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Little Fellow Memorial

        This prairie scene, six miles east of Clark, is based on a touching story of a pioneer lad and his love for the train that passed near his family’s tarpaper shack. Big Bill Chambers, conductor of the train, spotted the boy as the train passed by, and they would wave to each other. Upon learning that the boy had died and was buried by the tracks, and that his family had moved on, Big Bill Chambers became the Little Fellows family. He made arrangements for the care of the grave and the annual stop of the train to leave a bouquet of flowers. After Mr. Chambers retired, the freight train crew took over the care of the grave and the annual service on Memorial Day. Mr. Chambers died in 1931 and eventually his son-in-law, Vince Ford of Huron, along with the assistance of the Clark Rotary Club, continued the service. Mr. Ford came a number of years to lay the wreath at the service. Following his death, a granddaughter of Mr. Chambers, Mrs. William Burke of Everett, Washington, sent money for the flowers, and the Rotary Club continued the service for another few years. Following her passing, the entire service has been carried on by the Clark Rotary Club. 2007 was the 55th  year that the Rotary Club has organized this service. Laverne & Betty Kranz provided the entrance to the grave for the annual Memorial Day Service, although the road is no longer available to get to the site.

        

        The service has been held annually since 1890. It has rated national attention, and in 1950 Lowell Thomas’ story of the pioneer lad took precedence over the Arlington Cemetery story. The story has been told and rewritten many times. It appeared in the Rotarian Magazine, True West, the January 1989 issue of Train Magazine, the May 1971 issue of Dakota Farmer, the SDSU Dakotan for 1966, the AAA magazine Home Away in 1995, and in Railroading in the Land of Infinite Variety. Dr. Roger grant did a study and wrote the most accurate report which appeared in the national issue of Trains, and the South Dakota Historical Society Quarterly Edition. This year the story was told on the South Dakota Magazine blog, found at http://www.southdakotamagazine.com/word/wp-trackback.php?p=1420 .  The Clark County Courier stories involving the services through the years are recorded on tape at Pierre. The service has been covered by local TV stations.

        Today the grave is surrounded by a link fence, sponsored by the Clark Rotary Club. The club is now working on improvements to the site.


This mural depicting the story of the Little Fellow has been painted on the Olson Motor Building along Highway 212

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