Dakota Territory Times 2017 DTT 2017 - Page 9

Annie Tallent first white woman in the Black Hills Summer 2017 • Dakota Territory Times • Page 9 Despite her many years of residence in the Black Hills, Annie Donnah Tallent, who joined the Russell-Collins, also known as the Gordon Party, in Sioux City, Iowa, remains something of a mystery. Little is known of the early life of the first white woman in the Black Hills save that she was a New York native. The 1874 expedition was without sanction. Orders had been issued by the U.S. Army that no civilian forays would be allowed into the land of the Native Ameri- cans. Arrangements were made in secrecy by the Gor- don Party, even taking de- tours to avoid soldiers. From her history, from her life in the next quarter century as school teacher and postmistress, from those who knew her person- ally, she was a woman of high principles and good morals. How she was able to compromise these ideals with the law-breaking as- pect of the expedition is an unanswered question. She has rendered a tremendous service in com- piling her history. “The Black Hills, or The Last Hunting Ground of the Dakotahs,” was published in 1899. It started out as a story of the expedition but the au- thor wrote in the forward: “The scope, however, has been broadened, so as to embrace, as nearly as prac- ticable, all the important events that have transpired in the Black Hills during their 23 years of history.” She concludes modestly, “If in relating the incidents woven into this story, the first person, singular num- ber is frequently used” it is not with any feelings of egoism nor in any spirit of boastfulness, but rather that as an actual participant in the occurances described, it became a real necessity.” “The Black Hills” is re- garded as an authentic record of those years and is used extensively by re- searchers. It is now out of print, and the few volumes that are in existence are cherished and guarded. Mrs. Tallent was the only woman of the Gordon Party. With her were her husband and son, Robert, 9. When the gold-seekers were removed by the U.S. Army in 1875, they went to Cheyenne, returning to Deadwood in the spring of 1876. Annie Tallent taught school, was superintendent of Pennington County schools and was postmaster at Rochford. She died Feb.14, 1901, at the age of 72 at Sturgis where she had lived for sev- eral years. Her husband, a few years after coming to Deadwood, was attracted to the gold fields of British Columbia and perished there during the burning of a cabin which he occupied. A recreation of the stock- ade built by the Gordon Party can be seen just east of Custer, and there is an Annie Tallent monument close by. The stockade housed the party during the winter of 1874. Annie Tallent, the first white woman who came into the Black Hills, came shortly after Lt. Col. Custer’s 1874 expedition. She was with the party that built Gordon Stockade.