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SHSND Home > Archives > Archives Holdings > Archives & Manuscripts > Family/Local History > 11125
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Manuscripts by Subject - Family / Local History - #11125

Title: Larry J. Sprunk

Dates:   1974-1984

Collection Number: MSS 11125

Quantity: 1.5 feet

Abstract: Papers consist of correspondence, various writings by Sprunk, including historical news articles, manuscripts, project proposals, poems, plays and letters to the editor, material relating to Sprunk's performances as "Turkey Track" Bill Molash, Prince Maximilian of Prussia and Buffalo Bill Cody and his involvement as director of the North Dakota Oral History Project and founder and president of Historical & Archaeological Surveys Inc.

Provenance: The collection was donated by Erik Holland on April 23, 2012. The collection was processed and this inventory was created by Emily E. Schultz in April 2012.

Property Rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

Copyrights: Copyrights to materials in this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs.  Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U. S. Code and an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

Related Collections:
MSS 10157 North Dakota Oral History Collection
00032 North Dakota Oral History Photograph Collection


From Sprunk’s obituary in the Bismarck Tribune December 7, 1983

Larry Sprunk, 43, 207 Fourth Avenue NW Mandan died Tuesday in Oliver County.

Since the early 1970s, Mr. Sprunk had been widely known in North Dakota for his portrayal of characters including Turkey Track Bill Molash, Prince Maximilian of Prussia and Buffalo Bill Cody.

A Chaffee native, Mr. Sprunk acted, directed and produced stage plays for nearly two decades.

He graduated from Enderlin High School and Westmar College, LeMars, Iowa, served in the U.S. Military and earned a master’s degree in the late 1960s from North Dakota State University, where he was an assistant speech teacher.

In 1973, he developed the idea for the North Dakota Oral History Project, which was to become part of the state’s U.S. bicentennial celebration. He directed the massive oral history project until 1977, then founded and operated Historical & Archaeological Surveys Inc., Garrison, a historical consulting firm.

It was during research for the Oral History Project, that he got the idea for a one-man portrayal of Turkey Track Bill, who lived from 1875 to 1942 and was one of the last cowboys of the western North Dakota frontier. That led to the development of other western character plays.

Mr. Sprunk presented many solo plays and participated in others as part of various troupes, and was to perform as Turkey Track Bill on two continents. Many of the shows were sponsored by the North Dakota Humanities Council; others were private ventures.

In September, he had decided to concentrate on other ventures, including writing. His written works include a history of the North Dakota Highway Department, published in 1980.


Box 1:
1 Resume and vita, ca. 1983
2 “Turkey Track” Bill correspondence, 1978-1982
3 Letter to Francine (Fiske) Peters about writing a biography of Frank B. Fiske, January 10, 1979
4 “Turkey Track” Bill script notes, ca. 1978-1982
5 “Turkey Track” Bill news release information, 1980-1981
6 “Turkey Track” Bill printed material (brochures, programs, posters), ca. 1978-1982
7 “Turkey Track” Bill reviews and reference letters, 1979-1982
8 “Turkey Track” Bill photographs and negatives, ca. 1979-1982
9 Chautauqua watercolor painting, ca. 1982
10 Buffalo Bill Cody script, July and August 1982
11 Buffalo Bill Cody documents, 1982
12 Prince Maximilian, 1983
13 “Pioneer Chronicles” articles (two copies of each)
14 “Pioneer Chronicles” miscellaneous
15 “King John” Satterlund (“Pioneer Chronicles” article)
16 George Gackle (“Pioneer Chronicles” article)
17 Clausen Springs (“Pioneer Chronicles” article)
18 Hawks Nest (“Pioneer Chronicles” article)
19 Col. W. C. Plummer: The Caledonia Orator (“Pioneer Chronicles” article)
20 John Leakey (“Pioneer Chronicles” article)
21 C. P. Burnstad (Burnstad story) (“Pioneer Chronicles” article)
- Transcribed articles about C. P. Burnstad and the Y. O. Ranch from the Burnstad Comet newspaper
- Notes from oral history interview with George Lubber  (MSS 10157)
- Notes from oral history interview with Leroy and Clara Burnstad (MSS 10157)
- "The Resurgence of C. P. Burnstad" article published in Pioneer Chronicles
- List of oral history interview questions about Burnstad (N.D.)
- Correspondence about Burnstad history
- Manuscripts, news clippings, observations and information about C. P. Burnstad
- Copies of photographs from SHSND 00032 Oral History Photograph Collection:
00032-LO-14-15 The 1917 Burnstad baseball team. Standing, left to right: Frank Farnhem, Rudy Arntz, Burr Day, Theo. Arntz and Fred Schatz. Seated, left to right: Ira Day, Harry Blount, Leo Burnstad, and Joe Longie. Ira and Burr Day were Mrs. Burnstad's brothers. Joe Longie, from the Standing Rock Reservation occasionally rode for the Y. O. and had been recruited by C. P. Burnstad to help the ball team. Leo was probably the Burnstad most interested in p laying baseball. The peanut peddler at the left rear was the owner of the Burnstad (N.D.) pool hall, a man named Quackenbush, Burnstad Y. O. Ranch 1917
00032-LO-14-34 (and 00032-LO-21-17) Y. O.  and area riders coming through Burnstad (N.D.) on their way to the annual Burnstad Field Days ca. 1914 Holmboe Studio
00032-LO-21-09 A trick pony at the Burnstad field days, 1914
00032-LO-21-26 Governor Louis B. Hanna at Burnstad Field Days (Wild West Rodeo) 1914
00032-LO-21-34 Burnstad Wild West Show Riders with Native Americans at the Seattle Fair, ca. 1912-1914
22 Zdena Trinka (“Pioneer Chronicles” article)
23 Writings by Larry Sprunk
24 “A Hard Winter on Oak Trees”
25 “The Handcarved Prairie Rose”
26 “The Effect of Displacement on Rural People in Missouri’s Osage River Basin” (Historical and Archaeological Surveys Inc.)
27 Stanton centennial – historical musical script
28 Dickinson history
29 Chuck Stroop contract
30 “On the Road”
31 Western Writers of America
32 “Long Rope Country” 1982
33 Former Governor’s Mansion State Historic Site (Historical and Archaeological Surveys Inc.) 1983
34 ND Oral History Project 1974-1979
35 Workshop – conducting oral history interviews
36 Heritage Profile Honor Award (State Historical Society of ND) 1984
37 “The Pony Express” 1980-1983

Box 2:    Cassette tapes:
Notes on Caledonia and Hawk’s nest
Max is Back, Heritage Center
Meeting of the minds, Chautauqua 1980
Chautauqua 1981
Turkey Track Bill Show, American Junior Hereford Centennial Exposition, Black
Hills Hereford Ranch, August 18, 1981
Chautauqua 1982 Buffalo Bill Cody, Aberdeen, SD August 7, 1982
Video cassettes:
“Turkey Track Bill Show,” parts 1 and 2, Seven Seas, Mandan, ND May 7, 1979 (Master)

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