South Dakota Mayflower Society

Our history

At the Compact Day Dinner of the Illinois Society in 1955, Mrs. James A.(Sarah A. Loffler) Black met Governor General Waldo M. Allen and offered to assist Membership Chairman Lewis E. Neff in organizing a Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of South Dakota. Mrs. Black first came to the attention of the Governor General as a result of a children’s Pilgrim pageant which she presented at the National College of Education in Evanston, Illinois. in November, 1953. In 1955 she found a line of descent from William Bradford and joined the Illinois Society. Later, she proved her ancestral lines back John Alden, William Brewster, John Howland and Richard Warren.

Mrs. Black was to retire soon from the teaching staff of the National College of Education in Evanston, Illinois. She was moving with her husband to Yankton, South Dakota, where she had lived as a girl and had attended college. She knew many people in South Dakota and felt she could be of help. It was a most gracious act on her part.

In less than a year’s time, the State Society of South Dakota was organized through the efforts of Mrs. Black, working in conjunction with General Membership Chairman Lewis E. Neff and Historian General Mrs. John K. Allen. Lewis E. Neff, accompanied by his sister, Miss Lucinda B. Neff, Secretary of the Oklahoma Society, drove from Tulsa to Sioux City, Iowa, and there met Governor General Waldo M. Allen, who had come by train from Chicago. They then drove 65 miles to the home of the Blacks in Yankton.

The organizational meeting was held in the Charles Gurney Hotel in Yankton, South Dakota, on Saturday, October 20, 1956. After a few words of greeting and appreciation, Mrs. Black then introduced Mr. Lewis E. Neff, General Membership Chairman, who presided over the meeting. Mr. Neff then introduced Governor General Waldo M. Allen, who spoke about the work of the General Society nationally and internationally, after which he presented the Charter to the South Dakota Society as the 47th State Society. The Charter was accepted by Mrs. James A. Black on behalf of the South Dakota Society. Special music for the program was presented by a mixed quartet from Yankton College. There were 38 members and guests at the luncheon.

The Charter membership group of 60 was the largest of any to form a Society since the General Society was founded in 1897. Several persons whose proof was not complete attended the organizational meeting and were later listed as Charter Members.

First Slate of Officers:

Governor:  Mrs. Sarah Angelina (Loffler) Black
Deputy Governor:  Mrs. Mabel Genevieve (Gunderson) Cope
Secretary:  Mr. Ralph Knox Myers
Treasurer:  Miss Mabel Irene Pease
Elder:  Bishop Conrad Herbert Gesner
Captain:  Mr. William Bowman Thrall
Counselor:  Mrs. Caroline (McIntire‑Bigelow) Cumbow
Surgeon:  Dr. Mark Wayne Myers

General Officers:

Deputy Governor General:  Mrs. Sarah Angelina (Loffler) Black
Assistant General:  Mrs. Dorothy Brewster (Comstock Ziolkowski) Moreton

First Board of Assistants Elected 19621965:

Mrs. Sadie (Collins) Armin
Mrs. Dorothy (Rouse) Bakker
Mr. Roger Beal Bonney
Miss Edith Rosanna Churton
Mrs. Mary Bethel (Pease) Clisby
Mr. Delbert James Cramton
Miss Minniejane Drey

Charter Members:

Mrs. Sarah A. (Loffler) Black
Mrs. Gertrude (Webster) Abbott
Miss Jessie Wadleigh Boyce
Mrs. Bertha T. (Porter) Comstock
Mrs. Caroline (McIntire) Cumbow
Mrs. Ruth (Ballard) Fullinweider
Mrs. Grace G. (Clark) Graham
Mrs. Nell (Carter) Kuehn
Mrs. Lillian R. (Eddy) Loucks
Mrs. Dorothy (Comstock) Moreton
Mrs. Grace E. Warren) Nichols
Miss Mabel Kingsley Richardson
Miss Lerna Diez Veling
Mrs. Elnora M. (Hayward) Webster
Mrs. Mabel H. (McKay) Williams
Mrs. Ann K. (Cope) Apted
Mrs. Sadie (Collins) Armin
Mrs. Mary A. (Johnson) Brandsma
Mr. Delmar Howe Brewster
Mr. Wayne Maurice Brewster
Mrs. Hazel M. (Myers) Bringelson
Mrs. Evelyn W_ (Jencks) Burke
Miss Deborah Ann Burke
Dr. Edward Perry Churchill
Miss Edith Rosanna Churton
Mrs. Mabel G. (Gunderson) Cope
Mr. James Lee Cope
Rt. Rev. Conrad Herbert Gesner
Mrs. Sarah H. (Freeman) Gordon
Mrs. Margaret A. (Johnson) Jackson
Miss Dorothy Jencks
Miss Adeline Miriam Jenney
Mr. Wendell Augustus Johnson
Mrs. Myrtle (Myers) Jones
Mr. Glyn Myers
Mr. Earl Henry Myers
Dr. Mark Wayne Myers
Mr. Joseph Calvin Peas
Miss Mabel Irene Pease
Mrs. Julia B. (Owen) Pringle
Mr. Richard McLeran Reische
Mrs. Margaret A. (Sullivan) Samuels
Mrs. Marjorie E. (Hoard) Sullivan
Dr. Herbert John Schnaidt, Jr.
William Bowman Thrall
Mr. Charles Halstead White
Mr. Charles Egbert White
Mr. Halfred Hyatt White
Mrs. Gertrude M. (Gunderson) Wyman

The South Dakota Society has stressed education by distributing materials` to all South Dakota schools free of charge. It has donated books to the South Dakota Library and municipal libraries. Contributions have been made to the Mayflower Society Library in Plymouth. Articles have been sent to the news media, and the Society has participated in a television program. Invitations to the meetings have been placed in the local newspaper. Members of the D.A.R., S. A. R., Colonial Daughters, and other genealogical societies have also been invited to the meetings.  

A scrapbook is kept. The members receive a semi-annual newsletter. The Society reported finding an old Bible case in the Adams Museum at Deadwood.  Pictures with an article appeared in the February, 1989, Mayflower Quarterly. To accommodate more members and visitors, the Society has moved the Annual Meetings to various cities in the State. 


Mrs. Clarence (Sarah LofflerBlack) Rataichak

 Sarah A. (Loffler‑Black) Rataichak grew up in the Beresford and Yankton communities and attended Yankton College. She married James Black in 1917. Mr. Black died in 1961. 

Mrs. Rataichak taught for many years at the National College of Education, Evanston, Illinois. After the death of her husband, James, Sarah Black accepted a teaching position in the State of Washington, where she married Clarence Rataichak in 1963; he died in 1971. Although she continued living in Washington, she accepted the position of Historian and continued her work with the South Dakota Society. From 1961 to 1967 she taught at Bellevue, Washington, where she was named an outstanding citizen of Bellevue for her work with children.

Sarah (Black) Rataichak did an excellent job of locating Mayflower Descendants in South Dakota. She prepared and typed lineage papers and sent them to Mr. Neff, which made it unnecessary for him to make long trips as he had done in other states he had organized.

The members of the South Dakota Society are very grateful for all the work, energy and enthusiasm Sarah (Black) Rataichak gave to their Society.

 Other Outstanding Leaders:

A history of the South Dakota Society was written by Mary Estelle Squire Miners in 1975, and was included in a Lineage Booklet she edited as a Bicentennial Project.

Others whose name do not appear as Officers, but who have contributed significantly to the South Dakota Society are: Miss Mable Irene Pease, Miss Dorothy Jencks, Miss Minniejane Drey, Mr. Charles W. White, Miss Jessie W. Boyce, Mrs. Royal C. Crawley, Mrs. Edward Pringle, Mr. Ralph E. Cook, Mrs. James F. Maher, Mrs. Harry D. Witt, Mr. Charles H. White, Mr. Mark Myers, Mr. John E. Lefler, Mrs. Judy Piersol Sass, Mrs. William Moreton, Miss Lerna D. Veling. Mrs. A. M. Johnston, Mrs. William C. Martin, Mr. Carl Sanford Wright, Mrs. Allen D. Kettering, Mrs. L. A. Gordon, Dr. Harland T. Hermann, Mrs. Wayne M. Brewster, Rev. Russell Myron Peirce, Ms. R. R. Oedekoven and Mrs. Lawrence J. Armentrout.

Past Governors:

1956-1961: Mrs. James A. (Sara Angelina Loffler) Black 

1962 – Mrs. George W. (Dorothy Rouse) Bakker, Acting Governor

1962 – 1964 – Mr. Robert Wayne Gunderson 

1965 – 1971 – Dr. M. Wayne Myers 

1972 – 1977 – Mrs. Eugene M. (Mary Estelle Squire) Miners

1977 – 1980 – Mrs. Howard Clinton (Gertrude Webster) Abbott 

1981 – 1986 – Mr. Wallace B. Curl

1987 – 1989 – Mrs. James (Lyla Fletcher) Ludington

1990 – 1996 – Mrs. Arthur (Lucille McVey Linstad) Johnson

1996 – 2002 – Mr. Wayne  M. Brewster

2002- 2012 – Mr. Wallace B Curl

2012 – Mr. Donald Scott, Acting Governor

2019 – 2022 – Jim Weiczorek, Jr.


[Information for this article was published in the Mayflower Quarterly, January 15, 1957, issue. In 1975 Governor Mrs. Eugene (Mary Estelle Squire) Miners included the information about the chartering in a lineage book of South Dakota members. This was done as a bicentennial project. Additional material was taken from the records held by then Historian Mrs. Allen (Alyce Smith) Kettering and Secretarial records submitted by Mrs. Lawrence J. (Mildred Tolles) Armentrout ]