George Thomas & Aris (Ladd) Grimshaw

Immigrants to South Dakota from Wisconsin

George Thomas and Aris Grimshaw

George Grimshaw was born on Wolfe Island, Ontario in 1849, the son of John James and Mary Ann (Mahoney) Grimshaw. When George was about 13 years old, the family emigrated to the U.S. and settled in the area around Richland Center, Wisconsin. Aris Ladd was born in 1848 in New York, and her family subsequently moved to Richland Center, where George and Aris were married in 1869. Little is known of their life in Richland Center, but about eight years after their marriage, they migrated westward, apparently for better life opportunity. The lived for a time in Iowa and eventually arrived in Letcher, South Dakota, where their oldest child, Anna Celestine Grimshaw, married George Albert. The family lived also for a time in Minnesota, where their youngest son, Walter Claude Grimshaw, was born. Then the family continued westward and settled first in Oacoma and then Presho, South Dakota. George died after an accident in 1915, and Aris passed away in 1929. Both are buried in the Presho cemetery, near their son, Walter Claude Grimshaw.

Although George and Aris took out a homestead near Oacoma and “proved up” on it, they did not raise their family there. However, they lived out their lives in South Dakota and are buried at Presho. They had six children, one of whom (Nettie Estelle) died of scarlet fever at age 6. The five surviving children also lived their lives in South Dakota, and in nearby Sioux City, Iowa. The author of this website is one of the descendants of this line. Information on George’s ancestors can be found on the webpage on George’s parents, John and Mary Ann Grimshaw (click here) and grandparents, George and Charlotte (Menard) Grimshaw (click here).


Webpage Credits

George and Aris Photo

Origins of George and Aris Grimshaw

George and Aris Grimshaw Descendant Chart

Group Photos of George and Aris’ Family

Family Bible Entries for George and Aris’ Family

Family History Overview

South Dakota Places of Interest for George and Aris Grimshaw

Photos of Letcher, South Dakota, Where George and Aris First Settled in South Dakota

Map of Oacoma and Chamberlain Area, Showing Important Locations for George & Aris Family History

Location on American Crow Creek Where the Albert and Grimshaw Families Settled in 1902

Final Resting Place of George and Aris Grimshaw

George Grimshaw in the Dorothy (Zastrow) Grimshaw Photo Album

William Allen and Hannah Jeannette (“Nettie”) (Glass) Merritt Grimshaw

George Monroe and Anna Celestine (“Tina”) (Grimshaw) Albert

The Albert and Grimshaw Homesteads (T104N, R72W, Sections 18 and 29)

Wallace J and Flora (Allison) Grimshaw

Roy and Mary Evelyn (‘Eva”) (Grimshaw) Thomas

Walter Claude and Freda Elaine (Sehnert) Grimshaw

Origins of George and Aris (Ladd) Grimshaw

Details of Grimshaw Family History: The “Lyra Hodgin Chronicles”

Rendition 1

Rendition 2

Rendition 3

Rendition 4

Rendition 5

Lyra’s Notes on History of Aris Ladd Family

Final Resting Places

The Context of South Dakota History

Summaries of Lyman County and Oacoma History

Excerpt 1. Lyman County

Excerpt 2. Lyman County

Excerpt 3. Oacoma

Excerpt 4. Oacoma

Excerpt 5. Oacoma

Records of Lewis and Clark Expedition Stopover at American Crow Creek in 1804

Excerpt 1. By Meriwether Lewis, Published in 1884

Excerpt 2. By Richard Dillon, Meriwether Lewis Biographer

Historical Context: South Dakota History During the Time of George and Aris

Footnotes and References

This webpage begins (after giving appropriate credits) with a photo of George and Aris, and then group photos of their children. Certain pages from George and Aris’ family Bible are then presented, followed by an overview of their family history. A map of the area around Oacoma is then presented, with the most important locations for the family history indicated and described. A photo of one of the most important family history sites is provided after the map. The lives of each of George and Aris’ children are then briefly described, with photos of them where they are available.

Next, the details of George and Aris’ family history, as recorded by “family historian” Lyra Hodgin before her death in 1996 are presented (the “Lyra Hodgin Chronicles“), followed by brief notes by Lyra on Aris’ family history and a photo of the Ladd family. The final resting places of George and Aris and most of their children are then shown.

Webpage Credits

Many people get credit for making this webpage possible. In particular, I want to thank Carol Anderson and Rosemarie Karlen for providing most of the background on South Dakota Grimshaws as I was getting started on this project. Thanks (posthumously) also go to their Aunt Lyra (Albert) Hodgin for providing information that she had written (described below on this webpage) to the author, and to her son Al Hodgin, for giving access to Lyra’s files after she died in 1996.

Carol, Rosemarie, Al and Al’s cousin (twice over, since both their parents were siblings – Grimshaws and Hodgins!), Donna Best, provided most of the previously existing photos. Marie (Zastrow) Grimshaw and Dorothy (Zastrow) Grimshaw (sisters – another case of siblings marrying) also provided many photos and abundant family history information. Carol gave me the George and Aris Bible from which the images shown below were taken. Phyllis Grimshaw, Claude Thomas and Sam Bice also provided photos.

George and Aris Grimshaw Photos 

A photo of George and Aris is shown below. According to Carol Anderson, family lore has it that Aris suffered an eye injury as a child when a brother tossed a pair of scissors to her. It is not known if she lost sight in the affected eye. A photo of George as a young man is shown on the webpage for his parents.

George Thomas and Aris (Ladd) Grimshaw. (Photo courtesy of Carol Anderson, June 1999. Date of photo is unknown.)

Aris (Ladd) Grimshaw as a young and older woman. (First photo courtesy of Donna Best, August 2000. Date of photo unknown. Second photo (date also unknown) from Carol Anderson, February 2006).

George and Aris Grimshaw Descendant Chart

A summary descendant chart for George and Aris, including their grandchildren (all deceased), is shown below. More detail on the lives of George and Aris, and their children, is given below, after the group photos of the family.

Summary Descendant Chart of George Thomas and Aris (Ladd) Grimshaw (Also Showing George’s Parents, John and Mary Ann Grimshaw)

 John James Grimshaw* (1 Aug 1829 – 19 Mar 1907) & Mary Ann (Maiden Name Unknown) Mahoney (About 1822 – 13 Oct 1880)

George T. Grimshaw (19 Jul 1849 – 29 Sep 1915) & Aris Phedora Ladd (29 Dec 1848 – 20 Apr 1929)

|——William Allen Grimshaw (22 Mar 1871 – 1944) & Nettie Glass (1870 – 1947)

|——|——Cleatus Grimshaw (12 Dec 1898 – 1943) & Marie Zastrow (21 Apr 1910 – )

|——|——Walter “Doc” Grimshaw (1 Jan 11901 – 16 Sep 1957) & Dorothy Zastrow (1 Mar 1912 – )

|——|——Fay Grimshaw (28 Apr 1903 – 11 Aug 1940)

|——|——Jay Grimshaw (28 Apr 1903 – )

|——Anna Celestine “Tina” Grimshaw (7 Dec 1874 – 19 Oct 1962) & George Monroe Albert (17 Mar 1857 – 5 Jun 1920)

|——|——Anna V Albert (1 Aug 1891 – ) & C.B. “Bones” Bielman

|——|——Otto Albert (19 Jun 1894 – ) & Cornelia Burris

|——|——Lyra Albert (25 May 1899 – 24 Dec 1996) & Francis Hodgin

|——|——Stella Albert (2 Feb 1903 – ) & Charlie Hodgin

|——|——Georgia Albert (18 Jun 1905 – ) & Galo R Miller

|——|——Elsie Albert (1 Mar 1907 – 25 Jan 1974) & Roy O Fletcher (10 Apr 1904 – )

|——Wallace J. Grimshaw (3 Apr 1881 – 1 Apr 1943) & Flora Allison ( – 1958)

|——|——Lee Raymond Grimshaw (21 Nov 1902 – 1981) & Grace Elizabeth Barker

|——|——Floyd Grimshaw (9 Jun 1904 – 1963)

|——|——Elsie Grimshaw (25 Aug 1906 – )

|——|——Joyce Grimshaw (18 Dec 1919 – ) & unk Lenihan

|——Mary Evelyn “Eva” Grimshaw* (13 Jul 1883 – 17 Jul 1964) & 1) Oel Hess

|——Mary Evelyn “Eva” Grimshaw* (13 Jul 1883 – 17 Jul 1964) & 2) Roy (NMI) Thomas (5 Aug 1883 – 29 Nov 1961)

|——|——Gertrude Thomas (20 Aug 1909 – 21 Feb 1987) & Charles “Reddy” Reynolds (1 Apr 1910 – 7 Jan 1976)

|——|——Aris Thomas (13 Apr ___ – 1989) & Edwin Flickenger (1907 – 1988)

|——|——Roy Thomas ( – ca. 1985)

|——|——Claude Weller Thomas (5 Jul 1923 – 2 May 1995) & Maxine Grace Smith

|——Nettie Estelle “Stella” Grimshaw (29 Oct 1885 – 26 Jan 1892)

|——Walter Claude “Claude” Grimshaw (17 Sep 1891 – 7 Feb 1920) & Freda Elaine Sehnert (16 Jun 1892 – 4 Jun 1964)

|——|——George Richard Grimshaw (27 Mar 1918 – 28 Aug 1971) & Judy Burger (29 Aug 1929 – )

|——|——Claude Walter Grimshaw* (5 Oct 1920 – 4 Apr 1983) & Phyllis Lorraine Rogers (9 Jan 1924 – )

Photos of George and Aris’ Family

Shown below are group photos of the children of George and Aris, taken quite a few years apart. The first photo was taken in 1883, and the second picture must have been taken in late 1891, as Walter Claude was born in September, and Nettie Estelle died in January 1892. The next photo may have been taken at or around the time of George’s accidental death in 1915, when Walter Claude was about 24. Aris would have then been about 66, and was to live another 14 years, until 1929.

Group Photo of George and Aris (Ladd) Grimshaw and their first four children. From left to right: Aris, William Allen (older boy, standing), Wallace J., George, Mary Evelyn (“Eva” – young child in George’s lap), and Anna Celestine (“Tina”). (Photo courtesy of Carol Anderson, March 2002. Photo taken in 1883.)

Somewhat Later Group Photo of Children of George and Aris (Ladd) Grimshaw. From Left to Right: Wallace J., William Allen, Mary Evelyn (“Eva”), Anna Celestine (“Tina”), Walter Claude (baby), and Nettie Estelle. (Photo courtesy of Donna Best, June 1999. Date of photo unknown.)

Still Later Group Photo of Aris (Ladd) Grimshaw and Her Children. From Left to Right, Standing: Mary Evelyn (“Eva”), Wallace J., Anna Celestine (“Tina”), and Walter Claude. Aris and William Allen are Seated.. (Photo courtesy of Donna Best, June 1999. Date of photo unknown.)

Family Bible Entries for George and Aris’ Family

George and Aris had a family Bible that passed down through their daughter, Tina, and her descendants. Carol Anderson, one of Tina’s granddaughters, gave the Bible to the author of this website in June 1999. Five pages of the Bible contain the most important records for those interested in the history of the family. These pages, shown ibelow, contain the records of George and Aris’ marriage, the marriages of other family members, and family birth and death records. (Click on the thumbnails to see full-size copies.) Note, in addition to the valuable family records, the elegant cursive of the earliest entries — probably the handwriting of Aris.

Five Pages from Family Bible of George and Aris, Showing Important Family History Information. Click on thumbnails to see full images.

Family History Overview

Little is known of the lives of George and Aris before they left Wisconsin, or how long they had been married before departing westward. Their second child, Anna (“Tina”) was born in Ida Grove, Iowa, in 1874, so the family had departed before that date.

The best available records of the history of George and Aris and their children are the “chronicles” of the family written by Lyra (Albert) Hodgin, one of their granddaughters (daughter of Tina). Lyra prepared several versions, five of which are given further down on this webpage.

A high-level review of South Dakota history is presented near the end of this webpage to provide context for George and Aris’ family history. Apparently the family lived in the area north of Mitchell when they arrived in South Dakota in about 1879. Tina was married to George Albert in 1890, at the age of 15, in the town of Artesian. The Grimshaws then moved for a time to Minnesota, where apparently Walter Claude was born (in September 1891) and Nettie Estelle died of scarlet fever (in January 1892). The family then returned to the area north of Mitchell.

In 1902 George and Tina Albert moved to Oacoma, apparently at least in part to make homestead claims. Initially, however, they settled at a location on American Crow Creek southwest of Oacoma, and were apparently joined soon after by George and Aris and the rest of the Grimshaw family, whose place was just across the creek to the west. A couple of versions of previously published histories of Oacoma and of Lyman County are given below on this website as context for Grimshaw family history.

Coincidentally, the location on American Crow Creek is near two sites of importance in South Dakota history. The Lewis and Clark expedition camped for two days in September 1804, on their trip up the Missouri, just upstream of the confluence of American Crow Creek with the Missouri River, and again two years later on the trip back down the river. And an important early Indian agency, the Lower Brule Agency, was located just west of the confluence of the creek with the River from 1876 to about 1893. A description of the Lewis and Clark Expedition during its stopover at American Crow Creek is given below on this webpage. The Lower Brule Agency is also described, in the histories of Lyman County and Oacoma, further down on this webpage.

On October 30, 1902, not long after arriving in Oacoma, George, William and Wallace all filed claims on land in the Indian Land Cession of 1889, on two different sections further to the west of Oacoma. George “proved up” on his claim and then sold it; the family apparently did not live for any length of time on it. William and Wallace relinquished their claim (probably to George and Tina Albert.) More information on these homesteads is given below.

In about 1906, George, Aris and their children Will, Wallace, Eva and Walter moved back to the area north of Mitchell. But by 1915, George, Aris, Will and Walter were back in Oacoma. Wallace and Eva apparently did not return with them, but eventually moved to Sioux City, Iowa. Will and his parents then moved to Presho, where George died in September 1915 after an accident on a freight wagon.

Will, Tina, and Walter lived out their lives in the area around Oacoma and Reliance as did Aris, who apparently spent much of her time after George’s death with her daughter Tina. Walter Claude married in 1917, but died in February 1920 of an illness. George Albert died in June of that year, apparently of a heart condition. Aris died in 1929 and is buried next to her husband, George, in Presho. More information on George and Aris’ children is given below in their respective sections of this webpage.

South Dakota Places of Interest for George and Aris Grimshaw

The map of South Dakota provided below shows several important places for family events of George and Aris Grimshaw.

Map of central and southeastern South Dakota, showing Letcher, where George and Aris first settled, Oacoma, where they subsequently moved to, and Presho, where they are buried. Also shown is Sioux City, where Roy and Eva (Grimshaw) Thomas lived and are buried.

Photos of Letcher, South Dakota, Where George and Aris First Settled in South Dakota

[pictures to be added]

Map of Oacoma and Chamberlain Area, Showing Important Locations for George & Aris Family History

Because the area around Oacoma was so important in the unfolding of the family history of George and Aris, a detailed map2 of the area is presented below. A topographic map dating back to 1935 was selected because the area is depicted before the inundation brought about (starting in the 1950s) by Fort Randall dam on the Missouri River.

Topographic map of Oacoma, South Dakota area. Sites of principal interest for George and Aris’ family history are indicated by circled letters A to F (Map from U.S. Geological Survey2).


ChamQuad.jpg (463892 bytes)

The principal geographic feature is, of course, the Missouri River, along with the “trench” of the river as indicated by the closely-spaced topographic contour lines, especially upstream and downstream of Chamberlain. (This deep trench was cut during glacial times, when the river had much greater flow due to glacial meltwater; but that’s another story) American Crow Creek flows into the Missouri from the northwest. American Island and Bice Island are the principal identified islands. A loop of White River, which joins the Missouri a few miles downstream, can also be seen in the southwest corner of the map.

The main cultural features are Chamberlain and Oacoma, on opposite sides of the river, and connected by U.S. Highway 16 and the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. State Highway 47 joins Highway 16 from the north at Chamberlain and separates from 16 at Oacoma and heads south on the west side of the river.

The most significant locations for Grimshaw family history are indicated by the circled letters A to G on the map. Their significance is summarized as follows:

  1. Point on east side of American Crow Creek where George and Tina Albert first settled when they arrived in 1902. George and Aris apparently later joined the Alberts and lived across the creek to the west (see elevation point “1356” on the map.) Location is shown on photograph below.
  2. Location of George and Aris’ homestead in northeast quarter (NE1/4) of Section 29, T104N, R72W. Descriptions and pictures of the homestead are given below.
  3. George and Tina Albert homestead location in Section 18, T104N, R72W, where they lived from about 1906 to about 1920. Descriptions and pictures of the homestead are given below.
  4. Oacoma cemetery, where George and Tina Albert are buried.
  5. Confluence of American Crow Creek with the Missouri River, just downstream from where Lewis and Clark camped for two days in September, 1804, and again on their return trip in 1806.
  6. Bice Farm. Owned by Joe Bice and Freda (Sehnert) Grimshaw Bice after Freda’s second marriage, to Joe. As a side note, the original location of the Lower Brule Indian Agency from about 1876 to about 1889 was in Section 26, south of the Bice farmhouse and next to the river. Bice Island was named for Joe’s father, Charles Bice.
  7. Riverview Cemetery. Burial place of Freda and Joe Bice as well as Stella and Charlie Hodgin. (Shown on thumbnail but not on main figure above).

Location on American Crow Creek Where the Alberts and Grimshaws First Settled in 1902

The figure below shows one of the most important locations for the family history of George and Aris. The picture is a southwestward view from Oacoma and shows the former bridge of U.S. Highway 16 across American Crow Creek. This location is indicated by the letter “A” on the map above. The Joe Bice farm can be seen in the middle of the photo, and the “Missouri River Breaks,” the west slope of the Missouri River trench, forms the background in the photo.

Photo of former bridge of U.S. Highway 16 across American Crow Creek southwest of Oacoma. Southwestward view from Oacoma; also includes Joe Bice farm in mid-ground and west slope of Missouri River trench in background. Photo taken about 1972. 

American Crow Creek formerly flowed from right to left (north to south) under the bridge, but when Lake Francis Case was created by Fort Randall Dam in the 1950s, the creek “silted” up at this location, about a mile upstream of the former confluence with the Missouri. Highway 16 was relocated further to the north in anticipation of the inundation. The shore of the lake can be seen at the left of the photo, which was taken in about 1972, during a time of lower lake levels.

When George and Tina Albert settled at this location in 1902, the house was apparently on the east side of the creek and south of the road. This would have been just to the left of the bridge on the photo. Apparently George and Aris, and the rest of the Grimshaw family, joined the Alberts soon thereafter, and lived across the creek (on the west side,) which would have been just above the location of the bridge as shown in the photo.

The farm just across the creek is where Freda (Sehnert) Grimshaw Bice (married Walter Claude Grimshaw) and her second husband, Joe Bice, lived for many years until Freda’s death in 1964. Near the top of the hills in the background, just over the crest and out of view on the right side of the photo, is where the former homestead of George and Aris was located.

Final Resting Place of George and Aris Grimshaw

George and Aris, and most of their children, lived out their lives in South Dakota (and nearby Sioux City). They, and their youngest son, Walter Claude (who died quite young), are buried in Presho. Their oldest son, William, and his wife, Hannah Jeannette (Nettie), are buried in Reliance. Anna Celestine (Tina) and her husband, George Albert are in the Oacoma cemetery. Wallace is buried in the cemetery at Pierre. Eva and Roy Thomas are in the Sioux City, Iowa cemetery. Nettie Estelle, who died as a child is likely to be buried in Minnesota (Edgerton?), but her grave has not yet been located. The gravesites of George and Aris and their youngest son, Walter Claude Grimshaw, are shown below.

Graves of George and Aris Grimshaw at Presho, South Dakota. The two graves can be seen on the left side of the upper photo. The grave of their son, Walter, can also be seen just to the right of the tree on the right side of the upper photo. A closeup of the gravestones of George and Aris is in the lower photo. A closer view of Walter’s grave is given below. (Taken June 1999.)

Rubbings of George and Aris’ gravestones, made in June 1999. 

Gravestone of Walter Claude Grimshaw at Presho, SD. See photo of George and Aris Grimshaw graves above for broader view of this grave. Freda (Sehnert) Grimshaw Bice is buried in the Chamberlain cemetery next to her second husband, Joe Bice. 

George Grimshaw in the Dorothy (Zastrow) Grimshaw Photo Album

One of the most important photo sources for George and Aris Grimshaw and George’s ancestors is in the possession of Kernit Grimshaw of South Dakota; it is described on a companion webpage. The album was previously owned by Kernit’s mother, Dorothy (Zastrow) Grimshaw, spouse of Walter (“Doc”) Grimshaw, one of William Allen Grimshaws sons. The album (called the “DZG Album”) was apparently assembled by William and Nettie. The vast majority of photos in the album are of people and scenes in South Dakota. It has a total of 46 pages; unfortunately, with one or two exceptions, the photos are not labeled.

The photo “album” is actually a catalogue of men’s shirts on whose pages the photos have been glued. It seems apparent that the photos were not well sorted before being glued into the album. One has the impression that a box of photos existed and someone (probably Nettie) decided to put them into the catalogue, perhaps for better presentation. Dorothy indicated that Doc was in the clothing sales business at one time, and it is likely that Bill and Nettie got the catalogue from him

On at least five of the album pages, the character of the photos (some of them being miniature sepias rather than normal black-and-white photos), and the people in them, differ from the rest of the album. These photos are inferred to be pictures from ancestors back in Wisconsin, probably sent to George and Aris or to William Allen and Nettie from relatives there. An attempt has been made to make “educated guesses” (but guesses nevertheless) on the identities of the relatives shown on these older photos. An image of George Grimshaw from the DZG Album is shown below.

George Grimshaw and his brother, Michael Henry, are clearly identifiable on one of the pages of the album; an image showing their picture (on the left) is provided below. The center photo is believed to be of their parents, John James and Mary Ann (Mahoney) Grimshaw and (possibly) Elizabeth (“Lida”) Grimshaw. The right photo is likely to be of the other two brothers, John Etimer and William Alexander Grimshaw.

William Allen and Hannah Jeannette (“Nettie”) (Glass) Merritt Grimshaw

William returned to the Oacoma area from north of Mitchell with his parents in about 1915 and then moved to Presho, where he operated a “dray line” (freight wagon operation). After his father was killed in a wagon accident, he apparently returned to Oacoma, where he and his wife, Hannah Jeanette (“Nettie”), operated a hotel and he worked in Chamberlain for the power company. Later, he worked as a custodian at the Oacoma school. The family then apparently moved to Reliance where William worked on a mail route and again as a school janitor. Their sons Cleatus and Walter (“Doc”) Grimshaw married sisters Marie and Dorothy Zastrow. Twins Fay and Jay were separated at birth, apparently for economic reasons. Jay was raised by his Aunt Rose (Nettie’s sister) in Minnesota and may have lived out his life there. Fay did not marry and died of exposure during a South Dakota winter in Reliance. William and Nettie are buried in the Reliance cemetery, as are two of their sons, Cleatus and Fay. Walter (“Doc”) is buried at Mission, South Dakota. Photos of William and Nettie and their children are shown below. Also shown are the gravesites of William and Nettie Grimshaw.

William Allen Grimshaw as a Young Man. (Photo courtesy of Marie Grimshaw, August, 2000. The clothes he was wearing indicate that this photo may have been taken on the same day as the photo above, in about 1891.)

Bill Grimshaw (right) with siblings Eva (Grimshaw) Thomas (left) and Anna Celestine “Tina” (Grimshaw) Albert. Eva’s husband, Roy Thomas, is on the left. Photo from album belonging to Freda and Joe Bice, added September 2003. Thanks to Rosemarie Karlen for making the identifications. Photo is repeated below in Eva (Grimshaw) Thomas entry.

William Allen in later years (center), with two of his sons, Cleatus (left) and Walter or “Doc”. (Photo courtesy of Dorothy (Zastrow) Grimshaw. Date of photo is unknown.) 

Nettie (Glass) Merritt Grimshaw with her son Jay and sister Rose (Jay was raised by Rose). Nettie is the woman on the right, and Rose is in the center. The identity of the woman on the left is unknown (Photo courtesy of Marie (Zastrow) Grimshaw. Date of photo is unknown.) 

Graves of William and Hanna Jeannette (“Nettie”) Grimshaw at Reliance, South Dakota. The grave behind theirs is that of their son, Fay Grimshaw. Double click on the icons to see the full-size photo. (Taken June 1999; please ignore the incorrect dates stamped on the photos)




George Monroe and Anna Celestine (“Tina”) (Grimshaw) Albert

George Albert and Tina Grimshaw were married at Artesian, SD in 1890. In the spring, 1902, they migrated westward and crossed the Missouri River on a pontoon bridge at Chamberlain. They settled for a time on land owned by Judge Bartine on American Crow Creek, about a mile upstream of the confluence with the Missouri River. At this location, about a mile southwest of Oacoma, they were apparently later joined (across the creek) by George and Aris and Tina’s siblings. Photos of George and Tina are shown below.

Tina Grimshaw as a Young Woman. (Photo courtesy of Al Hodgin, August 2000. Date of photo is unknown.)

George Albert (colorized photo, courtesy of Al Hodgin, August 2000. Date of photo is unknown.)

Sometime after settling on American Crow Creek, the Albert family moved to a location east of Oacoma. The family had plans to migrate further westward, to Sturgis, near the Black Hills, but had to abandon their plans when they lost a tent (that they had just recently purchased) in an unfortunate fire at the store where they had bought it. In about 1906, they obtained homestead land a few miles west of Oacoma (described below), near the edge of the Missouri River trench, and lived there until about the time of George’s death in 1820.

Two of the Alberts’ daughters, Lyra and Stella, married brothers, Francis and Charlie Hodgin, who were part of a homesteading family in the same area as the Albert farm west of Oacoma (and south of Reliance). Lyra and Francis lived in Rapid City and are buried there. Charlie and Stella lived out their lives in Oacoma and are buried in the Chamberlain cemetery. Another Albert daughter, Elsie, married Roy Fletcher, lived out her life on the Fletcher farm at Reliance, and is buried there; Roy is lived until his death on the family farm at Reliance.

Tina outlived George by 42 years (she was about 17 years younger than he) and apparently lived in the area around Oacoma, Reliance and Chamberlain for the remainder of her life. A photo of their daughters Georgia and Elsie with their cousins (sons of Walter Claude and Freda Grimshaw) is shown below. A picture of Tina in her later years, with most of her daughters, is also shown below. Tina and George are buried together in the Oacoma cemetery.

George and Tina Albert with two of their daughters. Photo from album of Bill and Nettie Grimshaw; thanks to Kernit Grimshaw for making the album available.

Georgia and Elsie Albert with their cousins George (left) and Claude Grimshaw. Photo taken approximately 1921, when Claude was about one year old. Thanks to Carol Anderson for providing this photo.

Anna Celestine (Grimshaw) Albert (Center) with Daughters Georgia, Anna and Lyra (Left to Right); Galo Miller, Georgia’s Husband, also shown. (Photo courtesy of Al Hodgin, June 1999. Date of photo is unknown.) 

Anna Celestine (Grimshaw) Albert. Date of photo unknown. (Photo courtesy of Carol Anderson)

Graves of George and Tina (Grimshaw) Albert at Oacoma, South Dakota. (Taken November 1999.)



The Albert and Grimshaw Homesteads,  Sections 18 and 29, T104N, R72W

George, William and Wallace all filed claims in the Indian Land Cession of 1889, which included Lyman County. Their claims were made on October 30, 1902 for 160 acres each in Sections 29 (George) and 18 (William and Wallace) in Township 104 North (T104N) and Range 72 West (R72W). George “proved up” on his claim and sold it, but apparently did not attempt to raise his family on it. A picture of part of his former claim is shown below.

Subsequently, in about 1906, George Albert obtained a claim in Section 18. This is the same year that records show that William and Wallace relinquished their claims. There is considerable overlap in the land area of George’s claim with the earlier claims by the Grimshaw brothers, indicating that William and Wallace may have made arrangements to pass their claims to George Albert. George and Tina subsequently lived on the homestead, and raised their family on it, until about 1920, when George died. A photo taken on the former Albert homestead is shown below.

Site of former Grimshaw homestead in Section 29 near the margin of the Missouri River trench. It would have been difficult to sustain a family on a farm at this site in the late 1800s and early 1900s. (Photo taken June 1999, when sweet clover was in full bloom.) 

Large stone on former site of George and Tina Albert Homestead. Family lore has it that the stone was split in two when George Albert used dynamite on it. The site is typical of prairie on the edge of the Missouri River trench. The stone is a “glacial erratic” boulder that was deposited by a glacier that once extended beyond (west of) the current location of the Missouri. (Photo taken November 1999.) 

Wallace J and Flora (Allison) Grimshaw

Little is known of Wallace’s life after he moved from Oacoma to the area north of Mitchell with George and Aris in about 1906. He apparently did not return to Oacoma with them when they came back in about 1915, but no doubt had
his own family by that time. Apparently he and his wife, Flora (Allison) Grimshaw were divorced. He was reported to have lived at a ranch on the Missouri River near DeGrey (owned by the Mel Byrum family, Paul and Ray), about 30 miles east of Pierre, in the late 1930’s or early 1940s. Coincidentally, the author of this website spent many happy summers with his aunt, uncle, and cousins at this same ranch during from 1956 to 1961, but was unaware of Wallace Grimshaw having lived there previously! Wallace was reported by the Byrums to have thrown an object at a rat where he lived in the house near the river, with the comment that there wasn’t enough food for both him and the rat.

Wallace died of back cancer in 1943 and is buried at Pierre. He and Flora had four children, one of which (Lee) had a career in the U.S. Army and is buried near Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. Aside from the group photo in the figure above, there are no known photos of Wallace as an adult. A picture of his son, Lee, and Grace (Barker) Grimshaw is given below. Photos of the graves of Wallace as well as Lee and his wife are shown below.

Lee and Grace (Barker) Grimshaw; Lee was one of two sons of Wallace and Flora (Allison) Grimshaw. (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Grimshaw. Date of photo is unknown.) 

Grave of Wallace J. Grimshaw at Pierre, South Dakota. Gravestone is in the foreground near the large tree. (Taken November 1999.)


Grave of Lee Raymond Grimshaw at the National Cemetery at Fort Bliss, Texas. Gravestone is the third one in the right-most row on the right side of the first photo. The mountains in the background are the Franklin Mountains, near El Paso, Texas. Details of the gravestone for Lee and Grace are shown, respectively, in the other two photos. Photos taken February 2002; thanks to Dave Evans for taking the photos.


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Roy and Mary Evelyn (‘Eva”) (Grimshaw) Thomas

Eva and Roy Thomas were apparently married before they, with George and Aris, moved from Oacoma to the area north of Mitchell in about 1906. Eva was apparently married previously to Oel Hess. Little is known of the lives of Roy and Eva after their move to Mitchell until they arrived in Sioux City, Iowa, except that they lived for a time in Lesterville, South Dakota before moving on to Sioux City. It appears that Eva’s sister-in-law, Freda, who had lost her husband during her pregnancy with Claude Walter Grimshaw, came to Lesterville to have the baby. Family lore has it that Roy and Eva had a considerable fortune, which was lost in the stock market crash of 1929. Roy and Eva raised their family and lived out their lives in Sioux City and are buried there. Many of their descendants still live in that area. Their pictures, and pictures of their graves, are shown below.

Roy and Mary Evelyn (‘Eva”) (Grimshaw) Thomas (Photo Courtesy of Al Hodgin, August 2000. Date of photo is unknown.)

Roy and Eva Thomas (left) with Eva’s older siblings Anna Celestine “Tina” (Grimshaw) Albert and Bill Grimshaw. Photo from album belonging to Freda and Joe Bice, added September 2003. Thanks to Rosemarie Karlen for making the identifications.

Eva and Tina Grimshaw. Photo from album belonging to Freda and Joe Bice, added September 2003. Thanks go to Rosemarie Karlen for making the identifications.

Gertrude and Aris Thomas, daughters of Roy and Eva Grimshaw, pictured with their grandmother, Aris (Ladd) Grimshaw. Since Gertrude, the older child was born in 1909, the photo was probably taken in 1917 to 1919. Photo courtesy of Rosemarie Karlen and Carol Anderson, January 2002.

Roy and Eva Thomas in Later Years with Their Grandchildren. (Photo Courtesy of Claude Thomas, November 1999. Date of photo is unknown.) 

Grave Markers of Roy and Eva (Grimshaw) Thomas at Sioux City, Iowa. Roy’s is the near marker, and Eva’s is the one on the right. Double click on the icons to see the full-size photo. (Taken November 1999.)


Walter Claude and Freda Elaine (Sehnert) Grimshaw

Walter (who apparently went by “Claude”) remained with his parents through the time of his father’s death in Presho in September 1915. He and Freda Elaine Sehnert, who was from Presho, were married in April 1917 and subsequently lived in Oacoma where they operated a café and bakery. Their first son, George Richard, was born on March 27, 1918. However, Claude contracted pleurisy in early 1920 and died in February. It is unlikely that he knew that a second child “was on the way;” son Walter Claude (who changed his name to Claude Walter as an adult) was born on October 5, 1920 in Lesterville, South Dakota. Walter Claude (Senior) is  buried near his parents in Presho.

Freda subsequently remarried, to Joseph Ornan Bice, and they had one additional child, Stanley. The three boys were raised together in Oacoma and attended public schools there. Photos of Walter Claude, Freda with the two Grimshaw boys, and Freda with her parents and siblings are shown below. Freda and Joe are buried together in the Chamberlain cemetery.

Walter Claude Grimshaw. (Photo from album of Freda (Sehnert) Grimshaw Bice; now in the possession of website author. Date of photo is unknown.)

Photo of W.C. Grimshaw picking flowers in 1916. Date probably written by his wife, Freda. Photo from album of Freda and Joe Bice. Thanks go to Fay Bice for making the album available.

Photo of W.C. Grimshaw (probable) and his wife, Freda (probable). Photo from album of Freda and Joe Bice. Thanks go to Fay Bice for making the album available.

Freda (Sehnert) Grimshaw with Her Two Sons by Walter Claude, George (the Older Boy) and Claude Walter. (Photo courtesy of Al Hodgin. Date of photo is unknown.)

Aris (Ladd) Grimshaw with Her Grandchildren, Claude Walter and George Grimshaw (Sons of Walter and Freda Grimshaw). (Photo courtesy of Al Hodgin. Date of photo is unknown.)

George and Claude Grimshaw with their cousins, Georgia and Elsie Albert. Photo taken about 1921, when Claude was about one year old. Thanks to Carol Anderson for providing this photo, March 2002.

Freda in Later Years with Second Husband, Joseph O. Bice. (Photo courtesy of Phyllis Grimshaw. Date of photo is in the 1950s.) 

Family History of Freda (Sehnert) Grimshaw Bice

Freda Sehnert came to South Dakota with her family from Germany when she was a young child. An entry on the Sehnert family in the Lyman County History is shown below.

Source: Lyman County History [citation needed]

Sehnert, Richard and Anna, Family

Richard and Anna Sehnert were married in Erfurt, Germany, in 1892. They heard of all the free land and wonderful opportunities in the United States so they decided to come with their three children, Elsa, Paul and Freda, to take up a homestead at Dirkstown, Lyman County, S. Dak., where they lived a few years. Here sons Richard and Otto were born.

Due to the scarcity of water and range land, they moved on a farm south of Oacoma at the mouth of White River where they resided until 1906. In the spring of that year, Mr. Sehnert decided that farming was not for him, being a baker by trade. He with his family of eight children moved to Presho and started a bakery which has been in continuous business by members of the family. In those early years the baking business was a difficult one, without machinery or electricity. All the mixing was done by hand and the oven was fired coal or coke which made the shop a very hot and uncomfortable place to work.

For many years, in conjunction with the bakery, Sehnerts served meals ranging in price from 25c to 50c. The cafe was discontinued in 1924 at the time of Mr. Sehnert’s death. Mrs. Sehnert continued the bakery with the help of sons and Louise. In 1932, Mrs. Sehnert passed away. Rudy and wife Christine operated the bakery for a time and in 1933 Carl and Louise bought the establishment from the Sehnert estate and have operated since that time.

Mr. and Mrs. Sehnert’s eight children were some of the Presho and Lyman County’s early settlers and have taken part in many activities of the community.

Elsa (deceased) married Ray Scott. Their five children are Raymond, Pat, Darlene, Glen and Robert.

Freda (deceased) married Claud Grimshaw. Their family consisted of two sons: George and Claud. Claud, Sr., passed away and after a few years Freda married Joseph Bice. One son, Stanley, was born to them.

Paul lives in Clark, S. Dak. He married Wanda Ziegford and they had three children: Ralph. who lost his life in WWII, Melvin who lives near Clark, and Laura Gross who lives at Crandall.

Otto married Ruth Wade. Both have passed on. Their son, Keith, lives in Lincoln, Nebr.

Richard is married and has five children: Robert, Maurice, Connie, Patti and Cheryl.

Rudy married Christine Matz. They have two daughters, Marilyn and Eileen.

Louise married Carl Garnos and they have operated the original Sehnert Bakery for 33 years. They have two sons: Verle Robert married Patricia Langland (they have two daughters, Kristin and Kara, and live in Fremont, Nebr.), and Gordon, who married Beth McFarlane of Chester, England (they have three children, William, Heather and Richard Nels and they live in Watertown, S. Dak.).

Walter married Lenita Ackerman. They have a son, Walter, who is married to Jean Leisy (they have three children). Judith married Philip Olson who passed away in August 1966. Four children were born to them.

Freda Sehnert (Back Row) in a Family Portrait with her Parents, Richard and Anna (Grassman) Sehnert. The identifications are as follows: back row – Richard, Freda, Paul and Otto; middle row – Anna, Richard, and Elsa; front row – Louise, Rudolph, and Walter. (Photo courtesy of Sam Bice. Date of photo is unknown. Identifications from Bob Scott, August 2005)

Origins of George and Aris (Ladd) Grimshaw

George Grimshaw’s origins are well documented and are described on webpages for his parents John James and Mary Ann (Mahoney) Grimshaw (click here), grandparents George and Charlotte (Menard) Grimshaw (click here) and likely great-grandparents William and Elizabeth (Zephaniah) Grimshaw click here. George was born on Wolfe Island, Ontario, on July 19, 1849; a copy of his baptism is shown below. It reads as follows:

[p. 558?, August 1849, Registry of Baptisms continued, Entry 212]

George Thos. Grimshaw.     On the twenty-sixth day of August one thousand eight hundred and forty nine, I the undersigned Priest, baptized George Thos. born on the nineteenth July ____ of the lawful Marriage of John Grimshaw and Mary Anne Mahony of Wolf Island. Sponsors Hiram? Hitchcock and Catharine McReore?

P.J. Maddux? [other entries on the page indicate first name of Patrick]

Record of baptism for George Thomas Grimshaw, from St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kingston, Ontario. Image from photocopy provided by Bob Grimshaw, Modesto, California.

In about 1862 (when George was about age 13, according to census records1), his family migrated to Wisconsin and settled in the southwestern part of that state. George and Aris were married at Richland Center, Wisconsin on December 5, 1869. At an unknown date after their marriage (no later than 1874), they left the state and migrated westward. They arrived in South Dakota in about 1879 and lived out their lives there. George died on September 29, 1915 as a result of a fall from a freight wagon.

Aris Phedora Ladd was born in New York on December 29, 1948, and she came with her family to Richland Center, Wisconsin. She died of natural causes (heart failure) in South Dakota in 1929. Rosemarie Karlen has done a good deal of work on the history of Aris (Ladd) Grimshaw. Her research is shown below.


From Rosemarie Karlan, correspondent.


We have fascinating legends of Mary Sprague. She is said to be of “the Smiths of Virginia” As far as we can determine, she was born in Vermont so the “Smiths” must have traveled. Their daughter, Aris Ladd Grimshaw, told that she grew up where she could hear Niagara Falls but never saw them. Another puzzling legend is “Sprague dirt.” Her son, David Ladd, was “dark complected” (as was a nephew Claude Grimshaw), attributed to “Sprague dirt” by the Ladds. I would love to know what this is all about. We have corresponded, now, with descendants of Mary’s son, David Ladd, and they at first told us that Mary was an “Iroquois Princess” but as far as I know now they have backed the Indian blood thing off at least another generation. They also say that she originally spelled her name Meary.

Mary kept her age a mystery. In 1870 Census at Dayton, Richland Center, Wisconsin she was 45, in 1880 in Jackson twp. Boone County, Iowa she was 56, in 1900 Butler twp., Sanborn County, SD her birth date was listed as Feb. 1821. I’m inclined to believe this birth date because it also agrees with her age of 81 years on her will dated Nov. 17, 1902. It doesn’t agree with Aunt Lyra’s chart (she has “born 1829, died 1904”). Her tombstone says 1820. What can you expect? Her daughter, Aris, our great-grandmother, had the wrong birth date put on her husband’s stone so he wouldn’t be younger than she was.

William doesn’t have as many legends. It is said that he was 6 foot 7-1/2 inches tall. This has to be so, because why would they make up that extra half-inch. We find from the censuses that he was first a sawyer in NY and then a farmer in WI. He is said to have died because a tree fell on him

They moved a lot. Wouldn’t it be great to know just how they made these moves! I wonder if they went by boat across the Great Lakes. It was about the time they started using steamboats on the lakes. We have them (Wm. Ladd and Mary) in New York, then maybe Canada. (Son, Wallace is listed as having been born in Canada)

We have recently made contact with Suzan Ladd, a descendent of son, David who says they have David and his family on a census in Iowa, next, in 1860 and they have a military record for him in the Civil War.

By 1870 Mary and William were in Wisconsin and newlywed daughter Aris and George Thomas Grimshaw were living with them. William died there in 1871. (We don’t have any record of this death though)

Mary was living next in Jackson Boone County Iowa in 1880 living with her son Wallace and near her son, David and family. Her brother Hela Sprague lived in Fayette County too. On this same census was another Sprague family: William 35 (probably isn’t Hela’s son, a William born 1866 is buried in their plot) his wife Lizbeth 28 and Anna M. 8 and Kerry? A. 2.

In 1885, Mary and son, Wallace, lived together in Sanborn County, Dakota Territory, with David and family living nearby. Her brother Hela Sprague and his family lived there also. He died in 1901 and is buried there where Mary is, in the Prairie Home Cemetery out in the country in Butler twp., Sanborn County, SD. Three of Hela and Sarah’s children died in late 1893. She obtained a patent on 160 acres in Sec 15, 105N 060W in Sanborn County 6/8/1902 and Wallace had a patent on 40 acres, Sec. 2, 105N, 060W, dated 4/27/1889. Wallace died Nov. 29, 1896, age 41, leaving Mary alone. There is a story about Wallace having been operated on for appendicitis at home.

When Mary wrote her will November 17, 1902 she provided: individual bequests to her children and grandchildren and designated money for a tombstone for herself and Wallace. Her son, David and his family were living in Tripoli, Iowa at the time; and Aris was living at Oacoma SD.

The earliest Census we have for them is 1850 New York Census – St. Lawrence County (my copy is blurry but I have heard that this is Lawrenceville, NY) shows entries 509, 521

WILLIAM A. LADD, age 31, male, occupation Sawyer, born NY,

MARY M. LADD age 24, born NH, David A. Ladd age 7 (? could be 4) male, born ditto same as Mary, ARICE F. LADD (this is phonetic spelling; her name is Aris Phedora) age 2, F. born ditto same as Mary, Anna C. Ladd, age 21, F. born ditto same as Mary.

(Note, we don’t know who Anna C. Ladd was but we know someone of that name was married in Dayton, Richland, WI to Lyman Bingham, Farmer, Feb. 16, 1868 subscribing witnesses were Wm A. Ladd and Asher Ladd. Father and Mother of wife were Wm. A. Ladd and Mary M. Ladd. They weren’t old enough to be her parents but maybe they adopted her)

This New York census is handwritten and on further study, it looks like they are all born in NH because the H or Y looks similar to the H on Farm Hand elsewhere. In a later census in 1870 in Wisconsin they were all listed as coming from Vermont. What is St. Lawrence Co. NY now could have been NH or Vermont when they were born; I haven’t researched this.

We have the 1851 Census of Frontenac County (Wolfe Island) It shows Grimshaws living there This may or may not have had anything to do with Mary & William.

Then we have the August 10, 1870 Census of Dayton Richland Center County Wisconsin.

WILLIAM A. LADD age 51, farmer, 800 value of real estate, 100 value of personal estate, born in Vermont.

MARY A. LADD age 45, keeping house, born in Vermont.

David A. Ladd, age 24 farmer, 200 value of personal estate, born in Vermont.

Wallace Ladd, age 15 work on farm, born Canada (107-106)

GEORGE GRIMSHAW, age 21, farm laborer, born Canada

ARIS P. GRIMSHAW, age 22, at home, born New York (same location 107-106)(living with her folks)

Same Census: The Grimshaw family had moved from Wolf Island to Richland WI

Notice from this census Wallace Ladd was born in Canada approx 1855; they were near the border, could have just gone up there; but maybe they lived there for a while

William A. Ladd died soon after this census. November 29, 1871. We believe that a tree fell on him. It is interesting to note that the great Chicago fire and the fire that destroyed Peshtigo, WI happened in October that year. More than a million acres of timberland were burned.

Anna Celestine Grimshaw (our grandmother) was born in Bremmer Co., Iowa, near Olewein Iowa. Dec. 7, 1874.

The Census for June 17, 1880 Franklin Twp. Bremmer Co. Iowa shows:

GEORGE GRIMSHAW 30 farmer, born in Canada, ARIS GRIMSHAW 32 wife, keeping house, born NY, William Grimshaw 8, son, born Iowa. TYNE GRIMSHAW (our grandmother Anna Celestine) age 5, daughter, born Iowa.

The Census for June 15 1880 Iowa shows

MARY LADD age 56 keeping house and her son Wallace A., Age 24, a farmer. Her other son, David, age 34 is listed there with his family

Next comes the Census Dist. No. 94 County of Sanborn, Territory of South Dakota 1885 shows Mary Ladd living with her son W.A. Ladd single, farmer, born Canada, father born Vermont. She is 60, widowed, farmer, born New York, father born New York, mother born New York. Her other son, David, is listed with his family as is her brother, Hela Sprague with his family.

A photo of the Ladd family is shown below.

Ladd family. From left to right are Dave, Mamie (standing), Eliza, Bert (standing), and Myrtle. The boy on the right has not been identified. (Photo courtesy of Carol Anderson, June 1999. Date of photo is unknown.).


Lyra Hodgin Notes on Ladd Family (also provided below on this webpage)

Lyra wrote a few words about the Ladds in one of the renditions of the Grimshaw family history (). She also wrote a piece “dedicated” to the Ladds, which was provided to the Website Author in 1984; it is shown below.

We know even less about the Ladds than the Grimshaw side of the family. Aris Ladd and George Grimshaw apparently were married at Richland Center, Wisconsin, so I assume that both families lived there at the time. However, I remember clearly of my mother saying her grandmother Mary A. Ladd, mother of Aris, had lived for years where she could hear the roar of Niagra (sic) Falls but never did see it. I did hear my mother say her grand mother was born in “York State” as they referred to New York. However it was both families seemed to be at Richland Center later.

We heard very little about Great Grandfather Ladd except that he was (a) very tall man 6 ft, 7-1/2 inches in his stocking feet and that a tree fell on him and killed him at 54 years of age, three years before my mother was born.

Mary Ladd must have come to S.D. about the time George and Aris did or with her sons. She and her son Wallace Ladd lived on a farm near Letcher S.D. Also there was a Dave Ladd I assume was a son too as my mother called him Uncle Dave. Whether he left there or died I dont know.

My mother stayed with her grandmother some when she was a child as her grandmother had arthritis in her hands so badly it was difficult for her to do things. Mother wasnt very well so they thought it best for her to help her grandmother a bit and get away from her small brothers as she took care of them a lot. I dont know where they lived then but likely near Letcher, S.D.

Wallace Ladd took sick late one summer and seems it was appendicitis. That would have been in the 1890s, possibly 95 or 96 so hospitals were almost nonexistant (sic) in rural towns. My sister Anna said she remembered being at Great Grandmas with our mother and the Dr. operated on Wallace on the kitchen table. One would wonder how he ever survived such an ordeal but he did live awhile as I remember Mother telling us of the neighbors all coming and harvesting his crops while he sat at the window and cried, though he had always been ready to help others. He only lived a short time. G. Grandma Ladd must have stayed on the farm awhile as I remember the folks saying that Uncle Will Grimshaw and Aunt Net stayed with her for awhile. She bought a house in Letcher and lived there the rest of her life. She became ill after Geo. Grimshaw and Aris were at Oacoma and they went back and took care of her until her death in 1904. My mother took Stella and I, aged one and five, and went to see her.

Grandma Ladds maiden name was Sprague. The inclosed (sic) sheet of family tree is something Stella Hodgin had. I dont quite understand the note below Mary Spragues name saying her maiden name was Smith as that information was never mentioned in our family. I seem to remember of Lee Grimshaw saying something of the sort about kin of Pocahantas. In reading over a letter I had from my oldest sister Anna I see she said G. Grandma Ladd had such strong feelings about Indians that our mother used to wonder if she came by her coal black hair that way. Her hair never did get grey (sic). I also see she says that she wasnt sure if Dave Ladd was our grandmothers brother or uncle but that he never came to S.D.

Photos of Gravesites Near Letcher

[to be added]

Details of Family History: The “Lyra Hodgin Chronicles”

Lyra (Albert) Hodgin, granddaughter of George and Aris (daughter of Tina Albert), had a strong interest in the origins of the South Dakota Grimshaws and was the “chronicler” of family history before her death in 1996. She wrote different renditions of the family story at different times but, unfortunately, did not usually date them. This section presents several of these renditions from different sources.

The first rendition presents a few notes on the family history that Lyra provided to the author during a visit in the Summer of 1983. Rendition 2 contains notes received by the author from Lyra in April 1984. Rendition 3 was entitled “Our Ancestors” and came from materials in Al Hodgin’s files that were obtained in June 1999. Renditions 4 and 5 also came from Al Hodgin’s files and were obtained at the same time, but were untitled.

“Lyra Hodgin Chronicles”, Rendition 1

Provided to Website Author by Lyra in 1984

The Geo. Grimshaw family lived in or near Ida Grove, Iowa in Bremer Co. when my mother was born. They also lived in Minnesota at one time near Adrian or Worthington but after 1902 spent most of the time in Lyman Co S.D. Before coming to Oacoma they lived around Letcher. Great- Grandma Ladd and Mothers uncle Wallace lived at Letcher too. Wallace died as a fairly young man of appendicitis. George (T.) Grimshaw worked on the survey crew that made the survey for the Milwaukee R.R. and came as far as Scenic. He also worked on the R.R. bridge. He was a stone mason by trade but there was a depression in the late 1800s and early 1900s and little building was done.

He filed on a claim five miles east of Oacoma about 1904 but sold it soon after he proved up on it.

Mary Mahoney (mother of George (T.) Grimshaw) was born in County of Cork Ireland. Came to Canada by boat. Her husband and baby were buried at sea. She lived where she skated on the St. Lawrence River. They told us she crossed the river on ice to buy things in the U.S. She married John Grimshaw who was a sailor on one of the Great Lakes. I do not know which one. In the early 1900s he lived in Richland Center, Wis. with his daughter Lyda Ritchie. He came to visit in Oacoma, S.D. in the summer of 1906 with his son George (T.) Grimshaw. I remember him.

(The following section was actually written first in the original.)

W.A. Ladd
Aris Phedora Ladd

Mary Sprague
Wallace Ladd

Mary Sprague apparently had two brothers as my mother mentioned a Will Sprague and Uncle Healy Sprague who lived near Letcher, S.D. Our great grandmother Ladd lived in Letcher at the time she died (1904) but must have had a place in the country at the time Wallace Ladd died as my mother mentioned the neighbors harvesting the crops at the time her son Wallace was ill before (he) died after having an operation for appendicitis that was performed in their home on the kitchen table. Great grandpa Ladd had died some years before. A tree fell on him. He was very tall, 6 ft, 7-1/2 inches they said.

“Lyra Hodgin Chronicles”, Rendition 2

Provided to Website Author by Lyra in 1984

Our knowledge of the Grimshaw family is quite limited. It begins with John Grimshaw who was a Canadian who was a sailor on the Great Lakes we were told by his son George (T.) Grimshaw, who was my Grandfather. I do not know which Lake but since he lived in Wisconsin the first we knew of him I have an idea it was Superior. However George G. was born in Canada so it could have been one of the others.

John G. married Mary Mahoney, who came from County of Cork in Ireland probably about the time of the great potato famine in Ireland. Her husband and baby died on the trip over and were buried at sea. She was a tiny person Grandpa G. (her son) told us. He said when she carried two pails of water they almost touched the ground. He also told us that she was a fleet skater. It could be that they lived in Eastern Canada then as he said she skated across the St. Lawrence River to buy things in the U.S. He said she could out skate the revenue men to keep from paying duty on things. They would have had to live in Ontario Canada then, but I dont know if this was after she was married or not. I do know Grandpa G. was born in Canada as he told us of being called a “Canuck” after coming to the U.S. and to him then those were fighting words. He was born Catholic and was an Altar boy he told us. One of his duties as such was to help carry the priest home from the saloon, or what ever it was called after Mass every Sunday, so he gave it up.

There were five children, George, Mile or Michael, Lida and Alex, John or Johnnie.

The only place of residence we know of was Richland Center Wisconsin which is some distance from the Lake so he, John G., must have retired from sailing. It was there that George married Aris Ladd. They had six children. William Allen, Anna Celestine (my mother), Wallace, Mary Evelyn, who was always called Eva, Nettie Estelle always called Stella, and Walter Claude always called Claude. Stella died when she was only six years old of scarlet fever.

I do not know how long Grandpa and Grandma G. lived at Richland Center. I do know that my mother, always called Tina, was born in Iowa. Guess the Tina grew out of the name Celestine.

The next I know is of their being in S.Dak. near Forestburg, which is north of Mitchell. It was there that Tina met and married George Albert in 1890. Claude was only eleven months older than George and Tinas daughter Anna. They said she called him Uncle Claude when they were just little and playing together.

Both families lived in that area until the spring of 1902. By that time Otto and Lyra (myself) were added to the Albert family and we had been living at Alpena, S.D. At that time land was opening up to settlement west of the Missouri River and my folks started out with horses and hayrack loaded with their possessions and trailing some cows. I was not yet three years old so remember very little of the trip. We were caught in a late (April) spring storm just East of Chamberlain and stayed in the upstairs of an elderly couple until we could go on again. We crossed the river on the pontoon bridge. We moved into a house a little west and south of Oacoma along the creek and not far from the river.

I cant remember when Grandpa and Grandma Aunt Eva and Uncle Claude came but do know they lived across the creek west of us when Stella was born in Feb. of 1903.

Grandpa filed claim to a place five miles west out of Oacoma. At that time one could get 160 acres. You were to build a house and plow a certain number of acres and live there a certain number of years or months and then the land was yours. People just built shanties and went out and stayed a few days at a time as there was no way to make a living there at that time. The would plow up the required ground and some never planted a thing on it even. Then they would sell for what ever they could get for it. It was the summer of 1904 that Grandpa and Grandma used to go out to their place. I was five years old. I remember of saying it was as far as I was years old.

I used to go with them quite often. Mostly we drove a single buggy with Old Bridget, their horse but I remember of walking with them once. Dont know why we had to walk. Id run ahead and then sit down and wait for them. I remember it was quite a pull up that hill just west of town and when Grandma sat down to rest she sat on a cactus. There were several other homesteaders out there and they would get together evenings to play cards.

At that time the railroad only came as far as Chamberlain. By 1903 the railroad bridge was built. I know Grandpa worked with a bridge crew but am not sure if then or later as they always had to rebuild and repair then as it would go out when the ice broke up in the spring and also in June when the river (was) way high.

Grandpa went west with the survey crew probably in the summer of 1905 as the survey crew went ahead of the builders. After the bridge was built they could bring the steel and materials.

Grandma and Aunt Eva and I suppose Claude (he would have been 15 then) went with Grandpa. They lived in tents. I dont know if the men had to furnish their own board or what. Only know they went. Grandpa went with the crew as far as Scenic. There he bought Grandma a Black Hills gold ring. That was the first we ever knew of such.

They spent the next few years in Oacoma and then went back East of the river for a few years. Uncle Will and Wallace were both there. They had married and had families. They came back to Oacoma again later and Will and family came too.

The summer of 1915 Uncle Will, who had a dray line in Oacoma, decided to go to Presho. Grandpa and Grandma and Claude went along and the men worked together. It was at that time that Claude met Freda Sehnert. That was before trucks were used for hauling freight and such. They were hauling corn cribbing one day and Grandpa was helping. He picked up a pair of gloves that Claude had discarded because they had caught on the wire in the corn cribbing not realizing why Claude had discarded them. When he threw the roll of cribbing the gloves caught and threw him off the dray to the ground. It must have broken his neck as he only lived a few hours after they brought him home. That was the fall of 1915.

As you know it was while in Presho Claude met Freda Sehnert and from this point you must know better than I about their life together which was so short.

It was during that winter time in Presho that Claude found “Doc” Grimshaw down town intoxicated and almost had to carry him home and “Doc” was bout as heavy as Claude. Claude then had pleurisy and from then on always had trouble when he had a cold. When the flu struck him the pleurisy came too and it was just too much. That was after they were married of course and had lived in Oacoma.

Will Grimshaw had come back to Oacoma too. Grandma Grimshaw stayed with them. Aunt Net, Wills wife ran the hotel there and Uncle Will worked in Chamberlain and Grandma helped Aunt Net, washed dishes etc.

She later washed dishes in a restaurant in Presho. She liked to do for herself and did so for a number of years. My mother, Tina, ran a little cafe in Reliance after my father died. It was understood that Grandma could always have a home there any time. She died there in April of 1929.

I hope I have given you some idea of the family. If there are any questions would be glad to try to answer.

Grandpa and Grandma and Uncle Claude were very special to me I suppose because I was with them so much as a child. Claude was more like a big brother as he was only nine years older. Uncle Wallace never came west and Aunt Eva married and left.

Uncle Will and Aunt Net stayed around that area until they died. They had four boys, Cleatus, Walter (“Doc”), Fay and Jay who were twins. Aunt Nets sister took Jay when he was a baby and he stayed with her. Fay never married. All three had drinking problems and died quite young. Uncle Will had problems too for a few years but over came them.

Claude did drink some in his late teens and early twenties when they had gone back east of the river but never to any extent afterward. There were those who would have been only too glad to let me know if such was the case.

“Lyra Hodgin Chronicles”, Rendition 3

“Our Ancestors”

Material from Al Hodgin Files, Obtained June, 1999

The first we know of the Grimshaw family is of John who was a Canadian. We have no idea of where he was born or the year. We were told by George Grimshaw (our grandfather and son of John) that his father was a sailor on the Great Lakes. George was raised a Catholic and was an altar boy he said. One of his Sunday duties was to help carry the priest home who was so drunk he couldnt walk. That seemed to put an end to his association with the Catholic Church.

To go back to John G., he married Mary Mahoney. They pronounced Mahoney with accent on the first syllable. She was born in Ireland in County Cork we were told and her husband and baby died coming to Canada and were buried at sea. She must have lived in Ontario, Canada, as we were told by our grandfather that his mother was a very good ice skater. She would skate across the St. Lawrence River to buy things in the U.S. and could skate faster going home than the revenue men to keep from paying duty. She was a very tiny woman he said. When she carried two pails of water they almost touched the ground. We dont know when or where she met John G(rimshaw) but I think George was born at Richland Center, Wisconsin. She must have died fairly young. Her death date is 1880 and Johns 1907. There were five children, George, Mike, Alex, Johnnie and Lyda. We do not know anything about Georges brothers but I remember of our mother talking of her Aunt Lyda, who lived in Richland Center. She was postmistress there for years they said and I faintly remember of their talking of Johnnie being in S.D. after George came. Lydas married name was Ritchie.

George Grimshaw married Aris P. Ladd in Richland Center. They had six children, Will, Anna (our mother), Wallace, Eva, Claude and Stella. Stella died of scarlet fever when she was six years old. Other children in town had had it very light. Grandpa and Grandma said. I remember their telling me when I was a little girl that the night before she took sick she was playing outside and didnt want to come in. Grandpa said he told her there would be another day to play. She took violently ill during the night and only lasted a very short time. I do not know where they lived at the time. Possibly Minn.

Anna Grimshaw (our mother) married George Albert Feb. 22, 1890 in Artesian, S.D. Both of their families were living in that area. Mother was just fifteen and papa was thirty-three. They must have moved to Minnesota as sister Anna was born at Edgerton, Minn. Im quite sure Grandpa and Grandma lived there at that time too as I remember of their mentioning other towns near Edgerton. Claude Grimshaw probably was born there too, as he was only eleven months older than Anna. They said she always called him Uncle Claude when they were just little folks. He was my favorite Uncle as he was nearer our age than any of the others and most of the time Grandma and Grandpa lived near us when we were growing up.

Both families must have moved back to S.D. fairly soon as brother Otto was born in S.D. They lived in or near Letcher, S.D. and I was born there too. Grandpa and Grandma Albert had homesteaded a mile straight west of Letcher. Both Grandpa Albert and our father (George) were carpenters and cabinet makers. They build the house Grandpa and Grandma lived in but that was in hard times and there was not much building being done.

When I was about two or 2-1/2 years old (1901-2) we lived on a place near Wessington Springs, S.D. that was irrigated. Our father was a very good gardener and raised celery I remember their saying. He also had a carpenter shop with workbench and such. I always had a faint memory of playing with the wood curls that fell on the floor when he was planing boards. It seemed sort of like it was a dream. I also remember watching for him to come home from town down a long tree-lined lane and the smell of his wet buffalo overcoat that smelled sort of like a wet dog.

We left there in April of 1902 and came west to Oacoma, S.D. with a couple of wagons. Since I was not quite three years old, I have only some dim memories. We were caught in an early spring snowstorm just east of Chamberlain and stayed a day or so with an elderly couple until we could go one.

The only way to get across the Missouri River at that time was by ferryboat or on the pontoon bridge, which was supported only by pontoons. Our folks chose the bridge I imagine because it was free.

At that time west of the river (Missouri) was considered frontier country, sort of wild and I suppose the folks had talked of what we might find. They said after they crossed the river that day I saw some cows and said they were deer. Someone corrected me and my reply was “I said they was deers and they was deers.” I was never let to forget that remark long after I was grown. If I happened to disagree with some of the family, they would say “I said they was deers and they was deers.” I can faintly remember a bit of the drive to Oacoma from the river as the mud was very bad and our horses had an awful struggle to make it. They were leading some cows too.

We moved to a place about a mile perhaps less, slightly west and south of Oacoma close to American Creek and also fairly close to the Missouri River. It belonged to John Bartine who was a lawyer in town. He had a dream of irrigating the place from the creek. I suppose our father had made an agreement before we came but I do not know nor do I know what crop they planned to raise. However the irrigation scheme didnt work. The wooden troughs leaked among other things and in summer the creek was quite low. Papa did raise lots of vegetables of all kinds without it.

Stella was born in Feb. 1903. By that time Grandpa and Grandma Grimshaw were there too. They lived across the creek from us. Uncle Claude had a little pug dog named Queen. She used to swim across the creek to come to our house and finally stayed all of the time.

There was not carpenter work for our father and I wonder now what we lived on. We milked cows and sold milk. I can remember of helping Otto carry milk pails. I suppose I was five or six when I started.

There were no trains west of the river then. I can remember of hearing train whistles at times, I suppose from Chamberlain, and it seemed to me it came from some fairyland. At that time the Government had opened up land for settlement. A person could get 160 acres of land for a small filing fee and a promise to build a house and plow up a certain number of acres and live there a certain length of time. Then they could “prove up” as it was called and get title to the land. The Milwaukee Railroad was helping to promote this along with plans to build the railroad on west. I think this was what had prompted our folds to come west.

Grandpa Grimshaw got work with the railroad, with the crew that did the surveying. They must have had to furnish their own shelter and board – at least I remember Grandma and Aunt Eva were with him part of the time possibly in summer of 1902 or 1903. Likely the latter.

The railroad building crews followed fairly close behind. We sold milk to one camp one summer. They had big cook cars and the railroad company furnished all of the supplies not depending on local stores. That would have been in 1905.

The railroad bridge building must have been going on or started earlier as it was finished in 1905 and then the building material could be shipped in I remember now the camp had had railroad cars on a siding east of town for the workmen and what they called the cook car where we took the milk. Later it moved west of town as the work progressed and it was there we heard our first phonograph.

As the railroad was finished people would come in in immigrant cars, boxcars with all of their possessions from horses to household goods – going to land they had filed on. They also came in covered wagons and such.

The place we lived on was on a road that led to the Missouri River. The ferryboat landed there and people would drive by most every day. Some stopped and camped in our yard overnight. I remember one family who came in the house for breakfast or something. At least the woman combed her hair with our comb and next day we discovered we had head lice. One would have thought the world had come to an end. We all got our hair combed with a fine-toothed comb dipped in kerosene and then shampooed until all signs were gone. I was only five but never forgot it.

Grandpa filed on a claim west of town about five miles and built a “claim shanty” as those houses were called, one room of one layer of boards covered with tar paper on the outside, with a “car roof” not a gable, and it was tar papered. A good many didnt have a floor even. People didnt really live there as no way to make a living so they stayed nights now and then. I used to go with Grandpa and Grandma quite often. I remember when it rained the roof leaked on our bed and mosquitoes were so bad we made a smudge o green grass on top of the stove to smoke them out as there were no screens on door or windows. Grandpa sold his land as soon as he got his title as a good many others did.

Our father planned to come on west to about Sturgis the spring of 1906. He had ordered a tent through one of the stores and we were going on in wagons again. However, the store burned one night along with the tent and that ended those plans. I remember I was terribly disappointed as I thought it would be fun.

Papa brought a lot and moved a house on it. It was east of town (Oacoma) and south of the road that led into town. This would have been in 1907.

I should have mentioned earlier that Oacoma was really a frontier town with two saloons, two hotels each with livery barns. The town was “shot up” as they used to say, once either the first or second year we were there. Cowboys rode into town shooting all directions and even rode their horses into the saloons. There was still a lot of cattle stealing going on. John Bartine, on whose place we first lived, was a lawyer who later became judge, had a great deal to do with helping to convict and put a stop to the rustlers. The town had been first called Gladstone, one of the hotels was called the Gladstone. I dont know why or at what time it was changed to Oacoma. There had been an Indian agency on the west side of the creek earlier. It was moved to what is now Lower Brule agency north of Reliance. Some of the buildings from the agency were moved across the creek to Oacoma. Two that I know of were the Congregational Church which was on Main St. and burned after I was grown. The other is a very large house that is still standing. At the time we moved there it was occupied by the Kenniston family who owned one of the stores. About 1912 the William Williamsons lived in it. He was a lawyer and later became a U.S. Senator. When M.Q. Sharp was governor he bought it and I believe was the last real tenant. His daughter later gave it to the State Historical Society. It is said the front porch was where an Indian treaty was signed when the house was at the agency across the creek.

In earlier times the Indians were issued food and other things from warehouses called “issue houses” but by the time we were there they were given money every three months then they would come to town and camp until their money was gone and then go back to the reservation. When we lived on the Bartine place they always camped across the road from us and in summer when our father had garden things they would come to get things for their stew. They always had lots of moccasins made and used them to trade for the vegetables. We kids always wore them in summer. Otto (my brother) and I used to go over and I remember watching the squaws making the moccasins. They asked us to stay to eat one time. We saw melon seeds and such in their stew kettle and took off for home in a hurry.

To go back to family – by the time we moved to our own place we had more cows. We still sold milk but we had bought a separator and mother made butter too. That first summer 1906 our Great-grandfather, John Grimshaw, came from Wisconsin and spent tome time with us and Grandpa and Grandma Grimshaw. They had told us how they made maple syrup and sugar in Wisconsin and Great-grandpa John Grimshaw sent us some a number of times. He died the next year.

After the trip west to file on land fell through our father found some land west of Oacoma and filed on it probably in 1906. That was the year Elsie was born (1907). Stella and Georgia were born at the Bartine place, Stella in 1903 and Georgia in 1905.

Our father built a claim shanty on the place but we didnt go there to live until later. He would go out and stay some, made hay and brought it back for the cattle. Grandpa and Grandma Grimshaw decided to run the restaurant and mother helped her so we left the house and stayed there since papa was gone most of the time. I cant remember what he did about the cows. In the spring Mother and the small children went to the country and I stayed and helped Grandma and went to school. Grandma must have quit the restaurant as I stayed with Aunt Eva too. She was married and lived in Oacoma at that time. I stayed with them and started to school the next year as there was no school close enough out in the country but when warm weather came I went home and Stella and I walked three miles to a school. The next year a school was moved and located east of the Hodgin place and we went there from then on.

Our family never became very prosperous. Our place hadnt very much farmable land. We milked cows, mother made butter in the cool months and sold cream in summer as we only had a cave or cellar to keep things cool. We always had some pigs to sell and some hay and corn too. Papa always raised a big garden and we always canned and took care of that. Mother dried corn as well as canned it. Our cellar was always full. We ate tomatoes from the first ripe ones till the last and canned until the last jar was full. Green beans, limas, squash, onions and turnips and beets and cucumbers. The latter for pickles canned. In fact we lived very well as I look back. There was always wild fruit, chokecherries, plums and buffalo berries for jams and jellies and papa raised ground cherries that made such good preserves or pies.

About the time we went to the farm Grandpa and Grandma Grimshaw and Aunt Eva and her husband and Uncle Claude went back to Letcher. They rented a farm for a year or two. In winter there wasnt much for Otto to do at our place so he went back there and picked corn as farmers there always needed extra help.

Our father wasnt very well as he had had a heart condition for years. He did go to a Dr. but at that time they couldnt tell much about it. He no doubt had had high blood pressure for years as he learned much later that his heart was terribly enlarged.

Life in the country was simple but pleasant though we had practically no conveniences. We had to haul water several miles in barrels to use for cooking and drinking. It was terribly warm in summer and in winter we had to bring it in the house in a barrel or it would freeze solid. We melted snow to wash with in winter and hauled it from the dam in summer and either washed on a board or with a hand-run washing machine. Early times we had to fire up the cook stove even in hot weather and later had simple two- or three-burner kerosene or gasoline stoves. We always fired up the range to heat flat irons to iron clothes and in those days everything had to be ironed. It made for one very hot job on hot summer days, and at canning time it was the same.

Our social life was simple too. In summer part of the time there would be a church in the school house when a minister came out from town. Once in awhile a picnic late years in the Hodgin grove and most always a 4th of July picnic some place. There were dances all year in the homes that had enough space. They would move our furniture to make room. The music was a violin or two and organ or piano if we were lucky. In summer sometimes there were barn dances in someones haymow. That was always great as we could have more than one set to square dance. Then there were basket (box) socials at the schoolhouses one in awhile. Girls would decorate a box and fix a lunch, sandwiches, potato salad, chicken pie and cake. The fun part was at auction the boys werent supposed to know whose box they were buying. If someone knew which was his girlfriends, others would bid it up and make him pay. Proceeds usually went for something for the school. My brother always took me, and I usually ate with him as he said then he knew he would get something to eat. A few times he had gotten a punk deal.

It was quite a habit for people to congregate at some of the neighbors on Sunday afternoons, mostly at the Hodgins. Men would pitch horseshoes and visit and the women in the house doing the same with kids running in and out.

By 1915 Grandpa and Grandma Grimshaw and Claude had come back to Oacoma and then they and Uncle Will Grimshaws moved to Presho where Uncle Will ran the dray and Claude helped him. In the fall of 1916 Grandpa Grimshaw was helping them unload corn cribbing and caught his glove and was thrown to the ground. It must have broken his neck as he only lived a short time.

While in Presho, Claude met Freda Sehnert and later they were married and then moved back to Oacoma. Uncle Wills came back too and moved into the old hotel. Uncle Will worked in Chamberlain for the Power company and Aunt Net ran the hotel.

The fall of 1918 our father was not feeling very well and they decided to
move to Oacoma and Claude and Freda stayed out on the farm and looked after
things there. We moved into what had been the old Gladstone Hotel, but only
used part of it. At that time I was engaged to be married to Francis Hodgin
and he had gone to the Army in the summer and by fall was in France. He had
arrived there only a short time before the Armistice was signed and then was
assigned to a leave area now called R&R at____ on the Mediterranean. He
had worked in a bank since he was sixteen so he was assigned to office work
there. They lived in a lovely big hotel that had been taken over by the Army
and their offices too were right on the beach.

The next spring we went back to the farm. Our father planted the corn. We milked the cows, made the garden and such. Claude and Freda moved to town.

That fall I remember so clearly – Nov. 11 the news came over the telephone that the Armistice was signed and WWI was over. Papa and Mama were picking corn in a field a mile or so away and I ran all the way to tell them.

Brother Otto was in the Army too but got out to come home and help on the Farm. Fran didnt get back from France until the summer of 1919 as they were kept there to do what it took to send the others hoe and they were the last ones out. He came home on a big ocean liner, some different that the trip over on a small French ship not made for passengers. He didnt even get a bunk until someone died. He always dreamed of going back some day on such a ship as he enjoyed the trip home so much.

During 1918 and 1919 there was a lot of very severe type of flu in the U.S. and hundreds of people died, sometimes several in a family. Claude Grimshaw got it. He had pleurisy with it and didnt last long. As I remember it was perhaps in Feb. of 1920 maybe earlier. Otto helped to take care of him. Our father took sick in March. It was his heart but nothing could be done for it. He died the 6th of June. Otto had done the farm work and we planted garden after papa died and did raise a good garden even though we often wished we could ask him when and how to plant some things as he had done the planting and someone else had just helped.

“Lyra Hodgin Chronicles”, Rendition 4

Material from Al Hodgin Files, Obtained June, 1999

The first we know of the Grimshaw family is of John who was born in Canada as near as we know. We were told by our Grandfather, George Grimshaw, that his father was a sailor on the Great Lakes. Grandfather was born in Canada and we have reason to believe eastern Canada. Wolf Island the place given on a document we have. Possibly one of the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River. Grandpa told us his mother was a very good ice skater and use to skate across the St. Lawrence and shop in the US and then could out skate the revenue men to avoid paying duty. He also said she was a tiny lady. When she carried two pails of water they almost touched the ground. We know nothing of Great Grandfather Johns family, but Great Grandmother was from Ireland, County of Cork. She was Mary Mahoney. Her husband and baby died aboard ship and were buried at sea.

We do not know which of the Lakes Great-Grandfather sailed on. The only place of residence we know of was Richland Center, Wis., which is inland so he must have been retired then. We know nothing about Great-Grandmothers family. Just know she came from Ireland, Their children were raised Catholic, but Grandpa said when he was a choir boy one of his regular Sunday duties was to half carry the priest home from the saloon after church because he was so drunk he couldnt walk. That ended his connection with the Catholic Church. His mother died twenty-seven years before his father did. He was one of five children. There was Michael, John, Lida and Alex. I remember of mother mentioning of her Uncle Mike and of Johnny Grimshaw as being in S.D. probably around Letcher.

George Grimshaw married Aris Phedora Ladd at Richland Center Wis. They had six children – William Allen, Anna Celestine (our mother), Wallace, Mary Evelyn (Aunt Eva), Claude and Nettie Estelle (always called Stella). Stella died from scarlet fever when she was six years old.

I do not know when they came to S.D. I do know our mother Anna Celestine (always called Tina) was born in Iowa. She was married to George Albert at Forestburg, S.D. on Feb. 22, 1890 when she was fifteen years old. Both of their families lived near the Alberts one mile west of Letcher where they had homesteaded and the Grimshaws near Forestburg.

George and Tina were my parents. Anna, our oldest sister, was born at Edgerton, Minn., the rest of us in S.D. Otto and I at or near Letcher, S.D. and Stella, Georgia and Elsie at Oacoma.

In the spring of 1902 the government opened up land west of the Missouri River to settlement and there was a great movement West. My folds were living near Alpena, S.D. at the time. I was nearly three years old. My father was a carpenter by trade, but there was little or no building being done. In April my folks decided to go and loaded everything into a hayrack leading cows behind. A late spring snowstorm came and we stayed a few days at a farm east of Chamberlain. We crossed the river on the pontoon bridge, as that was the only way except by ferryboat.

The plans were to go farther west to about where Sturgis is but we stopped in Oacoma. We lived on a place south and a bit west of Oacoma fairly close to the river owned by John Bartine. He had a plan to irrigate some land there from the creek that flowed into the river. My father helped to build the troughs and such but it was a wild scheme and didnt work. The creek didnt flow much except in spring. My father did raise a big garden though and we sold milk and such.

The railroad only came as far as Chamberlain at that time, but the Milwaukee was preparing to build a bridge and the road west.

Grandpa and Grandma Grimshaw who still lived near Letcher then came to Oacoma. Grandpa worked some with the bridge crew and then with the survey crew as far west as Scenic.

“Lyra Hodgin Chronicles”, Rendition 5

Material from Al Hodgin Files, Obtained June, 1999

Our knowledge of the Grimshaws only goes back to great-grandparents. John Grimshaw and Mary (Mahoney) Grimshaw were the parents of George Grimshaw, father of our mother Anna Celestine (Grimshaw) Albert. We were told Mary Mahoney came from County of Cork, Ireland and that her husband and baby died coming to Canada and were buried at sea. That was probably at the time so many people left Ireland during the potato famine in the 1840s.

Grandpa told us that his mother was a tiny lady and that she was a very fleet skater and that she skated across the St. Lawrence River to buy things and could out skate the revenue men to avoid tax. The old family bible states George Grimshaw was born on Wolf Island, Canada and it seems very likely it is one of the Thousand Islands and may have been fairly close to the U.S. which would account for buying in the U.S.

Grandpa also told us that his father was a sailor on the Great Lakes. Possibly Lake Michigan since George and Aris Ladd were married there at Richland Center, Wis. And the family lived there. Grandpas sister Lyda whose married name was Ritchie, was postmistress of Richland Center in the early 1900s.

Great-grandfather Grimshaw used to send us maple sugar that came in hard blocks but made delicious syrup or we ate it like candy. He came to visit us and Grandpa and Grandma the summer before he died in 1907. Great-grandmother must have died fairly young as I never heard much about her.

I dont know when George and Aris G. left Wis., but do know Anna G. was born at Ida Grove, Iowa in 1874. They later moved to S.D., living in and near Letcher before moving to Oacoma in Lyman County in the early 1900s.

Lyra Hodgin’s Notes on History of Aris Ladd Family

Lyra wrote a few words about the Ladds in one of the renditions of the Grimshaw family history (see Rendition 1, above). She also wrote a piece “dedicated” to the Ladds, which was provided to the Website Author in 1984; it is shown below.

We know even less about the Ladds than the Grimshaw side of the family. Aris Ladd and George Grimshaw apparently were married at Richland Center, Wisconsin, so I assume that both families lived there at the time. However, I remember clearly of my mother saying her grandmother Mary A. Ladd, mother of Aris, had lived for years where she could hear the roar of Niagra (sic) Falls but never did see it. I did hear my mother say her grand mother was born in “York State” as they referred to New York. However it was both families seemed to be at Richland Center later.

We heard very little about Great Grandfather Ladd except that he was (a) very tall man 6 ft, 7-1/2 inches in his stocking feet and that a tree fell on him and killed him at 54 years of age, three years before my mother was born.

Mary Ladd must have come to S.D. about the time George and Aris did or with her sons. She and her son Wallace Ladd lived on a farm near Letcher S.D. Also there was a Dave Ladd I assume was a son too as my mother called him Uncle Dave. Whether he left there or died I dont know.

My mother stayed with her grandmother some when she was a child as her grandmother had arthritis in her hands so badly it was difficult for her to do things. Mother wasnt very well so they thought it best for her to help her grandmother a bit and get away from her small brothers as she took care of them a lot. I dont know where they lived then but likely near Letcher, S.D.

Wallace Ladd took sick late one summer and seems it was appendicitis. That would have been in the 1890s, possibly 95 or 96 so hospitals were almost nonexistant (sic) in rural towns. My sister Anna said she remembered being at Great Grandmas with our mother and the Dr. operated on Wallace on the kitchen table. One would wonder how he ever survived such an ordeal but he did live awhile as I remember Mother telling us of the neighbors all coming and harvesting his crops while he sat at the window and cried, though he had always been ready to help others. He only lived a short time. G. Grandma Ladd must have stayed on the farm awhile as I remember the folks saying that Uncle Will Grimshaw and Aunt Net stayed with her for awhile. She bought a house in Letcher and lived there the rest of her life. She became ill after Geo. Grimshaw and Aris were at Oacoma and they went back and took care of her until her death in 1904. My mother took Stella and I, aged one and five, and went to see her.

Grandma Ladds maiden name was Sprague. The inclosed (sic) sheet of family tree is something Stella Hodgin had. I dont quite understand the note below Mary Spragues name saying her maiden name was Smith as that information was never mentioned in our family. I seem to remember of Lee Grimshaw saying something of the sort about kin of Pocahantas. In reading over a letter I had from my oldest sister Anna I see she said G. Grandma Ladd had such strong feelings about Indians that our mother used to wonder if she came by her coal black hair that way. Her hair never did get grey (sic). I also see she says that she wasnt sure if Dave Ladd was our grandmothers brother or uncle but that he never came to S.D.

The Context of South Dakota History

The following historical information helps set the context for George and Aris’ family history. This information is presented in three parts:

  1. History of Lyman County and Oacoma

  2. Records of the Lewis and Clark stopover near Oacoma in September 1804

  3. High-level overview of the most significant events in South Dakota history at and around the time of George and Aris’ time in the state.

Summaries of Lyman County and Oacoma History

To provide local historical context for George and Aris’ family history in Oacoma, Presho and Reliance, five excerpts are provided below from local history publications. The first two excerpts are on Lyman County, and the last three are on Oacoma.

Excerpt 1: Lyman County3

The Federal Government, in 1890, opened up large tracts of the Great Sioux Reservation west of the Missouri River to settlers. There were some squatters who had come into the territory previous to that time and were living there.

In 1887 the first government issue house for the Lower Brule Sioux was established at the present site of Oacoma, and the next year the Federal Government gave the Indians their first four-wheeled wagons. For a few years the Indians lived quite pleasantly, hunting and staging dances. Clothing and other rations were received from the Federal Government.

Individual land allotments for the Indians started in 1888 in an attempt to make farmers out of this nomadic race. The government declined to issue the annual supply of clothing to the Indians until they received their land allotments. The Indians were not in agreement with the policy of the government and did not cooperate.

On February 10, 1890, President Harrison signed the bill to open for settlement a big part of the Sioux Indian reservation from the Missouri River to the Black Hills. On the evening of February 10th the town of Chamberlain received a telegram of the opening and a big gun was fired but they did not allow anyone to cross the river that night. However, there were a few over-enthusiastic ones who slipped away and went farther down the river and crossed anyway.

There was plenty of excitement the next morning when many people were ready to cross over. Although it was February the weather was warm and thawing that day, but it did turn much colder afterwards.

After crossing the river by ferry boat to Oacoma the settlers, their wagons packed with supplies at Chamberlain, started westward looking for their claim. Some men had been in the region the year before and had located the place where they wanted to settle.

Tall waving prairie grass, prairie chickens, prairie dogs, cottontails, and rattlesnakes made up the common scene for those early adventurers, called pioneers, who first came to what is now Lyman County, South Dakota.

Until their houses were built, they lived in their covered wagons, keeping stock in dugouts; later they built sheds made of homemade poles, the top covered with hay with tree branches over the hay. Some families lived in dugouts, others made sod houses and some hauled lumber from Chamberlain or cut green lumber along White River for their claim shacks or shanties as they were called. Before long the prairie was dotted with “tar paper shacks.” These were covered with black tar paper roofing and were more weather-proof. Along the White River and Medicine Creek there were big groves of trees, and wild fruit such as plums, cherries, grapes and buffalo berries. The settlers made good use of these.

About this time there were rumors of Indian uprisings and the government distributed ammunition and rifles to the settlers; bases were chosen to which the settlers were to go in case of an attack. However, nothing came of this rumor.

In 1892 the program to interest the Indians in farming was resumed and two head of cattle were issued to each member of the tribes. In some instances the plan was successful and Indian families took some interest in raising livestock and farming small patches of land. Frequently, however, when friends or relatives came to visit, the cattle that had been used for plowing were barbecued to provide meals. In 1894 a per capita payment of $3.00 was made to the Indians.

In 1893 the Great Sioux reservation was opened and immediately was filed upon by settlers and speculators. Indians had been reserved for the most part, rough and semi- and land, not suitable for extensive farming for their reservation. They could not sell it but they leased it to farmers and ranchers for a few cents an acre.

From 1890 to 1905 this sparsely settled region remained an unfenced open-ranged cattle country, or until the Milwaukee Railroad brought its deluge of land-seekers who shackled the cow-men and squeezed them out of business.

Until 1893 the ferry boat had been the sole means for passengers and freight to cross the river, or by crossing on the ice in the wintertime. Now a pontoon bridge was strung across the river. This floating structure was so built that the deck of the bridge rested on flat boats tied side by side. When river streamers approached, one end of the pontoon was released from its anchorage at the bank and allowed to float free. Although unsafe, especially in high water or freezing weather, the pontoon served as a connecting link between the Chamberlain markets and the West River country.

Many times Mother Nature tried the spirit of these early pioneers with drought, severe hailstorms, life-taking blizzards, insects and then the awful prairie fires which swept over the open prairie consuming everything in their path. It took courage to keep faith in a land against so many odds and many people did give up in despair and returned to their eastern homes. Those who had the stamina to stay with it were repaid later for much of their hardships, for the soil produced good crops and bountiful gardens when the rains came.

Drinking water was always a major problem for both the people and the livestock. It was hauled from the White River, Medicine Creek, and dams. Those who tried to dig wells did not meet with much success. Other supplies were hauled from Pierre or Chamberlain. Some had horses and others used the strong but plodding oxen on these trips for supplies and always it was a long, tedious journey.

A very serious drought and fuel shortage occurred in 1893. Because of the scarcity of feed, cattle were herded along the river and creeks where there was grass. Severe blizzards destroyed much of the livestock, for when they hit, they hit with such swiftness and intensity there was no protection from it.

Small country stores sprung up in different parts of the county. Most of these had a post office in connection. These stores were stopping places in the community. Some of them were: Sweeney, Cavite, Hotch City, Earling, Dirkstown, McClure, Highland, Kinniknic, Huston, Edna and others. Mail was brought out from Chamberlain by stage and for many years afterward, the ruts of these old stage trails could be seen winding across the prairie where the plow had not yet taken over.

There was no doctor nearer than Chamberlain until Dr. F. M. Newman settled in Presho in 1905. He also had a drug store and the services rendered by him to Lyman County can only be repaid now with the wonderful memories of those who knew him. Diphtheria was a scourge of the country; often several children in the same family dying of the disease. The women of the community had to help take care of each other’s family when sickness struck.

When the county was officially organized in 1893, Oacoma was the county seat. Two years later the county had a population of only 804. By 1905 the population was 4,263 and the 1910 census, which followed the final stampede of homesteaders, showed 10,848 people. Later, in 1916 that which is now Jones County was carved out of western Lyman County. Originally there were the unorganized counties of Pratt and Presho which were attached to Lyman County for judicial purposes. Later in 1898 they were incorporated into Lyman County.

Oacoma, originally Gladstone, is the oldest town in the County, being founded in 1890. It has a colorful history dating back to the days of the big cattle outfits, cattle rustling, and the burning of the courthouse by men living outside the law and who thought law and order would be their ruin. Circuit Judge John G. Bartine was the Nemesis of the cattle thieves and it was largely through his efforts that they were finally subdued.

Speaking of cattle rustlers, hundreds and hundreds of cattle and horses ranged the open prairie with only a brand to show to whom they belonged and there was plenty of cattle rustling and horse stealing going on. There were many court trials and convictions of the accused parties who were sent to the penitentiary.

In 1905 something which the early settlers had been promised, and which they had hoped and waited for, came to pass. The Milwaukee Railroad built a railroad bridge over the Missouri River and the railroad was extended from Chamberlain to Presho. The towns of Reliance and Kennebec, in between, were founded and named by the Milwaukee Townsite Company. This company also named Presho, Vivian and Oacoma. Vivian, in the western end of the county, was founded when the railroad was built on from Presho to the Black Hills in 1906-1907.

Religious services and schools were held, at first in the homes, if at all. In some instances people who had been teachers would hold school for the children in their community. Traveling priests and preachers covered this large area and held services in the homes where groups of that faith gathered. Missionary work among the Sioux was carried on by the Catholics, Episcopalians and Presbyterians, and white settlers would attend services there on the reservations also if they lived near enough.

The first church built in Lyman County was the Lutheran Church built east of Presho in 1890 (Norwegian). The first minister was Rev. M. 0. Waldahl of Pukwana.

Upon the completion of the organization of Lyman County, four school districts were formed, all along the eastern border of the county. Lyman District No. 1; Oacoma District No. 2; Dirkstown District No. 3 and Walker District No. 4. The first school boards were: for No. I-G. S. Grant; George V. Shearer; Jay Wellman and J. G. Bartine, all of Oacoma. District No. 3-C. W. Hawn, John Milnes and Joseph Pollock, all of Oacoma. District No. 4-A. S. Montagne, Elisha Walker and 0. N. Dock, all of Oacoma.

Mr. E. A. Barlow was the first county superintendent. Probably the first teachers to teach in Lyman County after it was organized in 1893 were: Carrie Walker, District No. 1; Myrtle Farmer, District No. 2; Ben Milnes, District No. 3; Mrs. P. A. Stocke, District No. 4. Their addresses were all Oacoma and the length of the term was from September 11, 1893 to December 29, 1893. Additional school districts were organized continuously, gradually advancing westward across the county.

By reading the first county commissioners’ proceedings of May 1893, we find that there were two commissioners, Mr. C. J. Kanzy and G. E. Boatman. They met for the purpose of completing the organization of the county. These names were given as the county officials: C. C. Herron, County Auditor; 1. N. Auld, Register of Deeds; Olef Nelson, clerk of the circuit court; F. P. Gannaway, County Treasurer; E. A. Barlow, County Superintendent of Schools; Luke C. Hayes, states attorney; John G. Bartine, County Judge; T. J. Wood, coroner; James Morgan, sheriff; Walter Rhode became the third county commissioner in June of 1893.

The first court case tried was that of Henry Shrader for the murder of Mot Matson.

In June, 1893, the first four school districts were organized.

The minutes of the June, 1893 meeting also ask for bids for building a county jail. G. N. Mabbott was awarded the job.

The first official newspaper for the county was the Lyman County Leader.

At each commissioners’ meeting there were bounties paid for “wold scalps” at $1.50 each.

At the January 14, 1893, meeting of the board of county commissioners a number of Lyman County citizens met with them and asked that they buy seed wheat. The drought had left the farmers in bad shape for putting in a crop in the spring so the board agreed to assist by buying seed wheat for the farmers. They then proceeded to set up a seed grain fund and by agreement they were to furnish seed wheat to the farmers secured by a chattel mortgage. The wheat was purchased at 67c per bushel and corn at $1.30 per bushel. The seller was Ochsner Hardware company of Kimball, South Dakota.

Early legislators were Charles H. Burke in the House of Representatives and James Phillip in the Senate. At this time Lyman County was included in Hughes, Hyde, Sully, Stanley, Nowlin, Sterling, Jackson, Pratt and Presho.

The trials and tribulations of the early settlers of Lyman County are dramatically told in the book, “The Land of the Burnt Thigh,” by Edith Kohl. Mrs. Kohl is Edith Ammons and her sister, Ida, came to a homestead near what was called McClure in the northwestern part of the county. They ran a store and a post office and also printed the preemption papers for those proving up on their claims.

Kate and Virgil D. Boyles in their books, “The Homesteaders” and “Langford of the Three Bars,” tell romantic stories of the homesteaders and their troubles with the cattle rustlers. Early Lyman County settlers are mentioned by name in all three of these books.

Many newspapers were published in the early days of the county. Some of them were the Oacoma Gazette Leader, The Prairie Sun, Lyman County Settler, and Presho County Argus. “The Wand” was the name of the paper printed by Edith Ammons Kohl.

Lyman County was originally created in 1873 and was named for W. P. Lyman, an early settler in Yankton County.
 Excerpt 2: Lyman County4

There is a lot of evidence that there were people here in this area long before the coming of the white man.

Dr. Over of the University of South Dakota, one of the states foremost archaeologists, has prepared maps showing some 20 ancient Indian villages in Lyman County grouped around the mouths of White River, American Crow Creek, Medicine Creek and the peninsula of Big Bend (better known as Little Bend). They estimated some of these people could have been here as early as 1300-1400 A.D.

Apparently our history records show that some of the earliest visits or contacts between White men and Indians was in early 1700’s. However, the first white man whom we can say with certainty was Jean Baptiste Trudeau about 1790. History has it that near the site of Fort Thompson he had a run in with the Indians.

He proceeded on up the river a few miles, cached his trading goods in the bank of a draw, proceeded on further a couple of miles and sunk his boat. He then traveled on foot to the mouth of the Cheyenne hoping to find the camp of the Aricara. However they had moved, so he returned, raised his boat and found his trading goods intact.

He then floated down river to a point just below the present site of Fort Randall where they wintered. There they built and lived in the first white mans structure located in South Dakota. Trudeau and his crew of 8 men operated out of St. Louis and under a license from the Spanish who then claimed title to this territory.

This was the beginning of a profitable fur trade that lasted for 100 years. This Missouri River and its tributaries were the main avenues of travel. The Lewis & Clark expedition in 1804 made mention of several points in or adjacent to Lyman County (Crow Creek and American Island). The area around Oacoma and north along Missouri River is often mentioned as the site of Fort Kowa, Fort Hale, Lower Brute Agency and Fort Lookout, a trading post of the Columbia Fur Company.

By 1850 through 1860 the fur trade was declining due to the wanton destruction of the buffalo hunters. By this time missionaries were coming into Dakota. The first Christian service that we have any record of was at Fort Lookout by Father Christian Hoecken. Several Indian children were baptised.

The first military post in Lyman County was established at Fort Lookout in 1856 under command of Capt. Nathaniel Lyon, who later became a General in the Civil War. In 1863 Fort Thompson was set up as a military post. It was not until 1865 that we heard much of Lower Brute. Burbank who was then Governor of Dakota Territory said that the Lower Brutes were of a violent disposition and hard to manage.

The record shows there was some effort to produce some corn and vegetables, with only limited success. However, the agent’s report in 1880 does show 34 acres, 200 acres of corn, 5 acres of oats and 71/2 acres of vegetables.

In 1884 Henry N. Gregory was clerk in charge of Lower Brute. They had a count of 1432 Indians.

In 1890 A.P. Dixon became agent for both Lower Brute and Crow Creek. In 1892 A.P. Dixon was still agent of Lower Brute Agency at Oacoma. In 1894 Frederick Treon was agent.

Lyman County was named for Mayor W.P. Lyman, the first settler at Yankton and a member of the Territorial House in 1892 from Charles Mix County.

The first postmaster of record was Wilmer L. Green appointed P.M. in 1878 for Lower Brute, then considered a part of Buffalo County by the P.O. Department. From the Indian records it would appear that probably Lower Brule and Fort Hale were about one and the same.

There were no more post offices in the County until March 13, 1890 when E.A. Barlow was appointed post master of Lyman about 3 miles up the river from Oacoma.

The first report of a day school was in 1873 through a mission in charge of Rev. W.J. Cleveland. In 1892 this region was opened to early settlers for homesteads. Settlements were along Medicine Creek and settlers there were Ribney’s, Wilson, Dent, Gilman, Byre, Rearick, Seaman, Molash, Hollenbeack, Tieson, Lien, Brekke & Garnos. On White River to name a few Bailey, Anderson Severson, Evenson, Nelson, Bell, O’Malley, Halversgaard, Hagenson, Selland, Hellickson, Pitans, Zoske and Zickrick.

The railroad was built to Presho in 1905. By 1890 the bulk of the West River land was surveyed.

Lyman County was organized in May 1893 and formed by pushing the west line of one township further west and extending the south line down one township and thus taking a slice out of both Gregory and Tripp Counties.

In 1893 there were two settlements in Lyman County. One in Oacoma and one at Fort Hale.

There have been three Lyman Post offices served by three different postmasters. E.A. Barlow was postmaster 1890; Len Armstrong 1902: Wm Hagler June 1920.

1890 was an important year for Lyman County. No less than 50 townships were surveyed that summer. Hotch City was given a post office in April 1891 with Samuel Shaffer as postmaster; Presho June 1891 with Edgar O. Kelley, postmaster. Supposedly there was a mail station called lner with Jas. N. Cloud, postmaster. However in May 1906 Reliance had an established post office.

In 1906 and 1907, the years of the homesteaders, there were few fences, and the roads could very well be classified as trails. In 1907 an election was held concerning free range and the herd law came into being.

Many of you remember that many of our now considered necessities were non-existent in the early 1900’s such as telephones, electricity, propane. gas, running water, radio and mechanical refrigeration not to mention T.V. dinners and mini-skirts.

The pioneers of Lyman County who came here to acquire and make a home were a hardy lot who could make use of what was at hand, determined to build schools, churches, stores and roads, and establish a government representing the people of County and State.

We who are here today have lived to see the realization of a primitive country developing into a modern society producing millions of bushels of high grade wheat and feed grains. Thousands of high grade cattle are produced here, sold through modern auction rings to supply the feed lots and packing plants of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and eastern South Dakota.

Why am I relating these facts to a Lyman County Historical Society? Because these pioneers of 60 and 70 years are now represented by a 3rd and 4th generation. Without the preservation and restoration of many of the records, tools, implements and artifacts of these pioneers they would eventually become a lost generation.

Fortunately this Historical Society was aware of this several years ago and did something about it.

With financial assistance from many individuals and all of Lyman County tax payers appropriate provisions have been made to preserve a materialistic history of those basic pioneers.

We hope this venture will be long lived and successful.
Excerpt 3: Oacoma5

OACOMA, originally named Sherman, was renamed when a post office was established there and it was discovered there was already a Sherman, S.D. The present name of the town is not of Indian origin as many people believe, but was picked only because it was not likely to be duplicated.

The town grew out of an Indian trading post and grew steadily because of its location on the west side of the river at a point where a ferry boat transported travelers across the river. It was the stopping point for all east-bound traffic as travelers would stop at Oacoma for food, rest and water for their horses before crossing the ferry.

About 1890, Oacoma became the county seat of Lyman County which at that time included a large portion of the West River Country. The town also included the Lower Brule Indian Agency at that time.

During those early years, Oacoma was bustling with activity. The little city had three hotels, several banks and a rushing business in many other establishments.

The only business place which has survived from the early years is the grocery store now operated by Alfred Mueller. The store was founded in 1906 by Baman Strong when the railroad reached Oacoma. The store went through a series of owners before being bought by Albert Mueller, father of the present owner. A new building is being built for the store on new Highway US- 1 6 North of Oacoma.

A prominent city of its day, Oacoma has steadily declined through the years as the result of several hard blows.

The decline began in 1922 when the county seat was voted over to Kennebec after the county was divided and made smaller.

The town suffered its second hard blow in 1925 when the new bridge was built across the Missouri at Chamberlain, eliminating the need for a stopping place on the west side of the river. With the bridge in operation, travelers passed by Oacoma and drove straight to Chamberlain, then only five miles distant.

Today, with another new bridge and a new highway which shortens the distance from five to only three miles, travelers hardly even glance at Oacoma and the town has become just another rural town along U.S. 16.

Although the town has declined through the years, it has produced at least four men of political prominence.

Perhaps the best known political figure produced by the small town is M.Q. Sharpe who was for four years attorney general of the state and later governor for four years.

Sharpe, now practicing law in Kennebec, was active in establishing the manganese plant which was a going concern at Oacoma during World War 11 when the manganese was being taken from South Dakota. The only other sources of the element are Russia and Brazil. Oacoma is located in the heart of the manganese area of South Dakota.

John Bartine, who first served as state’s attorney and later as Seventh District Judge for many years, was a product of Oacoma and was well-known for breaking up the rustling ring in western South Dakota almost singlehanded.

A.C. Miller, another Oacoma man, was four years speaker of the house in the South Dakota legislature and later served two years as lieutenant governor during Sharpe’s term of office as governor. He is now a resident of Kennebec and is at present a candidate for Seventh District Judge.

Also a product of the ill-fated town, is William Williamson, who served as Circuit Judge of the Seventh District and as congressman between 1920 and 1932 from what was then the third congressional district of South Dakota.

A significant landmark in Oacoma which just happens to be high enough so that it will not be moved, is a house with a large veranda which was originally the Lower Brule Indian Agency and later the home of M.Q. Sharpe and also of William Williamson.
Excerpt 4: Oacoma6

The Sioux Indian Reservation in the western part of South Dakota was opened for settlement by President Benjamin Harrisons Proclamation of February 1890. Im sure Im one of the very few who can remember having lived at Lower Brule Agency.

It was located on the flat and foothills two miles west of the present Joe Bice ranch. There is not a stick nor a stone left to indicate that there was once a nice little Indian agency located there.

The employees houses were in a row facing south. The M.Q. (Ted) Sharpe house in Oacoma was the home of the agency superintendant, and our house was next door to it. My father, harry Holmes, was the government blacksmith.

About 1894 the government decided to move the agency to its present location 40 miles north, and the buildings were all sold. The Indian cemetery was on the rolling hill just east of Joe Bices house.

Just about four miles east of the agency stood an Indian village of about 100 log cabins. This location was possessed by some white people for a townsite. In the beginning it was to be called Nobleton, then Sherman, and finally, they called the townsite Gladstone, but when the patent was obtained from the U.S. Government, it was known as Oacoma.

The patent was obtained on July 14, 1893 by County Judge, John G. Bartine.

It may be difficult for some of you newer folks to realize there was once a fine little town where now vacant lots are. It was the count seat of Lyman County.

We had two banks, tow lumberyards, two newspapers, blacksmith shop, restaurant, drug store, two hotels, two lawyers, a doctor, three grocery and general merchandise stores, and of course, the courthouse. Business was drawn from 50 miles west.

In 1925 the free bridge was build across the Missouri River where, before this time, crossing was made either on a pontoon bridge or in a little freight boat at about $1 a car.

When the Ft. Randall Dam was built, the government bought all of the land to the center of Main Street on the west side, forcing all of the residents to move to higher ground. Since that time, Oacoma has grown to the north.
Excerpt 5: Oacoma7

The town of Oacoma has not only a great and colorful past, but a bright future. It is located on the Missouri River, now Lake Francis Case, with lots of flat land for development and I-90 going through its center giving it great potential for industrial development and colleges or government projects.

Oacoma has housing for about 140 families. About 37 new homes were built in the last few years. It has an updated water system built in 1982 and the new post office was built in 1981. On June 8, 1985 the Oasis Addition was surveyed and recorded as an addition to Oacoma.

Most of the needs of the residents are met by Oacoma business and the town hall with the city park, ball diamond and river providing outdoor activities. However, Chamberlain, which sits just across the river, now provides employment for some and church for most, as Oacoma closed its church in 1959. That church (Congregational) was Oacoma’s first church and dated back to 1893.

Oacoma also gave up its school in 1972 when it voted to consolidate with Chamberlain, but its old school building of 1925 is still being used for Third Grade students.

The railroad, which crossed the river in 1905, was discontinued in 1980.

The cemetery dates back to 1890, or earlier, and is still in use today. Some of the older stones read “Born in Norway” and some have German names. It tombs some of Oacoma’s founders and outstanding citizens of the past.

Lyman County Judge, John G. Bartine, at age 24, applied for land for the purpose of a Townsite when Grover Cleveland was President (1885-1889), but the paperwork was not finished until August 20, 1891 (after the Homestead Act of Feb. 10, 1890) when the 55.15 acres of land received was surveyed and platted as Gladstone while Benjamin Harrison was President.

The townsite had originally been an Indian village with about 100 log houses on it and had been known as Nobleton, then Sherman, and was platted Gladstone, but became known as Oacoma by the time the people had begun to build in 1893. Oacoma has had several additions since, growing both to the East and the North.

One of Oacoma’s most colorful sights in history took place in 1894 when the Lower Brule Indian Agency, which was about one half mile down-river, was moved upstream about 30 miles and a caravan of Indians and wagons paraded down Oacoma’s Main Street on their way to their new home on the reservation. Several of the buildings from the agency were then moved here.

The new railroad of 1905 created quite a sensation, bands played, speeches were made by dignitaries and there was lots of games and fun for all. The town now began to really boom as the young and brave began heading west to make their home, fame and fortune. As the railroad moved farther west some of the businesses also moved to follow the great frontier.

Oacoma was the first county seat for Lyman County, until 1922. The residents fought hard to keep its courthouse for it brought much business to town. They had already lost one courthouse to fire while John Bartine was County Judge. Cattle rustlers were believed to have burned it to destroy evidence.

The town’s first ordinance was for the control of alcohol. Its young founders were very busy in their early days, drilling wells and putting in water and sewer lines, building sidewalks, forming a fire department and building a jail; keeping the peace and building a town hall and courthouse. There were several law firms, newspapers, lumberyards, banks, hotels and saloons. The post office has been here since 1890.

Some outstanding citizens from Oacoma were John G. Bartine, County Judge, State’s Attorney, and 7th District Judge; A.C. Miller, Speaker of the House in South Dakota legislature and Lieutenant Governor; M.Q. Sharpe, Attorney General of SD and Governor, and William Williamson, Circuit Judge of 7th District, and Congressman from 3rd Dist.

More can be learned about Oacoma at the Cozard Memorial Library in Chamberlain, the Lyman County Courthouse in Kennebec and from the Oacoma Town Board.

Note: This material was furnished by Eva Birchfield for Oacoma as our State’s Centennial History in the year 1988.

Records of Lewis and Clark Expedition Stopover at American Crow Creek in 1804

The Lewis and Clark Expedition passed Oacoma and Chamberlain on its trip up the Missoui River in 1804 and on the return trip down the river in 1806. The following two excerpts, one from Meriwether’s Lewis journal and the other from a biographer of Lewis, cover the period of the initial stop on September 16 and 17, 1804. The name Crow Creek (later changed to American Crow Creek) was given to the creek (where the Grimshaws lived in later years) by Lewis and Clark, who killed a crow (actually it was a magpie) during their stopover.

Excerpt 1. By Meriwether Lewis8, Published in 1814

Saturday September 15. We passed, at an early hour, the creek near our last night’s encampment; and at two miles distant reached the mouth of White River, coming in from the south. We ascended a short distance, and sent a sergeant and another man to examine it higher up. This river has a bed of about three hundred yards, though the water is confined to one hundred and fifty: in the mouth is a sand island, and several sandbars. The current is regular and swift, with sandbars projecting from the points. It differs very much from the Platte, and Quicurre, in throwing out, comparatively, little sand, but its general character is like that of the Missouri. This resemblance was confirmed by the sergeant, who ascended about twelve miles; at which distance it was about the same width as near the mouth, and the course, which was generally west, had been interrupted by islands and sandbars. The timber consisted chiefly of elm; they saw pine burrs, and sticks of birch were seen floating down the river; they bad also met with goats, such as we have heretofore seen; great quantities of buffaloes near to which were wolves, some deer, and villages of barking squirrels. At the confluence of White River with the Missouri is an excellent position for a town; the land rising by three gradual ascents, and the neighbourhood furnishing more timber than is usual in this country. After passing high dark bluffs, on both sides, we reached the lower point of an island towards the south, at the distance of six miles. The island bears an abundance of grapes, and is covered with red cedar: it also contains a number of rabbits. At the end of this island, which is small, a narrow channel separates it from a large sand island, which we passed, and encamped, eight miles on the north, under a high point of land opposite a large creek to the south, on which we observe an unusual quantity of timber. The wind was from the northwest this afternoon, and high, the weather cold, and its dreariness increased by the howlings of a number of wolves around us.

September 16, Sunday. Early this morning, having reached a convenient spot on the south side, and at one mile and a quarter distance, we encamped just above a small creek, which we called Corvus, having killed an animal of that genus near it. Finding that we could not proceed over the sandbars, as fast as we desired, while the boat was so heavily loaded, we concluded not to send back, as we originally intended, our third pirogue, but to detain the soldiers until spring, and in the mean time lighten the boat by loading the periogue: this operation, added to that of drying all our wet articles, detained us during the day. Our camp is in a beautiful plain, with timber thinly scattered for three quarters of a mile, and consisting chiefly of elm, cottonwood, some ash of an indifferent quality, and a considerable quantity of a small species of white oak: this tree seldom rises higher than thirty feet, and branches very much; the bark is rough, thick, and of a light colour; the leaves small, deeply indented, and of a pale green-, the cup which contains the acorn is fringed on the edges, and embraces it about one half: the acorn itself, which grows in great profusion, is of an excellent flavor, and has none of the roughness which most other acorns possess; they are now falling, and have probably attracted the number of deer which we saw on this place, as all the animals we have seen are fond of that food. The ground having been recently burnt by the Indians, is covered with young green grass, and in the neighbourbood are great quantities of fine plums. We killed a few deer for the sake of their skins, which we wanted to cover the periogues, the meat being too poor for food: the cold season coming on, a flannel shirt was given to each man, and fresh powder to those who bad exhausted their supply.

Monday, September 17. Whilst some of the party were engaged in the same way as yesterday, others were employed in examining the surrounding country. About a quarter of a mile behind our camp, and at an elevation of twenty feet above it, a plain extends nearly three miles parallel to the river, and about a mile back to the bills, towards which it gradually ascends. Here we saw a grove of plumtrees loaded with fruit, now ripe, and differing in nothing from those of the Atlantic states ‘except that the tree is smaller and more thickly set. The ground of the plain is occupied by the burrows of multitudes of barking squirrels, who entice either the wolves of a small kind, hawks, and polecats, all of which animals we saw, and presumed that they fed on the squirrel. This plain is intersected nearly in its whole extent by deep ravines and steep irregular rising grounds from one to two hundred feet. On ascending the range of hills which border the plain, we saw a second high level plain stretching to the south as far as the eve could reach. To the westward, a high range of hills about twenty miles distant runs nearly north and south, but not to any great extent, as their rise and termination is embraced by one view, and they seemed covered with i verdure similar to that of the plains. The same view extended over the irregular hills which border the northern side of the Missouri: all around the country had been recently burnt, and a young green grass about four inches high covered the ground, which was enlivened by herds of antelopes and buffaloe; the last of which were in such multitudes, that we cannot exaggerate in saying that at a single glance we saw three thousand of them before us. Of all the animals we had seen the antelope seems to possess the most wonderful fleetness: shy and timorous they generally repose only on the ridges, which command a view of all the approaches of an enemy: the acuteness of their sight distinguishes the most distant danger, the delicate sensibility of their small defeats the precautions of concealment, and when alarmed their rapid career seems more like the flight of birds than the movements of an earthly being. After many unsuccessful attempts, Captain Lewis at last, by winding around the ridges, approached a party of seven, which were on an eminence, towards which the wind was unfortunately blowing. The only male of the party frequently encircled the summit of the hill, as if to announce any danger to the females, who formed a group at the top. Although they did not see Captain Lewis, the smell alarmed them, and they fled when he was at the distance of two hundred yards: he immediately ran to the spot where they had been, a ravine concealed them from him; but the next moment they appeared on a second ridge at the distance of three miles. He doubted whether it could be the same, but their number and the extreme rapidity with which they continued their course, convinced him that they must have gone with a speed equal to that of the most distinguished racehorse. Among our acquisitions today was a mule-deer, a magpie, the common deer, and buffalos: Captain Lewis also saw a hare, and killed a rattlesnake near the burrows of the barking squirrels.

Tuesday, September 18. Having every thing in readiness we proceeded, with the boat much lightened, but the wind being from the N. W. we made but little, way. At one mile we reached an island in the middle of the river, nearly a mile in length, and covered with red cedar; at its extremity a small creek comes in from the north; we then met some sandbars, and the wind being very high and ahead, we encamped on the south, having made only seven miles. In addition to the common deer, which were in great abundance, we saw goats, elk, buffalos, the black tailed deer; the large wolves too are very numerous, and have long hair with coarse fur, and are of a light colour. A small species of wolf about the size of a gray fox was also killed, and proved to be the animal which we had hitherto mistaken for a fox: there are also many porcupines, rabbits, and barking squirrels in the neighbourbood.
Excerpt 2. By Richard Dillion9, Meriwether Lewis Biographer

After bidding adieu to the Sioux and to Pierre Dorion, Lewis led his party forth again on the first of September. He investigated a large beaver lodge and what Clark called an “ancient fortification,” which turned out to be a natural phenomenon, its breastworks being piled up by drifting sand. He also stopped to send men to a Ponca village in hopes of working up another powwow but that tribe was absent, hunting buffalo. Lewis and Clark visited the round knoll called the Tower, which loomed 70 feet above the river, but the Virginian was much more taken with the prairie-dog village at its base. An attempt to secure’ specimens resulted in just one animal, dead, so all the men were collected from camp, except the guards, and ordered to bring with them all the kettles and cooking vessels they had. With these, and river water, the detachment attempted to flush out their quarry from their abodes. In one hole alone, they poured four barrels of water without any effect except, presumably, to raise the humidity in the tunnels. The men worked all night but caught only two animals in all, and one was dead. Lewis tried another tack. He had some men dig at the mouth of a burrow. They were down six feet when he had them run a pole into the burrow. They found that they were not quite halfway to the bottom. Finally, even Lewis was ready to quit. Before he left, he found two frogs in one hole and killed a rattler in another. This incident caused him to abort a pseudoscientific observation which has plagued the world of American natural history ever since. He opined that the “barking squirrels” were so charitable that they welcomed all manner of critters as neighbors, even the deadly rattlesnake. On the other hand, be was now enough of a scientist to know that the little animals were not dogs, but either squirrels or marmots. But he had to admit that they looked like fat and sassy puppies as they sat on their haunches, forepaws in the air, in an attitude either of prayer or dog-paddling.

More and more “gangs” of buffalo were now being seen, although the corps was still eating more venison than buffalo meat. But the animal which really excited Lewis’s interest was a dead one, and a long time dead. He discovered a fossil skeleton of what he took to be an ancient fish. The petrifaction, which he collected to send to Jefferson, was 45 feet long and probably the remains of a Cretaceous reptile. Sergeant Gass could not understand Lewis’s cries of delight over the fossil. To the unimpressed.noncom it was just “a ruck of bones.”

Shannon, who had been long lost on a hunting trip, finally stumbled into camp, without his horse and almost starving. In contrast, Colter, sent after him by Lewis, came in fat as a porcupine. Shannon had fired away all his rifle balls early and then had to subsist on wild grapes and one rabbit which he shot with a sharpened stick in lieu of a bullet. The main party, meanwhile, was living high on the hog, enjoying a rich and varied diet of buffalo humps, venison steaks and beaver tails. But as the river shallowed and the hauling on the boats’ thwarts became more common, game-real game-began to follow the trees into oblivion, leaving only wolves, porcupines, beaver and the persistent mosquitoes. However, in the vicinity of White River, Clark shot the party’s first antelope, which the engages called goats or cabres.

On the 16th of September, camped at Crow Creek, Lewis decided not to send the pirogue back to St. Louis as originally planned. He would keep the escort of soldiers with him through the winter and then have them crew the barge home. This was a key decision and the making of it troubled him. He knew that the President would worry about him, for lack of news, but it could not be helped. Perhaps a sixth sense warned him that the other Sioux would not be as peaceable as the Yanktons. In any case, after turning the matter over and over in his mind, he decided that he had best keep his detachment at full strength through the winter.

His decision made, Lewis gave his men a day’s rest, redistributed the cargo to lighten the bateau for the shoals ahead and issued flannel shirts to the men for winter. For his own part, he devoted himself to scientific observation. He investigated the cottonwoods, elms and ashes and found them all of an indifferent quality of wood. But the white oaks, he discovered, were laden with acorns of excellent flavor. The nuts were so sweet that they drew buffalo, elk, deer, bear, turkeys, ducks, pigeons and wolves to the area from afar. However, when his men killed several deer for food, they found that, nuts or not, the meat was too poor to cat. Lewis used the skins to cover the pirogues and had his men kill some buffalo. But these, too, were poor specimens and Lewis kept only the tongues, marrowbones and skins.

Lewis saw much that day. He wallowed in natural history and it was, perhaps, the most satisfying single day of his entire march. Partial proof was the fact that it was the occasion of one of the longest journal entries he ever wrote:

“Having for many days past confined myself to the boat, I determined to devote this day to amuse myself on shore with my gun and to view the interior of the country lying between the River and the Corvus [Crow] Creek. Accordingly, before sunrise, I set out with six of my best hunters, two of whom I dispatched to the lower side of Corvus Creek, two with orders to hunt the bottoms and woodland along the River, while I retained two others to accompany me in the intermediate country. One quarter of a mile in the rear of our camp, which was situated in a fine open grove of cottonwood, we passed a grove of plum trees loaded with fruit and now ripe. Observed little difference between this fruit and that of a similar kind common to the Atlantic states. The trees are smaller and more thickly set. This forest of plum trees garnish a plain about 20 feet more elevated that that on which we were encamped. This plain extends back about a mile to the foot of the hills one mile distant…. It is entirely occupied by the burrows of the barking squirrel. . . . This animal appears here in infinite numbers and the shortness and verdure of the grass gave the appearance, throughout its whole extent of a beautiful bowling green in fine order. . . . A great number of wolves of the small kind [i.e., coyotes], hawks, and some polecats to be seen. I presume that these animals feed on this squirrel. . . .”

Encountering an area of deep ravines and intervening steep hills from 100 to 200 feet high, Lewis climbed to a viewpoint atop one. The level plain opened up before his eyes, seeming to extend to infinity beyond the farthest horizon. “This scenery is immensely pleasing and beautiful,” he recorded, “heightened by immense herds of buffalo, deer, elk and antelopes which we saw in every direction, feeding on the hills and plains. I do not think I exaggerate when I estimate the number of buffalo which could be comprehended at one view to amount to 3,000.

“My object was, if possible, to kill a female antelope, having already procured a male. I pursued my route on this plain to the west, flanked by my two hunters until eight in the morning when I made the signal for them to come to me, which they did shortly after. We rested ourselves about half an hour and regaled ourselves on half a biscuit each and some jerks of elk which we had taken the precaution to put in our pouches in the morning before we set out, and drank of the water in a small pool which had collected on this plain from the rains which had fallen some days before. We had now, after various windings in pursuit of several herds of antelope which we had seen on our way, made the distance of about eight miles from our camp. We found the antelope extremely shy and watchful insomuch that we had been unable to get a shot at them. When at rest, they generally select the most elevated point in the neighbourhood and, as they are watchful and extremely quick of sight, and their sense of smelling very acute, it is almost impossible to approach them within gunshot. In short, they will frequently discover and flee from you at the distance of three miles.

“I had this day the opportunity of witnessing the agility and the superior fleetness of this animal, which was, to me, really astonishing. I had pursued and twice surprised a small herd of seven. In the first instance, they did not discover me distinctly and therefore, did -not run at full speed though they took care before they rested again to gain an elevated point where it was impossible to approach them under cover except in one direction and that happened to be in the direction from which the wind blew towards them. Bad as the chance to approach them was, I made the best of my way towards them, frequently peeping over the ridge with which I took care to conceal myself from their view. The male, of which there was but one, frequently encircled the summit of the hill on which the females stood in a group, as if to look out for the approach of danger. I got within about 200 paces of them when they smelt me and fled. I gained the top of the eminence on which they [had] stood as soon as possible, from whence I had an extensive view of the country. The antelopes which had disappeared in a steep ravine, now appeared at the distance of about three miles on the side of a ridge which passed obliquely across me and extended about four miles. So soon had these antelopes gained the distance at which they had again appeared to my view I doubted, at first, that they were the same that I had just surprised. But my doubts soon vanished when I beheld the rapidity of their flight along the ridge before me. It appeared rather the rapid flight of birds than the motions of quadrupeds. I think I can safely venture the assertion that the speed of this animal is equal, if not superior, to that of the finest blooded courser. . .

Lewis continued his scientific prowling the next day, looking over the site of old Fort Recovery and killing a new bird of prey similar to the magpie of the East. Almost before he realized it, his fleet was rounding the Great Detour of the Missouri. Once around the great bend be began to notice the country drying out, the grass giving way to prickly pear. The Virginian sent two men across the neck of land at the Detour to hunt and to await the boats only 2,000 yards from their present position but a long 30-mile haul by water.

At 1 a.m. that night, tragedy brushed the corps. The Sergeant of the Guard hoarsely shouted the men awake. The sandbar on which they were camped was being broken up by the treacherous Missouri. All hands fled to the boats and made their way to a safe camp on the south side of the river. As Lewis saw his campsite disappear into the roily waters, he had an expert lesson in why the Missouri came to be so muddy.

Above Cedar Island and near Reuben Creek, three Indian boys swam out to the boats to tell him of 140 Teton Sioux lodges ahead. But the day set for a talk did not begin auspiciously; the Sioux stole Colter’s horse, the detachment’s last animal. Lewis told the Indians he would not council with them until the mount

Historical Context: Highlights of South Dakota History During the Time of George and Aris

To provide additional historical context for the family history of George and Aris in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the following summary of key South Dakota historical events, covering during that general timeframe, is provided from the South Dakota State Historical Society10

1861 –Dakota Territory is formally established. The legislation creating the new territory is signed by President James Buchanan. The new territory includes the present states of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and most of Wyoming. William Jayne of Illinois is appointed as the first territorial governor.

1862-1865–The War of the Outbreak occurs. The war started in Minnesota with the Santee uprising of 1862 and spread into Dakota. Several towns, including Sioux Falls, were evacuated until the end of hostilities. The war resulted in several forts being built in Dakota. Dakota’s contribution to the war against the Indians consisted of two troops of volunteer cavalry and a number of militia units.

1865–The Edmunds Commission, headed by Governor Newton Edmunds, negotiated a series of treaties with the Indians in Dakota. These treaties brought about a temporary end to hostilities.

1868–A treaty is signed with the Sioux ending the Red Cloud War of 1866-1868. Among the provisions of the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1868 is a clause that continues the Great Sioux Reservation. The area contained in this reservation included the Black Hills.

1872–The Dakota Southern Railroad becomes the first railroad to operate in South Dakota, running from Vermillion to Sioux City, Iowa. The road was completed to Yankton in 1873.

1874–Rumors of gold and the need for military posts on the Great Sioux Reservation in the Black Hills area result in the Black Hills Expedition of Lt. Col. George A. Custer. In addition to troops, Custer’s expedition included a large corps of scientists and several miners. Gold is discovered in the vicinity of present day Custer and the Black Hills gold rush begins.

1876–Whites continue to enter the area of the Great Sioux Reservation. Many of the intruders go to the Black Hills to look for gold. The failure of the Army to keep whites out of the Hills angers the Sioux and war begins. The most notable event of the war is the defeat of Custer and the 7th Cavalry at the Little Big Horn in June.

1877–A treaty is signed that ends the Black Hills war and gives the Black Hills to the United States. Renegade Indians are returned to their reservations and agencies.

1878-1887–This is the period of the Great Dakota Boom. Settlers pour into Dakota. The railroads provide a major incentive to settlement. Agriculture and industry both prosper.

1880–The Chicago & North Western Railroad becomes the first railroad to reach the Missouri River when its tracks reach the new town of Pierre late in the year. Although building west at the same time as the North Western, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad will not officially reach the Missouri at Chamberlain until early 1881.

1883–By 1883, Dakota Territory had been reduced to what is now the States of South and North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana having been organized as separate territories. The northern part of the territory had grown in population to the point that the center of population was no longer in the Yankton area. This population shift led to the major event of 1883, the removal of the territorial capitol from Yankton to Bismarck. The move caused much bitterness among the people of southern Dakota. The capitol removal resulted in the first attempt to get southern Dakota admitted to the Union as a separate state. Washington refused to recognize the new state.

1885–The discontent created by the capitol removal in 1883 sparked a second attempt to create a State of Dakota out of the southern half of the territory. Voters in southern Dakota approved a state constitution and elected a full slate of state officers. The legislature and state officials convened in Huron and organized the new state government. Senators were also chosen for the new state. Once again, Washington refused to grant statehood.

1886-1887–Droughts bring the prosperity of the Great Dakota Boom to an end.

1888–A major blizzard strikes the eastern part of southern Dakota. The blizzard hits in January. Over 35 people die as a result of the storm.

1889–White settlers continue to look with longing at the vast lands of the Great Sioux Reservation. After the failure of an effort in 1888 to get a land cession agreement, the Crook Commission of 1889 secures the signing of an agreement with the Sioux that opens new land for white settlement. The Sioux agree to move onto reservations with specified boundaries.

The statehood movement finally bore fruit. On February 22, President Cleveland signed the Omnibus Bill creating the States of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington. Dakota Territory formally ceased to exist on 2 November when President Harrison signed the documents formally admitting North and South Dakota to the Union as the 39th and 40th states. Harrison purposely shuffled the documents as he signed them so that no one would know which state was admitted first. Pierre is chosen as the temporary capitol of South Dakota.

1889-1897–Drought in the late 1880s and a depressed national economy in the early and mid 1890s led to this period being called the Great Dakota Bust. The flow of settlers dropped off greatly. Some settlers left South Dakota to return to their previous homes. The state’s economy slowed down, but recovered as the nation came out of the depression in the late 1890s.

1890–Pierre is chosen as the permanent capital of South Dakota. A number of challenges to Pierre’s status come in succeeding years.

The land cession agreement of 1889, the cut in beef rations, and crop failures brought the Sioux to the brink of starvation and hopelessness, It added to the resentment toward the white man and their promises. They were no longer free to roam the plains. The great buffalo herds gone, and food was inadequate. In the summer of that year, hope comes to them in the form of the “Ghost Dance,” so called because they believed that this magical dance would bring back the dead and the buffalo as well as eliminate the whites. Non-Indians living near the reservation became frightened and demanded protection, leading to the Wounded Knee Massacre.

In the fall of 1890, the army moved west to force the Indians to stop performing the Ghost Dance. In one of the first skirmishes, Sitting Bull was killed while being arrested by tribal police. On the Cheyenne near Belle Fouche, members of Big Foot’s camp hear of Sitting Bull’s death, panic and flee south to the Badlands. When they reached the Badlands, they are captured by soldiers and taken to a small village called Wounded Knee. On the morning of Dec. 29, 1890, the soldiers gathered the Indians and prepared to search them for weapons. Someone fired a shot, and then soldiers began shooting the Indians. Several hundred Indians, men, women and children, died that day, most of them unarmed. The Wounded Knee Massacre is sometimes cited as the final conquest of the Sioux.

1896–Andrew E. Lee, a Populist, is elected as the third Governor of South Dakota. Lee was the first non-Republican governor. Only five other men who were not Republicans have served as governor, four being elected and one succeeding to the office upon a resignation.

1898–The Spanish-American War is fought. The 1st South Dakota Infantry is called into federal service and is sent to the Philippines. The regiment misses the fighting against the Spanish, but does see combat during the early months of the Philippine Insurrection in 1899. Besides the infantry regiment, South Dakota contributed five troops to the 3rd U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, commanded by Col. Melvin Grigsby of Sioux Falls. The 3rd Cavalry spent the entire war in training camps in the United States.

1900–The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad reached the Missouri River at Evarts in northern South Dakota. Evarts quickly became a major shipping point for cattle from western South Dakota.

1904–Land on the Rosebud Reservation is opened for white settlement. The land office for the opening was at Bonesteel. Chaotic conditions at Bonesteel prior to the opening and the threat of trouble on the opening day caused Lt. Gov. Snow to mobilize National Guard troops from Sioux Falls to protect the land office and keep order during the opening. The actual opening proved to be uneventful.

1904–Pierre’s position as capital of the state was challenged by Mitchell. Some people in the eastern part of the state felt that the capitol should be closer to the bulk of the state’s population. A bitter election campaign pitted eastern interests against those of western South Dakota. The campaign has been characterized as an extended holiday for the entire state. Both the Chicago & North Western Railroad, which served Pierre, and the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, which served Mitchell, transported large numbers of visitors to both cities at greatly reduced rates or on free passes. The inability of eastern South Dakota to act as a united body resulted in a wide margin of victory for Pierre. As an outgrowth of this capital fight, the 1905 legislature initiated the process that led to construction of a permanent capitol building in Pierre.

1906-1907–Both the Chicago & North Western and the Milwaukee Road build west from the Missouri River to Rapid City. The North Western beat the Milwaukee to Rapid City by several months. Development of western South Dakota was greatly aided by the establishment of two direct rail links with eastern South Dakota and eastern markets.

1906–The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad begins construction of its Pacific Coast Extension. The Extension, when completed in 1909, gave the Milwaukee a line to the Pacific coast and put South Dakota on a transcontinental rail line. The town of Evarts was abandoned when the Milwaukee decided to cross the Missouri at the new town of Mobridge.

1908–The cornerstone of the new capitol building is laid.

The first steps are taken to open large parts of the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Indian Reservations to white settlement. The land is formally opened in 1909.

1910–The new capitol building in Pierre was opened for use. Designed by the same architects who designed the Montana capitol, the new capitol ended the possibility of new fights over the sight of the state capitol. Although growth in the size of state government required an addition to the capitol building in the 1930s and the construction of several separate office buildings, the building opened in 1910 has continued to serve as the capitol to the present day.

1916–The 4th South Dakota Infantry was one of many National Guard regiments mobilized for service on the Mexican border. The regiment was stationed near San Benito, Texas. The South Dakotans saw no action and returned home in March 1917. One battalion of the regiment was back in Federal service several months later guarding bridges against possible German sabotage.

1916–Peter Norbeck was elected as the ninth governor of South Dakota. Norbeck was the first governor actually born in South Dakota. His election continued the tradition of Republican domination of state politics. After two terms as governor, Norbeck went on to serve in the United States Senate. He died in office during his third term.

1917-1918–The United States was involved in World War I. South Dakota’s major contribution to the war was the 147th Field Artillery Regiment. The 147th was created out of half of the 4th South Dakota Infantry and two batteries of Oregon National Guard Artillery. The 147th saw heavy action as it provided artillery support for ten different American and French divisions. The regiment received numerous decorations and citations from both France and the United States. After the war’s end, the 147th was retained as part of the South Dakota National Guard.

1927–Gutzon Borglum begins work on the Mount Rushmore monument. The monument contains the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Borglum’s work had its origin in the desire of State Historian Doane Robinson to have a monument to American history created in the Black Hills. Although never completed, the Rushmore monument is still a major tourist attraction.

1928–Gov. Budlow pardons Poker Alice, 78, after she is convicted on a bootlegging charge. Gov. Budlow was said to be reluctant to send a white-haired old lady to prison. Poker Alice was a gambler/madam from Sturgis whose enterprises catered to the soldiers at Ft. Meade.

1930s–South Dakota is hit hard by the Depression. Drought and dust created severe problems for agriculture. The Civilian Conservation Corps and the WPA provided many jobs. The CCC was instrumental in providing much forest conservation work in the Black Hills

Footnotes and References

1South Dakota Special Census of 1915, in which George Grimshaw, at age 66, indicated that he had been in the U.S. for 53 years.

2U.S. Geological Survey, 1935, Chamberlain, S. Dak. Quadrangle, scale 1:62,500

3Lyman County Historical Society, 1968, A Brief History of Lyman County from 1888-1906, in Lyman County Pioneers, 1885-1968: Stickney, SD, Argus Printers, reprinted 1974 by State Publishing Co., Pierre, SD, p. 3-5.

4Caslin, Harry, 1974, A History of Lyman County, in Early Settlers in Lyman County: Pierre, SD, State Publishing Co. (Published by Lyman County Historical Society), p. 5-6.

5Wait, Florence (Holmes), 1961, Early History of Oacoma, in Oacoma – Where the West Begins, 1893-1993 Centennial, 1992: Oacoma SD, Oacoma Centennial Committee, privately published, p. 5.

6(Mitchell) Daily Republic, 1974, “Oacoma” – Towns in Lyman County, in Early Settlers in Lyman County: Pierre, SD, State Publishing Co. (Published by Lyman County Historical Society), p. 9-10.

7Birchfield, Eva, 1988, Town – Oacoma, County – Lyman, Population – 300, in Oacoma — Where the West Begins, 1893-1993 Centennial, 1992: Oacoma SD, Oacoma Centennial Committee, privately published, p. 6-7.

8Lewis, Meriwether, 1961, The Lewis and Clark Expedition – the 1814 Edition, Unabridged: Philadelphia and New York, J.B. Lippincott Company, p. 64-67.

9Dillon, Richard, 1965, Meriwether Lewis – a Biography: New York, Coward-McCann, p. 125-199.

10Taken from the website of the South Dakota State Historical Society (Department of Education and Cultural Affairs), September, 2000 (

Webpage History

Webpage posted September 2000. Updated September 2003 with additional photos from Freda & Joe Bice album and Bill and Nettie Grimshaw album. Updated and reorganized June 2008, with addition of information on origins of Aris Ladd.