monthly. Clark soon wrote for the magazine all the time.

Charles Badger Clark
Photo courtesy of South Dakota State Historical Society

     In 1910, Clark returned to South Dakota. He settled in the Black Hills. His cabin in Custer State Park is called Badger Hole. He wrote several books of poetry. One book was called Sun and Saddle Leather. His book Spike was full of short stories. Clark’s poems "The Job" and "A Cowboy’s Prayer" became favorites all over the United States.

     To earn enough money to live on, Clark toured the country telling stories. In 1939, the governor named him poet laureate of South Dakota. He died in 1957.

Ida Anding McNeil

     In the 1920s, farmers and ranchers were often isolated. Towns were far apart in South Dakota, and roads were still poor. Telephones and radios helped shrink the distance. They put rural people in touch with the rest of the world. Ida Anding McNeil was a pioneer in radio broadcasting.

     Ida Anding was born in 1888. She came to South Dakota when she was eight years old. Her father worked on steamboats. He came to fix a ferry on the Missouri River at Pierre and stayed. After Ida Anding graduated from high school, she worked for the South Dakota State Historical Society. She made the first state flag. She resigned from her job when she married Dana McNeil.

Ida McNeil
Photo courtesy of South Dakota State Historical Society

Winter Count
Winter Count

     Dana McNeil worked on the Chicago & North Western Railway He also had one of the first amateur radio licenses in the country. Ida Anding McNeil broadcast the news to him during his train trips between Rapid City and Pierre. People on farms and ranches listened to her broadcasts. She started to say things for these extra ears to hear. She set up a schedule. People always knew when to turn on their radios for the news from Pierre.

     In 1927, Ida Anding McNeil got a commercial license. Her station was KGFX. She gave many hours to public service. Her most popular program was "Hospital News." McNeil told about the patients at the hospital in Pierre. Doctors and ranchers liked this service. Ranch families who lived far away could learn about family members. McNeil let the family know when to come to town to take the patient home. McNeil also reported the weather so that ranchers could get their livestock in if a storm was coming.

Radio, 1930s
Photo courtesy of South Dakota State Historical Society

     McNeil was given many awards for her service to the community. She is in the South Dakota Broadcasters' Hall of Fame. She died in 1974.

amateur (adj.), set up for fun and not for pay

broadcasting (n.), sending out a radio or television program

commercial (adj.), set up to make money

isolated (adj.), without any near neighbors; separate; alone

laureate (adj.), honored

tuberculosis (n.), a disease that causes sores on lungs and bones