Adelaide Boomer Guptill Hockenbary

Honored by:Joanne McKay
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MY HISTORY by Adelaide Boomer Guptill Hockenbary

I was born June 24, 1895, on a farm one mile north of the little town of Delhi, Iowa. Delhi is thirty miles west of Dubuque, Iowa. I can remember riding in the spring seat of the wagon as my father delivered the milk to the creamery in Delhi. Also, I had to go with my mother when she took my two older sisters to school in Delhi. I wasn't very old when they moved off the farm to a house just across the street from the big black schoolhouse in Delhi. Here I started to school and went to school until my father moved to Chamberlain, South Dakota. My mother, my youngest sister and I went by train. As we got off the train at Chamberlain, I saw the first Indian I had ever seen. Little did I know then that I would spend 45 years of my life living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation with many Indian friends.

After I finished high school I went to the Normal School at Aberdeen but did not graduate, as I started to teach school as soon as I was eighteen. My first school was the Dry Run School near Fort Pierre, not so far from Scotty Phillip's buffalo fence. Many a morning when I came to school, the school yard would have buffalo lying around the yard. I didn't disturb them. Some of the older boys would throw sticks and holler. The buffaloes would finally meander off the porch, not too far but at least out of the school yard. I may have been the first school teacher west of the Missouri River to teach on the Scottie Phillips ranch in those early days. Later I would teach at the Day School in Allen, South Dakota, and at the Green Valley School near my home in Washabaugh County, near Allen.

My first husband was Charles Williams Guptill. He was born and raised in Wisconsin. He was always true to Wisconsin and I was always true to Iowa. We had many discussions pro and con. One was "Is it the hard or soft maple that you made the maple syrup from?"

When we moved to the Pine Ridge Reservation, I had three children – two boys and a girl. Grenfall, Bengy and Daphne. My youngest daughter, Saxon, was born on the Reservation in the log house we called home. She was six years old when a terrible tragedy struck our family.

On May 11, 1928, my husband passed away in the St. John's hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota. He was the first death in that new hospital and the cause of death was appendicitis. I was left alone on a ranch we had not lived on very long, not long enough for me to know much about the struggles that would be ahead and I had four small children to support and bring up. I came home and plunged in to do the best I could. No one who has never experienced the death of a father or mother of little children can understand to have your little girl lay down on the ground and cry "I want my daddy." When children are small, they need their mother but when they are older they need their father. So as my children grew up, I tried to manage with love instead of the razor strap and today I'm very proud of each and hope their father will think I have done a good job in raising his children when I meet him in the great beyond.

On March 15, 1936, I married Ralph Hockenbary. Ralph was born and raised in Nebraska but we don't argue about our home states as I think we have both adopted South Dakota as our home state. We have one son, Rodney, who lives south of Kilgore, Nebraska.

In our community, it was always up to me to keep the Sunday School going and keep Mr. Oscar Donaldson, the itinerant preacher, when he held a service in our school house. Then there was a problem of getting enough fuel to keep school going and it was always up to us. When children come to school and the creek was up, we took time to get them across the raging water. If a storm came up, we kept the whole school until their folks could get there.

I gave each one of my children all the education I could. My oldest daughter graduated from Chadron Normal (now Chadron State Teachers College) and my second son was a student in college at Brookings when he was recommended for officer's training. Bengy Lewis Guptill was an airplane pilot in the Ferry Command when his plane caught fire and exploded in the air; he and the engineer were killed February 18, 1944. An Indian brought me the message. We had no phones in our rural area at that time. The nearest phone was in Kyle, South Dakota. We had deep snow and couldn't get anywhere, only by horseback or a team. Ralph hitched a team to a stone boat and took me over to Louis Tevauls. The government had opened the road between Kyle and Allen on the ridge. Ralph helped Louis get his truck up on the ridge road and Louis took me over to Martin then on to Kadoka to catch the train to go back to Iowa. I couldn't think any place was good enough to bury him so decided to take him back to the beautiful cemetery at Delhi, Iowa, where many of my relations were buried. He was a Lt. and soon to be made a Captain, so they told me. My oldest son, Grenfall Charles Guptill, passed away March 28, 1971, in Sacramento, California. My daughter Saxon lives on a ranch with her husband Gene, near the Badlands National Monument. My oldest daughter, Daphne Smith, married Sidney B. Smith, an attorney, in Des Moines, IA and makes her home there.

I have twelve grandchildren on the Guptill side and Rodney has four Hockenbary grandchildren. I have twelve great-grandchildren. I still live on that ranch that Charlie and I homesteaded in the early 1900s, fifteen miles north of Allen, South Dakota.