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

. (page 21 of 99)
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 21 of 99)
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10, 11, 12 and 13, and the best time made was by the pacer Ontonion,
2:09 H. The loss to the association was so large that no further
attempts have since been made to give the people of Sioux Falls an
opportunity of seeing- good races at home.




On the 26th day of January, 1874, the Minnehaha County Aid
Society was org-anized in Sionx Falls. It was known as the ''(xrass-
hopper Beg-o-ars."

The summer before, the grasshoppers had destroyed everything-
in this section of the country, and the pioneer settlers had nothing-
left upon which they could subsist, and in order to relieve such
destitution this society was org-anized. Col. T. H. Brown was sent
East to secure money, food and clothing. Over S500 in cash was con-
tributed, and he also obtained a large amount of food and clothing,
which was sent to Sioux Falls and distributed among the sufferers
throug-h the agency of this society. It was the first as well as the
last society organized in this countv to solicit outside aid to relieve
the suffering- of her citizens.


The farmers in Minnehaha count}-, although few in number,
organized a Farmers Grang-e the last week in August, 1873, and
adopted the name of Minnehaha Grange, with W. Robertson as
Master. Scarcely any mention of this org-anization appeared in the
local newspapers after this date.


Several Farmers Alliances had been started in Minnehaha
county and were in a more or less prosperous condition in 1886. On
December 4, of that year, a meeting- of several prominent farmers al-
liance men was held in Sioux Falls for the purpose of organizing- a
County Alliance. At this meeting- it was decided to form such an
organization, and a call was formulated for alliances in the county to


send deleg-ates to a meetino- to be held February 16, 1887. The al-
liances responded to the call, and the Minnehaha County F^armers
Alliance was organized. H. W. Smith was elected president, L. S.
(lage vice president, P. F. Sherman secretary and John T. F^ee
treasurer. At first considerable interest was manifested 1)\ ihc
meml)ers of this organization, but it soon liecame inoculated \\\\U
])()litics and is now one of the bv-gones.


This company was organized March 23, 1885, its members being
composed of farmers in the central portion of the county. It has
been well managed and yery satisfactory to its members. At its an-
nual meeting January 17, 1895, the secretary's report showed that
there had been policies issued in the amount of S767,632 since its
organization, with a total membership of'533. During the year 1894
it issued 138 policies and the amount in the treasury was 85,288.69.
The officers elected at that time were John Thompson president,
E. J. Berdahl yice president, Ole J. Aasen treasurer, and John K.
Bjorgan secretary. At the close of the year 1895 there was a balance
on hand of $4,709.91. During- 1896 it received in premiums SI, 373. 31,
paid in losses $816.25, and expenses S334.89, leaving a balance on
hand at the close of the year of $4,932.08. The amount of proj^erty
insured during 1896 was $184,360, making the total amount insured
at the close of the year $851,887. There were 148 policies issued, 44
of them to new members. At the annual meeting January 5, 1897,
the following were elected members of the board of directors: John
Thompson, Ole Thompson, Gust. Grant, A. G. Risty, Charles N.
Searl, John G. Tyler, W. A. Crooks, S. O. Henjum, Tom Hanson,
C. T. Austin, E. J. Berdahl, Ole J. Aasen and John R. Bjorgan.
John Thompson was elected president, C. T. Austin vice ])resident,
Ole J. Aasen treasurer and J. R. Bjorgan secretary.

At the annual meeting held January 28, 1899, John Thompson
was elected president, E. J. Berdahl vice president, Ole J. Aasen
treasurer, and John R. Bjorgan secretary. The amount paid in
losses during 1898 was $1,755.55, expenses during the year S365.95,
balance on hand $4,870.65, amount of risks outstanding $976,355,
policies issued 185, new members 43.


Early in June, 1892, it was announced in the newspapers that
there would be a picnic in Foster's grove in the northwestern part
of Grand Meadow on Wednesday, June 29, at which time it was pro-
posed to organize an early settlers association for the western ])art
of Minnehaha county.

When the time arrived there was a large attendance, and during
the afternoon several speeches were made in favor of such an organ-
ization. Finally a temporary organization was made and Samuel
Huckins was elected president. A committee was appointed to
frame a constitution and by-laws and present the same at a meeting
to be called the following- year.


In the latter part of June, 1893, the officers of the temporary
ortfanization announced that there would be a meeting- of the associa-
tion in J. B. Goddard's grove in Taopi, on Wednesday, July 19. It
was a beautiful day, and before noon there were several hundred
people present. The tables arrang-ed for the occasion were loaded
with g-ood thing's, and althoug-h they were 159 feet in leng-th, the
people stood about two deep around them when the time for refresh-
ments arrived. After dinner a g-eneral g-ood time was had, and sing -
ing- and speeches delig-hted the audience, after which the meeting-
was called to order and a permanent org-anization of the association
perfected. J. J. Foster was elected president, J. E. Colton secre-
tar3^ and C. F. Farrell treasurer. The membership of the associa-
tion was limited to such persons who had been residents of the
county west of the Sioux river prior to 1880, and it was decided to
hold annual meetingfs of the association at such times and places as
the officers should decide upon.

The third annual meeting- was held in Warner's g-rove at Hart-
ford, Wednesday, June 27, 1894. Before dinner there were recita-
tions and short addresses by pioneer settlers from all over the
county. At noon the Ladies' Aid Society of Hartford served re-
freshments, and the Grand Meadow band entertained the people
with g-ood music during- the day. At the business meeting- the first
article in the constitution was amended so as to include all persons
who settled in Minnehaha county prior to 1880. J. J. Foster was
elected president; F. E. Van De Mark vice president; J. E. Colton
secretarv; C. F. Farrell treasurer; directors, J. B. Goddard, J. J.
Foster, "^C. J. Farrell; Mrs. J. J. Foster, Mrs. L. L. Willard and
Mrs. E. E. Gag-e were also elected to look after the affairs of the

The fourth annual meeting of this association was held in John
Thompson's g-rove in the town of Sverdrup on Friday the 14th dav
June, 1895. During- the preceding- night there had been a heavy
rainfall, which undoubtedly deterred a good many from going, but as
it was, it was estimated that at least 1,000 persons visited the
grounds during the day. A stand for the speakers and bands had
been erected and seats provided for the audience. Three brass
bands and the Baltic Mandskor were present and furnished music
and singing for the occasion. The morning exercises consisted of a
grand march by the old settlers, instrumental and vocal music and a
few short speeches. After dinner quite a number of the early set-
tlers related their experience when they first settled in Minnehaha
countv, which proved to be highlv interesting. Recitations bv Miss
Willard, Miss Kingsbury, Mrs. Woody and Mrs. J. G. Tyler added
very much to the enjoyment of those participating in the annual fes-
tival of the early settlers. The officers elected for the ensuing year
were J. J. Foster president; Sever Wilkinson vice president; J, E.
Colton secretary; D. W. Oaks treasurer; board of directors, John
Thompson, Luther Gage, L. Lyman, Mrs. E. S. Gage, Mrs. L. L.
Willard, Silas E. Blauvelt and Nels Simons.

The fifth annual meeting was held June 25 and 20, 1896, at the
same place as the year before. On the first day there were about


twelve hundred people present and on the second day about two
thousand. Addresses were made by prominent citizens of the
county; the New Hope and Benton bands furnished the music, and a
quartette of fine sin^fers helped to entertain the people; a merry-jyfo-
round and o-ames added to the pleasure of the occasion, and taken as
a whole, it was the most successful meeting- of the association. J. J.
Foster was elected president; Sever Wilkinson vice president; and
(ieo. O. Goddard secretary; and it was decided to hold the next
annual meetinjj- in the same place for one day only.

The sixth annual meetino- was held at the John Thompson <i-rove
in Sverdrup, Friday, June 11, 1807. It was estimated that there
were at least three thousand people present during the day, and was
the most successful event in the history of the society. It was a
pleasant day, and all enjoyed the well-arranged programme of enter-
tainments. The New Hope band furnished the music, and the Sioux
Falls Glee Club rendered some enjoyable selections, and several fine
songs and recitations added greatly to the pleasure of the day. A
ball game between Hartford and Sioux Falls resulted in favor of the
Hartford boys.

The following officers were elected: President, J. J. Foster;
vice president, S. E. Blauvelt; secretary, J. G. Tyler; treasurer, D.
W. Oaks; directors, J. R. Griffith, W. F. Kelly, F. E. Van De
Mark, L. Lyman, Mrs. Eugene Hale, W. J. Hunt and C. T. Austin.

The seventh annual meeting was held at the John Thom])son
grove June 16, 1898. There was a great crowd in attendance and the
weather was propitious. The Rev. Dr. Scott of Sioux Falls deliv-
ered a fine address, and several short speeches were made by promi-
nent citizens. A good literary prog-ramme and good music helped
to make the day an enjoyable one. J. J. Foster was again elected
president; S. E. Blauvelt vice president; J. G. Tyler secretary; D.
W. Oaks treasurer; directors, F. E. Van De Mark, E. S. Gage, Wm.
F. Kelly, D. O. Crooks, Mrs. John Lott, John Thompson and Axel

The eighth annual meeting was held at John Thompson's grove
July 4, 1899. It w^as a fine day, and there were not less than 5,000
people present. Professor Binks delivered the customary address,
and he was at his best. Several short speeches were made by resi-
dents of the county, and a highly entertaining literar}^ programme
was one of the important features of the occasion. Good music and
games were also on the programme. S. E. Blauvelt was elected
president, J. G. Tyler secretary, and John Thompson treasurer;
directors, F. E. Van De Mark, L. Lyman, J. J. Foster, John Powers,
D. O. Crooks, W. F. Kellv and Axel Scott.







In October, 1895, quite a lengthy and well considered editorial
appeared in the Dell Rapids Tribune in reference to the drying* up of
the smaller lakes in the Northwest, and mention was made of the fact
that in Minnehaha county numerous lakes, which only a few years
ago contained quite large bodies of water, were entirely- dried up and
their bottoms turned into cultivated fields. The editor had seen an
extended article in the Pioneer Press, upon the subject of the dry-
ing up of the lakes in the Northwest, and took occasion to express
the opinion that we would again see the former lake beds in Minne-
haha county filled, though probably not as full as they were when
the surrounding country was an unbroken prairie, and was drained
into them. The opinion was expressed in the Pioneer Press, that we
would never again see water in a vast number of the dry lake beds,
and that the drying up of the lakes and smaller streams was not only
due to the dry period of the past few years, but that the cultivation
of the adjacent country had absorbed the rainfall to such an extent
that it had materially lessened the quantity of water flowing into the
lakes, and was a more important factor still in the drying up of the
smaller streams.

While admitting to a certain extent that the cultivation of the
land adjacent to the lakes would result in a greater absorption of the
rainfall, the editor of the Tribune was of the opinion that too much
importance had been given to this fact as a cause for the drying up
of the lakes and smaller streams of water.

Since the publication of this article in the Tribune, in an inter-
view at Washington, Hydrographer F. H. Newell of the Geological
Survey, went over this whole subject from a scientific standpoint,
and many interesting facts were referred to, and important deduc-
tions made therefrom, which can not fail to interest the people of


Minnehaha countv, who have witnessed the gradual diminution of the
water supply in the county from all sources durinj^- the last decade.
Onlv a summary of this interview can be presented here, and it is
ti-ratifving- to note the fact that Mr. Nisbet's views were more in ac-
cord with these of the distinguished scientist than those of the
Pioneer Press.

Mr. Newell, when questioned as to the cause of the shrinkage of
the water supply in the Northwest, in substance replied, that the
shrinkage of water supply was not local to the Northwest, for there
has been during- the past few years a material shrinkage in the
water supply in the Ohio valle\' reg'ion and in several of the eastern
states. This condition of things in the Northwest is not new, for at
various times within the historic period lakes in which there is now
considerable water have been completely dried up. The larg-er shal-
low lakes have retreated in many instances to mere pools, while the
wide surface of the larger bodies with well defined shores has fallen
so considerably that navigation has been injured or destroyed. The
records of almost any water body demonstrate a similar behavior of
the lakes in the Northwest.

There has been an unbroken record of the height of Lake Michi-
gan since 1859, and while it shows considerable fluctuations there is
a certain rythm or regularity about it. The causes of the fluctua-
tions in the lakes and streams are mainly climatic. By an examina-
tion of tables of rainfall and temperature it will be seen that these
have a certain range of fluctuation up and down, going down g-radual-
Iv for several years and then coming- up again with great irreg-ularity,
too great for prediction. The increase or diminution of water sur-
face is the resultant of not only the g-reater or less rainfall, but also
of the changes of temperature, of average humidity and of wind
movement. The irregular fluctuations in the intensity of the force
of nature are sufficient to account for all the variations we find in the
water supply. The cultivation of the soil and the increase of settle-
ment have an influence, but in comparison to the forces of nature
they are exceedingly small. In 1890 the census fig-ures show that
one-seventh of the land in South Dakota was improved, and it is to be
doubted, even if no water ran oif from the cultivated land, whether
the effect would be noticeable.

Many other minor considerations were discussed in this inter-
view, but in concluding- he said: "As to the future prosi)ect, it will
probably be as in the past. The larg-er lakes will undoubtedly fill to
a height equal to that of the average of hicrh waters in the past, and
the smaller lakes, where not permanently drained, will probably re-
appear and for a series of years increase and again shrink. As to
when this increase in water will begin to take place, or how long- it
will last is impossible to predict, for these fluctuations, as shown by
the oldest records, sometimes are short and sharp, at other times
long continued and apparently regular. It is fairly safe to assume,
liowever, that what has happened many times before will probably
recur again, except in so far as the works of man may have to a small
extent, modified the effect of nature's forces."

That the annual rainfall, one of the main sources of water sup-


ply in South Dakota, for the past ten years has been considerably
below the normal, is known to every resident of the state, and if Mr.
Newell is correct in his statement that there is to a certain extent a
regular succession in the fluctuations of the annual rainfall above
and below the normal for a series of years, then we may reasonably
expect to ag-ain see in the near future many of the now dry lake beds
in Minnehaha county filled with water.

Since writing- the foreg-oing- in 1896, the annual rainfall has been
g-radually increasing-, and it would seem as thoug-h the predictions of
Mr. Newell are likely to be fulfilled.


The amount of snowfall in Minnehaha county is usually very
lig-ht, but there have been several winters since inhabited by the
white man during- which there was a g-reat amount of snow. During-
the winter of 1856-7, there was an immense snowfall, and during- the
entire winter the cold was intense, accompanied by a penetrating-
northwest wind. It is reported that in some of the deep ravines the
snow did not melt until the July following-. One of the old settlers
savs that during- the winter of 1869, more snow fell in this section
than during- any year since then, not excepting- the winter of 1880-1.
Mr. Clark Coats says, that in the spring- of 1870 he came from Plan-
dreau to Sioux Falls at the time of the hig-h water, and that never
since then has he seen such hig-h water in the Sioux river as hv
saw at that time. He also says, that where the brewery now stands
in the Citv of Sioux Falls, there was an immense snow drift, and
that from the brow of the hill for fifty rods south there was so much
snow that it looked as thoug-h the g-round was level. From this time
until the winter of 1880-1 there were no remarkable snowfalls, except
during- the winter of 1872-3. On October 14, 1880, the first snow fell,
and it did not disappear until the following- spring-. For a long- time
traveling- was practically impossible, and the Villag-e of Sioux Falls
was as effectually isolated from the outside world as it would have
been if surrounded by a hostile army. During- the winter the
railroads were blockaded, and it was only at rare intervals and with
g-reat difficulty that mails were obtained. Fuel became so scarce
that families not only had to economize, but colonize, in order to de-
lay, and if possible prevent, the exhaustion of the supply. Wheat,
the lumber in the lumber yards, and railroad ties piled up in the city
for the extension of the Worthing-ton and Sioux Falls railroad, were
all burned; in fact, everything- available was used for fuel. A g-reat
many privations had to be endured. Sug-ar was sug-ar about the first
of March, and a g-ood many of the ordinary comforts of life were dis-
pensed with for the time being-. The nearest railroad connection
was Canton, and for the g-reater part of the winter the only means
by which Canton could be reached from Sioux Falls was by men on
snowshoes, it being- impossible for a horse to g-et throug-h the snow.
A train reached Luverne April 9, containing- a quantity of provisions
for Sioux Falls, which was transported by teams to its destination,
and by this means the most pressing- wants of the people were sup-
plied, althoug-h it proved inadequate to meet the demand. The trans-



portation was accompanied with great difficulties, as twelve inches of
snow fell on the 7th and 8th of April, and four inches on the 10th and
a like amount on the 11th during- the same month. During- this mem-
orable winter the people were in the best of spirits. Social distinc-
tions were abolished for the time being-, althoug-h at this early date
in the history of Sioux Falls there was but little to abolish. The
newspapers were published, but aside from g-uessing- at what was g-o-
ing- on in the outside world, the columns were filled with local mat-
. ter. On the 12th day of April, the Sioux Falls Times was printed
on a sing-le sheet of blue paper, and the next dav the Dakota Panta-
g-raph appeared on pink muslin. Such, in part, is the history of one
of the most remarkable experiences that the people of Sioux Falls
have been compelled to pass throug-h, all this resulting- from an ex-
cessive fall of "the beautiful snow".

As there has been no unusual fall of snow in this section of the
country since that time, a short description of the


which followed will appropriately come in here. As spring- advanced,
the people in Sioux Falls realized the dang-er they would be in from
hig-h water when this g-reat quantity of snow melted. Some of the
old settlers predicted a destruction of the villag-e, but when the flood
came they seemed as much surprised as those who drifted along- ap-
prehending no dang-er.

On Sunday, April 17, the first sig-ns of the breaking- up of
ice in the river were observed, but not until 2 or 3 o'clock in
morning- of the 20th did
it g-o out, and the work
of destruction com-
mence. The Pembina
railroad bridg-e (now
Milwaukee), the Eighth
and Tenth street
bridges, the AVebber
restaurant, theHenjum
and Olson blacksmith
shop, the Badger lum-
ber office, the McKin-
non and Ross planing
mill and sash factory,
the Cascade mill offices,
the Cochran stable, the
Gilbert ice house and
the Queen Bee mill office
went out w^ith the ice.
Then the river fell
about a foot, and the
people felt assured that
the worst was over, but



the next day the water began rising and
kept it up steadily until the middle of the forenoon Saturday, when
the highest point was reached, which was fifteen feet and six inches
above its ordinarv level.


At 2 o'clock Saturday morning-, the Riverside hotel went down
stream, followed about 7 o'clock A. M., by the Sioux Palls mill at the
foot of the falls. The miller, C. K. AVeir, was on the point of step-
ping- into the mill to dress the stones during- the enforced stoppag-e.
He stooped to pick up a board, and when he looked up, the mill had
taken its departure.

The eastern portion of the wrecked Tenth street bridg-e was dis-
lodg-ed, and floating- down stream struck a building- on the east
side of the river. The two steered across Eig-hth street in the di-
rection of the Cascade mill and elevator, but in some unaccountable
wav they chang-ed course and passed these structures without doing-
any damag-e. It seemed almost a miracle to the on-lookers that the
Cascade mill was not destroyed, as it stood directly in the current
and was in constant dangfer from the numerous building-s that were
coming- down stream from above. The stock of the lumber yards
was strewn along- the bank for miles below the falls, the boom which
had been constructed for the purpose of saving- it having- broke.
During- the day the Wisconsin hotel, D. Z. Clark's dwelling- and
laundry, Phillip Plaster's saloon, the calaboose (from which the
prisoners had been removed), numerous ice houses and a stable suc-
cumbed to the pressure of the water and went down stream. Saturday
morning-, while the water was rising- hig-her and higher, the citizens
commenced to take precautionary measures. The St. Paul railroad
bridge was uncoupled in the middle and at both ends and anchored to
the piling- with hawsers. Donahoe's house at his l)rick yard south of
the bridg-e, stood in the middle of the flood, but loaded on the lirst
floor with 10,000 bricks, maintained its place. Numerous small build-
ingfs were anchored with ropes. The building's on the east side of
Phillips avenue, north of the Gilbert block, were emptied of their
contents, and the merchants on the west side g-ot their g-oods ready
for removal, but these precautions happily proved unnecessary.

Fortunateh^ no lives were lost, althoug-h there were a number of
narrow escapes. The damag-e to the railroads was great, and the
total damag-e to property in Sioux Falls was estimated at S140,300.00.

At Dell Rapids the damag-e was proportionately the same as at
Sioux Falls. Lumber yards, building-s and bridg-es were washed
away and propertv damag-ed, but no lives were lost. As has alreadv

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 21 of 99)