Govert, South Dakota, offers campgrounds, fishing charters and kayaking, jet ski rentals and golf resorts. What happens when winter rolls around, as it tends to do in Harding County every year, and the blasts of cold air send you inside? Seek the warmth of the Govert public library, movie theater, hobby shop, day spa, and ... Govert Van der Boom would most heartily appreciate this frosty weather option for Goverites ... brush up on your Dutch with the Dutch tutor located in Govert, South Dakota.
Pet store, dog park, country club, casino, express flower delivery, senior housing and elder care. Everything a Harding County rancher could ever want or need is found in Govert, South Dakota. If any doubt remains, google "Govert, South Dakota".
Doubt remains. Derek and LaDelle Brink, ranching just down the road from the Govert townsite, may be surprised to learn about this economic boom and the competition for business dollars. The traffic along their country road is as quiet as it has always been.
Make no mistake about it, Govert, South Dakota, does not exist in 2013 as a viable town. So why would I write about Govert, if the town doesn't exist? Why would I turn over rocks on the prairie in search of an ancestral hearth?
Why? Govert Van der Boom never shared what it was like to weave prairie grass into a community. Maybe he thought his six-year-old granddaughter would not care for his stories of the prairie. Emma Van der Boom never told me that a glimpse of the Slim Buttes, framed by her kitchen window, made up for the five varieties of cockle burrs clinging to the hem of her long skirt on a sweltering day in late summer 1913. My otherwise no-nonsense grandmother would have told me this with a slight smile and a hint of yearning. But I didn't ask.
I can still ask the children of the prairie, like Marie Kulisich. Marie was born upon her own ancestral hearth in 1930 two miles south of the Govert store. As a little girl, Marie wandered through the prairie grass turning over rocks in wonderment at what was underneath. Her Croatian father, Mitchell Kulisich, homesteaded in 1911, her Croatian mother, Nikla Miljas, in 1916. A heap of years and living later, Marie and I met on an Internet bulletin board. She was my first companion in the search for my own ancestral hearth. Allow me to introduce you to my friend Marie:
|Marie Kulisich in her lush South Dakota garden [Photo by Kathleen VanderBoom, 2012]|
What I've learned from my search for an ancestral hearth is that my family's story is one dimensional without the story of Govert, South Dakota. And the story of Govert, South Dakota, is the story of a community ... and a community is people, a whole lot more people than the five Van der Booms who lived next door to the Govert store. Maybe I can focus due recognition on all the folks who struggled and all the folks who thrived on the prairie, all the men, women and children who called Govert ... or some other small prairie town ... home. Maybe I can create a "memory" of Govert for those who don't have their own memories of what once was. Maybe I should have called this project "Re-Constructing Govert". Is such a thing possible?
Listening to the wind blowing through the prairie grass. Kate
[Written with gratitude to Marie Kulisich]