South Dakota

The Thoen Stone Spearfish South Dakota

The first of three articles about the Thoen stone
Thoen Stone
Thoen Stone
This is the first in a series of three articles about the Thoen Stone find.

Also see part two and part three

In 1887, two brothers, Louis and Ivan Thoen, living in the Spearfish, South Dakota area, came upon a slab of sandstone inscribed with the following:
"came to these hills in1833 seven of us De Lacompt all ded Ezra Kind but me GW Wood Ezra Kind T. Brown Killed by Ind R Kent beyond the Wm King high hill got Indian Crow our gold June 1834"

On the reverse side of the slab was the following:
"got all of the gold we could carry our ponys all got by the Indians I hav lost my gun and nothing to
eat and Indians hunting me"

Taken at face value, the inscription provides a tantalizing mystery, the kind of historical local intrigue that mainstreetmoments loves to investigate. The message describes a desperate attempt by the sole survivor of a mining party, Ezra Kind, to create a record of the fate of seven white men who had been extracting gold from the Black Hills in the 1830s.

The primary question , of course, is this artifact authentic, or is it a hoax? In the 1960s a book was published by Frank Thomson, a rural resident of the Spearfish area. In "The Thoen Stone", Thomson does an admirable job of research and evaluation. His investigation into the genealogy of those named on the stone is particularly valuable. Other than this work, very little systematic investigation or research appears to have been done on the subject.

(Mainstreetmoments welcomes any news from any of you out there that may have been quietly working on this puzzle.) Thomsonís conclusion was that the inscription was authentic.

Mainstreetmoments plans to investigate the matter further and evaluate the following items:

  • Do the names on the stone represent persons who actually existed on the Western frontier in the 1830s?

  • Does the language and syntax of the writing hold up under close scrutiny? Is the script typical of one used in the early 1800s?

  • If these seven miners existed, were they the first white men to mine for gold in the Black Hills?

  • Are there any clues in the provenace of the stone (how it was transferred from one person to another to its current location in the Adams museum in Deadwood, SD) that might lend proof one way or another?

  • How difficult or time consuming would it have been to inscribe a sixty-nine word message on a slab of sandstone while being hunted by Indians?

  • Whereís all that gold?

Part two of our efforts will be a review of Thomsonís findings and any other specific information that may have appeared since the 1960s. Also, we will attempt to independently research the background and genealogy of the men listed on the stone; Thomsonís discovery of Indian Crow is most intriguing

Part three will be devoted to an experiment in which mainstreetmoments attempts to recreate the physical conditions under which such an inscription could be composed using a hunting knife and a piece of sandstone .

Also see part two in this series about the Thoen Stone.

Author: EVM STAFF on 03/02 2011
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Posted by: Anonymous on June 19 2017
Hi my name is Rob Miller. Bill Gay ( Willie) was my great great grandfather. as A child He told me stories about his involvment in the thone stone. He was interviewed by Frank Thomson, in 1953 or 4. We lived on a hill on Denver st. I was very young. I remember they talked for hours.I am reserching.
Posted by: Anonymous on February 27 2010
Just found you I would like to be kept in the loop. Wally Owen Looking for info on Frank Thompson and his work in Wibaux Montana, any articles, letters books etc.. Thanks
Posted by: Anonymous on June 13 2008
Sounds really interesting :D

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