PIONEER GRAVES

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Custer State Park is one of the largest state parks in the United States. Long before it became a park it was the goal of many settlers and much Homesteading. The Southwest part was so heavily settled it was known as the Bakerville area. Of all the people that came to the Custer State Park area during these early years only three remain. The graves of Major James A. Whitehead, an infant of the Mann family and Dr. Alvin Herbert. can still be seen today
Major Whitehead homesteaded his place along French Creek in 1876 along with his daughter Harriet Whitehead Hazen who homesteaded the quarter section to the SE of her father. Upon the death of her father in 1899 she had a bronze marker placed on a boulder at the old homestead site to note her fathers burial there.
The baby Mann grave sits on the edge of one of the interior park roads. The baby died during birth on June 6th 1902 on the original Fleur de Lis Ranch. The history of this large open range horse ranch is very interesting. Leaving France after resigning his commission in the cavalry due to religious and political turmoil the Baron Raymond Auzias de Turenne came to the Black Hills establishing his ranch in 1885 along the North Fork of Lame Johnny Creek. Importing pedigreed stallions the baron greatly improved the stock of the local area. At its height of glory the ranch had a race track and employed a famous French chef, Francois Preel. The increasing presence of homesteaders and fences foretold the demise of the large open range ranching operations and in 1890 Turenne sold the ranch to Herberrt “Shorty” Mann. The Mann gravesite is in the area of the Horse Camp.

Dr. Alvin Herbert settled along the South Fork of Lame Johnny Creek in 1888 near the stage station so he could get his medications directly from the coaches. A well respected citizen he was at one time the postmaster of Bakerville, born in Ohio on October 28, 1824 living in seven different states before moving here after the death of his wife. One of his sons Almon ran a large ranch in the area and upon his death the Dr was buried on Almon’s ranch. A concrete marker set with various native stones was erected over his grave. Today it is the only visible manifestation of the Bakerville area.

*access the gravesite by crossing the creek South of the fence, then follow the fence to the site, or for a 1/2 mile hike start at the Prairie Trail trailhead

Center map

Decimal Degrees: 43.6513,-103.4083

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