Conference Beginnings


The West River History Conference had its beginnings in Keystone, SD in 1993; the combined dream of the late Prof. Herbert W. Blakely and history buff Beverly Pechan. During this time, the event was sponsored by the Keystone Area Historical Society, co-founded by Ms. Pechan, who served as its first president from 1983-1993. Professor Blakely also served several terms as president of Keystone’s historical society, and also at Lake County historical Society, Madison, SD. In 2003, the conference was moved to Rapid City and incorporated as a non-profit entity dedicated to collecting and preserving the history of South Dakota and the Northern Great Plains regions.

Herb Blakely was also the driving force in Keystone’s Country School program — a hands-on classroom experience for West River students who participated in spelling bees, writing on slates, South Dakota geography sessions and old-fashioned recess with girls in bonnets and pinafores and boys dressed in caps and suspenders of the 1890’s period. Herb’s big love was in the kind of education provided within the country school system, and he taught and coached at college, high school and elementary levels for three decades. From 1993 through 1998 Herb’s country school project provided over 1,000 pupils annually from grades two through eight an opportunity to participate in classroom learning activities like their ancestors did.

Published on July 29, 2010 at 10:32 pm  Comments Off on Conference Beginnings  
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