Bancroft News

Hypnotized into doing nothing


Mark Knight was the speaker at the Presbyterian Church on April 25. Thank you, Mark.

Janice White, Brookings, Rose Grothe, De Smet and Linda Perry, Bancroft, met at the local cafe for dinner on Sunday, before going to the Doug Gabriel Family concert at the Event Center. What a fantastic concert.

When I saw the snow coming this week, I put on my Christmas sweatshirt, as I thought we were having another such luck though, as it quickly melted. But spring hasn't come for sure yet. I hear we're supposed to have warm temps this week, but I won't believe it til I see it.

grocery stores

The Agnew building, which is the present home and store for Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Korkow, is filled with a rich and interesting life. This corner building was not always brick, as in the early 1880's at the town's creation, there was a small frame building here, from which two gentlemen, Gearhart & Habermann, were selling mercantile goods. The frame building also served as a post office for some time. It was about 1903 when Will Agnew tore the structure down, and in the place, built a two-story brick building which served as both a grocery and a drug store. The top floor was the Opera House and was a place for dances, shows and offices.

By 1906, the upstairs was well filled, with the east end containing the doctor's office, and the southwest corner containing the printing shop. The telephone office may have been up here for a short time, although it is doubtful. The first floor also contained the office of Will Agnew in the rear portion of the store. Mr. Agnew, financing the structure, as he did much of the town, had this block named for himself about this time.

The Opera House not only served as a place for school programs but also dances with music by the Gehrke orchestra of Willow Lake or the Kasperson orchestra. There were basket socials held, and at one time, a hypnotist came in to town to perform. He hypnotized many of the audience, including Basil Dill and Dan Costello. One person hypnotized, Elmer Currier, attested to his hypnotic power, when after being hypnotized, he said he thought he couldn't do anything.

There were also home talent plays, some of which came from Huron, and many medicine shows. One medicine show in particular was the one where the speaker, while selling his 'potions and elixirs,' promised a genuine diamond ring to the most popular girl in town. For each bottle sold, a vote could be cast for the girl of your choice. A contest developed between Lena Weerts and Miss Tillie Hagemann, with Lena winning out by a narrow margin. The Opera House was a place always popular until it ended with the fire which took the entire store.

It was the summer of 1911 when this fire occurred, and although it still remains a mystery as to how it started, many felt a certain Dr. Oscar H. Clark, who had a room upstairs, was guilty of starting it. The reason for the feeling is that on the night of the fire, Dr. Clark was found sleeping, with all his clothes on, in a tent behind the store. When townsmen tried to awaken him, he pretended to be sleeping quite hard. All said the reason he was in the tent was “so as he wouldn't be in the building.” The Bancroft Register of April 4, 1912, later wrote: “Dr. Clark, late of Bancroft, has located at Fruitville, a small town in the Black Hills, and will again attempt to practice his alleged profession. God save Fruitville” (Con't next week.) 

Taken from 'Bancroft S.D. 1889-1971' by Gary Lee Jerke


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