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Clark County, SD Biographies





Samuel B. Elrod


Elrod, Samuel B., lawyer and statesman of Clark, S.D., was born May 1, 1856, in Coatesville, Ind. He was states attorney for ten years. In 1905-07 he was governor of South Dakota.
[Herringshaw's American Blue-Book of Biography By Thomas William Herringshaw, 1914 – Transcribed by AFOFG]




My great grandfather's name was Julius Marion Thurstin. He was born Sept. 1846 in Iowa. He was a private in Co. D, 33rd Wisconsin Infantry in the Civil War, enlisting 14 Aug. 1862 and being discharged 17 Aug 1865. This is from the 1890 census of pensioners. He was living in Clark Co., South Dakota at that time. He married Helen Mary Griffith (born Nov. 1849 in Canada) on 6 Oct 1891 at Willow Lake, Clark Co., SD. She died 24 Jan 1937 at Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada. In 1900, they were living in Clark, Collins Co., SD. My grand father, Charles Arthur Marion Thurstin was born April 13, 1895 in Beadle County, South Dakota
[Submitted by Doug Hamilton, who adds: "It is like I have hit a 'brick wall' when it comes to this portion of our genealogy. I cannot even find a record of their marriage and I am having no luck finding information about the time they spent in South Dakota. Eventually they moved to Alberta, Canada and Julius is buried in Edmonton and Helen was buried in Cold Lake. I would appreciate any information anyone can add to it. doughamilton@cruzinternet.com]


History of Dakota Territory, George W. Kingsbury, Vol. 4, 1915
Contributed by Karen Seeman


Emil A. Berke, a well known and able attorney practicing at Elkton, has attained a position which many an older member of the bar might well envy. His birth occurred September 21, 1886, upon a farm in Deuel county, South Dakota, and he comes of Scandinavian parentage and ancestry. He was but a few years old when the family removed to Clark county and there he began his education in the district schools, while later he attended the high school at Bradley, South Dakota. He was ambitious to secure a good education that would fit him for life's practical and responsible duties and when fifteen years of age he went to Madison, where for four years he was a student in the State Normal School, where he came under the instruction of General W. H. H. Beadle. After putting aside his textbooks Mr. Berke took up the profession of teaching, which he followed in Day county, and later he filed upon and proved up a claim northwest of Philip. He never abandoned his idea, however, of securing an education and preparing for the bar, and after securing his claim he matriculated in the university at Vermillion, South Dakota, where he entered upon a course of law and economics. Notwithstanding the fact that he entered late in the first semester of the school year, he very creditably passed all of his examinations. He has ever been a student and his tastes and habits along that line have gained him rank with the scholars of his part of the state. While a university student he manifested oratorical talent and ability of high order and at the same time he thoroughly mastered the work of the law course and qualified for later successes at the bar. During his college days he became a member of the Delta Theta Phi.

Following his graduation, at which time the Bachelor of Laws degree was conferred upon him, he formed a partnership for practice with Fred W. Cuckow and the firm had two offices, with Mr. Cuckow at the Brookings office and Mr. Berke in charge of the practice at Elkton. A liberal clientage was accorded the firm until 1914, when it was found necessary to dissolve the partnership on account of the illness of the senior partner.

During his university days Mr. Berke formed the acquaintance of Miss Lillian Marzian, a native of Kentucky, and the friendship which sprang up between them ripened into love, resulting in their marriage at Madison, South Dakota, in June, 1913. Theirs is an attractive home by reason of its warm-hearted hospitality and good cheer and is a favorite resort with their many friends at Elkton and through the surrounding country. Mr. Berke concentrates his energies upon his profession and his devotion to his clients' interests is proverbial, yet he never forgets that he owes a still higher allegiance to the majesty of the law.


“History of Dakota Territory”, George W. Kingsbury, 1915
contributed by Karen Seeman


George C. Griffin is cashier of the Ware & Griffin Bank at Clark and in his business career has made wise use of his time and his opportunities. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, on the 5th of August, 1861, and is a son of Stephen B. and Fanny A. (Brown) Griffin, both of whom are deceased. The father was for many years engaged in railroad work.

At the usual age George C. Griffin became a public-school pupil, passing through consecutive grades until he was prepared for the high school. When he had completed his more advanced studies he secured employment in an insurance office and later in a bank at Morris, Illinois. The fall of 1882 witnessed his arrival in South Dakota, at which time he came to Clark, where he engaged in the loan and real-estate business. He secured a fair clientage in
that connection and won a substantial measure of success. At length, however, he entered the banking business, with which he first became connected in the '80s. Subsequently he again took up the real-estate business but in 1900 he renewed his connection with banking and in 1904 he organized the Ware & Griffin Bank, entering upon the duties of cashier, with Fred Ware as the president. The business has doubled since the opening of the bank, which is now in a prosperous condition. It follows a safe, conservative yet progressive policy and the number of its depositors and the amount of its business along general lines is constantly increasing.

Mr, Griffin has been married twice. In 1884 he wedded Adeline McSpadden of Clark, and unto them were born three children: Emma, now the wife of E. J. Hart, of Watertown; Helen: and Elizabeth. In 1910 Mr. Griffin was again married, his second union being with Nina B. Brown of Clark, and they have one son, George C., Jr.

Mr. Griffin gives his political indorsement to the men and measures of the republican party, but has no aspiration for office. Fraternally he is connected with the Masons, having taken the degrees of both the lodge and chapter. He also has membership with the Elks, the Knights of Pythias, the Woodmen, the Workmen and the Modern Brotherhood of America. He is now president of the council and of the Commercial Club and his efforts have been a salient force in promoting public progress, in extending business connections and in advancing the general welfare along many lines. His religious faith i3 that of the Congregational church and his well spent life has won for him the high regard of all with whom he has come in contact, gaining for him a circle of friends almost coextensive with the circle of his acquaintance.

History of Dakota Territory, George W. Kingsbury, Vol. 4, 1915
Contributed by Karen Seeman


John P. Kluge is enjoying a well earned and well merited rest after long years of close and active connection with agricultural interests. Success came to him in substantial measure as the result of his industry and close application and with a handsome competence he retired to enjoy the fruits of his former toil. He was born in Norway, November 16, 1854, and is a son of P. O. and Mathea Flatten. The family came to the United States in 1871 and arrived in South Dakota in 1876, settling six miles north of Dell Rapids. The father secured a homestead claim and also a timber claim and devoted his energies to the development and improvement of his property until the time of his death, which occurred in 1902. His wife lived till 1910. They were among the pioneer settlers of South Dakota and took an active and helpful interest in promoting the work of general improvement and in reclaiming the district in which they settled for purposes of civilization.

John P. Kluge was a youth of about seventeen years when the family came to the new world. In early manhood he learned the wagon maker's trade, which he followed in La Crosse, Wisconsin, until he came to South Dakota in 1877. The section of the state in which he settled was just being opened up to civilization and improvement. Much of the land was still in the possession of the government and the district gave little evidence of being soon transformed into a rich agricultural region. Like his father, John P. Kluge acquired a homestead and a timber claim in Moody county and concentrated his efforts upon general agricultural pursuits, continuing to farm and develop that place until 1905. The result of his efforts was seen in well tilled fields productive of good crops. He saved his earnings, carefully and systematically managed the farm work and as the years went on a substantial competence accrued. In 1905 he retired to his present home in Colman, but still owns his farm and has added to his original holdings. He also has property in Clark county. Success in substantial measure has crowned his labors and he now gives his supervision merely to his invested interests and spends some time in working in his garden plot of three acres. Indolence and idleness are utterly foreign to his nature so that he could not content himself without some occupation and thus he whiles away the hours, finding pleasure in the cultivation and production of garden produce. He is financially interested in important business projects and is now vice president and one of the directors of the Citizens State Bank of Colman, in which he owns considerable stock, and is also president of the Farmers Elevator Company.

In 1880 Mr. Kluge was united in marriage to Miss Hannah Hagen, a daughter of John G. and Helen Hagen, the former a soldier of the Civil war who was with Sherman in the Atlanta campaign and on the march to the sea. In the family of Mr. and Mrs. Kluge are seven children: Julia, now the wife of O. Hilmoe; Millie, the wife of E. P. Olson; Emma, who married D. L. Firestone; Ida, at home; Clara, the wife of M. Stevenson; Matilda, at home; and Julius, who is attending school at Humboldt College in Iowa.

The religious faith of the family is that of the Lutheran church and Mr. Kluge's political belief is that of the republican party. He has served as chairman of the township board of supervisors and as assessor of Colman. He is now treasurer of the school board and for many years served in the same capacity on the township board. Having retired from business, he has leisure for public duties, which he discharges in a most prompt, and efficient manner. He and his wife have led active, busy and useful lives, crowned with a measure of success that is the merited reward of their earnest and intelligently directed effort. They certainly deserve much credit for what they have accomplished and they are highly esteemed by all who know them.

History of Dakota Territory, George W. Kingsbury, Vol. 4, 1915
Contributed by Karen Seeman


John Scanlan is the president of the State Bank of Bradley. His residence in the state covers more than a quarter of a century and for twenty-three years he has been engaged in the banking business. He was born in Clayton county, Iowa, June 24, 1863, and is a son of Patrick and Johanna (Mulvihill) Scanlan, both of whom have now passed away. John Scanlan acquired a public-school education and when not busy with his text books assisted his father in the operation of the home farm. Later he took up the profession of school teaching in Iowa and followed it for five years. In 1887 he came to South Dakota and for nine years engaged in buying grain. In the meantime he organized the State Bank of Bradley, was elected its president and has since continued in that capacity. The fact that the institution has had a continuous existence through all this period is indicative of its success and of the practical business methods followed in its management. His son Hugh, is now acting as cashier of the bank. Mr. Scanlan is still engaged in the grain business, is likewise connected with the lumber trade and is the president of the Farmers State Bank at Crocker and of the Crandall State Bank. The extent and importance of his business interests have made him a prominent figure in Clark county. He also owns considerable land through the state and his investments have been most judiciously made.

On the 13th of September, 1886, Mr. Scanlan was united in marriage to Miss Emma J. Perry, a daughter of D. W. Perry of Iowa, now deceased. They have two sons, Hugh and Thomas, the latter being the cashier of the Farmers State Bank of Crocker. Hugh Scanlan married Miss Georgia E. Shirk of Iowa. The religious faith of the family is that of the Catholic church and Mr. Scanlan belongs to the Knights of Columbus, which draws its membership from the adherents of the Catholic faith. He is also identified with the Modern Woodmen of America, the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Royal Neighbors of America. His political indorsement is given to the republican party and he has filled the offices of town treasurer and president of the school board. He works for the interests of the community along various lines of progress and improvement and his efforts have been an element in advancing the substantial growth of his town.

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

Contributed by Karen Seeman


Ellis P. Titus is conducting a real-estate and insurance business in Clark, where he has been located since 1910 and where he has already made for himself a creditable name  and place. His birth occurred in Henry county, Illinois, on the 3d of October, 1864, a son  of Francis and Lydia (Arnold) Titus, both of whom are still living. The father has devoted  his life to general agricultural pursuits.

 Ellis P. Titus is indebted to the public-school system of Iowa for the educational opportunities which he enjoyed as his parents had removed to that state when he was but  four years old. After leaving school he assisted his father on the farm and later engaged in the farm implement business and went upon the road, traveling for different machinery companies for about two and a half years. He then returned to the old home farm in Taylor county, Iowa, where he lived for about fourteen years and on the expiration of that  period came to South Dakota in 1910. Settling in Clark, he opened a real-estate office  which he has since conducted. He is now thoroughly acquainted with property values,  knows what is upon the market and what can be purchased advantageously, and as time  has passed he has negotiated various important realty transfers. He now owns  considerable property both in the county and town and is also agent for the Colonial Trust  &. Land Company. In 1912 he handled six thousand acres. 

On the 17th of August, 1892, Mr. Titus was united in marriage to Miss Etta Webb, a daughter of William and Martha Webb, of Iowa, and they have become parents of four children: Ruth M., Francis Philip, Worth and Reid. Mrs. Titus is a member of the  Christian church.

Mr. Titus has for a quarter of a century been identified with the Odd Fellows society and in politics exercises his right of franchise in support of the men and measures of the republican party. Coming to the northwest, he has already been recognized as a factor in the substantial growth of Clark county and in all of his business dealings has been  thoroughly imbued with the spirit of enterprise and progress which has become the  dominant factor in the upbuilding of the state.



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