The James River Valley in Dakota, in which the thriving town of Mitchell is located, has been settled for a number of years by a few people who were attracted to this section, then remote from railroads, by the great fertility of the soil and the extent and exceedingly nutritious quality of the native grasses. Before the coming of the C, M. & St. Paul R. R., Davison and other counties in the James River Valley were organized; while the population was yet sparse, the people being largely engaged in stock-raising, which was then, and still is very profitable.
During the winter of 1879, it was understood that the C. M. & St.
P. Railway Company would, during the following season, extend the
Black Hills brunch of its road to the James River in D. T. and it was
evident that, wherever this road crossed the river, there
a town of considerable proportions was destined to spring up. Many believed that Rockport, 15 miles south of Mitchell, was to be the favored point, and consequently located there, inaugurating a period of anxious waiting for the expected crossing to be made. It is unnecessary to add that these were disappointed. The Company decided to make their crossing at Firesteel, and about this time, M. H. Rowley visited this section, and located the townsite of Mitchell, which was named for the Hon. Alexander Mitchell,
President of the great railway corporation.
About the 1st of May, 1880, the first train of cars reached Mitchell, at that time only a few months old. The cars brought building material, merchandise and settlers, and the new town, being pleasantly located, commenced to grow rapidly. All kinds of trade were soon represented, and a lively business commenced, which has steadily continued to improve, until a pleasant village of twelve hundred people has sprung up, with a fair prospect of a splendid town.
Among the first settlers of Mitchell were: John L. Bowman, Smith & Farrow, Wills & Co., R. A. Ketchum, Mary Green, John Head. John Lowell, Mr. Manning, Fred. Kappos, Bates & Co., J. M. Adams, Johnson Bros., Mr. Hewitt, J. W. Walsh, and others. The first family to locate in Mitchell was Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Cox, and next came M. F. Dunham and family. The postoffice was established December 15th, 1879, with J. W. Walsh as Postmaster. The Mitchell Exchange Bank was established in 1880. Wm. Van Eps established the first store in December, 1879. The first marriage ceremony to take place in Mitchell, was that of C. G. Wan to Jennie Gibbens, at the Mitchell House, January 24th, 1880. Rev. Mr. Mitchell officiating. The first death was that of a son of Mr. J. K. Smith, in July, 1880; the first birth, a daughter, born near Firesteel, August 18th, 1879, to Mrs. Smith Crippen.
The quality of well water at Mitchell is excellent and easily
obtained. Some unfailing wells of good water are found at a depth of
twelve feet, but in other places wells are sunk to the depth of thirty
feet before a sufficient supply of water is obtained. Most of the
buildings erected in Mitchell, as in other rapidly growing western
towns, are constructed of wood. Lumber is furnished at low figures by
the extensive lumber companies doing
business here and elsewhere along the line of the railroad. The town is located on the west half of section 21, and east half of section 22, township 103, range 60.
Mitchell was incorporated in April, 1881, and the following named
officers elected: Trustees - J. J. Devy, James S. Foster, P. T.
McGovern, J. L. Davenport and A. J. La Barre. Treasurer - F. E. Moses.
Clerk - C. W. Taylor. Marshal - Geo. A. Clark.
Assessor - J. H. Green.
The railroad facilities of Mitchell are good now, with a prospect of better in the near future. That great and liberal corporation, the Chicago, Milwaukee & Si. Paul Railroad Company, is gridironing Dakota with railroads to meet the wants of this rapidly developing section, and extending its mainline westward from Mitchell toward the Black Hills, crossing the Missouri River at Chamberlain, seventy miles west of the James river. Mitchell is the end of a division on the road, and the Milwaukee Company's roundhouse, machine shops, and car repair shops are located here. A line of road is to be built at an early day by this company from Yankton to Mitchell, and thence up the river to the Northern Pacific. The C. S N. W, Railway Company are now engaged in the survey of a line, which will run from Sioux City, via Mitchell, to Huron.
The "Alex. Mitchell" Hotel is a product of the enterprise of the present year, and has been built at a total cost of $25,000, the building alone costing (15,300. There are seventy sleeping apartments. The dimensions of this building are 112 by 87 1/2 feet; it is three stories high, hat a dining room 30 by 56 feet, and an "L" 16 by 30 feet.
P. F. Kennard, of Sioux Vi\h, established a brick-yard at Mitchell during the present year.
Schofield, White & Co. erected during the past season, a flouring mill at Mitchell, at a cost of $10,000. It is a three-story frame building, with one run of stone, but two additional run of stone will shortly be made. The mill is situated three and one-half miles east of town. It is run by water-power, and has all the modern machinery for making the patent flour.
A United States Land Office was established at Mitchell in 1880, and does an amount of business probably surpassed by no Land Office in the country. Col. B. F. Campbell and Maj. J. M. Washburn were its first officers. Its present officers are: Hon. William Letcher, Register; Hon. Hiram Barber, Jr.. Receiver.
The first newspaper published in Davison County was the Dakota Mail,
which was started at Rockport, with J. W. Walsh as the editor. After
its removal to Mitchell, the name of the paper was changed to the
Mitchell Capital. Messrs. Stockwell & Haskell purchased it in
July, 1880, and converted it into a six-column quarto. Its publication
was continued until March, 1881, when S. W. Rathbun, of Marion, Iowa,
purchased Stockwell's interest, and shortly afterwards, Mr. Haskell's
interest, also. Mr. Rathbun
is now the editor and sole proprietor.
The- Mitchell Republican was established in 1880, with Rec. Stanbery as editor and proprietor. It is a seven-column quarto, published every Saturday. Its circulation is about 800, and it is the official paper of the county. When first started, it was published as the Western Bugle.
CHURCHES, SCHOOLS AND SOCIETIES.
The first terms of school at Mitchell were taught in the winter of 1879-80, with H. S. Herrick as teacher, in the building known as the Presbyterian Chapel. The present building was erected in 1880, and cost $7,000. It is a frame building, and has four departments. As yet, but two teachers are employed, viz: Mrs. C. W. Taylor and Miss Carrie Johnson. The school grounds were donated by the Railroad Company,
The Free Methodist Society was organized by Rev. J. W. Sharp in July, 1881. Services are, for the present, held in Wills & Co. Hall. The Society will shortly build an edifice on lots number 1, 2, 3, and 4. in block 14. There are about twelve members. The cost of the proposed building will be about $1,000. Rev. Mr. Sharp is the pastor. The officers of the Society are: Trustees - George Johnson. Sr., J. W. Sharp, L. W. Taylor. Stewards - J. W. Downs, G. Johnson, A. S. Smith. Class Leader - G. Johnson. The Presbyterian Society was organized by Rev. A. K. Baird, of Iowa, in October, 1879. Services are held in the Presbyterian Chapel. The Society has a building in course of erection, which will cost about $3,000. The first pastor was Rev. M. E. Chapin, who was succeeded by Rev. J. B. Taylor, the present pastor. The membership is about twenty-five. First Board of Trustees: S. F. Goodykoontz, J. C. Christman, M. H. Rowley. Present Board: S. F. Goodykoontz, C. W. Taylor, John Helwig.
The Congregational Society was organized August 18th, 1881, by Jay Willman, James S. Foster and J. M. Crary. Services are, for the present, held in the school house. Their church edifice was expected to be completed by Christmas of 1881, and will cost about $2,000. Church officers: Trustees - Jay Willman, James S. Foster, J. M. Crary. Clerk - Mrs. Dr. Tat man. Treasurer-Rev. J. R. Reitzell.
The Episcopal Society was organized in September, 1880, by Bishop Clarkson, of Omaha. The Society was originally instituted at Firesteel, and was known as St. Mary's Mission. It was transferred to Mitchell shortly after the beginning of the town. Their church building in Mitchell was completed in August, 1881, and cost $2,000. Rev. D. A. Sanford, the first pastor, continues in charge of the Society. Church officers: Warden - O. R. Betts. Secretary - H. C. Green. Treasurer - Dr. F. Andros.
The Catholic Church Society was organized in 1880. Services are held
in a building, which the Society uses temporarily, until the erection
of an edifice in the near future, which is to be built at a cost of
$3,000. First Board of Trustees - John Gleason, P. T.
McGovern, J. L. Davenport. Present Board: John Gleason, P. T. McGovern.-Koch. Rev. M. M. McCarter was the first pastor, and was succeeded by the present pastor. Rev. Mr. Tobin.
The Baptist Society has not as yet effected a permanent organization. They expect to build an edifice in the spring of 1882. Services are held in the school house, under the ministrations of Rev. Mr. Coffman.
An Agricultural Society was organized in Davison County, in 1880. Grounds have been purchased containing a half-mile track. As yet no regular annual meeting of the Society has been held.
Resurgam Lodge, 0. D., A. F. 4 A. M. Organized in July, 1881, under
dispensation from the Grand Master. Charter Members: - W. L. Warren, A.
F,. Hitchcock. F. Andros, Charles St. John, J. T. Bradley, Freeman
Shultis, John Beattie, Mr. Knowles, Dr.
Tremain, Mr. Rightson, George Clark, Mr. Blakely, Thomas Orswelt. First and present officers: W. L. Warren, W. M.; A. E. Hitchcock, S. W.: F. Andros, J. W.; Mr. Knowles, Secretary; Thomas Orswell, Treasurer. The membership is about twenty. Meetings are held in Odd Fellows' Hall.
Chauka Lodge No. 21, I. O. O. F., was instituted April 26,1880. Charter members and first officers: J. M. Adams, N. G.; A. S. Curtis, V. G.; T. W. D. Orswell, Secretary; G. H. Rathman, Treasurer; H. C. Green, A. W. Odell, H. Schwartz. Present officers: A. W. Odell, N. G. A. S. Waterhouse, V. G.; T. E. Moses. P. S.; J. L. Bowman. R.S.; Dr. H. Halfhide, Treasurer.
Mitchell Star Lodge No. 18, I. O. G. T - was instituted in July, 1881.
Charter members: E. S. Johnson, George Chatfield, Guy Wellman, George
A. Clark, F. E. Moses, Mrs. G. Wellman, Mrs. L. W. Adams, Miss Carrie
Johnson, and others. At present the Lodge has no regular place of
meeting. First officers: E. E. Johnson. W. O.; Mrs. G. Wellman, V. C;
F. E. Moses, R. S.; G. A. Clark, Lodge Deputy. Present officers: E. S.
Johnson, W. C.
Miss Kittie Blaine. V. C; James Williams, Secretary; Carrie Johnson, Treasurer. The Lodge now has about thirty members.
President - A. J. La Barre.
Councilmen - J. J. Devy, James Foster, P. T. McGovern, J. L. Davenport.
Clerk - C. W. Taylor.
Assessor - Harry Green,
Treasurer - P. E. Moses.
Marshal - G.. A. Clark.
Attorney - Mizener and Hager, Faust and Waterhouse, H. C. Preston,
Johnson Brothers. O. B. Schwindt, W. L. Warren, W. Abbey, Kershaw,
Flagg and Doolittle, Foster and Hitchcock, Windsor and Metcalf.
Blacksmithing - Mills and Gillingham, Curtis and Lott.
Banks - Mitchell Exchange, Bank of Mitchell.
Barbers - J. L. Cotton, George Smith.
Brick Yard - P. T. Kenyard.
Carpenters - H. H. Calhoun, Jacob Wright, La Barre Brothers.
Clothing - Fosdick, Tillottson and Company.
Coal and Lumber - Oshkosh Lumber Company, P. E. Moses.
Dentists - Dr. J. L. Roberts, . Dr. George B. Dix.
Druggists - Hammer and Hammer, L. O. Gale.
Furniture - M. F. Dunham.
General Merchandise - William Van Eps, P. T. McGovern, Weil Brothers.
Grocers - Knowles and Pittwood, M. Farron and Company, Henry Koch, J.
Grain and Feed Stores - Letcher and Farrow, P. Hartman, Applegate and
Hardware - Moore and Company, L. W. Adams, O. R. Betts.
Harness - E. Wedchase.
Hotels - Alex. Mitchell, J. L. Davenport, Sanborn House, Dakota House,
Gleeson House, Milwaukee House, Bradley House.
Livery - Walworth and Morrow, Darling and Vanalstine, Silas Steward.
Land Agents - Distad and Devy, Windsor and Metcalf, Mizener and Hager, Washburn and Currey, Davenport and Beckett, Johnson Brothers, Warren and Schwindt, Foster and Hitchcock. L. O. Gale, J. J. Devy, J. C. Tatman.
Meat Markets - Rowley and Indra, Applegate and Wilson, Jacob Frantz.
Millinery - Miss Matie Williams, Mrs. Silas Steward. Lillie M. Almy.
Newspapers - Mitchell Republican, Rec. Stanberry as Editor and Proprietor; Mitchell Capital, S. W. Rathbun as Editor and Proprietor.
Physicians - W. E. Crane, F. Andros, J. C. Tatman, W. W. Nutting, M. Halfhide.
Postmaster - J. W. Walsh; G. B. Walker, assistant.
Painters - C. W. Smith, Martin and Adams.
Stationery - Walker and Walsh.
Saloons - R. C. Wills & Co., J. H. Green, Ole Arneson, John H. Sullivan, Wooden Drake.
Shoemaking - S. P. Leslie.