128 Years of Postal Service in Rockham, South Dakota

128 Years of Postal Service in Rockham, South Dakota

Rockham is in Faulk County, South Dakota, about 80 miles northeast of Pierre. I visited Rockham while on a trip to shoot several neighboring places — Miranda, and Lily — and they all turned out to be beautiful places to photograph.

Rockham, South Dakota

I did not know the significance of this Post Office when I arrived, but it stood out among the buildings on Broadway Street as a place that was cared-for and maintained nicely.

Rockham, South Dakota

Rockham’s reported population in the 2010 Census was 33.

Rockham, South Dakota

After I returned home, I discovered Rockham’s post office is significant for its longevity. A post office has been in continuous operation since 1887. As of this writing, small post offices likes this, in tiny communities all over rural America, are getting strangled by regulations from Congress that could be easily undone if they would stop playing politics. Please support your small town postal service.

Rockham, South Dakota

There are reportedly 13 households in Rockham, and I saw a number of formerly inhabited homes, still in pretty nice condition.

Rockham, South Dakota

Rockham, South Dakota

Rockham, South Dakota

This looks like a former service station if I had to guess. It looks like the owner is using it as storage space now.

Rockham, South Dakota

Rockham, South Dakota

Rockham, South Dakota

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Rockham, South Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright © 2014 Sonic Tremor Media

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27 thoughts on “128 Years of Postal Service in Rockham, South Dakota

  1. I went to kindegarten and first grade in this town. I went to church in Rockham all the years of my childhood. Many of my relatives are buried in the town’s cemetery. Sad it is melting away, but we no longer live sleepy lives. Actually the people who live there worked hard. The building to the left of the postoffice was a grocery store. Violet’s store i think.

  2. My husband Marlin Becker carried mail out of the Rockham post office for 25 years. The building beside the Post Office was used for meetings like the ladies legion auxiliary. Violet’s grocery store had been on the other side of the post office but it was torn down.

  3. Was it more of a farming community and the people gave up and moved to bigger towns? Sometimes I think about moving our family to a place like this. I’m just not sure I could handle that much snow!

    1. In a way a farming community such that people in the surrounding country side came to Rockham to attend church (there was a German Lutheran church there when I was very young); the Methodist Church was highly active at least through the 1970’s. My mother attended high school there. She lived with a family in town so that she could attend even though the farm was only 4 miles away. By the time I came along it was a 1-8 school. Certainly people came to town to sell their crops at the grain elevator. I expect in earlier times people sold milk, eggs, and that type of thing also. By the time I was a child it was a dying community. I was last there in December of 2014 when we buried my father at the cemetery northwest of town. I expect the post office is the only thing still functioning. Oh and as for snow, one has to be ready to cope with it and not expect to be able to “go” someplace every day!

      1. The Methodist was still going strong in the early 2000s. My grandfather grew up on a farm 6 miles south. My father still farms the land, and I plan to move back to the farm eventually. I am currently a teacher in Faulkton.

        1. Good to know, Jamie. I knew they had eventually demolished the church building. My mother is in the Eastern Star Home in Redifeld. There is a group of “Rockham ladies” who meet every Tuesday there for coffee. Many at the Eastern Star came from the Rockham area. Best wishes on moving back on the family land.

  4. The garage was owned by my father’s uncles, Walt and Ray Corkins. They sold and repaired cars. The name Corkins can still be seen on the marquee. I think it says “Corkins Brothers”. This would have been in the 30’s. It hasn’t been in the family for years.

  5. I lived here from 1946 to 1968. These pictures are wonderful, a ghost town it has almost become. Three years ago Don & I drove into Rockham around 11:30pm….it looked so good as some of the homes were still occupied. The lights were on in many of the houses which made the place lookso quaint. The house I grow up in is the one almost covered by the trees….it is difficult for me to see it like that…It helped me to see the town with the twinkle of lights!

    1. Jean,

      How interesting! My family farmed and eventually bought “Hirtzel” land north and a little west of Zell. Rockham was a great community. Glad there are folks there to “keep the lights on.”

    1. I remember the Mathiason name. Seems like when I was a child there was a Mrs. Mathiason who attended the Methodist Church in Rockham, but that is years ago (at least 50).

  6. Soon after I started teaching in Faulkton the Rockham School joined the Faulkton District and I taught music once a week in the Rockham school.. There were only 2 classrooms used and Merle Levtzow was the bus driver and his wife Vivian was the cook in the lunchroom. Many happy memories of my times at the Rockham school.

  7. I grew up on a farm south of Zell and remember playing Little League baseball for Rockham in the early 70’s. The pictures of the buildings are beautiful and look so familiar. Twila is correct, it was always a great community and I am truly grateful for having been a small part of it. We all come from somewhere.

    P.S. Twila, your name is familiar. I believe you went to school with one of my brothers (Tim or Rick).

      1. No actually I am the youngest in my family. I graduated from RHS in 1980. Rick used to take me to the senior class parties with him (as long as I didn’t tell mom). That’s probably where I remember you from. Did you attend the class of ’75 reunion last Sept?

          1. Me either. I went 30 years w/o returning and have not kept contact. Places like Rockham, Zell, Polo and Orient hold more nostalgia for me.

          2. Oh for sure. My mother died in March. Now that both my parents are permanently in the Grace Cemetery at Rockham, not sure when or if I’ll be back. What I miss about South Dakota is the land. The way it looks, smells, sounds, continues, is.

  8. Me too. I miss the wide-open spaces, the transitions from winter/spring and fall /winter and the clear night skies. I used to spend hours and hours as a kid watching the stars.

  9. My second cousin, Marion Davis Becker, and her husband used to operate a garage there, maybe Rockhampton Motors.

  10. Does anyone know if there ever was a high school in Rockham, SD? Question came up at the 2017 Faulkton HS All Class rreunion. They had banners of all the schools that had consolidated into FHS, but no mention of Rockham.

    1. Yes, I believe there was. My mother, Marie Rice Preston, and many of her siblings graduated from Rockham. My mother told of living with a family nearby and working for them so she could attend. This would have been in the 1940’s as my mother was born in ~1926.

  11. My husband’s great-grandfather was the town doctor for many years, from 1904 until his death in 1929 – Dr. Henry Seeman.

  12. I grew up on a farm south of Rockham and my grandmother ran the cafe in Rockham for many years. Her name was Mary Jankord. My mom was Genevieve, married to Ed Fallon. Growing up we had many good times in Rockham – ball games, horse shows and just walking main street eating sunflower seeds. Sister Ramona Fallon (Mary Beth Fallon)

  13. My Grandma L Vetter lived in Rockham and my Mom Betty Lou Vetter (Burton) called Rockham home. I was lucky enough to go in the store just before it closed. I also climbed the water tower at the centennial . Just for the record I went to go around the railing up top and discovered the back side is GONE, RUSTED AWAY! Cured me of climbing water towers. Haven’t since. My Grandmas house was/is the green house west of the park. I’ll be there later this week. Still have relation in Redfield and Cresbard.

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