Dana Reed Bailey.

History of Minnehaha county, South Dakota. Containing an account of its settlements, growth, development and resources ... Synopsis of public records, biographical sketches .. online

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Online LibraryDana Reed BaileyHistory of Minnehaha county, South Dakota. Containing an account of its settlements, growth, development and resources ... Synopsis of public records, biographical sketches .. → online text (page 1 of 99)
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3 1833 00829 5393








Resoukces. An Extensive and Minute Sketch of its Cities, Towns


Churches, Colleges, Schools and Societies. Synopsis of
PcTBLic Records, Biographical Sketches, Portraits
of Early Settlers and Other Prominent Resi-
dents. Illustrations of Public Build-
ings, Residences, Farms
and Scenery.

By Dana R. Bailey.

\\ -flu #" la ^^^^^ *<i35







In the preparation of this work the chief object soujii-ht after
was to g-ive the people of Minnehaha county a brief account of the
principal events which made it the most populous and notable county
in the state. In doing- so, a conscientious and unsparing- effort has
been made to attain such a deg-ree of accuracy as will place the book
among- the authoritative records of what has transpired in our local
history; and if it shall be so recog-nized I shall feel such a sense of
satisfaction as will compensate me in a g-reat measure for my labor.
For its success as a business enterprise no flattering- hopes have
been entertained.

The reminiscences of early times; the privations and dang-ers
experienced by the pioneer settlers; an accurate review of the social
and commercial g-rowth and development of the county, tog^ether with
carefully prepared biog-raphical sketches of residents of the county
who have made their impress upon her affairs, find place in this
volume and will furnish an interesting- retrospect of by-g-one days.

In this labor I have been especially assisted by Miss Anna B.
Ericson, who has rendered most valuable and faithful services
throug-hout the work.

I am also indebted for much valuable information to pioneer
residents, the press, the clerg-y, the custodians of public records, and
the secretaries of fraternal and kindred societies, and to each and all
I desire to publicly tender my acknowledgments and thanks.


Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Julv 6, 1899.


The County of Minnehaha is situated in the southeastern part of
South Dakota, and is about equidistant from the northern and south-
ern limits of the famous Sioux Valley. It is bounded on the east by
Rock county, Minnesota; on the south, for a distance of seven miles,
by Lyon county, Iowa, and by Lincoln and Turner counties; on the
west by McCook county, and on the north by Lake and Moody coun-
ties. South Dakota. It is twenty-four miles in extent north and
south, and thirty-four miles east and west, and contains twenty-four
townships, the eastern tier being- fractional. The g-eneral surface is
undulating-, or what is usually termed rolling- prairie; except to a
limited extent along- the larg-er streams where it rises abruptly and
is more or less broken. The soil is a rich black loam from one to
three feet deep, with a fertile porous subsoil. For the g-rowing- of
cereals and veg-etables the soil is unsurpassed, and its productive
properties are not appreciably diminished by successive crops
without the use of fertilizers. Two valleys along- the banks of the
Big- Sioux river and Skunk creek extending- nearly throug-h the
county, north and south, are worthy of mention. They vary from
one to three miles in width, with a level, smooth surface, and no
better or more fertile land can be found in the Northwest. The
uncultivated portions of these beautiful valleys are covered with a
luxuriant g-rowth of g-rass yielding on an averag-e two tons of hay per
acre. Strictly speaking-, there are no natural forests, but fringfing-
the Big- Sioux river there is at intervals a larg-e g-rowth of trees,
which adds g-reatly to the beauty of the landscape, and also affords a
larg-e amount of fuel. In addition to this, there is upon nearly every
section of land one or more larg-e g-roves of g-rowing- trees which
were planted and cultivated by the early settlers. The county is
well watered; the Big- Sioux river, the larg-est stream, enters it from
the north, ten miles west of the east line and flows in a southerly
direction until near the south line, where it turns upon its course and
pursues its winding-s north, east and south, about twenty miles fur-
ther before leaving- the county. At several points it furnishes ample
power for manufacturing- purposes, and at the city of Sioux Falls for
a distance of half a mile it falls in a series of cascades ninety-one
feet, and forms one of the most beautiful and picturesque sceneries
in the state. Skunk creek, another important stream, enters the
county from the north, nine miles west of the Big- Sioux river, and


flows in a southerly direction until near the south line, where its
course turns to the east and forms a junction with the Big- Sioux.
Split rock river, a stream of considerable size, also Slipup, Pipestone
and Beaver creeks, drain the eastern portion of the county. In the
western portion there are some small streams, and several bodies of
water of sufficient extent to find a place upon the maps of the county;
but only one of them, AVall Lake, located in the southwestern part,
is worthy of the name of lake. Good water in abundance can also be
found anywhere in the county at a depth of from twenty to eig-hty
feet. From exclusive wheat raising-, which until recently was the
chief industry of the county, its enterprising farmers are turning- to
diversified farming-, and extensive corn and wheat fields can now be
seen side by side. The raising of all kinds of stock is also eng-aging
their attention, and a lively interest is being- taken in dairying-, and
creameries are rapidly increasing- in number. Fruit raising- is still
in its infancy, but g-ives promise of good success. One of the pecu-
liarities of the County of Minnehaha is the outcrop of the Sioux
quartzite in larg-e quantities, especially at certain points near the
Big Sioux river. It is a fine building- stone, and is also beings used
extensively for the paving- of streets, varying in color from a lig-ht
gray through all the shades of pink and purple to a deep red, and
although as hard as steel, owing- to its peculiar formation, can be
cut into blocks of almost any size. Its commercial value is already
recognized, but as its merits become better known and appreciated
it will undoubtedly be more extensively used, and become a valuable
commodity for export. It is a county with fine roads, and iron
bridges span the larg-e streams. No county in the state has better
railroad facilities; the Great Northern, the Omaha, and the Milwau-
kee lines each traverse the entire leng-th or breadth of the county,
and the Burlington and the Illinois Central roads run into the city of
Sioux Falls. Sioux Falls is the largest city in the state, and is the
commercial center of a large extent of territory. Dell Rapids is
another important city in the county, situated twenty miles north of
Sioux Falls. Garretson and East Sioux Falls are also incorporated
cities, and South Sioux Falls, Valley Springs and Hartford are in-
corporated municipalities, while Brandon, Corson, Sherman, Baltic,
Ellis, Humboldt, Colton, Rowena and Ben Clare are properly desig-
nated as villages.

The educational and social advantag-es cf the county are excep-
tionallv good, compared with any other county in the state, and we
might go further and successfully challeng-e any county in the
Northwest of the proximate ag-e, population and wealth of Minnehaha,
to point to as manv educational institutions in successful operation.
The residents of the city of Sioux Falls are especially proud of the
institutions of learning located in her midst, evidencing- as they do
the intelligence, liberality and enterprise of her people. She has
classical and commercial colleges, a Lutheran Normal school, and
the All Saints' school for the education of young ladies, in addition
to the public schools which are models of efficiency in the educational
field. Public schools are maintained in every neighborhood in com-
fortable, well furnished school houses presided over by professional


teachers competent to instruct and rapidly advance the pupils.
Church societies are almost too numerous to mention, the church
edifices comprising" all g'rades from the imposing- cathedral to the
pretty little church on the prairie, are inviting- inducements to

In summarizing- the advantages the county offers to all classes
of people — capitalists, professional men, mechanics, tillers of the
soil, and common laborers — we point to the remarkable healthfulness
of the climate, the commercial importance of the location, the fer-
tility of the soil and its adaptation to all kinds of husbandry, its
good roads and unsurpassed transportation facilities, and last but
not least, the superior educational, religious and social advantag-es
that are enjoyed by the residents of the County of Minnehaha.

In presenting to the public a history of events which, as a whole,
have transformed the territory comprising- the County of Minnehaha
from the habitation of the Indian to the abode of a prosperous, happy
people, as outlined above, the writer has met with unexpected difficul-
ties. It is the beginning — the early events in the history of all local-
ities, that are sought after and prized by those who follow the
pioneer. But a large percentag-e of pioneers move on as civilization
advances, leaving- behind them, at the most, only frag-mentary records
and shadowy traditions of their doings, and the recollections of those
who remain, seldom harmonize.

Only such events are chronicled in the early history as appeared
to be well authenticated. Subsequent to the pioneer stage, it has
been largely a matter of selection from a wide field of data, and un-
doubtedly some thing-s appear which mig-ht have been left out without
materially detracting- from the work, and some events omitted which
would have been interesting-.

But as it is, the History of Minnehaha County is submitted to
the public, in the full belief that it will meet with a kind and appre-
ciative reception.



The History of Minnehaha County properly betrins with an act
of the first territorial leg-i slat lire, approved April 5, 1862, and entitled
"An Act to Establish the Counties of Lincoln, Minnehaha, Brook-
in«"s and Deuel."

Section 2, of this act reads as follows: "That so much of the
Territory of Dakota as embraced in the following- boundaries be and
the same is hereby established as the County of Minnehaha, beo-in-
nino- at the south-w^est corner of the State of Minnesota; thence west
to the south-west corner of township one hundred and one, north, of
rang-e fifty-three, west; thence due north to the north-west corner of
township one hundred and six, north, of rang-e fifty-three, west;
thence due east to the boundary line betw^een the State of Minnesota
and the Territory of Dakota; thence south on said boundary line to
place of beg-inning-.

"Section 5. And be it further enacted, that for judicial and
election purposes the counties of Lincoln, Minnehaha, Brooking-s, and
Deuel form one and the same county, with the county seat at Sioux
Palls City, in the County of Minnehaha.

"Section 6. And be it further enacted that the county seat of
Minnehaha county be established temporarily at Sioux Palls City."

To trace the series of evolution which made this event possible,
it is necessary to g"ive the reader some idea of the history of Dakota
prior to this date, but the writer will confine himself strictly to that
portion which relates particularly to Minnehaha county.

Leaving- to the ethnolog-ical student the unsettled problem of the
orig-in of the Indian nations, who for centuries were the inhabitants
of this vast country, and passing- over the period from the seven-
teenth century, in \vhich is included the dispersion of the powerful
Indian tribes of the Northwest; the ceding; of the entire northwestern
territory by Prance to Spain in 1762; the receding^ to Prance in 1800,
and the purchase of the same by the United States in 1803 for fifteen
million dollars; the gfradual development and reaching- out of civiliza-
tion toward "The Land of the Dakotahs" first by trading- posts
established by fur companies; the famous Lewis & Clark expedition
in 1804 (being- the first American explorers to ascend the Missouri
river into what is now^ known as Dakota;; the establishment, in 1808,


of the Missouri Fur Company, to which the first settlements here
may be ascribed; the missionary labors of Father DeSmet in 1840;
the act of Congress in 1849, by which a portion of Dakota was in-
cluded in the new Territory of Minnesota — all of which are parts of
the history of the country — we come to 1851, in which year was en-
acted what may properly be termed "the beginning- of the end."

■ At Traverse de Sioux, Minnesota, in 1851, the treaty between
the United States and the upper bands of Dakota Indians was con-
summated, giving- to the government a portion of land in which was
included that part of the present County of Minnehaha lying east of
the Big Sioux river. This constituted a part of the Territory of
Minnesota until May 11, 1858, when Minnesota was admitted to the
Union and its western boundary was defined by a line running due
south from the foot of Big Stone Lake to the Iowa state line, leaving
a tract about thirty miles in width extending from this new boundary
to the Big Sioux river to be included in the new Territory of Dakota.

April 18, 1858, a treaty was made by the government with the
Yankton Indians by which the latter ceded to the United States all
lands owned by them, except 400,000 acres, the eastern boundary of
which was the Big Sioux river, and included that portion of Minne-
haha lying west of said river.

The first person to give the world any information in regard to the
falls of the Big Sioux was Nicollet, who in 1839 was sent out by the
government of Quebec to treat with certain western tribes of Indians.
He wrote a sketch of his travels in the Northwest, which was after-
wards published, wherein he gave a description of the beautiful and
picturesque falls of the the river then called by the Indians "Te-han-
kas-an-data" or the "Thick-wooded-river." A copy of this sketch
found its way into the hands of Dr. George M. Staples, of Dubuque,
Iowa, sometime during the summer of 1856. The natural advantag-es
of the falls at once struck him, and he took steps to secure possession
of the delectable valley.

At that time speculation in lands and town sites was at high tide,
and the doctor without difficulty soon organized the Western Town
Company of Dubuque, Iowa. The following named persons com-
prised the company: Dr. G. M. Staples, Mayor Hetherington, Dennis
Mahoney, Austin Adams, S. P. Waldron, William Tripp, and a
number of others whose names the writer has been unable to obtain.
Mr. Ezra Millard of Sioux City, Iowa, was employed by the company
to ascertain the location of the beautiful falls of the Big Sioux, and
was instructed to take up under the laws of the United States three
hundred and twenty acres of land contiguous to the falls for a town
site in the name of the Western Town Company. Early in Novem-
ber of the same year, Mr. Millard accompanied by Mr. D. M. Mills,
also of Sioux City, started out to obey instructions. They followed
the east bank of the Big Sioux, and after several days' travel came
within sight of the promised land.

Right here the writer will take the liberty to contradict the
fiction which has been frequently published, that the party upon
approaching the falls were intercepted by a band of Indians, and
although neither party was conversant with the language of the


other, the travelers could not misunderstand the meanin<{ of the
Indians who, taking* the travelers' horses by the bridle and turnini>-
them about, silently pointed in the direction from which they had
come, and that the party immediately hastened back to Sioux City.
Such an incident happening- at the first approach of white men to the
falls of the Big- Sioux for the purpose of permanent occupation,
would always add piquancy to the events that transpired, and it is
with some misg-iving's whether it would not be better to let it stand,
that the writer asserts that nothing- of the kind took place. The
fact is, the party had a surveyor with them, and in the name of the
Western Town Company took undisturbed possession of three hun-
dred and twenty acres of land, and D. M. Mills one hundred and
sixty acres. The company selected the southwest one-fourth of
section nine, and the northwest one-fourth of section sixteen and
Mr. Mills the southwest one-fourth of section sixteen. In a history
of Southeastern Dakota, published in 1881, the land taken up at this
time is very differently described, but the description above is cor-
rect beyond question. Mr. Mills built a log- house above the falls,
ten bv twelve feet in size, and then returned to Sioux City for the

In May, 1857, the Western Town Company sent Jesse T. Jarrett,
John McClellan, Far well and Oleson to the Palls, to hold and im-
prove the town site located by the Mills party. They arrived at the
Palls about the first of June.

Meanwhile, in the winter of 1856-7, the Dakota Land Company
was chartered by the legislature of Minnesota Territory, for the
purpose of securing- the best locations for future towns in the pro-
posed Territory of Dakota, and it is to the efforts of this company,
that the location of the western boundary of Minnesota must be as-
scribed, they being- anxious to have the desirable tract lying- east of
the Big- Sioux river included in the new Territory.

The orig-inal incorporators of this company were: W. H. Noble,
J. R. Brown, A. G. Fuller, S. A. Medarv, Sam^uel P. Brown, James
W. Lynd, N. R. Brown, P. J. DeWitt, Baron P. Friedenriech, B. M.
Smith, Artemas Gale, Parker Paine, Thomas Campbell, Judg-e
Charles E. Plandrau, and a number of others. The representatives
of the company left St. Paul in May, 1857, Dakotaward. They pro-
ceeded to the Big- Sioux river, and in what is now Brookings county
located the town of Medary, which they intended to be the capital of
the new Territory. Continuing their journey down the river they
located the town of Plandrau, named in honor of Judge Plandrau,
and then pushed on to Sioux Palls. But in reaching that point they
found themselves anticipated, and the Western Town Company in
possession of the prize. However, they were not to be so easily
crowded out after all their efforts, and in the name of the Dakota
Land Company took up three hundred and twenty acres of land
south of the Palls, which included that present portion of the city
known as Gale's Sioux Palls; and erecting a log house thereon, near
where the Burling-ton depot is now located, named their settlement
Sioux Falls Citv. James L. Fiske and James McBride remained to
hold their claim", and the balance of the party returned to St. Paul.


The population of Sioux Palls now numbered five souls, Messrs.
McClellan, Parwell, Oleson, Piske and McBride, and althoug-h repre-
sentatives of rival comj)anies, they dwelt in peace and harmony, fear-
ing- only their common enemy, the Sioux. They were not troubled,
however, until late in July, when the Indians rose in g-reat numbers,
and threatened the extermination of all the settlements on the Big-
Sioux river.

We have read in some of the newspaper accounts of the early
history of Dakota, "that Col. Noble about this time, with fifty men
in his employ, while locating- a road from Port Ridg-ley to South Pass
was driven back by the Indians." This has been denied, and one of
the first settlers in Sioux Palls is authority for the statement "that
Col. Noble was not molested by the Indians, but after having- spent
fifteen thousand dollars appropriated for the purpose of locating- the
road, endeavored to g-et another appropriation, but was unsuc-

However, the attitude of the Indians was of such a threatening-
character that the Dakota Land Company withdrew Piske and
McBride from Sioux Palls. McClellan, Parwell and Oleson, were
now left in sole possession, and recognizing- the fact that they were
in no position to defend themselves, and deeming- discretion the
better part of valor determined to withdraw from the scene for a
time. They placed their personal effects in a canoe, and starting-
from the foot of the falls navig-ated the Big- Sioux to its mouth. The
Sioux Valley was once more deserted by white men, but not for long-.

On the 17th dav of Aug-ust, 1857, the Western Town Company
sent Messrs. J. T. Jarrett, J. L. Phillips, W. W. Brooking-s, S. B.
Atwood, A. L. Kilg-ore, Smith Kinsey, John McClellan, Callahan and
Godfrey from Sioux City, Iowa, to Sioux Palls. D. M. Mills also
joined them at Rock river. This party took with them machinery
for a saw mill, tools and implements for building-, and a larg-e stock
of provisions, which were transported by a team of horses and sev-
eral ox-teams. They were oblig-ed to travel slowly, the teams being-
heavily laden, and it being- often necessary to bridg-e the streams to
be crossed on the way, so that it was not until the 27th of Aug-ust,
after ten weary days, that the party arrived in sig-ht of the Palls.

To those of the party who now came for the first time, the scene
was inexpressibly g-rand and beautiful, and all joined in three
rousing- cheers. An encampment was made north of the island, and
the next day each member of the party selected a claim for himself.

On the 29th of Aug-ust, four of the party, Jarrett, Mills, Atwood
and Godfrey, started back to Sioux City, for more provisions, leaving-
the others at work. In about ten days Jarrett returned, ac-
companied by Dr. Staples, one of the directors of the company.

When the party first set out, Jarrett was appointed by the
company the ag-ent in charg-e, but being- a man particularly unfitted
for the position, he at once became involved in trouble with some of
the other employes, and Dr. Staples having- been sent out with
authority to make a chang-e, removed Mr. Jarrett and appointed
W. W. Brooking-s, ag-ent.

The men worked untiring-ly, building- a saw mill, a stone house


and a store. The two last mentioned structures were located on
what is now north Phillips avenue, near three small houses. Upon
the map showing- the survey made in August, 1859, this stone house
is located on the northwest quarter of section sixteen, and was called
the "Dubuque House," but the fact is, it was located on the south-
west quarter of section nine, near the south line of the section, and
was on what is now lot twelve or thirteen of block twenty-five in
Syndicate Addition.

Several of the party went back to Sioux City, leaving- only six
men in the settlement. These pursued their labors undisturbed by
the Indians, save once, when some of the men run across a small
party near the settlement, but they retreated as hastily as the
settlers, and so caused no alarm.

On October 10, however, towards evening-, about a dozen
Indians rode down over the bluffs, and terrifying- the men with their
yells, surrounded the one pair of oxen which had been left, and
before the astonished settlers came to their senses, had driven them

Four of the men undertook to follow the Indians, leaving^ two to
g-uard the camp, but their efforts to rescue the oxen were unavailing-,
and they soon returned to spend an anxious nig-ht. The Indians
were known to be hostile and another and more serious attack was
momentarily expected. With the breaking- day their fears were
somewhat allayed, and the arrival of Mr. Brooking-s, who had been
absent for some days, helped to encourag-e them. The days passed
away uneventfully until the middle of October, when the Dakota
Land Company sent a party of seven men to look after their interests,
and the entire population now beg-an to make preparations for
passing- the winter at the Palls.

At the time winter set in they were in a fairly comfortable con-
dition, having- besides the saw mill and store building-, three dwelling-
houses, one of them the stone one already mentioned. The men who

Online LibraryDana Reed BaileyHistory of Minnehaha county, South Dakota. Containing an account of its settlements, growth, development and resources ... Synopsis of public records, biographical sketches .. → online text (page 1 of 99)