Ever since the big Manchester tornado went through, visitors to the De Smet Depot Museum have seen two 19th century mystery dresses. They were displayed after being found in perfect shape after the tornado. The story got a lot of press coverage and the museum kept trying to identify where they came from, but they never had any luck. Just recently they had another article about the museum that featured the dresses and this time something clicked.
According to the July 29, 2015 issue of The De Smet News the dress owner has tentatively been identified. They realized that one of the dresses or its duplicate appeared in a photo included in a book of history about Manchester, SD. (Manchester is the next “town” up the line from De Smet and was home to both Harvey Dunn and Grace Ingalls Dow.) The woman was identified as Mrs. Bjornson. Further research showed that she was related to Noel “Toby” Towberman whose generational family home was destroyed by the tornado. Towberman has since died, but it looks like the identification is far better than anything they had before. Get more details in The De Smet News.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.