Here at Her Voice we believe that everyone has a story to tell and we aim to tell them to save that history, to pass it on. Maxine Schuurmans Kinsley believes that every place has an important story to tell. She has written several books focused on this general region with books about Bon Homme County, rural schools, rural churches, and rural cemeteries.

Maxine credits her lifelong passion for reading for her interest in writing as well as her background in library science and her degree in English. Maxine was about 40 years old when she truly got interested. She was teaching in Bon Homme School District as a librarian, English teacher, and the yearbook advisor and the town of Tyndall was planning it’s centennial and they sent out a request for someone to compile and write a book on the history of Tyndall. Maxine was the only one who volunteered to write the book. One Hundred Years of Tyndall - A Centennial History was published in 1979. This book covers the history of Tyndall telling all those stories before they are lost.

A little later on, a project headed by a history professor at USD, Dr. Herbert T. Hoover, began. Hoover was particularly fond of Bon Homme County and he initiated a humanities program that focused on the county and asked Maxine to assist him. This book was started in 1990 and was published in 1994. Maxine’s part encompasses the histories of Springfield, Tyndall, and Tabor.

In 1997, the veterans of American Legion Pike-Wagner Post No. 2 and VFW Simek-Ptak Post No. 6895, both of Tyndall, decided to plan a memorial for all the area veterans of all the wars thus far. They compiled a list of information, names, and stories and then asked Maxine if she would put it together into a book for them. The book, Tyndall Area Veterans Memorial; Honoring Area Veterans 1861-2001 was published in 2001 and was handed out at the dedication exercises. The book features photos and stories as well as honoring 1,173 men and women who were also honored at the memorial.

The next book published was Prairie Churches of Bon Homme County, Dakota Territory - A Varicolored Tunic which was published in 2005; however, the research began in the 1990s. Maxine joined a committee who had responded to a request from Bon Homme County to identify and restore abandoned cemeteries and this is how she got her interest in cemeteries. They put together a lot of material and they preserved a good amount of cemeteries along the way. A grant was used to publish the book. Ten churches were selected to be restored but Maxine realized that some of the abandoned churches were responsible for several of the abandoned cemeteries. This book identifies 60 pioneer and late pioneer churches in 14 denominations. It also talks about ethnic identities and brief histories of these churches. It reads like a history book but also a directory for families to possibly find family plots or churches.

After working on this book, Maxine whose roots are in Bon Homme County started work on preserving the history of prairie churches of Bon Homme County. She focused on history and heritage in this book and wanted to save as much information as she could as a lot of it was being lost due to churches moving or crumbling. “It seemed like the right thing to do,” she tells me. Roots in Dakota Soil - Prairie Cemeteries of Bon Homme County was published in 2007. It is a history but also a directory of 16 abandoned and 31 established pioneer cemeteries. It also covers traditions, tombstones, epitaphs, and stories.


The work that Maxine is the most proud of is her work on the book The Sioux City to Fort Randall Military Road 1856-1892, Revisited which was self-published in 2010. Maxine and a companion worked on preserving the history of the military road for a paper they presented in 1996 at the Dakota History Conference, Center for Western Studies, Augustana College. Her companion knew a lot about the military and enjoyed learning more about it so with Maxine they traced the road from Sioux City to the Fort Randall Dam. It required a lot of effort but Maxine loved every moment of it. When Maxine decided to revisit the book and then self-publish in 2010, she decided to supplement some with new photos and additional history of the trail, both as it was and how it is now. The book has photos and copy to show the history of the trail that once loosely followed the Missouri River between government supply warehouses. The book covers how the road began, how the military became involved, the evolution of the road, and after the road wasn’t used anymore. It also looks at the counties it passed through then and now.

Maxine has also written some books for her family. She wrote an autobiography and then a memoir about her mom. She put together that family history for her children and family so it wasn’t lost; preserving it for them the way she preserves the history of our region for others. She also wrote a book on rural schools in Bon Homme County but this book is more strictly to Bon Homme County.

After living in Yankton for 10+ years, Maxine felt like “such a Yankton person” and decided to publish a book focusing on our early pioneer churches and cemeteries. Pioneer Churches and Cemeteries of Yankton County was published in 2013. She compiled this book with 50 known pioneer rural cemeteries and offers brief histories of these churches which have mostly been abandoned. The book looks at the denominations that existed as well the different kind of cemeteries that existed. At one point, Yankton County had 45 or more churches functioning. Maxine wanted to make sure that history wasn’t lost.

Maxine Schuurmans Kinsley has written several books to help people of this area keep parts of their history alive and be able to pass them on to future generations. The books are also a big help to those who are working on genealogy. She is a very humble person who doesn’t like to have the focus on her. Her favorite part of writing is the research and learning all of this history that would be otherwise lost. Focusing on history that lies in this area is what is most important to Maxine; saving history and heritage before it’s lost to future generations. If there is one thing Maxine hopes people pull away from this is the encouragement to visit local places - study heritage - learn your own heritage - and most of all, preserve the history you find.

“History is informative. It reminds the reader of who we were and when. History is necessary. Because of its fleeting nature, it must be captured. History is challenging. To understand the “why” of human behavior requires thoughtful contemplation.” - Maxine Schuurmans Kinsley; Pioneer Churches and Cemeteries of Yankton County.