Richard and Anna (Grassman) Sehnert

Immigrants to South Dakota from Germany in the Late 1890s

Richard and Anna (Grassman) Sehnert

Richard Sehnert and Anna Grassman were born and raised in Germany. They were married in 1885 in Erfurt, which is located southwest of Dessau and Berlin. They started their family in Grossoerner, a town north of Ehrfurt and near Hettstedt, where they operated a bakery. Grossoerner was the hometown of Sehnerts at least since the mid 1700s. After their third child, Freda, was born in 1892, the family emigrated to the U.S. and settled in South Dakota. Richard had made an advance trip to South Dakota and returned to Germany to get his family. Their fourth child, Otto, was born in South Dakota in 1896.

The family apparently lived first at Dirkstown, a small (and now extinct) town near Reliance, and then in the White River “bottom” (floodplain) a short distance upstream from the confluence with the Missouri River. The family then moved to Presho and opened a cafe and bakery, following family traditions in Germany. Richard and Anna had 11 children, eight of whom lived to adulthood. They operated the bakery in Presho for many years until Richard’s death, when it was taken over first by son Rudy and then by daughter Louise with her husband Carl Garnos. Son Otto Sehnert operated a bakery in Ellendale, South Dakota, and sons Richard, Rudy, and Walter operated bakeries in Kearney, Holdredge, and Plainview, Nebraska.

Richard and Anna and lived out their lives in Presho and are buried in the cemetery there.


Webpage Credits

Photo of Richard and Anna (Grassman) Sehnert

Family History in Germany

Sehnert Family Coat of Arms

Family History in South Dakota

Richard and Anna (Grassman) Sehnert Descendant Chart

Photo of Richard and Anna Sehnert and Their Family

Johanne Gotthilf Sehnert, Richard Sehnert’s Father

Operating Bakeries – a Sehnert Family Tradition Going Back to Grossoerner in Germany

Sehnert Children As Adults – Group Photos

Children of Richard and Anna Sehnert, with Family Information

Richard and Anna Sehnert’s Grandchildren

Additional Sehnert Photos

Sehnert Obituaries

Richard Sehnert’s Ancestry

Anna Grassmann’s Ancestry

Grave Photos of Richard and Anna Sehnert and Their Children

History of Presho, South Dakota

Keith Sehnert, Doctor Well-Known for Promoting Self-Healing


Webpage Credits

Thanks go to Gordon Garnos for assisting with photo identifications.

Photo of Richard and Anna (Grassman) Sehnert

The photo below of Richard and Anna appears to have been taken when the couple was operating their bakery and cafe in Presho, sometime between 1906 and Richard’s death in 1924.

Richard and Anna (Grassman) Sehnert in front of their cafe in Presho. Photo from Freda Bice album.

Family History in Germany

Anna Grassman married Richard Sehnert, a baker from Eisleben, Germany, at age 19 in the city of Erfurt. The couple operated a bakery in Groessorner, where four children were born — Elsa, Freda, Paul and an infant that died at six months. About the time that Freda was born in 1892, Richard visited South Dakota while his family remained behind. Later Richard returned to Germany and the entire family emigrated to South Dakota.

A regional map of Germany showing the location of Erfurt, where Richard and Anna were married, is shown below. The location southwest of Berlin is indicated. Also shown are Eisleben, home town of Richard, and Grossoerner (a suburb of Hettstedt), where Richard and Anna operated a bakery and had their first four children before emigrating to America. It is likely that Richard is actually from Grossoerner, since it was the birthplace of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather .

Locations of Erfurt, , Eisleben and Grossorner in Germany, southwest of Berlin


Grossoerner is in Saxony-Anhalt, formerly in East Germany, and now one of the 16 states of Germany since the 1990 reunification. Magdegurg, north of Grosoerner, is the state capital. A portion of the Wikipedia entry on Saxony-Anhalt is shown below:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (incomplete entry)


Saxony-Anhalt (German: Sachsen-Anhalt, pronounced [ˈzaksən ˈanhalt]) is a state of Germany. It has an area of 20,447 square kilometres (7,895 sq mi) and a population of 2.4 million (more than 2.8 million in 1990). Its capital is Magdeburg.

Saxony-Anhalt should not be confused with Saxony or Lower Saxony, also German states.


Saxony-Anhalt is one of 16 states of Germany. It covers a total area of 20,445 km² (12,676 sq. miles). By size, it is the 8th largest state in Germany, and by population, the 10th largest. It borders the states of Brandenburg, Saxony, Thuringia and Lower Saxony.

The capital of Saxony-Anhalt is Magdeburg. It is the second largest city in the state, after Halle. Nearby is the city of Dessau, where the “Bauhaus” is located. The Bauhaus provided a basis for the field of architecture and fine arts in the area. Dessau is also home to the opulent Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm. The citys main attraction is the Wörlitzer Park which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The landscape of Saxony-Anhalt is quite varied. From the region of Altmark in the north, the state extends from the Magdeburg region, a vast lowland, through the Harz, a low mountain range, to Thuringia. The highest mountain in the vicinity is Brocken, with an elevation of 1,141 meters (3,735 ft). Below the summit, the National Park Harz forms an extensive wildlife sanctuary.

Administrative subdivision

From 1994 to 2003, Saxony-Anhalt was divided into 21 districts (“Landkreise”). Above this level, there were three governmental districts (Regierungsbezirke): Dessau, Halle and Magdeburg. On 1 January 2004 these three governmental districts were abolished.

A further reform, effective from July 2007, reduced the 21 districts to 11 districts (Landkreise):


Saxony-Anhalt was formed as a province of Prussia in 1945, from the territories of the former Prussian Province of Saxony (except the Regierungsbezirk Erfurt), the Free State of Anhalt, the Free State of Brunswick (Calvörde and the eastern part of the former Blankenburg district) and the formerly Thuringian town Allstedt. See the respective articles for the history of the area before 1945.

When Prussia was disbanded in 1947, the province became the state Saxony-Anhalt. It became part of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) in 1949. From 1952 to 1990 Saxony-Anhalt was divided into the East German districts of Halle and Magdeburg. In 1990, in the course of German reunification, the districts were reintegrated as a state.


Saxony-Anhalt is famous for its good soil. The “Magdeburger Börde” contains the best soil in all of Germany and some of the best of Europe. It is often said by the local populace that the smoothness of the soil is more luxurious than balls of silk. The food industry has an important role in this state. Some of the best known products are “Baumkuchen” from Salzwedel (Altmark) or “Hallorenkugeln” from Halle.

In the industrial sector the chemical industry is quite important. One of the biggest chemical producing areas can be found around the cities of Wolfen and Bitterfeld. Because of the chemical industry, Saxony-Anhalt is the largest receiver of foreign direct investments in all of eastern Germany.

Saxony-Anhalt is also the location of numerous “wind farms” throughout the state producing wind-turbine energy.


Evangelical Church in Germany 15 %[2], Catholic Church 3.5 %.

Sehnert Family Coat of Arms

The coat of arms and crest of the Sehnert family is shown below. It was also apparently obtained when descendants of Richard and Anna visited Grossoerner in about the 1970s

“Wappen der Familie Shehert”

Family History in South Dakota

Richard Sehnert made an initial trip to South Dakota and left his family in Germany. He returned to Germany for his family, and they settled at Dirkstown, then on a ranch on the White River. According to family lore, after a brief stay in Oacoma, Richard was persuaded by promoters from Presho to move to that rapidly developing town. A brief description of the lives of Richard and Anna Sehnert in South Dakota is provided in a history of Lyman Countyand is shown below.

Sehnert, Richard and Anna, Family

Richard and Anna Sehnert were married in Erfurt, Germany, in 1892 (sic). They heard of all the free land and wonderful opportunities in the United States so they decided to come with their three children, Elsa, Paul and Freda, to take up a homestead at Dirkstown, Lyman County, S. Dak., where they lived a few years. Here sons Richard and Otto were born.

Due to the scarcity of water and range land, they moved on a farm south of Oacoma at the mouth of White River where they resided until 1906. In the spring of that year, Mr. Sehnert decided that farming was not for him, being a baker by trade. He with his family of eight children moved to Presho and started a bakery which has been in continuous business by members of the family. In those early years the baking business was a difficult one, without machinery or electricity. All the mixing was done by hand and the oven was fired coal or coke which made the shop a very hot and uncomfortable place to work.

For many years, in conjunction with the bakery, Sehnerts served meals ranging in price from 25c to 50c. The cafe was discontinued in 1924 at the time of Mr. Sehnert’s death. Mrs. Sehnert continued the bakery with the help of sons and Louise. In 1932, Mrs. Sehnert passed away. Rudy and wife Christine operated the bakery for a time and in 1933 Carl and Louise bought the establishment from the Sehnert estate and have operated since that time.

Mr. and Mrs. Sehnert’s eight children were some of the Presho and Lyman County’s early settlers and have taken part in many activities of the community.

Elsa (deceased) married Ray Scott. Their five children are Raymond, Pat, Darlene, Glen and Robert.

Freda (deceased) married Claud Grimshaw. Their family consisted of two sons: George and Claud. Claud, Sr., passed away and after a few years Freda married Joseph Bice. One son, Stanley, was born to them.

Paul lives in Clark, S. Dak. He married Wanda Ziegford and they had three children: Ralph. who lost his life in WWII, Melvin who lives near Clark, and Laura Gross who lives at Crandall.

Otto married Ruth Wade. Both have passed on. Their son, Keith, lives in Lincoln, Nebr.

Richard is married and has five children: Robert, Maurice, Connie, Patti and Cheryl.

Rudy married Christine Matz. They have two daughters, Marilyn and Eileen.

Louise married Carl Garnos and they have operated the original Sehnert Bakery for 33 years. They have two sons: Verle Robert married Patricia Langland (they have two daughters, Kristin and Kara, and live in Fremont, Nebr.), and Gordon, who married Beth McFarlane of Chester, England (they have three children, William, Heather and Richard Nels and they live in Watertown, S. Dak.).

Walter married Lenita Ackerman. They have a son, Walter, who is married to Jean Leisy (they have three children). Judith married Philip Olson who passed away in August 1966. Four children were born to them.

Additional information on the lives of Richard and Anna in South Dakota is given in Anna’s obituary, which is shown below. The newspaper and date of the obituary are not known.



Anna Graasman was born near Berlin, Germany, on February 22, 1886 (sic), and passed away at her home in Presho, on Wednesday morning, November 16, 1932, at the age of 66 years, 8 months and 23 days. She was the eldest daughter of Hugho Graasman. With her brother and sister she spent her childhood in the manner of the day learning the practical duties of the home, and attending the public schools. The father, being employed by the government as a forest ranger, was entitled to higher educational privilege for his children, and so after an finish the public schools she was sent to a higher institution of learning and (sic) unusual opportunity in the early days, especially for girls.

At the age of 19 Anna Graasman was married to Richard Sehnert of Eisleben, Germany. They lived at Grossoerner, where Mr. Sehnert bakery and care for her children were born to them, Elsie, Freida, Paul, and a baby who died at the age of six months. It was about this time that the family became interested in the stories about America being a land of opportunity and so Mr. Sehnert came over to investigate, leaving his wife in charge of the bakery and the little family. In 1892 he returned with his family to the new land. It was time to settle in Colorado but upon hearing of the land boom in South Dakota, Mr. and Mrs. Sehnert settled at Mitchell where they made their home for one year. Then with a cow and oxen hitched to a covered wagon, they moved to Dirkstown near Reliance, where they lived a number of years, experiencing hardships and cold winters of the pioneers. Three children were born here, Otto, Richard and a baby who died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Sehnert settled on a ranch near the White River, where they lived until they moved to Presho. It was here that Louise, Rudolph and Walter were born, and a baby who died at the age of three months. In 1906, Presho was the center of the land boom, were Mr. and Mrs. Sehnert owned a bakery. The welfare and growth of the town became part of their interests and their lives have become part of its history, together with those of the first settlers of the town. Mr. Sehnert died January 23, 1924, in the Sehnert … continued to make her home here until her death, on Wednesday, November 16, 1932.

Of the eight children who grew to manhood and manhood one son, Otto, preceded his mother in death, April 16, 1931. She is survived by three daughters: Mrs. Ray Scott of Vivian, Mrs. Joe Bice of Oacoma, and Mrs. Carl Garnos of Presho; and her sons; Paul of Isabel, Richard of Cozard, Neb., Rudolph of Presho and Walter of Plainview, Neb. she is survived by 16 grandchildren. Otto Graasman and Hattie Molle of Germany are her surviving brother and sister. One cousin lives in this country at Milbank, S. D.

There were many characteristics which endeared Mrs. Sehnert to her friends and children, that will make them remember her as a remarkable woman and mother. She was always thinking of others and her first thoughts were the welfare of their children. The influence of her character upon their lives is impressed the more by the affliction under which she renewed her family. In the early womanhood, Mrs. Sehnert lost her sense of hearing as a result of typhoid fever. She came to America without the knowledge of the English language and learn to read, write and speak it without having heard it.

Funeral services were held last Friday afternoon in the Zion Ev. Lutheran Church.

It was attended by a large number of close friends, pioneers and others who dearly loved Mrs. Anna Sehnert. The services were conducted by Rev. L.J. Rausch, using as his text, Luke 8:48. Theme: “Be of Good Comfort; Thy Faith Hath Made Thee Whole; Go in Peace.”

The choir composed of Mrs. Fred Burke, Mrs. Joe Couture, Dr. F.D. Russel and B.R. Stevens, sang two beautiful numbers: “Nearer My God to Thee,” and “Beautiful Isle of Somewhere.”

She was laid to rest by the side of her husband in Presho Cemetery. The pallbearers were: P.S. Chapman, Chas. Bla forke, Frank C. Wederath, Anton Sather, R.G. Andis and A.O. Ohlson.

The body was in state at the Jas. Caldwell funeral home for two days, who had charge of the funeral arrangements.

Richard and Anna (Grassman) Sehnert Descendant Chart

Richard’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather are known; more on his ancestors is provided further down on this webpage. Anna Grassman’s ancestors are not yet known, except that her father was Hugo Grassman. A descendant chart for Richard and Anna showing their children and grandchildren is provided below.

Johann Andreas Sehnert (1748 – 9 Apr 1797) & Dorothea Margaretha Schulze (24 Oct 1749 – 28 Apr 1827)

|–1 Johann Karl Andreas Sehnert (31 Mar 1792 – ) & Johanne Maria Magdalena Franke (1 Mar 1801 – )

|–|–2 Johanne Gotthilf Sehnert (11 Feb 1833 – 8 Feb 1915) & Luise Florstedt (8 May 1841 – 12 Dec 1897)

|–|–|–3 Richard Sehnert (1862 – 7 Jan 1924) & Anna Grassman (22 Feb 1866 – 16 Nov 1932).

|–|–|–|–4 Elsa Mae (“Elsie”) Sehnert (15 Apr 1886 – 29 Jul 1960) & Raymond Bruce Scott (22 Sep 1884 – 29 Mar 1945)

|–|–|–|–|–5 Raymond G. (“Mike”) Scott & Gladys Frederick

|–|–|–|–|–5 Otto Harry (“Pat”) Scott* (15 Dec 1917 – ) & Dolores Stertz

|–|–|–|–|–5 Otto Harry (“Pat”) Scott* (15 Dec 1917 – ) & Elaine Alice Stertz (13 Aug 1938 – )

|–|–|–|–|–5 Darlene (“Bridgett”) Scott (9 Aug 1919 – ) & Frederick Newman (“Newman”) Mallett (10 Aug 1913 – 19 Jun 1978)

|–|–|–|–|–5 Glenn Richard (“Slim”) Scott (26 Dec 1920 – ) & Loretta Heien (30 Jul 1924 – )

|–|–|–|–|–5 Robert Leroy (“Bob” or “Skeezix”) Scott (19 Apr 1922 – ) & Dolores Miller (10 Sep 1929 – )

|–|–|–|–|–5 Walter Lee Scott (Oct 1924 – 27 Mar 1925)

|–|–|–|–4 Paul Sehnert (16 Jan 1888 – 11 Jan 1977) & Wanda Ziegford (4 Jan 1888 – 15 Aug 1973)

|–|–|–|–|–5 Ralph Sehnert (22 Nov 1918 – 3 Aug 1944)

|–|–|–|–|–5 Melvin Sehnert (14 Jul 1920 – ) & Dorothy Muenleisen

|–|–|–|–|–5 Laura Sehnert (7 Apr 1924 – ) & William Gross ( – 12 Jun 1981)

|–|–|–|–4 Freda Elaine Sehnert* (16 Jun 1892 – 4 Jun 1964) & Walter Claude “Claude” Grimshaw (17 Sep 1890 – 7 Feb 1920)

|–|–|–|–|–5 George Grimshaw (27 Mar 1918 – 28 Aug 1971) & Judy Burger (29 Aug 1929 – )

|–|–|–|–|–5 Claude Walter Grimshaw* (5 Oct 1920 – 4 Apr 1983) & Phyllis Lorraine Rogers (9 Jan 1924 – )

|–|–|–|–4 Freda Elaine Sehnert* (16 Jun 1892 – 4 Jun 1964) & Joe Bice

|–|–|–|–|–5 Stanley Bice & Fay Sloat

|–|–|–|–4 Otto Hugo Sehnert (1896 – 1931) & Ruth Wade (18 Dec 1899 – 1944). Married 24 May 1924.

|–|–|–|–|–5 Keith Sehnert (26 May 1926 – ) & Colleen Herrboldt (8 Jul 1929 – )

|–|–|–|–4 Richard “Dick” Sehnert* & Vera Moffitt. Married 14 June 1922.

|–|–|–|–|–5 Bob Sehnert (15 Feb 1924 – 1986) & Lois Unknown

|–|–|–|–|–5 Maurice Sehnert & Norma Unknown

|–|–|–|–|–5 Connie Sehnert (28 Nov 1933 – ) & Tom McNamara (10 Apr 1934 – )

|–|–|–|–4 Richard “Dick” Sehnert* (? – May 1972) & Opal Harlan (16 Jun 1911 – 2 Jan 2003). Married Mar 1938.

|–|–|–|–|–5 Patricia (“Patty”) Sehnert (Circa 1940 – )

|–|–|–|–|–5 Cheryl Sehnert (Circa 1942 – ) & unk Winters

|–|–|–|–4 Louise Anna Sehnert (24 Sep 1899 – 31 Jul 1983) & Carl Garnos (20 Oct 1902 – )

|–|–|–|–|–5 Verle “Bob” Garnos & Patricia Langland

|–|–|–|–|–5 Gordon Garnos & Elizabeth (“Beth”) McFarlane

|–|–|–|–4 Rudy Ernest Sehnert (3 Nov 1900 – 21 Feb 1970) & Christine Matz (30 May 1906 – ). Married 4 Oct 1930.

|–|–|–|–|–5 Marilyn June Sehnert (15 Jun 1932 – ) & Ernest Eugene Kuhns

|–|–|–|–|–5 Aileen Ella Sehnert (7 Mar 1934 – ) & John Wadsworth Montgomery

|–|–|–|–4 Walter Max Sehnert* (12 Dec 1902 – 31 Aug 1997) & Lenita B Ackerman (12 Jul 1902 – 14 Apr 1969)

|–|–|–|–|–5 Walter Emmett Sehnert (13 Mar 1928 – ) & Jean Kathleen Leisy (17 Jan 1929 – )

|–|–|–|–|–5 Judith Sehnert* & Phillip Olsen

|–|–|–|–|–5 Judith Sehnert* & Frank Sullivan

|–|–|–|–4 Walter Max Sehnert* (12 Dec 1902 – 31 Aug 1997) & Ella Myers (9 Aug 1914 – )

|–|–|–|–4 Raymond Sehnert

Photo of Richard and Anna Sehnert and Their Family

Shown below is a photo of Richard and Anna Sehnert with their children. Walter, the youngest – born in 1902- appears to be about six years old, which would make the date of the photo about 1908.

The identifications of the Sehnert family are as follows (Photo courtesy of Sam Bice. Date of photo is unknown. Identifications from Bob Scott, August 2005):

Back row – Richard, Freda, Paul and Otto

Middle row – Anna, Richard, and Elsa

Front row – Louise, Rudolph, and Walter

Another photo of Richard Sehnert is shown below. It is from an album of Freda (Sehnert) Grimshaw Bice, now in the possession of Fay Bice. A prominent facial feature of Richard is the heavy eyelids, a feature that also appears in many of his children.

Johanne Gotthilf Sehnert, Richard Sehnert’s Father

A photo found in two albums of one of the children of Richard and Anna — Freda — has been determined to be of Richard Sehnert’s father, Johanne Gotthilf Sehnert. The photo and identifying information are shown below.

Johanne Gotthilf Sehnert with and unknown boy. Johanne was identified by the notation on the back of the photo, shown below the photo. The boy should be identifiable, but this has not yet been accomplished. From Bice Album 2. Also included in Bice Album, but not in as good condition. 

Operating Bakeries – a Sehnert Family Tradition Going Back to Grossoerner in Germany

Richard and Anna operated a bakery when they started their family in Grossoerner and, after trying homesteading and ranching, returned to the baking and cafe business in Presho, South Dakota. When Richard died in 1924, their son Rudy ran the bakery for a time until Carl and Louise (Sehnert) Garnos bought the Presho bakery. Rudy and two other sons, Richard and Walter, moved to Nebraska and opened bakeries in three locations — Holdredge (Rudy), Kearney (Richard), and Plainview (Walter). Son Otto opened another bakery, perhaps  in Ellendale, North Dakota. This information is from a website by Walter Sehnert, a portion of which is shown below.

Once upon a time the first Sehnert’s Bakery was born in the land of Erfurt, Germany. The year was 1521. Through the centuries, Sehnerts Bakeries have thrived by meeting the needs and demands of their customers and by keeping pace with the changing habits and lifestyles of society. Richard Sehnert sailed the seas from Europe to the new land of the United States. In 1897, Richard and wife Anna marked the start of the Sehnert quality in the United States with the opening of their bakery in Presho, South Dakota. Their youngest son, Walter M., moved to Plainview, Nebraska and founded his bakery in 1930. Walter M. and wife Lenita proudly ran a thriving wholesale business with their retail bakery. Walters brothers, Dick and Rudy, had bakeries in Kearney and Holdrege while brother Otto located his bakery in Ellendale, South Dakota, and sister, Louise, and husband Carl Garnos, operated the original bakery in Presho.

The next generation continued the spread of Sehnerts tradition when in 1957, Walt E. (Walter M.s son) and wife Jean moved to McCook and purchased the Harvest Bakery. Taking on a new name – Sehnerts Bakery, the long standing tradition for high quality bakery products made its way to McCook. During the late 50s, with the rise of donut companies, Walt adjusted business by downscaling the wholesale business and enlarging the retail business with the start of bakery diversification such as catering and a coffee shop. In 1991, the fourth American generation Sehnert baker, Matt, began his professional career in McCook. Matt and wife Shelly once again met the challenges of customers needs along with competitive entities forcing them to redirect their bakerys future. After painful contemplation, it was decided that fundamental changes must be made that would defy what father and grandfather had done. Even though the risk would be great, adaptations and new direction must be forged to allow the traditions to continue in this enchanted land of Southwest Nebraska. Customers no longer demanded only eating bakery products to sustain life, they wanted more. The new direction that the bakery business was to travel needed to encompass giving people a fantastic experience in our rural community -consistent and delicious foods, serviced efficiently while enjoying an unique eating experience; a bit of nostalgia in a progressive atmosphere.

With the dawn of the new millennium on this wonderland, Sehnerts Bakery has focused on providing an experience that helps their customers “enjoy life along the way”. With the creation of the Bieroc Cafe and the added gourmet sandwich menu, the bakery strives to give people that fun experience while fulfilling one of their most basic daily needs. Bakery customers can rest assured that the long standing tastes of Sehnerts plus worry-free service will provide an experience that will meet all their expectations. The fairy tale of Sehnerts Bakery has not always been a smooth road. The challenges to create and surpass the expectations of our customers has demanded and redirected the generations through the years. During our days of work and toil, being part of a tradition that stands only for excellence has been rewarding for each generation of Sehnerts and their employees. The Sehnert family feels blest to have been given the hands to knead and the hearts to hear. May all who have been and still are part of the tradition live happily ever after in Sehnerts Bakery wonderland. The Journey continues!
-author, a Sehnert


Sehnert Children As Adults – Group Photos

The Sehnert family lived primarily in Presho at a time when the town was apparently thriving and vibrant. Unfortunately this has not been the long-term fate of the town. Shown below are group photos of the family, probably taken in Presho.

Sehnert daughters (among others): unknown, unknown, Elsa, Louise, Freda, Anna, unknown

Sehnert sons: Walter, Rudy, Richard, Pau,l and grandson Keith Sehnert

Sehnert sons: Walter, Paul, Rudy, and Richard Sehnert

Sehnert children and spouses: Carl and Louise Garnos, Christine and Rudy Sehnert

Children of Richard and Anna Sehnert, with Family Information

The eight children of Richard and Anna Sehnert are described below with their spouses and families.

1. Elsa Mae (“Elsie”) Sehnert & Raymond Bruce Scott 

Elsa May (Sehnert) Scott and Raymond B Scott (“Father – Ray B Scott – 1943 – Hollywood Calif” on photo). Pictures from Bob Scott, Pierre, SD, August, 2005.

Scott Family

By CWO Raymond G. Scott

The Stoney Butte branch of the Scott family first took root near Presho, S. Dak.

Raymond B. Scott (known as Ray B. Scott), the father, was born in Indianola, Iowa, on September 22, 1884, the first son of Bob and Sarah (Smith) Scott who moved to the Presho area when Ray B. was a youngster. Ray had two brothers, Roy and Harry, and two sisters, Ida and Ada, all deceased.

Elsa M. Scott, wife of Ray B., was born in Germany, where her dad had a place of business. Elsa was born on April 15, 1886. Her parents, Richard and Anna Sehnert, came to the United States when Elsa was about five years of age. They settled at first near Reliance where they farmed and raised sheep. The area was not friendly to either farming or sheep raising because of the then and weather and the unfriendly cattlemen; so the father, Richard, decided to go to Presho where he set up a combination restaurant and bakery. This business place became a landmark in that area for many years. Elsa had two sisters, Freda, now deceased, and Louise (Mrs. Carl Garnos, now living in Presho); and four brothers, Paul at Crandall, S. Dak., Dick at Kearney, Nebr., Rudy at Holdrege, Nebr., and Walt at Plainview, Nebr. All the boys, except Paul, followed in the footsteps of their father and became successful bakers. All are now retired.

Elsa M. Sehnert and Ray B. Scott were married in Kimball, S. Dak., in 1916. They spent their first year of married life near Presho where the first son, Raymond G., was born December 1, 1916. The next year they moved to a location approximately nine miles north of Vivian. There five other children were born as follows: Otto Harry (Pat), born in Presho with Ada Mallett and Dr. Newman in attendance, on December 15, 1917; Anna Darline (changed to Darlene Anna), Ida Mallett in attendance, on August 9, 1919; Richard Glenn (changed to Glenn Richard), Dr. Newman and Mrs. Closton in attendance, on December 24, 1920; Robert LeRoy, Ida Mallett and Dr. Newman in attendance, on April 19, 1922; Walter Lee, born at Presho, Grandmother Scott and Dr. Newman in attendance, on October 13, 1924 (died March 27, 1925).

Raymond G. Scott went through grade school, near home, attending high school in Presho, graduating in 1934. He then attended Nettleton Commercial College in Sioux Falls, graduating in 1936. Here he met and married Gladys Frederick, beauty school attendee from Ravinia, S. Dak., and later of Sioux City, Iowa, on December 1, 1939.

Shortly after marriage, he went to work for the John Deere Plow Co. of Sioux Falls, being employed there until enlisting in the Army Air Corps on October 13, 1942, as a private. He made the Service a career and is now stationed at Headquarters Strategic Air Command, an Air Force Command, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebr. He is, and has been since September of 1958, serving as the Administrative Assistant to the Chief of the Staff at that Headquarters. Raymond and Gladys have two children-Pamela Rae, a graduate nurse, now married to Thomas Swierzb of Inkster, Mich., with two children of her own, and David who will be attending his last year of high school in Papillion next year.

Otto Harry (Pat) attended grade school near home and went to high school in Presho, graduating in 1935. He is currently making his home in Ft. Pierre, S. Dak., with his wife, Elaine, and family where they are active in community affairs. They are also farming and ranching on the home place near Vivian. Pat was initially married to Delores Scott Wells. Six children were born to them: Raymond, Bill, Elaine, Jim, Bob, Patty, who are attending school in Vivian and living with their mother and her husband (Kenneth Wells) near Vivian.

Darlene Anna, after graduation from high school in 1939 (the Scotts made high school history at this time, since Darlene, Glenn and Robert all graduated in the same year), went to Seattle where she worked at the Boeing Airplane Company for several years. She chose Boeing since she felt she would not be alone in this area because Clellan B. Gracey, son of Ada Scott, was in a position of some authority in the Company. He is now vice president in charge of manufacturing in that company and is holding one of the most responsible positions in the country today in the aviation field. While working at Boeing, Darlene met and later married Newman Mallett and now lives in Seattle, Wash., with their two grade school age children, Scott and Gwendlyn. Darlene and Newman are active in community affairs with Newman particularly well known for his many years’ work with Boy’s Clubs.

Glenn Richard, as with the rest of the family, attended grade school near home and high school at Presho, as previously mentioned. He worked at the home place for a short time before he went into the Service of his country where he served for approximately three years in France and Germany in the field artillery. While in the Service he sent for and married a hometown girl, Loretta Heins. After leaving the Service he returned to the home place, living with his widowed mother for approximately one year before he bought the old McWhirter homestead three miles north of Vivian where he lives today. Four children were born to this marriage: Carolyn, now married to Wayne Aske, a school teacher, with two children of her own; Dennis, now taking training in the Army prepatory to a trip to Vietnam; Jeanette, a recent graduate of Nettleton Commercial College of Omaha, Nebr., now living at home; and Leslie, 13 years of age, living at home and helping his parents with the farm and ranching duties. Glenn and family are active in community affairs. Glenn works with the Legion at Vivian as Commander for 1967-68, and Loretta specializing in church duties.

Robert LeRoy was also born at the home place. He, as well as all the rest of the children, attended a one-room school approximately two and one-half miles from the home place. The children either walked or rode horseback, summer and winter, rain or shine. He went from this country school to Presho High School, graduating in 1939, with his brother Glenn and sister Darlene. Bob operated the home place with his brother Pat for several years, then took over a farm and ranch adjoining the home place, where he lives today. Bob and DeLoris Miller were married in Kennebec, S. Dak. Bob, as did Glenn, took time out from the busy ranch life to spend a year or two in the Army, stationed for the majority of the tour in Japan. It was there that he contacted Japanese Bee Encephalitis which nearly finished him off. He finally recovered after spending several months in hospitals in Pierre and Rochester, Minn. Bob and DeLoris are active in civic and community affairs, particularly in the VFW. He is Commander of the Pierre Post for 1967-68.

Walter Lee, youngest son of the family, died of pneumonia in infancy. He is buried in the Presho Cemetery along with his father and mother, Ray B. and Elsa M. Scott; uncle, Roy Scott; Aunt Ida and Ada; paternal grandparents, . Bob and Sarah Scott; maternal grandparents, Richard and Anna Sehnert; their son and his uncle, Otto Sehnert. The only uncle on the Scott side of the house not buried there was Harry, who died and was buried in a cemetery in Cheyenne, Wyo., where he ran a business for several years. He was married but the family has no record of the wife since that time.

Lyman County Pioneers, 1968 (repr 1974), p. 137

2. Paul Sehnert 

Paul Sehnert’s son, Ralph, was killed in World War II while making bombing flights over Germany…

Ralph Sehnert was apparently actually shot down over Austria, as indicated in the following website:

Ralph’s Liberator (B-24) bomber was shot down at the location “Lermoos” on March 8, 1944 along with 14 other Liberators. The event is commemorated on a plaque at the following location: “Ehrwald, District Reutte, Tirol, Austria”. Others killed in the crashes of six of the Liberators were as follows (from above webpage), including a total of 10 in Ralph’s Liberator 42-78322:

crash (WW2):



First name

Death date & location


S / Sgt.


James R.

03/08/1944 Lermoos

Liberator 42-78322

2 nd Lt.


Seth C., Jr.

03/08/1944 At the water

Liberator 42-95284

S / Sgt.


William W.

03/08/1944 Lermoos

Liberator 42-78322

S / Sgt.


Viktor E.

03/08/1944 Biberwier

Liberator 42.78308

S / Sgt.


William R.

03/08/1944 Wampeters Schrofen

Liberator 44-41011

2 nd Lt.


Leonard S.

03/08/1944 Lermoos

Liberator 42-78322

2 nd Lt.



03/08/1944 Biberwier

Liberator 42.78308

2 nd Lt.



03/08/1944 At the water

Liberator 42-95284

S / Sgt.


Henry P.

03/08/1944 Lermoos

Liberator 42-78322



Jack M.

03/08/1944 Lermoos

Liberator 42-78322

1 st Lt.


Howard F.

03/08/1944 At the water

Liberator 42-95284

S / Sgt.


Hoyt O.

03/08/1944 Biberwier

Liberator 42.78308

S / Sgt.


Lawrence J.

03/08/1944 Brendlkar

FO Liberator 42-52498

T / Sgt.


Ralph W.

03/08/1944 At the water

Liberator 42-95284

T / Sgt.


Albert S.

03.08.1944 Hohe Munde

Liberator 44-41017

2 nd Lt.


Robert C.

03/08/1944 At the water

Liberator 42-95284

S / Sgt.



03/08/1944 Wampeters Schrofen

Liberator 44-41011

S / Sgt.


Andrew S.

03/08/1944 At the water

Liberator 42-95284

S / Sgt.


John W.

03/08/1944 Wampeters Schrofen

Liberator 44-41011

T / Sgt.


Edwin E.

03/08/1944 Lermoos

Liberator 42-78322

S / Sgt.


Albert A.

03/08/1944 Biberwier

Liberator 42.78308

S / Sgt.



03/08/1944 Lermoos

Liberator 42-78322

2 nd Lt.


Theodore G.

03.08.1944 Hohe Munde

Liberator 44-41017

S / Sgt.


Willis L.

03/08/1944 Wampeters Schrofen

Liberator 44-41011

T / Sgt.


Ralph P.

03/08/1944 Lermoos

Liberator 42-78322

S / Sgt.


Charles F.

03/08/1944 Brendlkar

FO Liberator 42-52498

2 nd Lt.


Richard E.

03/08/1944 Lermoos

Liberator 42-78322

2 nd Lt.


James W.

03/08/1944 Lermoos

Liberator 42-78322

T / Sgt.


Carl L.

03/08/1944 At the water

Liberator 42-95284

S / Sgt.


Ernest R.

03/08/1944 Wampeters Schrofen

Liberator 44-41011


3. Freda Elaine Sehnert

Freda Elaine Sehnert, who was from Presho, married Walter Claude (who apparently went by “Claude”) Grimshaw in April 1917. They subsequently lived in Oacoma where they operated a café and bakery. Their first son, George Richard, was born on March 27, 1918. However, Claude contracted pleurisy in early 1920 and died in February. It is unlikely that he knew that a second child “was on the way;” son Walter Claude (who changed his name to Claude Walter as an adult) was born on October 5, 1920 in Lesterville, South Dakota. Walter Claude (Senior) is  buried near his parents in Presho.

Acompanion wepbage on Freda has been prepared; click here.

Another companion webpage has been prepared on Walter Claude Grimshaw’s parents, George and Aris (Ladd) Grimshaw; click here

Tentative identifications of Freda and her (the future) husband Walter Claude Grimshaw. Photos from album of Freda and Joe Bice. Thanks go to Fay Bice for making the album available.

Photo of W.C. Grimshaw picking flowers in 1916. Initials and date probably written by his wife, Freda. Note the similarity of hat, coat and shirt to those of the gentleman with Freda above. Photo from album of Freda and Joe Bice. Thanks go to Fay Bice for making the album available.

Freda (Sehnert) Grimshaw with her two sonsons by Walter Claude, George (the Older Boy) and Claude Walter. (Photo courtesy of Al Hodgin. Date of photo is unknown.)

Freda subsequently remarried, to Joseph Ornan Bice, and they had one additional child, Stanley. The three boys were raised together in Oacoma and attended public schools there. Photos of Walter Claude, Freda with the two Grimshaw boys, and Freda with her parents and siblings are shown below. Freda and Joe are buried together in the Chamberlain cemetery.

A companion webpage has been prepared on the grandparents and parents of Joe Bice; click here.

Freda and Joe Bice. Date of photo unknown.

Freda in later years with second husband, Joseph O. Bice. (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Grimshaw. Date of photo is in the 1950s.) 

Freda’s children, Stan Bice and Claude and George Grimshaw

4. Otto Hugo Sehnert

[No information yet on Otto Sehnert…]

“Otto Sehnert” and Otto with unknown friend. From Bice Album 1. Cropped to include Freda or Joe Bice handwriting.

5. Richard “Dick” Sehnert

[No information yet on Richard…]

6. Louise Anna Sehnert 

[In preparation.]

Carl and Louise Garnos

Carl Garnos with cakes. Carl and Louise ran the previous Sehnert bakery in Presho for 35 years.

Verle Robert (“Bob”), Carl, Louise, and Gordon Garnos

[citation needed]



Mr. and Mrs. Nels Garnos- 1896

Nels Garnos was born Oct. 29, 1859, at Hal?gdal, Norway. At the age of nine years, his mother brought him to Fillmore County, Minn., his father having died prior to this time in Norway.

As a young man he resided in North Dakota, then moved to Brule County, S. D. In 1890 he came to Lyman County and filed on land five miles east of Presho. While still in Brule County, he married Carrie Brakke and to this union three children were born: Mabel, Kam and Oscar. The latter two died in infancy and Mrs. Garnos in 1893.

Thora Ovregaard came to South Dakota in 1893 from Lardal, Norway. In 1896 she married Nels Garnos and they lived on the original homestead the remainder of their lives and were active members of what is now the American Lutheran Church.

To this union four children were born, Margaret, Oscar, Carl and Noble, Mr. Garnos died Jan. 1.6, 1920, and Mrs. Garnos on Nov. 23, 1946.

Their children’s families are as follows:

Mable married Martin Howe in 1909 and their children are Noble, Burton, Mildred, Selma and Fern, all graduates of Presho High School. Two other girls died in early childhood.

Margaret Garnos married Sander Sletto of Vivian and they both taught school in the Presho and Vivian communities for several years and also engaged in farming south of Presho. There are three Sletto children, Twyla, Arlo and Sharon, all Presho High School graduates. Margaret is deceased.

Twyla is a graduate of Augustana College and taught school for several years. She is married to John Blegen, Minneapolis. They have three children, Richard, Eric and Karen.

Dr. Arlo Sletto, also an Augustana College graduate, is now an instructor at the University of New Mexico.

Sharon also has her degree from Augustana College, Taught school for several years and is married to Jerry LaRoche, a Presho native. They live in Storm Lake, la.

Oscar Garnos married Vera Gilman of Kennebec and resides along Medicine Creek east of Presho. They have two sons, Owen and Veran, graduates of Presho High School.

Owen graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell, is married to Sally Perry, and they have three children, Gretchen, Quintin and Cooper. Owen is engaged in farming and ranching with his father.

Veran received his degree from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, served in the Vietnam War with the U.S. Navy. While attending Schiller College in Germany he met and later married Judy Kutler of Palmyra, Pa. They taught school at Bogota, Columbia, three -years, and Veran is now engaged in farming and ranching with his father and brother. His wife teaches German at Lyman County High School.

Carl Garnos married Louise Sehnert and they were in the bakery business in Presho for 35 years. They have two sons, Verle and Gordon.

Verle, better known as Bob, is married to Patricia. Langland, Aberdeen, and they have two daughters, Kristin and Kara. Bob is a graduate of Alexian Bros. School of Nursing and Anesthesiology, Chicago, Ill., and is an anesthetist at Dodge County Hospital, Fremont, Nebr.

Gordon graduated from the University of South Dakota, Vermillion and married Beth McFarlane, Chester, Engand,, while in the service of the U.S. Air Force. He now holds the position of news editor of the Public Opinion, Watertown, S. D. They have three children, William, Heather and Richard. Christopher is deceased.

Noble Garnos, a graduate of Luther College, Decorah, la., taught school for several years. He married Mollie Brozik of, Winner and they have two sons, Mike, who teaches at Buffalo Lake, Minn., and Gary of Perris, Calif. He is in the oil business.

7. Rudy Ernest Sehnert

[No information yet on Rudy…]

Rudy and Christine Sehnert

8. Walter Max Sehnert

[In preparation.]

Walter and Lenita Sehnert. Labeled “Walters” in Bice Album.

Richard and Anna Sehnert’s Grandchildren

The eight children of Richard and Anna blessed them with many grandchildren. Photos of the grandkids are shown below.

Anna (Grassman) Sehnert and Grandchildren: Claude and George Grimshaw and Stanley Bice in middle.

Anna Grassman Sehnert and Grandchildren

Sehnert Grandchildren

Pat Scott, unknown, George Grimshaw, Claude Grimshaw, Keith Sehnert, unknown, Stanley Bice, Bob Scott, Darlene Scott, Anna Sehnert

Sehnert Grandchildren: Pat Scott, __ Scott, George Grimshaw?, (Walter) Claude Grimshaw, Keith Sehnert (front), Stanley Bice, Bob Scott. Photo taken at same time as above picture.

Additional Sehnert Photos

The photos shown below will be identified when possible to do so.

The two photos below appear to be of Rudy Sehnert in his bakery, which would have been in Holdredge, Nebraska.

Unknown Sehnert Boys?

Sehnert Obituaries

The following obituaries are in preparation for this webpage.


Last Name


First Name



















11. 24, 1932






1. 31, 1924


Opal Sehnert Obituary


SEHNERT, Opal M., 91, Kearney died Thursday, Jan. 2, 2003, Prairie View Gardens
Services: Saturday, Horner-Lieske-Horner Mortuary Chapel
Burial: Kearney Cemetery
Memorials: Hospital Service League at Good Samaritan Hospital
Born: June 16, 1911, Cozad
Parents: Otis and Minnie (Whaley) HARLAN
Education: graduated Cozad High School, 1929; received teaching certificate, taught in rural schools near Eddyville. Married March 1938, Richard Sehnert in Fort Morgan, Colo. Operated a bakery in Sterling, Colo., until 1947; moved to Kearney in 1947, owned Sehnert’s Bakery until 1959; sold the bakery, then owned Sehnert’s Liquor Store Husband died in May 1972. She retired from the liquor store in 1973
Activities: Red Cross Volunteer, helping with blood drives, volunteer in the Good Samaritan Hospital Gift Shop for many years, made baby caps for newborns at the hospital. Member of First Presbyterian Church, Kearney, for more than 55 years; enjoyed playing checkers, bridge and bingo, and spending time with family.

Survivors include her daughters, Cheryl Winters of Kearney and Patricia Plotner of Colfax, Calif.; brother, Robert Harlan of North Highland, Calif.; sister, Eunice Kiesel of Eustis; six grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; stepdaughter, Connie McNamara of Colorado Springs, Colo.; 14 stepgrandchildren; and several stepgreat-grandchildren; Preceded in death by husband, two brothers, six sisters and two stepsons.

Kearney Hub, 3 January, 2003

Richard Sehnert’s Ancestry

The following Sehnert family tree, one of the most important sources of information on Richard Sehnert’s ancestry, was apparently obtained from Werner Sehnert (dated November 1, 1971). This may have occurred when Walter Sehnert, youngest son of Richard and Anna, visited Grossoerner.

Records on confirm the above descendant chart.  Richard Sehnert’s great-grandfather was Johann Andreas Sehnert, who was born in 1748 in Grossoerner.

Annotations on the above images are as follows:

All family members born in Grossoerner, Saxony, Preussen

Richard’s great-grandfather was Johann Andreas Sehnert, who was born in 1748.

Richard’s grandfather, Johann Carl Andreas Sehnert, had three siblings: 

Dorthea Eleonera Sehnaert24 Jun 1782 
Maria Elisabeth Sehnert23 Oct 178525 Mar 1796
Johann Carl Andreas Sehnert31 Mar 17923 Apr 1864
Johanne Elisabeth Sehnert3 Nov 1795 

Richard’s father, Johann Gotthilf Sehnert, had four siblings; Johann was the middle child.

Johann Carl Andreas Sehnert22 Apr 1826 
Maria Wilhelmine Elisabeth Sehnert13 Apr 1830 
Johann Gotthilf Sehnert2 Nov 1833 
Friedrich Andreas Carl Sehnert25 Nov 1834 
Therese Marie Friederike Sehnert6 Nov 1838 

The above descendant chart and FamilySearch information can be interpreted as follows:

Johann Andreas Sehnert (1748 – 9 Apr 1797) & Dorothea Margaretha Schulze (24 Oct 1749 – 28 Apr 1827). Married 17 Nov 1776, Grossoerner.

|–1 Dorthea Eleonera Sehnaert (24 Jun 1782 -?)

|–1 Maria Elisabeth Sehnert (23 Oct 1785 – 25 Mar 1796 )

|–1 Johann Karl Andreas Sehnert (31 Mar 1792 – ) & Johanne Maria Magdalena Franke (1 Mar 1801 – ). Married 27 Oct 1822, Grossoerner.

|–|–2 Johanne Carl Andreas Sehnert (22 Apr 1826 – ?)

|–|–2 Marie Wilhelmine Elisabeth Sehnert (13 Apr 1830 – ?)

|–|–2 Johanne Gotthilf Sehnert (11 Feb 1833 – 8 Feb 1915) & Luise Florstedt (8 May 1841 – 12 Dec 1897). Married 25 Jun 1860, Eisleben.

|–|–|–3 Richard Sehnert (1862 – 7 Jan 1924) & Anna Grassman (22 Feb 1866 – 16 Nov 1932). Married 1885, Erfurt.

|–|–|–|–4 Elsa Mae (“Elsie”) Sehnert (15 Apr 1886 – 29 Jul 1960) & Raymond Bruce Scott (22 Sep 1884 – 29 Mar 1945)

|–|–|–|–4 Paul Sehnert (16 Jan 1888 – 11 Jan 1977) & Wanda Ziegford (4 Jan 1888 – 15 Aug 1973)

|–|–|–|–4 Freda Elaine Sehnert* (16 Jun 1892 – 4 Jun 1964) & Walter Claude “Claude” Grimshaw (17 Sep 1890 – 7 Feb 1920)

|–|–|–|–4 Freda Elaine Sehnert* (16 Jun 1892 – 4 Jun 1964) & Joe Bice

|–|–|–|–4 Otto Hugo Sehnert (1896 – 1931) & Ruth Wade (18 Dec 1899 – 1944)

|–|–|–|–4 Richard “Dick” Sehnert* & Vera Moffitt

|–|–|–|–4 Richard “Dick” Sehnert* & Opal Harlan

|–|–|–|–4 Louise Anna Sehnert (24 Sep 1899 – 31 Jul 1983) & Carl Garnos (20 Oct 1902 – )

|–|–|–|–4 Rudy Ernest Sehnert (3 Nov 1900 – 21 Feb 1970) & Christine Matz (30 May 1906 – )

|–|–|–|–4 Walter Max Sehnert* (12 Dec 1902 – 31 Aug 1997) & Lenita B Ackerman (12 Jul 1902 – 14 Apr 1969)

|–|–|–|–4 Walter Max Sehnert* (12 Dec 1902 – 31 Aug 1997) & Ella Myers (9 Aug 1914 – )

|–|–|–|–4 Raymond Sehnert (Died as infant)

|–|–|–3 Otto Sehnert

|–|–|–3 Emil Sehnert

|–|–|–|–4 Ernst Sehnert (? – 1967)

|–|–|–3 Paul Sehnert

|–|–|–|–4 Paul Sehnert (? – 1946)

|–|–|–|–4 Charlotte Sehnert (? – 1945)

|–|–|–3 Hugo Sehnert

|–|–|–|–4 Hugo Sehnert (? – 1963)

|–|–|–|–4 Fritz Sehnert

|–|–|–|–4 Lochen Sehnert

|–|–|–3 Oskar Sehnert

|–|–|–|–4 Oskar Sehnert

|–|–|–|–4 Lotte Sehnert

|–|–|–|–4 Gretchen Sehnert

|–|–|–3 Willie Georg Sehnert (8 Nov 1883 – 15 Aug 1956) & Margaretha Selma Fugmann (7 Apr 1887 – 7 Jan 1955). Married 11 Aug 1910?

|–|–|–|–4 Werner Sehnert (15 Apr 1914 – ) & Kathe Janetzky? (17 Sep 1915 -) Married 10 Apr 1941, Breslau.

|–|–|–|–|–5 Gunter Sehnert (23 Jan 1942 – ) & Irene Knoop (20 Nov 1941? – ). Married 7 Apr 1967, Leverkusen.

|–|–|–|–|–5 Leonore Sehnert* (21 Jan 1952 – ) & unk Unknown

|–|–|–|–|–5 Leonore Sehnert* (21 Jan 1952 – ) & Robert Powell

|–|–2 Friedrich Andreas Carl Sehnert (25 Dec 1834 – ?)

|–|–2 Therese Marie Friederike Sehnert (6 Nov 1838 – ?)

|–1 Johanne Elisabeth Sehnert (3 Nov 1795 – ?)

An excellent candidate for the family of origin of Johannes Andreas Sehnert has been found on and is shown below. The parents, Johann Christoph and Anna Regina (Berger) Sehnert were married in Merseburg, and the children were born there also. The Johann Andreas Sehnert of this family (born 6 July 1750) has been supplemented with the above information on Johann Andreas Sehnert (born 1748) to show the hypothesized connection.

Johann Christoph Sehnert (abt 1700 – ? & Anna Regina Berger (5 Aug 1704- 22 Jul 1770). Married 1732, Wallbeck, Merseburg, Sachsen, Preussen.

|–Johann Christian Sehnert (30 Oct 1733 – 21 Jul 1809) & Maria Dorothea Arenhold. Married 22 Nov 1770.

|–|–Johann Christian Sehnert (14 Aug 1771 – ?)

|–|–Johann Gottleib Sehnert (30 Mar 1774 – ?)

|–|–Johann Christoph Sehnert (27 Sep 1775 – ?)

|–|–Johann August Sehnert (18 Feb 1778 – 29 Mar 1828)

|–|–Johannes Andreas Sehnert (13 Feb 1781 – ?)

|–|–Susanna Maria Dorothea Sehnert (11 Feb 1784 – 12 May 1850)

|–Anna Dorothea Sehnert (10 Aug 1735 – ?)

|–Anna Dorothea Sehnert (6 Jan 1738 – ?)

|–Andreas Sehnert (13 May 1740 – ?)

|–Johann Gottleib Sehnert (2 Oct 1742 – ?)

|–Johann Phillip Sehnert (4 Mar 1745 – ?)

|–Johann Andreas Sehnert (6 Jul 1750 – ?)

The above Johann Andreas Sehnert is hypothesized to also be the one shown below…

Johann Andreas Sehnert (1748 – 9 Apr 1797) & Dorothea Margaretha Schulze (24 Oct 1749 – 28 Apr 1827). Married 17 Nov 1776, Grossoerner.

|–|– Dorthea Eleonera Sehnaert (24 Jun 1782 -?)

|–|– Johann Karl Andreas Sehnert (31 Mar 1792 – ) & Johanne Maria Magdalena Franke (1 Mar 1801 – ). Married 27 Oct 1822, Grossoerner.

|–|–|– Johanne Carl Adreas Sehnert (22 Apr 1826 – ?)

|–|–|– Marie Wilhelmine Elisabeth Sehnert (13 Apr 1830 – ?)

|–|–|– Johanne Gotthilf Sehnert (11 Feb 1833 – 8 Feb 1915) & Luise Florstedt (8 May 1841 – 12 Dec 1897). Married 25 Jun 1860, Eisleben.

|–|–|– Friedrich Andreas Carl Sehnert (25 Dec 1834 – ?)

|–|–|– Therese Marie Friederike Sehnert (6 Nov 1838 – ?)

|–|– Maria Elisabeth Sehnert (23 Oct 1785 – 25 Mar 1796 )

|–|– Johanne Elisabeth Sehnert (3 Nov 1795 – ?)

This hypothesized family of origin is based on 1) the distinctive name combination of “Johannes Andreas”, not seen elsewhere among several hundred “Sehnert” names on FamilySearch; 2) the good fit of the birthdate (1750 vs 1748, the latter which is probably approximate in any case); 3) the common occurrence of the same names of Dorothea, Andreas, Marie/Maria, and Gottleib/Gotthilf(?); and 4) the location of Merseburg within 30 miles of Grossoerner, as shown on the map below.

Map showing distance of only 30 miles between Merseburg (A) and Hettstedt, where Grossoerner is located.

Research on on FamilySearch also found a contemporaneous Sehnert family residing in Grossoerner; it is shown in the descendant chart below. Note the similarity in occurrence of names in the two families — Johann, Dorothea, Andreas, Maria, Gotthilf, Christian, etc. One conjecture would be that Johanne Andreas Sehnert (born about 1748) had a younger brother, George Peter Sehnert (born about 1752), and they arrived in Grossoerner at about the same time. However, if this is true, then Georg Peter Sehnert is not accounted for in the hypothesized family of origin (Johann Christoph and Anna [Berger] Sehnert) described above.

Georg Peter Sehnert (abt 1752)

|–1 Johann Friedrich Sehnert (11 Jul 1777, Siegelrode – 21 Nov 1851, Grossoerner) & Susanna Catharina Elisabeth Treite (24 Nov 1771, Grossoerner – 9 Feb 1833, Grossoerner). Married 21 May 1793, Grossoerner.

|–|–2 Maria Christiana Sehnert (24 Apr 1794, Grossoerner – ?)

|–|–2 Johanna Christiana Sehnertert (30 Mar 1796, Grossoerner – 4 Oct 817)

|–|–2 Dorothea Christiana Sehnert (30 Mar 1796, Grossoerner – ?)

|–|–2 Johann Friedrich Sehnert (10 Jul 1798 – 6 Jan 1799)

|–|–2 Friedrich Andreas Sehnert (24 Jan 1800 – ?)

|–|–2 Maria Rosina Sehnert (4 Mar 1802, Grossoerner – ?)

|–|–2 Friedrich August Sehnert (10 Oct 1804, Grossoerner – ?)

|–|–2 Auguste Magdalena Sehnert (13 Oct 1805, Grossoerner – ?

|–|–2 Dorothea Friederike Sehnert (13 Feb 1807, Grossoerner – 18 Oct 1817)

|–|–2 Carl Gottfried Sehnert (2 Aug 1809, Grossoerner – ?)

|–|–2 August Gotthilf Sehnert (16 Aug 1812, Grossoerner – 5 Feb 1833)

|–|–2 Johanne Karoline Wilhelmine Sehnert (27 Jan 1815, Grossoerner – ?)

|–|–2 Friedrich Christian Sehnert (24 Jul 1819, Grossoerner – ?)

Anna Grassmann’s Ancestry

An unedited version of Anna Grassman’s ancestry chart is shown below. The chart is based on a diagrammatic chart apparently left by Horace Grassman when he visited South Dakota sometime in the 1960s or 1970s. The chart is in the possession of Gordon Garnos, Watertown, SD. Thanks to Gordon for providing a copy of this Grassman ancestry chart. Anna Grassman, indicated in bold and italic font, is a fourth-generation descendant of Johann Christian and Louisa (Schutz or Schultz) Grassman.

1 Johann Christian Grassman b: 1721 d: March 05, 1791

.. +Louisa Schutz m: November 28, 1764 d: November 1775

…… 2 Johann Christian Grassman b: 1764

………. +Unknown m: February 20, 1798

…………… 3 Carl Heinrich Grassman b: February 06, 1803 in Mittenwalde, Germany d: December 15, 1849 in Siebigerode, Germany

………………. +Johanna Christiane Wilhelmine Kuhne m: September 30, 1831 d: in Wolfsburg, Germany

………………….. 4 Heinrich Grassman

………………….. 4 Gustov Theodor Grassman b: December 20, 1834 in Eilenburg, Germany d: December 04, 1917 in Vorwalsrode, Germany

……………………… +Anna Wilhelmine Zeplin b: January 13, 1844 m: October 24, 1865 d: January 15, 1903 in Wolfsburg, Germany

………………………….. 5 UNKNOWN Grassman

……………………………… +Otto Goernemann

…………………………………. 6 UNKNOWN Goernemann

…………………………………….. +Max Riedel b: September 15, 1886

…………………………………. 6 Otto Goernemann

…………………………………….. +Minna Melzian m: April 08, 1948 d: January 25, 1974 in Gifhorn, Germany

………………………….. 5 Selma Grassman b: May 23, 1868 d: November 11, 1936

……………………………… +Hermann Jeremias

…………………………………. 6 Hedwig Jeremias

………………………….. 5 Gustav Adolph Friedrich Robert Grassman b: September 17, 1869 d: September 03, 1951

……………………………… +Minna Wilhelmina Charlotte Brandt b: June 02, 1876

…………………………………. 6 UNKNOWN Grassman

…………………………………. 6 Else Grassman b: October 27, 1899 d: January 13, 1975

…………………………………….. +Heinrich Wolf b: October 17, 1899 d: July 17, 1969 in Leer, Germany

…………………………………………. 7 Susanne Wolf

…………………………………………. 7 Sabine Wolf

…………………………………. 6 (Grethe) Margarete Lina Auguste Grassman b: March 25, 1907 in Linden, Germany d: April 28, 1947 in Bukerburg, Germany

…………………………………….. +Wilhelm Heinrich Andreas Rademacher b: February 13, 1902 in Stradthayen, Germany m: September 03, 1935 in Hannover, Germany d: September 09, 1944 in Oberkerschen, Luxemborg

………………………….. 5 Richard Grassman b: April 30, 1871 d: September 03, 1951

……………………………… +Carloine Vetter

…………………………………. 6 Richard Bernhard Grassman b: October 08, 1899 d: February 20, 1902

………………………….. 5 Oscar Grassman b: March 07, 1872 d: 1877

………………………….. 5 Karl Grassman b: May 15, 1875 d: December 19, 1955 in Walsrode, Germany

……………………………… +UNKNOWN Busch

…………………………………. 6 Gustav Grassman b: June 15, 1902

…………………………………….. +Aenne Braig b: December 14, 1903 in Kettwig, Germany m: October 25, 1929

…………………………………………. 7 Hans-Joachim Grassman b: October 11, 1930

…………………………………………. 7 Karl-Dieter Grassman b: February 01, 1935 in Celle, Germany

…………………………………………….. +Jutta Franzmeier b: August 22, 1932 m: December 20, 1957 in Bremen, Germany

…………………………………………………. 8 Ulrike Grassman b: March 26, 1959 in Bremen, Germany

…………………………………………………. 8 Burkhard Grassman b: June 19, 1966 in Bremen, Germany

…………………………………. 6 Karla Grassman b: August 08, 1903

…………………………………….. +Franz Ludtke b: October 18, 1899 in Dresden, Germany m: October 05, 1928 in Walsrode, Germany

…………………………………………. 7 Brigitte Ludtke b: September 24, 1940 in Medebach, Germany

………………………….. 5 Otto Grassman

……………………………… +UNKNOWN Oppermann

…………………………………. 6 Ormgard Grassman

…………………………………….. +Werner Murr

…………………………………………. 7 Jurgen Murr

………………………….. 5 Ernst Adolph Grassman b: July 29, 1881

……………………………… +Anna ? Fried. Goersch b: November 06, 1883 in Hannover, Germany m: July 05, 1910 d: December 06, 1951 in Hannover, Germany

…………………………………. 6 Horst Adolph Karl Grassman b: January 31, 1915

…………………………………….. +Ingeburg Meta Marguerete Graen b: February 03, 1921 in Hannover, Germany m: July 05, 1945 in Sprakensehl, Germany

…………………………………………. 7 Helga Ingeburg Grassman

…………………………………………. 7 Anna Grassman

………………………….. 5 Georg Grassman b: June 25, 1883 d: September 12, 1888

………………………….. 5 Ernst Grassman b: September 06, 1877 d: December 03, 1947 in Halle/Salle, Germany

……………………………… +Frieda UNKNOWN b: December 02, 1888 d: December 03, 1977 in Eisenkuttenstadt, Germany

…………………………………. 6 Harald Grassman

…………………………………….. +Ernst-Rochus Grassman b: May 12, 1925 m: in Wernigerode, Germany

………………….. 4 Otto Julius Grassman b: May 01, 1836

……………………… +Ida Poppel b: January 21, 1838 in Minden, Germany m: October 21, 1862 in Minden, Germany

………………………….. 5 Luise Grassman

………………………….. 5 Otto Grassman

……………………………… +Ida Ludecke

………………………….. 5 Anna Grassman b: February 22, 1875 d: 1939

……………………………… +Richard Sehnert

…………………………………. 6 Else Sehnert

…………………………………. 6 Paul Sehnert

…………………………………. 6 Frieda Sehnert

…………………………………. 6 Otto Sehnert

…………………………………. 6 Richard Sehnert

…………………………………. 6 Luise Sehnert

…………………………………….. +UNKNOWN Garnos

…………………………………………. 7 Gordon Garnos

…………………………………………….. +Elizabeth UNKNOWN

…………………………………………………. 8 Heather Garnos

…………………………………………………. 8 Richard Garnos

…………………………………. 6 Walter Sehnert b: December 12, 1902

…………………………………….. +Lenita Ackermann

…………………………………………. 7 Walter Sehnert b: March 13, 1928

…………………………………………….. +Jean Leisy d: June 10, 1951

…………………………………………………. 8 Marie Sehnert

…………………………………………………….. +Bruce UNKNOWN

…………………………………………. 7 Judith Sehnert

…………………………………………….. +Philipp Olsen

…………………………………………………. 8 Todd Olsen

…………………………………………………. 8 Roger Olsen

…………………………………………………. 8 Charles Olsen

…………………………………………………. 8 Nancy Olsen

…………… 3 Phillipine Amalie Grassman b: March 20, 1805

…………… 3 UNKNOWN Grassman b: 1803

…………… 3 UNKNOWN Grassman b: 1802

…………… 3 UNKNOWN Grassman b: 1801

…………… 3 UNKNOWN Grassman b: 1801

…………… 3 Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Grassman b: September 11

…………… 3 UNKNOWN Grassman b: 1798

…… 2 Christian Immanuel Wilhelm Grassman b: September 28, 1765

…… 2 Juliana Beata Grassman b: November 25, 1767

…… 2 Maria Louisa Grassman b: January 12, 1770

…… 2 Johann Gottleib Grassman b: January 30, 1771

…… 2 Sophia Charlotte Grassman b: March 06, 1774

*2nd Wife of Johann Christian Grassman:

.. +Charlotte Johanna Muller m: June 10, 1778

…… 2 Karl Heinrich Gottlieb Grassman b: October 22, 1779

…… 2 Charlotta Louisa Grassman b: July 16, 1783

…… 2 Ernestina Wilhelmin Grassman b: December 19, 1789

…… 2 Unknown Grassman

The uppermost page (of 11 pages total) of the descendant chart from Horace Grassman is shown below. The earliest Grassmann, Johann Christian Grassman, is shown with his two wives, Louisa Schutz and Johanna Charlotte Muller. Unfortunately, the entire chart was not included in the copy of the chart obtained for this webpage, so some of the information has been lost, particularly of the earlier descendants.

Grave Photos of Richard and Anna Sehnert and Their Children

Presho Cemetery: Richard and Anna Sehnert; Carl and Louise Garnos; Elsa and Raymond Scott; Walter Claude Grimshaw (son-in-law)

Riverview Cemetery, Chamberlain: Freda and Joe Bice

Richard and Anna Sehnert are buried in Presho cemetery. Their graves are shown below. The headstone faces westward and the two markers face eastward; both views are shown in the photos. Shown last is a westward view of Presho cemetery. The photo is taken in the direction of the Sehnert grave, which is just out of view.

History of Presho, South Dakota

The history of Presho shown below was found on the following website. Note the two mentions of Sehnerts, shown in bold font.



Transcribed by Dianna Diehm, April 2001 08/25/2002



The 1926 Fourth Year English Class of Presho High School presents to the public the result of its attempt at writing the history of Presho. The material has been complied from talks given to the class by five pioneers, interviews with many old settlers, and early publications. Much material has been gathered in order to gain accuracy, and it has been hard to determine what events should have a place in history. Perhaps many things could be added and others left out; but on the whole, the class feels that it has included the main events.

It feels that the experiment has been very worthwhile, for it has been very interesting, and it has given each student a more sympathetic appreciation for his home town and a deeper feeling regarding the hardships and sacrifices that their parents went through to make the town what it is. The class wishes to thank especially Mr. Wederath, Mr. Jost, Dr. Newman, Mr. Stevens, and Mr. West for their assistance; Mr. Griffith, who sent material from Sioux City; Mr. Sedgwick; the State Department of History, and the City Council, who gave the pictures and made publication possible.

Alta Kenobbie


Helen Ohlson


Hazel DeBolt


 Theo Butt


Ida Juhnke


 Irene Juhnke


Marion Miller


 Minnie Swinson


Bernice Van de Drink


 Harold Martin


Durward Green


 Oscar Hilmoe


John Sweeney


 Oscar Hilmoe


John Wagoner




The first mention of “Presho” dates back to 1872-3 when Presho and Lyman counties were created by the government. Contrary to the belief of many that the name “Presho” is of Indian origin is the fact that the town was named for J. S. Presho, an early trader and the operator of a ferry at Yankton. In 1897 Presho County became part of Lyman County.

It was not until 1890 that a proclamation was issued by President Harrison that said that this section of country west of the Missouri River was fit for white men to live in, but at that time large tracts were reserved for the Indians. When the Great Sioux Reservation was opened in 1893, it was immediately filed on by incoming settlers and speculators, and soon small towns and post offices sprang up. The first town site was Gladstone, located on the west bank of the Missouri River, a short distance south of where Oacoma is now located. It was the seat of Lyman County and was burned by cattle rustlers who thought that law and order would be their ruin. Oacoma then became the county seat.

Many other post offices, such as Hotch City, South Earling (now Vernons farm), Lund, McClure, and Presho were established in hopes that the railroad would some day run through them, but most of these were abandoned on account of lack of water on the tableland. Water was only one problem of the early settlers. With these rolling prairies covered with long grass that has never felt the sickle edge, prairie fires were very common. In 1900 an unusually big fire started five miles east of what is now Presho and swept as far west as the town site of Murdo. A girl and two small children lost their lives. All feed was destroyed, and so the homesteaders banded together, drove their stock up near Kadoka and erected sod shelters for the winter. Rustlers were also a menace, and the pioneers could not borrow money with horses and cattle for security because they were apt to be stolen.

The present city of Presho has had four plattings. Before the extension of the railroad from Chamberlain, four blocks known as East Presho were platted out on Matsons place, north of the Fair Grounds. It consisted of a post office, a hotel, saloon, land office, and a general store. Another platting was North Presho, a block platted by Mr. Rice, who moved the building, which is now Mrs. Mullens home from South Earling and established a hotel and general store. A cheese factory, now Abdnors store, was hauled overland from Brookings and did business for four years. Cheese was hauled to Chamberlain by wagon for market. The fourth platting was made several years after the other three plattings and was called Greater Presho. It is located on the hill south of the main part of town.

The third platting, which begins the history of Presho proper, was made by the Milwaukee Land Company. On June 2, 1905, this land company bought the section from Sidney F. Hockersmith, who in 1894 had been given the right by the government to homestead the land on which the main part of the city of Presho now stands. Mr. Hockersmith was the first to receive a title from the government, but 1890, before the land was surveyed and open for filing, Mrs. Sophia Van Horn squatted on it and had her shack about where the Anderson Lumber Company now is. When her mother, Mrs. Helleckson, died, she went to live with her father in the old Mullen residence, and thereby lost the land to Mr. Hockersmith who came in with a government lease. Mrs. Van Horn buried her mother on the slope, which decided the location of the present cemetery. The Milwaukee Land Company platted out sixteen blocks and on November 9, 1905, brought a professional auctioneer from Chicago and had the lot sale, the anniversary of which is celebrated as Preshos birthday. A special train that brought the bidders stayed in Presho over a day.

The first lot sold was that on which the Farmers and Merchants Bank now stands. Peter B. Dirks and E. M. Sedgwick bought it for $500.00, $480.00 more than the list price. The building that Mrs. Mitchell now occupies for her confectionery store was on wheels where the Van Horn pool hall now stands; and as son as Mr. Sedgwick and Mr. Dirks bought the lot, they moved the building there and started to do business within eight minutes after the sale of the lot was announced. Nels Garnos made the first deposit while the bank was on its way to its permanent location. There were no fixtures in the bank at all, but it had the $5000 capital necessary to start a bank at that time. Two barrels and a plank served for a counter. When the cashier, Mr. Clowe, went to dinner he took with him all the money in a little satchel and carried a six-shooter for protection. He was never robbed. Mr. Montgomery was president and Mr. Sedgwick, vice president. One-third interest was held by Mr. Topper. For two years the bank did not close day or night.

Presho was the end of the railroad in 1905 with the “Y” south of the track opposite the campgrounds. As newcomers would go as far west as they could get, Presho drew an enormous population after the lot sale. As many as 240 cars of immigrants were unloaded in one month; and, until they could get their claims, they occupied every space of ground just north of the tracks on the creek banks. Some put up tents, some had covered wagons, and some built temporary huts of sod. During the first six months the sound of the hammer could be heard almost any jour of the day or night. Settlers hauled lumber from the railroad yards and built their 8 x 10 shanties, the average cost of which was $40. Knutsons and Sedgwicks residences were the first real houses here.

Very early Presho had a population of over 2000, and to accommodate these transients, many bunkhouses were built and every place of business had cots up stairs to rent. Mr. Morris built “The Arcade”, the first hotel erected south of the tracks. At this time the town could accommodate about 350 strangers with sleeping room.

Any newly settled country or town has many interesting characters when it has a large floating population, and Presho was no exception. Rattlesnake Bill, Beefsteak Bob, and Fitzmorris were a few of the eccentric people who added local color to the west. Rattlesnake Bill was a cowboy who loafed around and told stories about snakes. He claimed that he picked up rattlesnakes by the tails and cracked their heads off. Beefsteak Bob was a dope fiend who painted for his living. Fitzmorris was an aristocratic duke who wouldnt work and pretended to be a preacher.

In the spring of 1906 the railroad was extended to Rapid City to which place there had formerly been a stage. Supply yards for the extension were located near the present campgrounds; and, as it rained nineteen days that May, work progressed very slowly. There was no depot in town, and A. L. Walker, the first depot agent, had his office in a box car. He shipped the first car of coal into Presho and B. R. Stevens was the first to buy a load.

The post office was one of the early institutions of service. It was located in the building, which is now Clutes harness shop, and Isaac Helleckson was the first postmaster. Later it was moved to the building now occupied by the Hilligoss show repair shop and finally to its present location. At first there were no mailboxes. Many interesting pictures may be seen of the line of people from the post office door straight across the street patiently waiting for their mail, which had to be separately looked for from large bundles. The line was the same no matter what the weather was.

Presho had a newspaper in 1905. E. L. Senn, present prohibition officer established the “Presho Post,” which later became the “Lyman County Herald.” Mr. Senn owned sixteen other papers in Lyman County at that time. They were called “proof sheets” and were used to advertise the ownership of claims.

Besides real estate offices and restaurants, several stores were started. Argo and Sweeney ran a general store in the building now occupied by B. B. Stevens, and Martin and Kenobbie had a big general store in the building now occupied by Reuland & Deisch. There were dance halls above these stores, and it is said that the buildings shook with the square dances of twenty years ago as they would now with the Charleston of 1926. People came as far as twenty miles or more on horseback to these dances. Entertainment was a treat to the people who came as far from their friends and social life to this unsettled, lonesome prairie land.

Argo and Sweeney owned the first automobile. It was manufactured by the International Harvester Company and modeled after a high-wheeled buggy. Its chief fault was that it wouldnt run up hill. The Sheldon Brothers owned a large livery stable where the Entsminger Lumber yard now is. A large “Blue Front” livery stable owned by C. S. Hubbard also helped supply the homesteaders with teams to haul their lumber to their claims. This stable has been torn down and replaced by a filling station.

Another bank was started almost as soon as the Sedgwick bank. W. H. Pratt was the president, and he located in the building, which is now Roberts Drug Store. He also had a land office in the back. Later Mr. Dixson bought out Pratt and operated the First State Bank until it was closed two years ago.

Besides those mentioned, others to engage in business when the town was very new were: Herman Jost, who owned a jewelry store; F. M. Newman, druggist and physician; Richard Sehnert, who established a bakery and ran a hotel; White & Parrick, real estate; Mitchell & Chamberland, real estate; Helleckson & Horton, mercantile business; Ed McKim, implement business; John Hansen, saloon; F. C. Wederath, lawyer; Bezanson and Stevens, hardware; M. E. Griffith, real estate; John Conley, real estate; C. H. West, real estate; J. W. Jordan, postmaster in 1906; Sheffer and Wilson, grocery store, and R. J. Clute who had a harness shop. During the first 6 months after the lot sale, a very creditable looking town was erected, with both sides of main street built solid for about two and half blocks, with some places of business on side streets.

In April 1906 the town was incorporated and North Presho, East Presho, and South Presho became Presho, a third class city. The first governing body consisted of Isaac Helleckson, the postmaster; Mr. Pratt, the banker; and Mr. Church, the drayman. Mr. Helleckson, as chairman of this council, acted a mayor. Ed Christenson was justice of the peace. One of the first improvements that the new city undertook was that of sidewalks. Planks had been used, but with frequent rains such as there were that spring, the mud in the streets was often ankle deep. Each night storekeepers would scoop it out of their stores with a shovel. An election was held that declared liquor traffic legal, and four saloons were established. They operated until the 18th amendment was passed, and present records show that the town has improved 70 per cent since the saloons were abolished.

For the first year or more people associated in mass, there being no class distinction; and they rallied to the support of any worthy cause to aid in sickness or distress, and to provide funds for the erection of churches and other public buildings. The first celebration in Presho showed a good example of cooperation. Two citizens solicited the town and in four hours time $1200 was raised to finance the Fourth of July celebration in 1906. A framework was erected on both sides of Main Street and boughs were cut and hauled to form a shady bower. A racetrack and grandstand were built opposite Medicine creek to the northwest of the present tourist camp. Probably the first auto race ever held west of the Missouri river took place on that day. The cars were each two-cylinder cars; one a Buick and the other a Reo. Harry Pontius was the driver of the Reo and he won the race. It was estimated that at least five thousand people attended the celebration. Many traveled seventy-five to a hundred miles overland, camping on the way.

The water supply for the town was taken from the creek and from the artesian well drilled by the Chicago & Milwaukee railroad company in December 1905. The overflow formed what was called the “lake” and a bathhouse and plunge was operated by Mr. Clausen and owned by C. S. Hubbard. It cost the people twenty-five cents to take a bath, and every Saturday night the bathhouse and plunge were kept very busy. C. S. Hubbard owned five boats, which he kept for rent. They were interesting because they were named for the new brides of Presho —Alice Ohlson, Mildred Hubbard, Grace Miller, Sophia Edinger, and Marion Sweeney. In 1906 the city drilled the well on the hill west of town.

Edward “Buster” Kenobbie, born April 3, 1906, was the first baby born in Presho. He was born to Frederick Martin and Mabel (Clark) Kenobbie.

As the Norwegians were the first people to settle here, theirs was the first church. In 1890 the Medicine Valley Lutheran Church was organized by the Rev. M.O. Waldahl of Pukwana. This was the church north of the tracks and it is now the house of Dale Beale on his farm south of Presho. Another Lutheran church, called the Presho Norwegian Evangelical church, was organized in 1892 and was the beginning of the present church, built in 1907. In 1917 these two Lutheran churches united under the name, “The Norwegian Lutheran Church of America” with the Rev. C. O. Rolfsen as pastor. He served until 1920 when the Rev. G. N. Isolany came to Presho.

The Methodist church was built in 1906, and the Rev. J. R. Payne was the first pastor. Until the time of the present pastor, the Rev. Ralph E. Rich, there have been thirteen other pastors. Before their church was built in 1907 the Catholics used to go to Sweeney to church. Father J. B. Kelly was the first resident priest here, and between his term of service and that of the present Father Frei, there have been six priests. A Christian church once stood where the Norwegian Lutheran parsonage now is, but it was later moved to Hilmoe where it is used with the Presho minister as pastor.

Before 1909 the Rev. Engel, who lived at Chamberlain, came out every two to three weeks to preach to the German Lutheran congregation. Then the Rev. G. Steffen became minister at Draper where he had filed on a claim, and he preached at Presho, Murdo, Draper, and Hilmoe. 1913 the Rev. Labrence had his residence in Presho, and after him came the Rev. Mr. Ehlers, the Rev. Mr. Pautsch, the Rev. Mr. Jenson, and then the present Rev. T. H. Joeckel.

It was about this time too that the lodges were organized. The Workman lodge was the first one, in 1906, and the I.O.O.F., the Masonic, the Woodman, the Royal Neighbors, the Rebekah, and the Eastern Star were formed just a few years later.

School was first held in the old Lutheran church, which stood near the present Campbell residence. Miss Lola Campbell was the first public school teacher. She was a homesteader, who lived several miles south of town and who walked in or rode horseback each morning. In 1907 bonds for $7000 were issued for the public school house for which W. B. Hight was contractor. The site for it caused a controversy between two political parties, which centered around the two banks. One party wanted the present site, which was owned by the Milwaukee Land Company, and the other party chose a site in Greater Presho. The bonds for this building are due next year. The first 4-year class to be graduated was in 1915. There were eight seniors then—Maella McKim (Mrs. Mairose), Holis Andis, Donald Crawford, Maclin Walters, Pearl Fahrenwald, Elsie Beale, Edmund Harrington and Kenneth West. In 1920 the school was consolidated with several outlying districts, but consolidation failed the next year by a 60 per cent vote of the people after the case had been taken to the Supreme Court. The high school was also accredited in 1920.

The first county fair was held in Presho in 1907. It was a success in every way, and the next September another took place. The feature about this fair that people remember was the airplane, which was made by Harry Pontius out of bicycles and canvas. He attempted to fly it, but it hit a corner of the grandstand and was wrecked. Another successful fair was held the next year, but in 1910 the occasion was spoiled with rain. On account of dry years and the war, no fairs were held from 1911 to 1922, but since the fair was revived in 1922 three very successful ones have been held.

In 1900 there was one telephone in Presho, in the Rice building north of the tracks. The line ran from Chamberlain to Rapid City. The second line was built by Mr. Blunck and Mr. Sedgwick between here and White River out of ash trees from the Blunck ranch near the river. The next line was from Chamberlain to Pierre, the present line, owned by the Bell Telephone Company and built n 1910.

The first electric light plant was installed by O. E. Helgerson in the back of his garage in 1910-11. He wired his own buildings and then the Arcade Hotel next door. He later put in a larger plant and supplied the residence district. The city bought Mr. Helgersons plant in 1922 and built the present building. The city sold to the Northern Power & Light Co. in 1925.

When the war came in 1917, there were hardly any young men left in Presho, but all of them came back except three. Edward Butrick was killed in France and it is for him that the local Post of the American Legion is named. William Mang and Kenneth West also lost their lives. Following is a list of Presho boys who went to war: Andrew Clausen, Roy Scott, Harry Scott, Thomas Huffman, Russell Mullen, L. K. Lewis, James Ely, Otto Sehnert, Richard Sehnert, Carl Kuhrt, C. J. Boe, Thorwald Boe, Orville Ellefson, Wallace Lonie, Roy Fry, Floyd Payne, Clarence Gross, Clarence Husman, Don Crawford, Walter Dittman, Paul Thompson, Jim Herman, Leo Etherton, Albert Hulce, Roy Winchell, Jim Waller, William Fahrenwald, Rudy Nerk, William Lang, Floyd OToole, Charles OToole, Jack Foley, Frank Mullen, Clinton Bartow, Hans Libner, Henry Kuhrt, Leo and Garner Salisbury, Jacob Manhalter, Mathew Jenson, Gunerus Olson, Ole Howe, Dale Beale, Henry Boe, Enoch Tjornsland, Oscar Alkire, James Alkire, John Halgrimson, Clarence Jost, Henry Halgrimson, Louis Fosness and John Kinney.

It was during the war, too, that Presho became noted as a hay-shipping center. In 1914 there was a heavy rainfall, which produced an immense hay crop. Contracts were made with the government for prairie hay and about 900 cars were shipped at eighteen dollars a ton. The annual shipment increased to 1000 cars, this making Presho the second largest shipping center for prairie hay in the United States. In 1918 there was a very heavy hay crop. It rained almost continuously for a month, and most of the crops were destroyed, but it was very favorable for the growth of grass. In the last few years, there has been a falling off in the shipment of hay on account of less rainfall and continuous harvesting, but at the lowest over 500 cars have been shipped.

Several fires in recent years have damaged the business section of town. On the night of June 5, 1922, five buildings were entirely burned: Helgersons hardware store and theater, pool hall, Stanleys real estate office, and Roberts drug store. In 1924 a fire broke out in Campbells meat market and burned the market, Newmans drug store, and telephone office. Campbells market and Newmans drug store have since been replaced by two fine brick buildings. In December the Catholic Church burned, but plans are being made to erect a modern building in its place.

Thus in twenty years Presho has grown into the largest town between Chamberlain and Rapid City.

Keith Sehnert, Doctor Well-Known for Promoting Self-Healing – and Grandson of Richard and Anna Sehnert

Richard and Anna’s grandson, Keith Sehnert, became a medical doctor and developed a strong reputation in the area of self help. He was known in the field as the “George Washington of Medical Self-Care.” He wrote 18 books on this and related topics and had appearances on many radio and television programs also on this topic. His medical education included study under will-known baby doctor, Benjamin Spock. He was born on May 26, 1926 and died of a brain tumor on June 22, 1999.

Keith Sehnert enjoyed an appearance on the Tonight Show, hosted by Johnny Carson, on March 30, 1976. A record of this appearance is shown below. He was one of five guests that night; the others were Charlie Callas, Rz Clark, Buddy Hackett, and Audrey Hepburn.

“The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” Episode dated 30 March 1976 (1976)

“The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” (1962)

Original Air Date: 30 March 1976

Johnny Carson Himself – Host

Rest of cast listed alphabetically):

Charlie Callas

Roz Clark

Buddy Hackett

Audrey Hepburn

Dr. Keith Sehnert


A photo of Keith Sehnert was found on a website and is shown below along with the accompanying text.

“Sara McClurken of Apple-A-Day, a Seattle self-care center, and Dr. Keith Sehnert, veteran of self-care education.”


The text that accompanied this photo is shown below; references to Keith Sehnert are shown in bold font:

Healthwise Prepares Teaching Package

A hobbyist has a pain from a blow on the thumb and uses a hot safety pin or paper clip to relieve the bloody swelling by making a hole through the nail.

A Seattle woman gives allergy shots to her children.

A student at the scene of an auto accident knows which victim to give what type of first aid.

A housewife with a burning sensation in her vagina learns to drink more water till it goes away.

Dr. Keith Sehnert, featured speaker who offered these examples at a two-day Western Self-Care Workshop in Sun Valley, Idaho, last Fall, said: “In all cases it is possible for them to be their own doctors sometimes.” His book is How to Be Your Own Doctor (Sometimes). He is an advocate of an activated patient network of people who have graduated from one of his courses — 16-session courses.

Healthwise, Inc., Boise, Idaho, sponsors of the workshop, drew about 20 persons from the Northwest including a nurse from Arizona who was starting a self-care course at Arizona State University’s graduate college of nursing.

Healthwise, with a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, has produced ten video tapes of a half hour each and a thick ring binder workbook using much of Sehnert’s material to make it easy for someone to set up and teach a self-care course.

Sara McClurken of Apple-A-Day, a Seattle self-care center, and Dr. Keith Sehnert, veteran of self-care education.

Lowell Levin, self-care promoter from the Yale University School of Medicine, told me he didn’t like packaged courses because they don’t allow any variation of input from the students. “Their course is so organized they even tell you when to have a coffee break,” he said.

He is right about the coffee break. The instructor’s guide, for example, indicates a stretch break starting at 56 minutes into the two-hour class and finishing precisely at one minute past the hour. A Healthwise videotape on injuries, put together in conjunction with a local television station showed how ice should always be used after an injury. It suggested the householder keep ice frozen in paper cups at all times so in case of burns or cuts the paper could be peeled and the ice comfortably held to the wound. It demonstrated punching a hot paper clip through a nail and using a flashlight to attract and mineral oil to float a bug from an ear.

Isaac C. Ferguson, manager of health services for the Mormon Church, said that no matter how he tried to recruit candidates for self-care courses they always ran 75 per cent women and 29 per cent men, a breakdown others experienced, too. “In contrast emergency care classes seem to get the hairy-chested group,” said Ferguson.

Sehnert said recruitment of students for self-care classes takes persistence. “The first class is always a toughie,” he said. But they’re worth it and save patients visits to the doctor and the emergency room and doctors from unnecessary patient phone calls. Sehnert said he found that the coping skills and nutrition sections of courses were better taught by lay people than by psychiatrists and nutritionists. “They are so trapped in jargon that we didn’t like to use them,” he said. Most classes in rural areas are underserved by doctors or served only by nurse practitioners. Thomas Ferguson, editor of Medical Self-Care magazine, said he found many programs in Minnesota, Maine and California, but least interest in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. because of greater doctor supply.

Sehnert, who has moved from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., to take a job with a consulting firm, InterStudy, outside Minneapolis, said he saw a big future for health promotion in industry. He said that TRW, a Cleveland firm in high technology, transportation and telecommunications, had health costs up to $65 million last year and is groaning under the impact. “In the next several years health costs in industry are going to be the big focus,” he said. At TRW one-third of the costs involve employees in the plant with dependents’ costs coming to 60 per cent and retired workers ten per cent. Companies are starting to try health activation and weight reduction to cut costs and reduce sick time, he said.

Sehnert doesn’t think the newly formed U.S. Bureau of Health Education in Atlanta will have much effect but urged self-care people to remember there is money in the Department of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development and private foundations. Health, Education and Welfare isn’t the only source of support, he said.

Others speaking at the workshop included Richard Grant, director, Rural Family and Self-Help Education Project, Redmond, Oregon; Donald W. Kemper, executive director, Healthwise; and Gary Steinbach, Sun Valley Executive Health Institute, Sun Valley. Steinbach outlined his institute’s four-day program which costs $1195 a couple. It has graduated 300 people since it opened in June 1976, covering everything from how to eat from a restaurant menu and still get nutrition, to a grip test and a stress EKG.

Keith Sehnert’s obituary in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, shown below, provides a good deal of information on his life.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

June 29, 1999, Tuesday, Metro Edition

Dr. Keith W. Sehnert, a holistic medicine pioneer, dies at 73

Lucy Y. Her; Staff Writer


LENGTH: 477 words

Dr. Keith W. Sehnert, a Minneapolis author and holistic medicine pioneer who was often referred to as the “George Washington of medical self-help,” died of a brain tumor last Tuesday at M.C. Little Hospice in Edina. He was 73.

He wrote 18 books, including “How to Be Your Own Doctor . . . Sometimes” and “Stress/Unstress.” He also wrote more than 125 magazine articles. In 1977, he was named Author of the Year by the “Medical Self Care Magazine.”


Sehnert appeared in more than 250 radio and television shows and was a guest on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and “The Phil Donahue Show,” among others. He spoke at more than 200 lectures and seminars, including a presentation to the National Governors Conference on Health Education.

As a medical doctor who believed in holistic healing, he was disciplined by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice in 1997 after an investigation found that he diagnosed the same ailments _ food allergies and yeast infections _ in almost all his patients, and that he failed to perform the necessary exams or tests. Last year, as part of a negotiated agreement with the board, Sehnert “eased out of his general practice into retirement,” said Leo B. Cashman, an advocate of holistic medicine and a writer for Southside Pride, a Minneapolis community paper.

Sehnert’s case “stunned the alternative health community,” Cashman said. Supporters felt that he was singled out for using alternative medicine to treat his patients. His clash with the board, Cashman said, “gave rise to the movement to assure freedom of choice and freedom of access to health-care alternatives in our state.”

Dick Herrboldt of Excelsior said Sehnert, his brother-in-law, was a healer. “He was an example of how I should lead my life. He was a person who always did the right thing,” he said.

Sarah Sehnert Telleria of Washington, D.C., said she hopes to be more like her father.

“My father was a forward-thinking intellectual, a man of vision, ideas and action,” she said. “He spent his life reaching out to others, never expecting anything in return.”

Sehnert received his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Dakota. He then graduated from Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland.

His first practice was at the Bell Clinic in York, Neb. In the 1970s, he moved to Minneapolis and worked at a private medical practice doing consultant work for businesses and health-care organizations. Recently, he was a visiting professor at the Capital University of Integrative Medicine in Washington, D.C.

In addition to his daughter, Sehnert is survived by his wife, Colleen; two other daughters, Kristie Shipley of Carlsbad, Calif., and Cynthia Sehnert-Jones of Overland Park, Kan., and four grandchildren.

Services were held Saturday.

Keith Sehnert’s daughter, Sarah, wrote a touching tribute to her father in 2002. It is posted on a website and is shown below.

Tribute to Dr. Keith W. Sehnert by his daughter – Letter to the Editor

Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, August-Sept, 2002


This is the time of year that we miss him most dearly. He loved spring and took delight in all the splendors of nature, budding trees, blossoms, walks and bike rides around the lake, and new life after long Minnesota winters. And his birthday was May 25.

When my father Keith W. Sehnert, MD passed away on June 22, 1999, the world suffered a great loss and it will never be the same without him. There is a hole in the universe that can not be filled. His life was an example of unselfishness, compassion, curiosity, and caring. He was a medical doctor who strived to make the world a better place.

He would be thrilled that his wife and daughters still read The Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients. We started reading it when he gave us gift subscriptions. He started reading this magazine when it first came out and was a loyal subscriber and reader for years.

He was a forerunner of the alternative health-care movement, often called the “George Washington of Medical Self-Care.” He practiced medicine even when the “powers that be” wanted him to stop his unconventional methodology. He helped heal patients who had nowhere else to turn. We still hear from people who have heard of him and are looking for help.


He was the author of the following books: How to Be Your Own Doctor (Sometimes), Stress / Unstress, Self Care / Well Care, Dr. Sehnert’s New Guide to Managing Your Stress, The Family Doctor’s Health Tips, and also co-author of Beyond Antibiotics, Candida-Related Complex and Seven Weeks to Sobriety. He also wrote other books, articles and publications too numerous to list. My mother and I are also in the process of publishing a book that he finished before his untimely death.

When I read the letter in honor of Dr. Lendon Smith I had to reply. Lendon and my father were birds of a feather and were friends. I spent time with Dr. Smith when he came to participate in a conference, which my father helped organize, in Minneapolis in 1985. They both were mavericks. They were far ahead of their time in the medical world. They must both be smiling down at us and saying, “See, they are finally listening to what we were saying decades ago!” Their spirit lives on in us.

Sarah Sehnert, his loving daughter

Minneapolis, Minnesota



A partial bibliography of works by Keith Sehnert is shown below.

Dr. Sehnert’s New Guide to Managing Your Stress by Keith W. Sehnert

Paperback – April 1998

Candida-Related Complex: What Your Doctor Might Be Missing by Keith W. Sehnert, Christine Winderlin

Paperback – October 1996

Beyond Antibiotics: 50 (Or So) Ways to Boost Immunity and Avoid Antibiotics by Lendon H. Smith, Keith W. Sehnert, Michael A. Schmidt

Paperback – July 1994

Selfcare-Wellcare/What You Can Do to Live a Healthy, Happy, Longer Life by Keith W. Sehnert

Paperback – September 1985

How to Be Your Own Doctor, Sometimes by Howard Eisenberg, Keith W. Sehnert

Paperback – January 1985

Selfcare/wellcare by Keith W. Sehnert

Book – January 1985

Stress/Unstress: How You Can Control Stress at Home and on the Job by Keith W. Sehnert

Paperback – December 1981

The Family Doctor’s Health Tips by Keith W. Sehnert

Paperback – January 1981

The Family Doctor’s Health Tips by Keith W. Sehnert

Book – January 1981

How to Be Your Own Doctor, Sometimes by Howard Eisenberg, Keith W. Sehnert

Book – January 1975

Keith Sehnert was interviewed by Tom Ferguson, M.D., apparently during the peak of medical self-help career. The interview provides a great deal of information on the movement that Keith started and its history. The text of the interview is posted on a website and is shown below.


Ten Years Of Self-Care Classes

Interview with Keith Sehnert M.D.

as Interviewed By Tom Ferguson M.D.

[The family doctor who taught the first U.S. self-care class describes that class and the subsequent rapid growth of the self-care movement.]

I always find myself explaining Keith Sehnert as the George Washington of self-care. Keith graduated from Western Reserve School of Medicine in 1953. After working as a General Practitioner and later as Medical Director of Dorsey Laboratories in Lincoln, Nebraska, he joined the Reston-Herndon Medical Center in Herndon, Virginia. There, in 1970, he taught—and largely invented—the first of the modern breed of self-care classes, classes in which laypeople learned basic medical skills formerly reserved for doctors only.

The class drew wide media attention. In 1972, Keith became a visiting professor at Georgetown University and in 1974 founded the Center for Continuing Health Education at Georgetown.

The Center for Continuing Health Education did self-care research, taught health professionals from all parts of the country to conduct self-care classes, and prepared course materials for these classes. In 1977, Keith became Vice President and Director of the Health Promotion Group at InterStudy, a health-policy and health-futures think tank in the Minneapolis area, and joined the University of Minnesota School of Public Health as clinical professor.

It is in large part because of Keith’s efforts that there are now self-care classes in forty states. He is the author of How to Be Your Own Doctor (Sometimes).

TF: You were saying that you were a student of Ben Spock’s at Western Reserve.

KS: Yes, back in the early fifties. Spock was just starting out as a teacher there, and his book, Baby and Child Care (reviewed on page 207) was just out. Of course, no one had any idea then it was going to become so popular.

Did he have a big influence on you?

He did. He was very concerned that most patients were getting a great deal of treatment but very little teaching. He felt that was a mistake.

I don’t think there’s any doubt but that his book planted a seed for me. I’ve always thought of my book as a kind of Dr. Spock for adults.

Were there any other experiences at Reserve that nudged you in the direction” of self-care?

Yes, the influence of another very important teacher, T. Hale Ham. In those days the whole business of a doctor’s empathy for the patient and communication skills were spoken of as one’s bedside manner. We were all very concerned about our bedside manner. Dr. Ham used to say, “Keith, you just talk to your patients in whatever way is most comfortable to you—but keep in mind that if you’re a good teacher, your patients will think you’re a good doctor.”

How did you happen to end up teaching that first self-care class?

Well, you know, serendipity plays such a big part in these things. I’d just joined a family practice group in the Reston area of Virginia. The guy who’d actually planned the class was leaving to join the Family Practice Department at the University of Wisconsin. One day he just casually asked me, ” Look, as long as you’re going to be here, would you mind picking this thing up for me?” And of course I said yes.

How many students were there?

I think there were forty, maybe forty-two. About 80 percent women. Almost all of them were patients at the Medical Center.

What was the first class meeting like?

It was an interesting experience. Many of the people in the first class were women whose husbands had been recently laid off by a reduction in the Johnson administration space program. Some of them were living on unemployment insurance for the first time in their lives.

As we got to know each other better, a lot of anger toward the health-care system started to come up. Frustrating experiences. Times when they’d been treated insensitively.

The old authoritarian doctor image was hanging over our heads, even though I wasn’t the typical authoritarian doctor. There was a lot of asking, is this something that’s okay to talk about? Is it all right for me to ask this question? And when I made it very clear that it was, they really began to share their experiences and concerns. They began to express feelings they may never have expressed to anyone before—certainly never to a physician.

It soon became clear that they had a lot of health needs that weren’t being met by the health-care system. They’d been put down and ripped off. The women’s movement was beginning to be active around that time, and the women especially were beginning to look at their lives in some new ways.

Pretty soon people started saying, “Why can’t I take my father’s blood pressure?” “Why can’t I give my kids allergy shots?” “Why can’t I use an otoscope to look in my little boy’s ear when he has an earache?”

And I found myself saying, “I don’t know why not. Let’s do it.” So the whole course evolved out of the things people were asking.

Had there been any other similar classes up to that time?

No, to my knowledge, it was the first class of its kind. There had been orientation tours for new patients in certain clinics and patient education for some specific diseases like diabetes, but nobody had ever really gotten into this area before.

How would you define this new area?

I think of it as directed toward a new kind of medical consumer, what I call the activated patient. In my Herndon class, their questions went well beyond the boundaries of what had been thought of as patient education at that time. They wanted to know why they couldn’t have their own black bags of medical tools at home. No one had ever thought of teaching laypeople to use such tools before. There weren’t any models for that. So we just had to go along and figure out how to do it as best we could.

What motivates a person to take a self-care class?

We’ve looked at that, and there seem to be seven basic reasons people give, over and over, for their interest in self-care:

1. wanting to save money on health expenses;

2. wanting to be able to take better care of their family’s health, to be able to make effective family-health decisions;

3. wanting to take more responsibility for their own illness care—like hypertensives who want to be able to keep track of their own blood pressure;

4. wanting to learn how to hook into the medical system like a number of older people who outlived their doctors and weren’t able to find a new one they were satisfied with;

5. wanting to learn more about their bodies and how they work;

6. people with illness in the family, wanting to feel more confident in dealing with it;

7. people who’ve gotten turned on to healthier life styles, wanting to hear more about jogging, nutrition, yoga, meditation, and whatever else there might be to this whole healthy lifestyle business.

So you include more than just traditional Western medicine in your classes?

Oh, yes. Of the really alternative approaches to health, yoga is the main one we’ve used—mainly because a neighbor of mine happened to be a fine yoga teacher. If I’d lived next door to a Thai chi teacher, we might have included that. The introduction to yoga has certainly been well-accepted by our students.

I think giving these kinds of alternatives is awfully important, particularly because through them people can learn to get the same kinds of things they might now be getting from alcohol and various other chemicals. And those are not ways I like to see people relieve their stress.

How long did the Course for Activated Patients go on?

We ran two classes a year for almost three years. Then, in February of 1973, Howard Eisenberg did a story on the class for Parade magazine, and I got over two thousand letters as a result. That made me realize that what we were up to might be something with a much wider appeal than I’d thought.

About that time I began getting inquiries from the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare, from a number of foundations, and from several of the faculty and deans who were interested in doing something more in the way of self-care at Georgetown University.

Several publishers started wining and dining me and convinced me that there was a need for a book on what we were doing. So I took a six-month sabbatical and collaborated with Howard Eisenberg on How to Be Your Own Doctor (Sometimes). Shortly after that, the Center for Continuing Health Education was formed at Georgetown, and I became its director.

So you were there until 1977?

Yes. Then our grant ran out, and the functions of the Center were divided between the Health Activated Person Program at the Georgetown School of Nursing, where they’re continuing to give an ongoing self-care course for the Washington community, and the Health Activation Network (see page 268), who put out a newsletter, “The Health Activation News,” to train self-care teachers and help people establish new courses.

You know, Keith, I have a feeling that if it had been some other doctor teaching that class, it might have ended up as just a lot of boring lectures. Have you had special training in communication, or are you just good at it?

Well, as you know, one of my daughters, Cindy, is deaf, and that’s made me very aware of the importance of getting and giving feedback. It got me very interested in good communications, and when I was talking to a patient I would always give and ask for feedback to be sure we were understanding each other.

And then the other thing was how much I loved doing it. I discovered that I liked being a facilitator better than being an authority. There was a feeling of real partnership. It was wonderful to relax out of my professional role and, if somebody asked me a question, to say, “1 don’t know. How do you suppose we’d go about finding out?”

It was a very rare thing in my medical education to hear a doctor say, “I don’t know.”

Incredibly rare. We were taught we were supposed to know all the answers.

How have health professionals reacted to self-care classes?

I like to say, scratch a doctor and you’ll find a teacher underneath. Most doctors have been too busy with day-to-day practice to develop as teachers, but once they do it, they find that it’s fun.

I’ve brought a lot of health professionals into selfcare classes, and while at times I’ve had to more or less drag them kicking and screaming into the pit, once they take off the white coat, loosen the tie, and get their shoes off, they find they’re having a fine time. It’s a real relief to be able to show your human side, and the people in the classes are always so appreciative.

There’s a real sense of working together for a common goal. Most of us went into medicine for pretty altruistic reasons. We’re not all dollar-sign guys. And when you start relating to people as active partners instead of passive pawns, they really appreciate it, and they let the doctor know.

In my medical school training, except for a little bit in psychiatry, I didn’t receive any formal training in communicating with patients. Many people would say that medical education makes doctors less capable of communicating on a meaningful level. Are there any signs that this is changing?

Well, coincidentally, I just finished reading a report on self-care from the Association of American Medical Colleges. They’re getting together a major project in which they will begin teaching self-care communication skills in a number of medical schools. Dr. James Hudson is going to be the Project director.

The American Medical Students Association also has modest self-care programs going at a number of medical schools. And of course there are all kinds of new and fairly informal projects at individual schools—there’s something here at the University of Minnesota Medical School, the University of Arizona has one, as does Georgetown University. There’s a big interest at UC Berkeley, and you were just telling me about the self-care class you visited at Wright State School of Medicine in Dayton. There’s actually quite a lot going on in the medical schools already.

Any signs of health insurance companies being willing to reimburse policy holders for self-care education expenses?

Blue Cross of Montana has started doing this on a very small scale, and some of the other Blue Cross plans have been saying they’re going to get into this area— they’re putting on some prevention education programs now. Several other insurance companies are looking into self-care education. International Group Health in Washington has started several projects. IGP’s head guy, Jim Gibbons, is a real self-care advocate.

Could you comment on the kinds of people who are—and should be—teaching self-care classes?

I’ve always felt that the ideal teacher was the nurse. Certainly the greatest enthusiasm for self-care has come from nurses, nurse practitioners, and physicians’ assistants. Many of these allied health professionals feel much more strongly about prevention and self-care than about diagnosis and treatment—which continues to be the main concern of most physicians.

Do you think it’s important for the people teaching these classes to have clinical experience?

It certainly helps. One of the real dilemmas these days is that people hear this from Readers Digest, that from the National Inquirer, and something else from Prevention. They need to be able to ask someone who has done more than just read the books.

How about in the schools? Do you think it would be an advantage to include people with clinical experience as a part of health-education classes?

Yes. Not only are clinical workers more likely to have experience with these matters, but it’d be very valuable for kids to be able to talk to a health worker at some time other than when they’re sick or need shots.

Do you see a connection between the widespread popularity of running and the developing self-care movement?

Absolutely. Because as people start feeling better from jogging, and begin to sleep better and eat better, they’re going to discover they have more energy than they ever did before. Then they begin to realize that health is a resource to be conserved, not something you can waste and then discard like a cigarette butt or a wrecked car.

Yes. Your body is a temple. Why treat it like a motel?

Yes, that’s a good one. So when people increase their nutritional awareness, or start jogging, or get into stress reduction, they feel better. And taken they say, “Well, gee, maybe I can kick smoking and kick alcohol and practice a healthier lifestyle. And it’ll pay off.” And it does!

One we’re already seeing is a change in men’s thinking and behavior. For so long we’ve had this macho male image about everything that’s harmful or illegal.

If I smoke and it’s bad for me, I must really enjoy it. It’s a sort of bad-boy mentality. To have fun, you’ve got to be destructive—driving too fast, abusing your body or those of people around you.

That tough-guy mentality is softening. As I go into groups of my peers—men in their late forties or early fifties—I find I seldom hear the sort of thing which was the rule not very many years ago. You know, ” Boy, did we have a good time last night. I bet old Fred and I drank a fifth of booze . . .” and so on. That kind of bragging.

Now I’ll more likely hear a guy say, “You know, I’m so proud of myself. I finally quit smoking after twenty-two years.” And everyone is very interested in how he did it. They’re talking about jogging and cutting down on their drinking.

I had some unpleasant experiences—before going to medical school—when I tried to find certain health information in a medical library. It would have been much easier to look for comparable information in just about any other field—engineering, physics, biology. But technical medical information—for someone who is not a medical professional—is almost impossible to come by.

I recently called the National arthritis Foundation to ask how our readers could order copies of a book they put out. It covers arthritic diseases in depth, it’s comprehensive, and it’s cheap—one of the best available sources of information on arthritis. I was told that it wasn’t available to laypeople, ”because they might misunderstand it. ” A medical librarian at Yale told me that she had been taught to discourage laypeople who came into the medical library in search of information, “because it was probably somebody looking for evidence for a malpractice suit. ” Why is medical information kept so secret?

Until recently, the medical mystique was much like the religious mystique in the days of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation—the language of the laity was one world and the language of the clergy was another. They didn’t even say their prayers in the same language. It was a priesthood. There were things that the layperson wasn’t supposed to know about.

I think that what we’re seeing now, with the demystification of medical language, is comparable to the change Luther made in bringing Christianity into the language of the people.

That’s the most important thing that happens in these self-care classes. First, you let people know that it’s okay for them to step into this formerly forbidden area, and second, you guide them in their first steps. So the main thing is not the class itself, but the fact that it can get people started. It’s a perceptual door opener.

It should be the goal of every health professional to transfer useful and accurate tools, skills, and knowledge to his or her clients. To hide these “professional secrets” and keep them for one’s own aggrandizement is a malfunction of one’s professional role.

One last question, Keith. Would you look into your crystal ball and share your thoughts about the kinds of changes we’re going to see in the next ten years as a result of the growing enthusiasm for self-care?

When I first moved to Minnesota last year, I picked up a paper and saw that a man was considering running for governor on a health-promotion platform. I think we’re going to see mayors and governors and other political leaders picking this up—and probably in your state of California, too. I think self-care will be one of the big political issues of the next decade—in the way that education and agricultural reform and honesty in government have been hot political issues.

A second thing is that the business community is going to get increasingly involved in health promotion, self-care, and helping their employees become wiser buyers and wiser users of health-care services. The big corporations especially are feeling the pain of rising health-benefits costs. In fact, the guys bathe executive suites are hitting the ceiling. These decision-makers are suddenly realizing that health insurance premiums, disability insurance, early retirement, days lost from work due to illness, are all things they can do something about. Several companies last year paid more for health benefits than they did for any other product or service. So I think we’re going to see a lot of self-care promotion on the part of industry.

Third, I think a lot of leadership in this area is going to come from senior citizens. I think that women will continue to be especially active in self-care, and I think we’ll begin to see unions taking a major role.

Fourth, we’re going to see school systems putting in really high-quality self-care programs running all the way from kindergarten to high school. There are some exciting things happening along such lines in Maine, Montana, and Minnesota schools already.

And finally, I think we’re going to see a growing number of fitness/self-care/health-promotion groups, health-information centers, health clubs, self-care classes and study groups, alternative health centers, stop-smoking clinics, and exercise facilities, more widely available black-bag tools, and so on. is your 24-hour health resource center–a virtual health village where you can access information, products, and services to help create your wellness-based lifestyle.

As you navigate through our online health network, you will meet many of the leaders in wellness, alternative health, and integrative medicine. These experts have dedicated their lives to educating consumers and professionals in the health care of the future—Integrative Medicine—blending the best of conventional and alternative/complementary medicine.

Our philosophy of Self-Managed Care™ encourages you, the individual, to become more responsible for your own health and wellbeing, to become the central player in mangaging your own health, and to work in partnership with your chosen health professional to achieve a higher level of health and vitality–your birthright.

To a healthier world!

The Team


1Mrs. Delmer King, ed,1974, Early Settlers in Lyman County: Presho, SD, Lyman County Historical Society, 174 p.


Webpage History

Webpage posted June 2008. Update May 2010 with reorganization and addition of coat of arms and descendant chart images. Updated June 2012 with addition of anna Grassman ancestry chart and grave photos in Presho, SD.