Harvey Dunn was born in 1883, south of Manchester, De Smet’s neighboring town. Dunn was the nephew of Nathan Dow, Grace Ingalls Dow’s husband. Grace was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s youngest sister. Dunn received art education at South Dakota State University, the Chicago Art Institute and Howard Pyle in Wilmington, Delaware. He settled in Tenafly, New Jersey, from 1919 until his death in 1952.
Dunn became one of the leading magazine illustrators for the Saturday Evening Post, which was a leading bi-monthly American magazine at the time. He was named president of the American Society of Illustrators and was also an influential art teacher. In-depth biographies of his art career are available here and here. Although he built a life in New Jersey, he frequently returned to the prairie to rekindle his memories of pioneer days and captured its beauty in many of his paintings. He even gifted four original paintings to the library of De Smet, one to the De Smet American Legion and 37 to the South Dakota Art Museum in Brookings, South Dakota. To view an online gallery of those paintings, visit the South Dakota Art Museum website.
Aubrey Sherwood – Editor, “The De Smet News”
Another important De Smet resident was longtime newspaper man Aubrey Sherwood. Sherwood was one of the first in the community to realize the historical significance of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and their potential impact on De Smet as an educational and historical destination. He spent his life seizing every opportunity to preserve pioneer history in this region. He took thousands of photos in the area during his lifetime and many were eventually donated to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society. When he submitted this photo to the Memorial Society archives, this story was included. Sherwood dated his story Sept. 23, 1981. He wrote, “The four-horse team on the binder is a photograph I took of Colwell at the farm four miles north of De Smet. The print was on the counter at “The News” on one of Harvey Dunn’s early returns here and he picked it up and asked if I had taken it. ‘That’s a pretty good picture,’ Dunn said, as he judged its composition at arm’s length. Then, turning it over, he put a thumb over the tree showing above the grain. Dunn continued, ‘Now that’s a better picture, Aubrey. Too many persons with a camera in their hands take pictures including everything in the view finder. If you want to take good pictures, study paintings: the painter puts in his work only the things needed to tell the story of the painting.” Aubrey completed his story of this photograph by writing, “I have called this my first criticism and instruction on photography from a a famed artist. AHS”