Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tom and Jesse Bingham, Our Third Great Half Uncles and Wind Cave National Park.

Levi Dennis and Sarah Crippen Dennis (3rd Great Grandparents)
John Mayberry Dennis
Vesta Dennis
Grandma Mattson

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello Family,

In our virtual family reunion tonight we sit around the digital camp fire to hear about our 3rd Great Grandparents Levi Dennis and Sarah Crippen. So if you'll quit talking for a moment and give me your attention I'd appreciate it. Yes, you too Lisa. You look fine and I guarantee the misquotes don't carry malaria.

A New Discovery Tonight, The First Picture found of Sarah Crippen Dennis Bingham

Our 3rd Great Grandmother Sarah Crippen Dennis Bingham was born in 1814 at Knox Tennessee. She died on Feb. 22, 1891. She married our 3rd Great Grandfather Levi Dennis on November 3, 1842.
This is their Wedding License. Notice they were married by the Justice of the Peace. Mom says they may have run off to wed. Doesn't seem likely. Dennis was 30 and Sarah was 28. Also perhaps a new discovery. Our records end with this couple. We don't know their parents. That may not be true. Below is the actual license (click to enlarge). Notice the witness signatures. If I'm not mistaken isn't that the signature of a William Dennis? Could be Levi's dad or perhaps a brother. More research to be done....

It was short marriage of four years. Levi died about 1846 in Sullivan Missouri. She was left with two small boys, our 2nd Great Grandfather John who was two years old at the time and his brother Edward who was newly born (John Mayberry Dennis was born on September 9, 1844. Edward Dennis was born in 1846. John died on April 28, 1897). Sarah then married Samuel Bingham in 1847.

OK, What Does That Have To Do With Wind Cave National Park?

In 1881, while riding their horses up a draw, Sarah and Samuel’s two sons, Tom and Jesse Bingham, heard the sound of blowing wind on a calm day. Following the sound, they came upon a hole in the ground. When Jesse looked into the hole the wind blew his hat right off. The story of a hole that will blow the hat off quickly spread and other people ventured out to the area to see this blowing hole.

Great Uncle Tom Crippen

Jesse and Tom took credit for the cave’s discovery. Later, the story was modified. It was said that Tom’s hat was blown off (as you’ll notice in the official story of the cave’s discovery below). Tom received most of the credit because of Great Uncle Jesse’s brush with the law for cattle stealing in 1889. Their discovery became Wind Cave National Park. The park was established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, it was the seventh U.S. National Park and the first cave to be designated a national park anywhere in the world. The cave passed Hölloch cave in Switzerland on February 11, 2006 to become fourth-longest in the world with 119.58 miles (192.45 km) of explored cave passageways. The cave's current length is 131.04 miles (210.89 km), with an average of four new miles of cave being discovered each year.

The next time you visit South Dakota, stop at the National Park, take the tour and tell them that Tom and Jesse Bingham were your Great Uncles (Actually 3rd Great Half Uncles to be precise for my generation).

Jesse and Tom Bingham’s story is below from Wind Cave’s Website


Wind Cave History
American Indians of the area have many stories about a hole in the Black Hills that blows wind. Tipi rings near the natural entrance indicate that they knew of Wind Cave. In 1881, two settlers, Jesse and Tom Bingham, were also attracted to the whistling sound of the wind coming from the cave entrance. As the story goes, the wind was blowing out of the cave with such force that it blew off Tom's hat. A few days later when Jesse returned to show this phenomenon to some friends, he was surprised to find the wind had switched directions and his hat was sucked into the cave. Today, we understand that the direction of the wind is related to the difference in atmospheric pressure between the cave and the surface.
The mission of Wind Cave National Park is to preserve and protect the natural resources. Wind Cave National Park is 28,295 acres. Because of its relatively small size and because there are missing parts, park managers must take an active role in helping the ecosystems function as they might have in the past. This requires understanding how everything in the park relates and how the naturally operating system would have functioned. Park rangers work with researchers to replicate that natural system using prescribed fires, bison round-ups, and biological control of exotic plant species.
How we accomplish the mission of the park is determined by what we know about the park. The land, the animals, and the cave are all related and it is only when we understand the resources and their connections that we can best protect Wind Cave National Park.

1 comment:

  1. Those sons that found the wind cave were my great, great....... grandpa's(Jesse n Tom). My grandma used to always tell me bout them before I even knew what the wind tunnels.
    -Kalen Bingham