South Dakota

Codington County South Dakota

Watertown, South Dakota History


from "History of Southeastern Dakota, Its Settlement and Growth"

Sioux City Iowa: Western Publishing Company, 1881




There is no more substantial or promising town in Dakota than Watertown. Nowhere else in the Territory will be found a population made of a better or more progressive class of immigration.  Its various business establishments all branches of which are represented are placed upon exceptionally good footings, and are conducted in a manner which compels the admiration of the disinterested visitor. It is not the province of a work of this character, to enter into details as to each business house, as to the amount of business transacted therein, or, indeed, to advertise goods and wares. The writer, however, can but pay a deserved compliment to a growing little city of more than a thousand inhabitants, which stands, where less than two years ago, not a solitary evidence of civilization appeared. The buildings of Watertown are of a superior character.

Save one or two small buildings, there were no buildings on the present townsite of Watertown, until the first of April, 1880, about which time the place became the scene of remarkable activity. The town was platted in September, 1878, by Col. Jacoby, and was
incorporated under the provisions of the Territorial Code, in April, 1880. It is located on section 31, township 117, range 52. There are two additions one platted by Wm. Mclntyre on a part of the northwest quarter of section 32, township 117, range 52, and called East Watertown; to which there is an addition platted by R. F. Pettigrew, and called Pettigrew's Addition to East Watertown the other platted by C. O. Carpenter on the southeast quarter of section 30, township 117, range 52, and called North Watertown.

Probably one hundred carpenters were put to work on or about the first of April, 1880, and as a resident expresses it, there was a "continual pounding from morning till night." From that time, the town grew with undiminished rapidity, save for the deprivations of the great snow blockade of the winter and spring of 1880-81, the incidents of which are in themselves sufficient to fill a volume.


The United States Land Office is permanently located in Watertown, and transacts an immense amount of business, owing to the continuous stream of immigration which pours into this point. A. C. Wellette is the Register, and A. R. Pease, Receiver. Hon. T.
A. Kingsbury is the obliging Chief Clerk.


The hotel accommodations are excellent, the Central House, Merchants Hotel and East Watertown Hotel being the principal places of public entertainment.


There are two first-class grain elevators. The first was erected by Van Dusen & Co., in the summer of 1879, and is one of the largest elevators west of Winona. It is managed by the Alexander Brothers, who came here in April, 1859; Melvin from Cassopolis, Mich., Barton from Red Wing, Minn.


The second elevator is also a large one, and was erected in 1880, by the Porter Milling Co., of Winona, Minn., one of the very large flouring mills for which the State is so justly famous. They have a capacity of about 1,000 barrels of flour per day.


The Bank of Watertown was established March 1st, 1880, by Col. O. C. Johnson and O. Gesley, both of Beloit, Wis. Mr. Gesley came here in March, 1879, and Col Johnson in March, 1880. This bank is located on Oak street, in a substantial brick building erected by them for that purpose. The building is 24 by 70 feet two stories high, and is elegantly finished throughout. The large vault is thoroughly fire proof, and their valuables are further protected by one Hall's latest improved fire and burglar proof safes, the doors of which are faithfully guarded by a time lock. This bank receives deposits, buys and sells exchange, and does a general banking business.


The Codington County Bank opened its doors for the first time on the 1st day of September, 1880. It is owned by H. D. Walrath and S. B. Sheldon, both formerly of Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence Co., N. Y. This bank is located on the corner of Oak street and
Kemp avenue, in a brick building erected by them for that purpose. The building is built of brick, 23 by 45 feet, and two stories high, and is tastefully designed and elegantly finished. The inside of the building is equally beautiful in design and finish. The bank is supplied with a perfectly solid brick and stone fire-proof vault, and within the vault is one of Hall's latest improved burglar proof safes, that can only be opened through the medium of one of the most approved time locks. This bank receives deposits from farmers, merchants and others, buys and sells foreign and domestic exchange, makes collections and does a general banking business.


The Dakota News was established June 23,18T9,by S. J. Conklin, of Waterloo, Wis., and W. O. Fraser, of Marion, Ohio. The firm name is Conklin & Fraser. The paper is a six-column quarto, and has already a large and rapidly increasing circulation, Its jobbing department is very complete, and it is supplied with all the modern conveniences of a first-class news and job office. The Codington County Courier is a seven-column folio, published weekly by Geo. A. Edes, who came here from Marshall, Minn., in the summer of 1880, and purchased the good will of the Watertown Independent, which was established in April, 1879. Both these papers are excellent publications, creditably representing an intelligent constituency.


Trinity Episcopal Church was organized in the summer of 1881. The Society propose building shortly. Rev. M. Hoyt, D. D., Dean of Dakota, is the Rector. Wardens - H. D. Walrath, J. I. Monks. Vestry - Oscar P. Kemp, S. A. Briggs, A. R. Pease, S. B. Sheldon,
F. W. Hoyt.   Treasurer - S. B. Sheldon.


The Congregational Church was organized in March, 1879, by Rev. H. B. Johnson, who also preaches at Estelline in Hamlin County, and at Clark, Clark County.


The Methodist Society was organized about the same time, by Rev. A. D. Chase, who came here from Wisconsin in 1878, and entered land here, on which he has made valuable improvements. The Baptist Society was organized in 1880, by Rev. A. S. Orcutt,
formerly of Chicago, and a Church of the Disciples has been organized by Rev. Geo. Clendenan.


Watertown Lodge No. 24, I. O. O. F., was instituted August 20, 1880, by D. D. G. S. Poore. The following are charter members: C. M. Cannon, C. W. Swift, C. Goss, Geo. A. Edes,C. C. Whistler, August Huntzicker, Geo. E. Watson, Phil. Crittenden, John Saur. The first officers were: C. W. Swift, N. G.; C. C. Whistler, V.G.; C. M. Cannon, Secretary; C. Goss, Treasurer. Present officers: I. M. Westfall, N. G.; C. Goss, V. G.; C. C. Whistler, Secretary; D. C. Thomas, Treasurer. The membership is about twenty-five, and the Lodge is in a flourishing condition.


Kampeska Lodge No. 13, A. F. & A. M., was instituted in November, 1879, under dispensation from the Grand Master of Dakota. The charter bears date June 9, 1880. Charter members and first officers: D. C. Thomas, W. M.; W. H. Edes, S. W.; I. R. King,
J. W.; S. Snyder, Treasurer; Frank Hoskins, Secretary; W. R. Thomas, S. D.; Geo. E. Hanson, J. D.; W. A. Carroll, S. S.; H. B. Johnson, J. S.; G. H. Cady, Tyler; S. W. Bowman, M. T. Briggs, C E. Edes, J. J. Owsley. The present officers are: D.C, Thomas, W. M.; W. A. Carroll, S. W.; G. E. Hanson, J. W.; J. J. Owsley, Treasurer; John M. Hoyt, Secretary; W. R. Thomas, S. D.; I. R. King, J. D.; M. T. Briggs S. S.; Frank Hoskins, J. S.; G. H. Cady, Tyler. The Lodge has a membership of about forty and enjoys an enviable reputation. The Grand Lodge of Dakota will meet with Kampeska Lodge in June, 1882.


E. N. Brann was appointed County Superintendent of Public Instruction in September, 1878, and elected in November of the same year. The first school district was organized in April, 1877, the first meeting for that purpose being held April 23d at the house of C. O. Carpenter. Miss Laura L. Leach (now Mrs. L. S. Deming) taught the first school in the summer of 1879, in the hall of Gesley & Duxtad. The school house was built in the fall of 1879, 48 x 50 feet in dimensions, and has a seating capacity of about two hundred. E. N.  Brann was the Principal, Miss Eva Carpenter, Assistant. In the winter of 1880-81, J. N. Williams was also employed as teacher. Frank Crane, of Sparta, Wis., became Principal in May, 1880, Mr. Crane, Miss Carpenter and Miss Carrie Briggs, constituting the corps of teachers for the present year. The last enrollment was one hundred and thirty-five pupils. There are nineteen school districts in Codington County, and seventeen school houses, all well built, substantial structures, and provided with the latest improved school furniture and apparatus.


The first municipal election was held June 8, 1880.



Election, 1880 Trustees - Wm. Mclntyre, President; John Kemp, W. L. Beals, Frank Rice.
Clerk - Charles X. Seward.
Treasurer - C. C. Whistler.
Assessor and Marshal - John N. Johnson.
Justice of the Peace - S. A. Briggs.

Present Officers - Trustees - Wm. Mclntyre, President; Frank Rice, M. D
Alexander, Hans Johnson.
Clerk - Chas. X. Seward.
Treasurer - C. C. Whistler.
Marshal - James L. Wiley.
Assessor - J. C. Miller.
City Attorney - Chas. X. Seward.
Justice of the Peace, - Wm. M. Pierce.

Board of Education - John N. Johnson, R. B. Spicer, S. B. Sheldon




Attorneys - S. J. Conklin, Poore & Church, Campbell & Comfort, D. C. & W. R. Thomas, Banvard & Wood, Warner & Budd, Seward, Glass & Eddy.

Banks - Codington County Bank, Walrath & Sheldon; Bank of Watertown, O. C. Johnson.

Temperance Billiard Parlor - C. C. Maxwell.

Boarding and Restaurant - P. F. Englesby, O. J. Webster.

Barbers - Langhonn & Co.

Clothing, Etc - F. W. Hoyt, Heintz & Hassinger.

Contractors and Builders - Chas. Walker, R. A. Zimmerman, Sours Bros.
Druggists - O. E. Dewey & Co., Tarbell Bros., C. Goss.
Elevators - G. W. Van Dusen & Co., Alexander Brothers; Porter Milling Company.
Flour and Feed - L. F Tondro.
Furniture - Peter Mauseth.

Groceries - W. W. Dennis, A. Wearer, P. C. Holmes.
Blacksmiths - G. E. Bartlett, S. Blackburn & Co.
Plow Factory - H. E. Stewart.

Hotels - Central House, Ulrick & Beals; Merchants Hotel, J. C. Mulholand;
Johnson House, Johnson & Cartford. East Watertown Hotel, Wm. Mclntyre, Dakota House, D. McMath.

Hardware and Farm Machinery. - Kemp Bros., O. Gesley. Monks & Wiser.

General Merchandise - -Rice Bros, Cleveland and Greer, Owsley Bros. & Co., Archie Weaver, C. H. Bradford, P. C. Holmes, H. O. Hagen, Graham Bros.

Insurance - Warner & Budd, S. B. Sheldon, S. A. Briggs, S. J. Conklin, O. Gesley, Seward, Glass & Eddy.

Jewelers. - O. I. Fleod, M. Greer. Jr.

Livery. - W. H. Bloom, Higgins & Eaton, Castle & Son, Kinse & Wiley.
Millinery - Mrs. Fox, Mrs. Cameron.

Newspapers. - The Dakota News, Conklin & Frazer. Codington County Courier, Geo. A. Edes.

Meat Market. - Stephens and Whistler, C. F. Fosdick.

Lumber. - Youman Bros. & Hodgins, R. B. Spicer.  Laird, Norton & Co., J C. Miller.   Empire Lumber Co., Wm. M. Reed.
Depot Agent. - G. E. Starkweather.
Painters. - G. Cox & Son, J. A. Baker.
Physicians. - Bennett & Briggs, I. M. Westfall.
Shoemaker - J. D. Moulton
Saloons - L. M. Thomas. J. C. Muhlholland.
Postmaster - J. 1. Monks.

Real Estate & Loans - Warner & Budd; Seward, Glass & Eddy; Banvard & Wood, S. D. Scudder, Poore & Church, S. J. Conklin, D. C. & W. R. Thomas, W. H. Donaldson.

Undertaker. - Peter Mauseth.

Wagon Maker - D. F. Owsley.
Merchant Tailor - S. A. Briggs & Co.


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