Census? In Vilas? Official count isn’t much needed in some area towns, residents sayFARMER — In the 47 years Herman and Vonnie Krumm have lived in Farmer, they’ve played 4,605 games of bridge.
Seriously. They’ve kept count.
By: Austin Kaus, The Daily Republic
FARMER — In the 47 years Herman and Vonnie Krumm have lived in Farmer, they’ve played 4,605 games of bridge.
Seriously. They’ve kept count.
“She’s won 3,249 games and I’ve only won 1,356,” Herman said. “There’s no making up. I just let her have the bid.”
Playing cards isn’t all they’ve done since moving to the community, which in 2000 had 18 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. They worked, too, but the elevator at which Herman was employed burned down years ago and the couple’s bar was closed in 2002.
The 2010 Census soon will get under way, but the Krumms can quickly calculate what census workers will find when they come to Farmer, located about 15 miles east of Mitchell.
“There,” Vonnie said confidently Friday, “are eight of us.”
The highly publicized 2010 census will collect demographic information from every resident in the nation. Jared Ewy, media specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau, said many rural areas already are seeing census employees arrive on their doorstep to drop off a census form.
“It starts with these rural areas,” Ewy said.
The census likely will confirm what residents in small towns like Farmer, Roswell and Vilas — all of which were visited Friday by a Daily Republic reporter — already know: That in rural South Dakota, maintaining stable population numbers from year to year is a struggle.
According to a 2009 report from the Rural Life Census Data Center at South Dakota State University, 54 of the state’s 66 counties experienced negative net migration between 2000 and 2007.
Marian Hanson has lived in her current residence in Roswell since 1972. She owns land in the area and her son continues to farm.
Friday morning, she said she has seen the town’s population fade away and expects the 2010 population to be marked at 7. That’s just a third of the 21 residents estimated in 2000.
“We used to have a lot of business that we don’t anymore. It’s declining pretty fast,” Hanson said of Roswell, located along Highway 34 west of Howard. “There’s just nothing left.”
Hanson said it’s hard to imagine there will be many more censuses for Roswell. Still, she has no plans to leave.
With her son farming in the area, Hanson intends to stay in the village as long as she can. It’s a commitment that includes continuing her more than 50 years of service as town treasurer.
“This is my home,” she said. “I plan to stay here as long as I can.”
In Vilas — located five miles east of Roswell on Highway 34 — lives Phyllis Wenz. Ask her to estimate the population of Vilas and she’ll just start counting.
Wenz figures the current population of Vilas — recorded at 19 in 2000 — to be 15.
But unlike other small town residents who sense the mortality of their respective villages, Wenz said she’s expecting the population of Vilas to grow.
A resident since 1978, Wenz said others may recognize the privacy that tiny towns like Vilas have to offer.
“I don’t have to turn my TV down so somebody else can’t hear it. I don’t have to be real quiet,” Wenz said. “I just want to be my own self out here.”