Friendship Tower turns 100

Historical tower rededicated in ceremony
By Jaci Conrad Pearson,Black Hills Pioneer

Actors portrayed Seth Bullock and Teddy Roosevelt at Saturday’s Mount Theodore Roosevelt Friendship Tower 100th anniversary rededication ceremony. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

The presentation of colors was made by the Black Hills Backcountry Horsemen at the 100th anniversary rededication of Mount Theodore Roosevelt Friendship Tower. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

A Masonic cornerstone rededication ceremony was performed at Saturday’s 100th anniversary rededication of Mount Theodore Roosevelt Friendship Tower. Pioneer photos by Jaci Conrad Pearson

DEADWOOD — More than 200 people gathered Saturday to help rededicate the Mount Roosevelt Friendship Tower on its 100th anniversary.
The tower is here thanks to a friendship forged more than 100 years ago by two highly influential historical American West figures. Desirous of creating a memorial to his friend’s life, as well as a place where people could view the wide open spaces that they both held dear, Seth Bullock, famous Deadwood sheriff, built the Mount Roosevelt Friendship Tower in 1919 as a tribute to his friend of many years, President Theodore Roosevelt.
Saturday’s celebration closely emulated the original dedication that was held 100 years ago on July 4, 1919, with then-Gov. Peter Norbeck presiding.
Deadwood Mayor David Ruth, Jr., welcomed the crowd, thanked those involved in performing the program, and introduced fellow guests of honor.
“I’d like to take this opportunity, first, and foremost, to thank you for joining us in enjoying the beautiful views of the Friendship Tower and being here to rededicate this fantastic monument, the hidden jewel of our community,” Ruth said.
Other featured speakers included South Dakota Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden, Black Hills National Forest Supervisor Mark Van Every, and the Rev. Michael Johnson.
“One hundred years ago, a group of people gathered in this very place for the dedication of a tower they dubbed Mount Roosevelt,” Rhoden said. “I imagine that day was a bit different than today. None of them would have had cell phones. No one would be snapping photos to post on Facebook. They wouldn’t have been thinking about the air conditioning that waited for them in their homes or cars after standing outside in the sun. But a few things would be similar between that day and today. The value of community. A sense of state pride. And a spirit of friendship.”
Rhoden said the last century has seen Mt. Roosevelt become an icon and a symbol of pride for Deadwood.
“The peaceful walk and scenery brings outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs to the community and bolsters the historic feel of the area. The result is what we see before us,” Rhoden said. “Today, we remember the incredible story of friendship that made this monument possible.”
Van Every drew many parallels between the two friends, including the fact that both men believed in the spirit of the west, both were ranchers, both had political ambitions, both were soldiers, and both were conservationists.
“We all have the privilege to be able to continue to enjoy these lands that these two men had the foresight to set aside for the use and enjoyment of all the American people,” Van Every said. “Their friendship endured all the way up until both of their deaths and about six months after President Roosevelt passed away, this tower was dedicated and then three months later, Seth Bullock passed away. So, an enduring, lasting part of their friendship and a lasting legacy to the things they did for our country and for the national forests.”
Johnson encouraged all in attendance to follow the example of Roosevelt, whom he called a great American who loved humanity more than class and righteousness better than peace.
“Whenever the creed of commerce shall seek to lay violent hands upon the natural resources of the earth, for selfish purposes, to the exclusion of the common seal, help us to remember Theodore Roosevelt’s great fight for conservation,” Johnson said. “He loved these mountains and forests. May we ever love them, too and preserve them for the generations to come.”
“May this monument help us to carry such a banner of friendship in the portion of this great country that God has given us the honor in which to reside,” Johnson said.
A Masonic cornerstone rededication ceremony was performed by the Grand Lodge of South Dakota, as both Bullock and Roosevelt were Masons and Roosevelt had an affinity for attending cornerstone dedication ceremonies.
“It is said that Bullock and Roosevelt first met in 1892 on the prairie outside of Medora,” said Grand Master of Masons of North Dakota Lowell Domier. “That chance meeting was the beginning of a friendship that lasted over 30 years, including military service, political campaigns and appointments, family time, and a passion for conservation and western heritage. When Roosevelt appointed Bullock to forest supervisor of the Black Hills National Forest, Bullock’s office was on the second floor of the Deadwood Masonic Temple.”
Also part of the program were the Banner Girls of Leeds, N.D., who performed the National Anthem and God Bless America, as well as the Black Hills Backcountry Horsemen who performed the presentation of colors.
In 1919, the Society of Black Hills Pioneers provided financial support to build the Mt. Roosevelt Friendship Tower. In 1966, the society donated the tower to the United States Forest Service. In 2005, the tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Many partners and agencies worked together to pull the ceremony together, including the Business Improvement District of Deadwood, U.S. Forest Service, Deadwood Chamber of Commerce, Deadwood Historic Preservation, Masons of South Dakota, Northern Hills Recreation Association, Lawrence County Search & Rescue, Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, and the cities of Deadwood and Lead.


Bro. Carey Honored

Brother Irvin J. Carey of Resurgam Lodge #31 in Mitchell was presented with his 60-Year Pin on June 11 at Resurgam Lodge.

Bro. Irvin J. Carey, RWB Jason Swindler, WM Lennie Tucker


Sunrise Lodge #211 Awards Bicycles to Local Youth

Sunrise Lodge #211 in Aberdeen sponsored and delivered a Reading For Bikes program to the six schools (Grades K-5) in the Aberdeen School system. This wonderful and rewarding program ran the entire school year under the supervision of each school’s principal.
Each grade (K-5) received two bikes (1-boy and 1-girl), for a total of twelve bikes given to each of the six schools. The 72 bikes, presented during the last week of school, were awarded to students for reading books to further their education.
In this video from the Aberdeen News, you can see action from the giveaway at O.M. Tiffany Elementary School and hear more about why the program is so important for the community (1:09).

Grand Lodge Scholarship Program

In all our Masonic teachings, we are admonished to contribute to the relief of our Brothers and their families. The Grand Lodge Scholarship Program is one of the several ways we put these words into action. This year I am pleased to report we have awarded 5 scholarships for students to attend college, university, or technical school. The five lucky recipients are: Jasmine Ferguson, Andrew Klingaman, Madelaine Neely, Lilly Norton, and Olivia Vermeulen. Their college choices include Augustana University, Dakota Wesleyan University, Lake Area Technical Institute, and SD School of Mines. We wish each and every one of these students all the best as they journey forth on their roads to knowledge.
If you have a relative who will be attending college in the future, remember to encourage them to apply for the Grand Lodge Scholarship. Application details are available on the website.
Grand Treasurer-Secretary Terry Knutson


50-Year Pin Presentation

Brother Perry DePoy of Eagle Butte Lodge #172 in Eagle Butte was presented with his 50-Year Pin on May 20 at Eagle Butte Lodge. Brother DePoy’s pinning had a very good turnout, with family members, Lodge brothers and District Master Wade Kopren in attendance. Despite the chilly day (and the chilly lodge until the furnace caught up!), it was a great evening of catching up and visiting amongst members.

L-R: Mike O’Neal, Robert L. Booth, Terry O’Neal, Walker Rose, Andrew Schuler, Darla DePoy (daughter), Joe Rose, Joseph Balderas, Robyn DePoy (daughter-in-law), Chuck LeCompte, Shannon DePoy (son), Hailey DePoy (granddaughter), Perry DePoy, Ardis DePoy (wife), Ben Booth, Travis Spiel, Case DePoy (grandson), Robert H. Mader, Robert B. Mader, Dan Booth, Wade Kopren


Worshipful Brother Eide Honored

WB Allen Eide of Jeptha Lodge #121 was presented with his 50-Year Pin from PGM Virgil Andersen, with Allen’s wife Elaine looking on, at the annual Recognition Banquet held May 5 at Jeptha Lodge #121 in Hudson, SD.