Civilian Conservation Corps, South Dakota, CCC, Black Hills, history Civilian Conservation Corps: Sigrid Gustav (Swede) Johnson

Sigrid Gustav (Swede) Johnson

In the early years, one of the prerequisites for qualifying to join the CCCs was one's family had to be on welfare. His father had died in 1927 and his mother and eight children went back to Sweden in 1933. In 1935, Gus returned to the US and Hitchcock, SD. He wanted to get into the Cs and he mentioned the fact to Billy Mahr, an old cowboy from Hitchcock. Billy took a piece of paper and wrote on it, "Tom, take care of this boy," and handed it to Gus.

The next day Billy took Gus to Pierre and dropped him off at the state capitol. The note was to Tom Berry, the governor of South Dakota, who was a friend of Billy; they were both old cowboys. Gus wasn't able to get in to see the governor, but one of his aides told Gus, "You go on back to Hitchcock, and you'll hear from us."

Three days later a letter came giving Gus instructions to report at Aberdeen for his physical and he would be going into the Civilian Conservation Corps. He was sure then, it is not what you know, but who you know, that gets you places.

Gus was in Company 2757, SP-3, at Blue Bell, SD. It was also called Camp Narrows and Robbers' Roost. He became a catskinner and worked his way from enrollee to leader during the years he served, 1935-1939. He was the only CCC worker who was ever given a superior rating by lst Lt. Carl G. Paulsen, Company Commander. Apparently his work ethic was his ticket to staying in longer than most.

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