South Dakota

Brule County, South Dakota


Cone, R. E.

Ringsrud, Amund O.

Thrall, Dr. W. H.





Who's Who in South Dakota, Vol. 2
By O. W. Coursey
Educator School Supply Co., Publisher, 1916
Transcribed and Contributed by Jim Dezotell



It was Sunday morning, May 8, 1898. The battle of Manila bay had been fought and won by Admiral Dewey on the previous Sunday. The heart of the nation was throbing with patriotic pride. The First South Dakota infantry, U. S. volunteers, were in camp on the old Sioux river bottom at Sioux Falls. A large tent had been pitched at the southeast corner of the ground in which to hold services for the soldier boys. At a stirring time like that a magnetic, inspirational orator was needed to deliver the address. The Reverend W. H. Thrall of Huron came out to camp to visit his neighbor, Chaplain C. M. Daley, of his home city; and so our preacher-educator, Dr. Thrall, was selected as orator for the occasion.

Taking the battle of Manila bay as his text - a text in keeping with the occasion - the gifted orator made the eagle scream for an hour as he unfolded the duties and responsibilities of good citizenship. The address set forth in a beautiful strain of inspiring eloquence the obligations of every man to that country under whose flag he enjoys his citizenship. The effect was electrical. Many who had merely wandered into camp for a day or two, thinking to return home again, went the next morning to headquarters and promptly enlisted. Telegrams were sent to the companies raised at Woonsocket and at other points not to come, that the regiment was full to overflowing and that men were being turned away by the hundreds; in fact South Dakota sent to the war including Grigsby's rough riders, just three times her quota under the call.

Throughout the long campaign in the Philippines, and especially as the South Dakota boys stood on the banks of Manila bay and saw lying therein the shell-riven wrecks which Dr. Thrall had so vividly painted to them with his brush-tipped tongue at Sioux Falls the year before, they frequently referred to that eloquent address that had caused them to enlist.  Dr. Thrall comes from prominent New England stock. His ancestors, John Holland and Elizabeth Tillie, came over on the Mayflower. His immediate ancestors on his mother's side   the Bowmans   had charge of the "minute men" of Massachusetts for fifty years prior to the eventful morning near Lexington when these famous colonial troops

"Fired the shot heard 'round the world."

W. H., himself, was born at Kewanee, Ill., February 25, 1854. His father was a Congregational minister. As a result, the boy was raised in town. He was educated in the public schools of the various towns in which his father preached. Finally, when William was a lad well along in his teens, the family moved to Galesburg, Ill., where he attended high school. Here he also attended Knox College until he was well along in his junior year. From there he went to Amherst college, where he remained for two years, taking his A. B. degree with the class of 1877. Yale granted him his B. D. in 1881. Amherst gave him his master's degree in 1882; and Redfield college honored him with his D. D. in 1903.

In 1881, Dr. Thrall joined the "Yale-Dakota band of missionaries." There were nine of them. As they passed through Chicago they were given a large reception at the grand opera house. The nine previously met in a room and elected young Thrall as their speaker to represent them on that occasion.

Upon arriving in Dakota territory he went to Chamberlain where he organized the Congregational church at that place, and built the building. He remained at Chamberlain but one year, during the latter part of which he also did "minute man" work.

Then he accepted a call from the American Missionary association to do educational and missionary work. They assigned him to the principalship of Gregory normal institute, Wilmington, N. C. After that he  was made principal of the Tougaloo (Miss.) university.

Not liking the southern climate he returned to Dakota, took up missionary work and organized the Congregational church at Armour.  From there he went to Tomah, Wis., where he preached for two years.

His wife's health having begun to fail rapidly, the doctors advised them to go south again, so Dr. Thrall accepted the principalship of Pleasant Hill (Tenn.) academy. 

However, in 1891, he returned to South Dakota again and became pastor for two years of the church at Redfield. During his last six months there he also acted as superintendent of the Congregational churches of the state. His organizing ability was so effective that he was made superintendent in May, 1893, and he has held this position now for upwards of twenty-two years. 

The greatest honor that has been conferred upon him was the organization and naming after him of Thrall academy at Sorum, Perkins county, this state, in 1913. This gives the Congregationalists four institutions of higher education in South Dakota   Thrall academy, Ward academy, Redfield college and Yankton college. 

It is due Dr. Thrall to lay additional stress on his effective platform work. At Yale, he was one of the seven speakers chosen from a class of thirty to represent them at commencement time. At Amherst, in a  class of seventy-four, he was one of the six speakers chosen for commencement honors. He wrote for the Hyde prize. His oration ranked first. Today he is in general demand for commencement season, and his addresses are always refreshing and up-to-date.

The books show that at the time Dr. Thrall became superintendent the total membership of the Congregational churches in South Dakota was 5,173. It has now 10,574. The number of families has also doubled. Benevolences have grown from $7,665 to $21,560. Home expenses from $50,543 to $164,234. The value of church property has multiplied several times.

There are more Congregationalists in South Dakota to the population than in any other state west of New England, South Dakota in this respect even standing ahead of Congregational Iowa, the ratio now being one congregationalist to every fifty-eight people in the state. 

Some 127 of the churches still living have been organized since the beginning of his work as superintendent twenty-two and more years ago. Of the churches still living 101 have erected new buildings during that time. Superintendent Thrall has taken part in the dedication services of all of these but four or five. He raised final bills on such occasions where called, except in four instances. Sometimes this involved the raising of several thousand dollars, e. g., Mitchell. Most all occasions of that kind called for some last bills to be provided for and yet almost without exception no church has been dedicated without the money being raised. The two or three exceptions have been cases where the finances were not put in the superintendent's hands ahead of time nor carefully reported upon.

Sixty-nine parsonages belonging to the Congregational churches still alive have been completed in that time. At the beginning of his  superintendency there were but six churches in his district which were self- supporting. Now the majority of them are.

He has been chairman of the committee on legislation appointed by the federation of Christian churches, several years in succession. In that  capacity, or representing his own denomination, he has taken an active part in some important legislative work. He took a very active part in effecting an amendment to the South Dakota divorce law when Bishop Hare was also interested in that particular legislative work. And other legislative acts better guarding the home and the purity of womanhood have received his active attention during various sessions of the legislature.

History of Dakota Territory
George W. Kingsbury, Vol. 4, 1915


R. E. Cone is a prominent representative of financial interests in Huron as president of the James Valley Bank, of which institution he has served as the chief executive officer since 1911. His birth occurred in Iowa in 1881, his parents being James W. and Emily (Staples) Cone, who came to Brule county, South Dakota, in 1883. The father, an attorney by profession, was engaged in the abstract business at Sioux Falls. He died October 10, 1913.

R. E. Cone acquired his early education in the public schools and subsequently attended the Baptist College. After putting aside his textbooks he secured a position as stenographer and in January, 1902, became identified with the banking business at Mitchell, entering the service of the Commercial & Savings Bank, with which he remained for nine years and eight months, acting as cashier of the institution for several years. In September, 1911, he came to Huron to take up his duties as president of the James Valley Bank, in which important capacity he has served to the present time. The bank was incorporated on the 15th of May, 1902, with the following officers: George S. Hutchinson, president; C. H. Bonesteel, vice president; John J. Greene, M. L. Tobin and William Waibel, directors; and Frank J. Sauer, cashier. On the 13th of July, 1911, R. E. Cone bought out Mr. Hutchinson and succeeded the latter as president of the institution, which owns a handsome structure at the comer of Dakota and Third streets. Its present officers are as follows: R. E. Cone, president; C. H. Bonesteel, vice president; V. C. Bonesteel, cashier; C. C. Smith, assistant cashier. The directors are R. E. Cone, John J. Greene, C. H. Bonesteel, M. L. Tobin and William Waibel. Following is the statement made to the public examiner for the close of business on August 9, 1913.

Loans and Discounts....................................... $310,098.31
Overdrafts ...................................................................768.30
Real estate, bank building and fixtures ..............17,689.40
Cash on hand................................ $19,390.53
Cash in banks .................................78,084.14....97,474.67
Total.................................................................. $426,030.68

Capital Stock .....................................................$30,000.00
Surplus and undivided profits ...............................5,897.65
Subject to check : ............ $106,350.81
Bank .........................................1,291.31
Savings ...............................104,474.10
Certificates .........................178,016.81............ 390,133.03
Total .......................................................................$426,030.68

The James Valley Bank pays four per cent compound interest on savings accounts, receives deposits subject to check, loans money on personal security, makes farm loans at lowest rates, giving quick service, and rents safety deposit boxes for valuable papers at one dollar per year. As the head of this institution Mr. Cone has contributed in large measure to its continued growth and success and is widely recognized as a prominent and respected citizen of Huron.

In 1903 Mr. Cone was united in marriage to Miss Frances Haney, of Newton, Kansas, by whom he has three children. His political allegiance is given to the republican party, while his religious faith is that of the Episcopal church. Fraternally he is identified with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Masons, being past master of Resurgan Lodge, No. 31, A. F. & A. M., and a member of the chapter, council and commandery at Huron. Though still a young man, he has already won an enviable position in financial and social circles of the state in which practically his entire life has been spent.

History of Dakota Territory
George W. Kingsbury, Vol. 4, 1915


The name of Hon. Amund O. Ringsrud is written large on the pages of South Dakota's history because of his prominent and helpful connection with public offices and his activity in the field of commerce, which constitutes the basis of the material development and greatness of the state. While he is now widely known as the proprietor of an establishment conducted under the name of the Ringsrud Mercantile Company at Elk Point, he is equally widely known as having had the honor of serving as the first secretary of state of South Dakota.

He was born in Norway on the 13th of September, 1854, a son of Ole O. and Karen (Amundson) Ringsrud, who came to the United States in 1887. They were among the first residents of Union county, Dakota, and the work of development, improvement and civilization seemed scarcely begun in that district. Much of the land was still in possession of the government and Ole O. Ringsrud homesteaded a quarter section of land in Brule township, on which he lived to the time of his death in 1876, devoting his energies to the cultivation and improvement of his farm. His widow survived him for thirty-eight years and passed away at the advanced age of ninety-one years. She was born November 17, 1822, and death called her on the 2d of April, 1914.

Amund O. Ringsrud was a little lad in his thirteenth year at the time the family made the long voyage across the Atlantic to the new world. For a brief period after the establishment of the home in South Dakota he attended public school and then worked upon his father's farm until he reached his sixteenth year. He then received his initial training along mercantile lines in a clerkship in a general store at Elk Point. He spent eight and a half years in that way, gaining broad, practical experience, which constituted the foundation for his present success in mercantile lines. After that period spent in a clerkship, however, he became an active factor in political circles and the recognition of his worth and ability on the part of his fellow citizens led to his election to the office of registrar of deeds of Union county in 1878. Reelection continued him in the position for three terms, or six years, and he retired from office as he had entered it with the confidence and goodwill of all concerned. When his third term as registrar had expired he was elected county treasurer of Union county and continued as the custodian of the public funds through two terms, or for a period of four years. Still higher political honors awaited him, however, for in 1889 he was elected secretary of state of South Dakota, having the honor of being the first man chosen to that position in the newly organized commonwealth. As in the positions which he had previously held, he discharged his duties with such promptness, faithfulness and capability that he was reelected and remained for two terms as one of the state officers. In the meantime Mr. Ringsrud had become actively and prominently identified with the business life of Elk Point, having established a mercantile enterprise in 1885, which he incorporated under the name of the Ringsrud Mercantile Company in 1896. In that year he was candidate on the republican ticket for governor of South Dakota but in the election met defeat when Bryan and free silver swept the state, the party losing in the election the congressman, the governor and the presidential electors. He now represents his county us a committeeman of the republican party and is still deeply interested in the political situation of the country, although not seeking office at the present time. He now devotes the greater part of his energies to the conduct of his growing commercial interests and is today at the head of one of the most important mercantile establishments of his part of the state. He carries a very large and carefully selected line of goods and is thus ready to meet the varied wants and needs of a diverse patronage. His store is attractive in its arrangements, his prices are reasonable and in the conduct of his business he displays unfaltering energy and progressiveness. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Union County Bank.

In 1876 Mr. Ringsrud was married to Miss Emma F. Snyder, of New Hampton, Iowa, and to them have been born two daughters and a son: Grace Ellen, now the wife of F. W. Ford, of Elk Point; Stella May, at home; and Alfred H., who is engaged in the automobile business in Elk Point. Mr. Ringsrud is a leader in Masonic circles, holding membership in Elk Point Lodge, No. 3, F. & A. M.; Vermillion Chapter, No. 21, R. A. M.; De Molay Commandery, K. T., of Yankton; Oriental Consistory, No. 1, A. & A. S. R. of Yankton; and El Riad Temple A. A. O. N. M. S., of Sioux Falls. He is now president of the Elk Point Commercial Club and displays in marked measure the spirit of initiative in promoting and fostering the interests whereby the club is doing such splendid work in advancing the commercial connections of the city and in furthering all interests which are a matter of civic virtue and civic pride. From early manhood Mr. Ringsrud has been a leading figure in South Dakota and is widely known throughout the state as one whose record is of signal usefulness and honor.


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