South Dakota

Meade County, South Dakota

Biography Index

Atwater, Harry P.

Case, Francis Higbee

Gray, Claude C.

Hale, John D.

Monheim, Harry Platt

McNenny, James

Murphy, Frank J.

Smith, William Gardner








Frank J. Murphy

History of Dakota Territory:
By George W. Kingsbury, 1915
Transcribed by Pamela J. Hamilton
September 21, 2010

Frank J. Murphy, living at White Owl and filling the position of county auditor of Meade County, was born at Swan Lake in Turner County, South Dakota, September 10, 1882, one of the nine children of Jeremiah and Mary A. (Hogan) Murphy, who are natives of Nova Scotia and Upper Canada Respectively. In early life the father worked in the grocery and meat business in Wisconsin, to which state he removed in young manhood. Following the outbreak of the Civil War he enlisted as a member of Company E, Tenth Wisconsin Regiment, in which he served as a private for three years. He was twice wounded in battle, but he never faltered when duty called and his bravery and valor made his military record a most creditable one. On leaving the service Mr. Murphy came to South Dakota and homesteaded. Later he engaged in general merchandising at Swan Lake and at the time of the building of the railroad he took up contract work in South Dakota and Minnesota, continuing in the business for ten years. On the expiration of that period he settled in Hurley, South Dakota, were he lived retired until 1900, when he removed to Alton, Iowa where he and his wife now reside.

Frank J. Murphy pursued his education in the public schools of Hurley and after leaving the high school continued his studies in the University of South Dakota, liberal educational advantages thus qualifying him for life's practical and responsible duties. At the age of eighteen years he began clerking in a grocery store during vacation periods. He afterward attended school in the winter, but later began teaching near Monroe, South Dakota, spending a year in a rural school. Subsequently he was employed by F. M. Slagle & Company at Alton, Iowa, where he handled grain and coal for ten years. He then removed to a ranch near White Owl, this state, and devoted some time to the operation of the place, being thus engaged until his election to the office of county auditor in November 1914. He entered upon the duties of the position January 1, 1915, and is proving a capable official.

Mr. Murphy was untied n marriage in October, 1908, to Miss Amanda A. Cowen, who was born in Alcester, South Dakota, a daughter of Robert and Martha (Sherman) Cowen. The father was born in Wisconsin in 1857, while the mother's birth occurred in Pennsylvania, June 27, 1858. He always carried on farming and in 2884 removed to this state, setting at Alcester, where he continued to engage in general agricultural pursuits for a number of years. He died in August, 1912, while his wife survives. Mrs. Murphy was one of seven children and attended school at Alcester and afterward graduated from St. Joseph's Hospital at Sioux City in the class of 1907. She is a member of the State Association of Graduate Nurses of Iowa.

In his political views Mr. Murphy was always been a stalwart democrat, unfaltering in his allegiance to the party. He belongs to the Roman Catholic Church and fraternally is connected with the Elks at Yankton. The greater part of his life has been passed in this state and as a native son he has made a creditable record by his loyalty to its best interests and his tangible efforts for the improvement and development of the district in which he lives. ;

CASE, Francis Higbee (1896-1962)
Senate Years of Service: 1951-1962 Republican

Francis Higbee Case, a Representative and a Senator from South Dakota; born in Everly, Clay County, Iowa, December 9, 1896; moved with his parents to Sturgis, S.Dak., in 1909; attended the public schools; graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell, S.Dak., in 1918, and from Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., in 1920; during the First World War served as a private in the United States Marine Corps in 1918; served in both the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps Reserves; assistant editor, Epworth Herald, Chicago, Ill., 1920-1922; telegraph editor and editorial writer on the Rapid City (S.Dak.) Daily Journal 1922-1925; editor and publisher of the Hot Springs (S.Dak.) Star 1925-1931; editor and publisher of the Custer (S.Dak.) Chronicle 1931-1946; member of the State regents of education 1931-1933; unsuccessful candidate for election in 1934 to the Seventy-fourth Congress; elected as a Republican to the Seventy-fifth and to the six succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1937-January 3, 1951); elected to the United States Senate in 1950; reelected in 1956 and served from January 3, 1951, until his death in the naval hospital at Bethesda, Md., June 22, 1962; chairman, Committee on District of Columbia (Eighty-third Congress); interment in Mountain View Cemetery, Rapid City, S.Dak.
Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1771-Present; contributed by A. Newell.

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


Harry P. Atwater is an able lawyer, practicing at Sturgis, particularly well known for his ability in handling criminal cases. He was born at Cataract, Monroe county, Wisconsin, November 8, 1871, a son of the Rev. Wesley D. and Harriet (Shultz) Atwater, natives of Ohio and Pennsylvania respectively. The former was born in 1840 and the latter in 1841. In early life the father entered the ministry, to which he devoted many years of an active and useful career, but is now living retired near Auburn, California.  

Harry P. Atwater was the fourth in order of birth in a family of eight children and after attending the public schools of Wisconsin and of the Black Hills country he prepared for the bar as a law student in the State University of Nebraska. In the meantime, however, he had taken an initial step in the business world, having at the age of fifteen years secured employment as a clerk in the Sturgis postoffice, where he remained for two  years. Afterward he was for a period of seven or eight years employed in various ways, including clerking in mercantile establishments, but at the end of that time he carried out a cherished plan of preparing for the bar, pursuing the study of law while at the same time holding the office of justice of the peace. He was admitted to practice in April, 1902, and opened an office in Sturgis, where he has since remained, following his profession there for thirteen years. He continues in general practice and has had a large clientage in criminal work. He has a keenly analytical mind which enables him to readily determine the strong points in his case; he marshals his evidence with the precision of a military commander; and in the presentation of his cause is always strong, resourceful and logical. Aside from his professional interests he is the owner of land in South Dakota and his property interests bring to him a good return.

Mr. Atwater is a prominent member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles and for ten years served as chief official in the local aerie. His political allegiance has always been given to the republican party since age conferred upon him the right of franchise. He is the present mayor of Sturgis and for one term he served as county judge of Meade county. He was also a member of the board of aldermen of Sturgis for two terms, was city attorney for three terms and now as the chief executive of his city is doing much practical and effective work along municipal lines, his labors being a potent element in bringing about needed improvements in city affairs.

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


Claude C. Gray, practicing at the bar of Sturgis, where he is well known at an able and progressive young lawyer, was born at Deniton, Iowa, March 14, 1883, a son of John W.
and Cannie (Weatherholdt) Gray. The father was born in Iowa, in which state his people settled in 1848. The mother was also a native of that state and of German parentage.  In early life John W. Gray became a teacher, was also a mechanic and engaged in farming. Subsequently he removed to the vicinity of St. Joseph, Missouri, having long survived his
wife, who died during the infancy of their son Claude.

In the acquirement of his education Claude C. Gray attended school in Denver, Colorado, in Abilene, Kansas, and in Springdale, Iowa. Having determined upon the practice of law as a life work, he then began preparation for the profession in the Chicago Kent College  of Law and in the law department of the State University of Iowa and was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1907. Long before this, however, he had come to know the value of industry and determination through experience, for when but twelve years of age he began working as a farm hand, being employed in the fields through the summer months, while in the winter seasons he attended school. He continued in that way until he had finished his education, after which he was employed by a law firm of Chicago "Pringle, Northrop & Terwilliger" for a year. He then left that city and in 1908 made his way to Meade county, South Dakota, settling on a homestead claim at White Owl. He was admitted to the bar of  this state in October, 1908, but continued to reside upon his claim until elected states  attorney, when he removed to Sturgis, where he has since made his home. He was called to that office in 1911 and served in that capacity for four years, or until 1915. He now gives his undivided attention to the private practice of law and is accorded a liberal and distinctively representative clientage that has connected him with much of the important litigation heard in the courts of the district. He has good property interests in the state,  being the owner of four hundred and eighty acres of rich farm land in Meade county which he rents.

On the 14th of November, 1908, Mr. Gray was married to Miss Elna F. Leonard, who was born at Springdale, Iowa, a daughter of John and Ann Leonard, both of whom were natives of Ireland, They came to Iowa about 1854. In early life the father was a sailor but later turned his attention to farming and following his removal to the west he spent his remaining days in Iowa.

Mr. Gray belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and is highly esteemed by his brethren of that organization. He has always voted with the democratic party and is a firm believer in its principles but has never sought office outside of the strict path of his profession, preferring to concentrate his energies upon his practice, knowing that the law is a jealous mistress and that her rewards are most generously bestowed where she  receives the undivided devotion of her followers.

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


Harry Platt Monheim, an employe of the Homestake Mining Company, makes his home at Piedmont. He was born at Brownsville, Lawrence county, South Dakota, his father being at that time manager of the Homestake store at that place, and is a son of John and Mattie (Platt) Monheim. The father's birth occurred near Berlin, Germany, and the mother was born in Whiteside county, Illinois. The youthful days of our subject were uneventfully passed until be reached the age of seventeen years, when he made his initial step in the business world by securing employment in a store at Sturgis, where he remained for about four years. He then removed to Piedmont, and through the succeeding four years was engaged in farming. He next entered the employ of the Homestake Mining Company, with which he is still connected in the capacity of track foreman. His long identification with the business indicates his faithfulness, capability and trustworthiness. He is also engaged in the live-stock business to a considerable extent and has recently erected a comfortable and commodious residence in Piedmont. 

On the 6th of July, 1904, Mr. Monheim was united in marriage to Miss Marie A. Gore, who was born at Carroll, Iowa, a daughter of James H. and Mary T. (Webber) Gore, both natives of Michigan. In early life the father followed various lines of work, including railroading and contracting. He became one of the pioneers of the territory, and his cousin, Mahlon Gore, filed on the first homestead in Dakota territory, and established the Sioux City Journal. J. H. Gore came to the Hills about 1878 and entered the employ of the Homestake Mining Company. He resided in Lead until 1890 and then removed to Piedmont, where he now resides, operating a ranch near that town. Mrs. Monheim is the eldest in a family of three children.   The second, Ursula, is Mrs. S. R. Cleaver, of Denver, Colorado, where she is employed on one of the leading dailies as commercial artist. James Gore, Jr., resides at Goldendale, Washington, where he is agent for the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company. Mrs. Monheim is a graduate of the Spearfish Normal School, taught for several years in Lead and Sturgis, and was also county superintendent of schools for Meade county.  To Mr. and Mrs. Monheim have been born four children: John Henry, born November 21, 1906; Harold Maxwell, May 30, 1908;  Margaret, July 18, 1910; and James Nesbit, November 15, 1912. 

Mr. Monheim's political allegiance is given to the democratic party. He has always been a stalwart champion of the cause of public education and has served as both president and treasurer of the school board. He is yet a comparatively young man, but his worth in business connections and in citizenship is widely acknowledged and he merits the goodwill and confidence which are universally accorded him.

The Biographical Directory of the Railway Officials of America T. Addison Busbey, 1906

Smith, William Gardner, Member South Dakota Railroad Commission. Office Sioux Falls, S. D. Residence Sturgis, S. D. Born Aug. 16, 1853, at Northfield, Me. Graduated as a physician and surgeon from Columbia University, New York City, in 1884. Has been county physician of Meade County, South Dakota, since 1889. Was alderman in 1888, chairman of the board of education in 1895, 1896 and 1897, and has been a member of the railroad commission since 1898. Was made chairman of the commission in Jan. 1900, and again in 1902, and was reelected in 1904 for a term of six years. Is a breeder of cattle and horses.

History of Dakota Territory George W. Kingsbury, 1915


John D. Hale, of Sturgis, is not only the present state senator from the forty-first district of South Dakota but is also the owner of one of the finest horse ranches in the west, his property being located in Crook county, Wyoming. He was born in Grayson county, Virginia, October 22, 1847, a son of natives of that state, his parents being Warner and Mary (Cox) Hale. The father, who was a farmer and stockman, removed with his family westward in 1882, settling at Battle Creek, Nebraska, and continued to farm throughout his active life. He and his wife died within a week of each other, the year of their deaths being about 1904. He served as a soldier in the Confederate army for a short time during the Civil war. Senator Hale was the fourth born in a family of eleven children and acquired his education in a log schoolhouse in the Old Dominion. In 1867 he came west and after staying for a time at Omaha he removed to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he was employed by the McGrath Forwarding Commission Company until 186S, when he removed to Montana and engaged in mining for some months. He then made his way to Salt Lake City, but not long afterward returned to Nebraska and engaged in farming near Battle Creek until the spring of 1877. At that time he came to South Dakota and engaged in the freighting business which was quite profitable at that time as the transportation of goods was done almost entirely by team, there being no railroads. He owned a train of seventeen wagons which were drawn by oxen. In the fall of 1877 he moved the Sioux Indians from Camp Sheridan to Ponca and the following year moved them back to the Rosebud reservation, where they are now located. After freighting for about three years he went to Tilford, South Dakota, where he established himself in the stock business, founding the Pleasant Valley Stock Farm. He continued to raise stock there for twenty-one years and became the owner of sixteen hundred and eighty acres. He also leased extensive tracts of land. At length finding that Meade county was becoming too crowded for him, Mr. Hale moved his stock to Crook county, Wyoming, where he now owns a four thousand acre tract of land, through which a stream runs for eight miles. He raises pure bred horses and as the country in which his ranch is situated is especially adapted by nature for that purpose his stock is as fine as any found in this country. The topography of the region is that of broad upland pastures broken by canyons formed by a number of small streams and as the slopes from the pastures to the stream beds are so precipitous that even the native deer cannot keep a foothold thereon, the necessity of enclosing the range with fences is obviated. The only way by which stock might leave the pasture is by a few easy approaches through the grassy table lands to the valleys and a few rods of fence placed at such points are sufficient to enclose a ranch comprising several thousand acres. Naturally the water frontage at such points of approach to the streams is the key to the grass lands upon the plateau and Mr. Hale had the foresight to patent the land controlling the water frontage and the approaches to the upland pastures and by so doing has assured the success of his ranch. There is not only a good water supply but the native grasses provide unlimited pasturage of the best quality, while the steep sides of the ravines do away with a great deal of expense for fencing and make it possible for one man and an assistant to look after the horses, which are raised by the thousands, as straying from the pasture is almost impossible. Ranch buildings and corrals are located in the Belle Fourehe valley at a point where patented land owned by Mr. Hale affords meadow of excellent quality, from which three to five hundred tons of hay are cut annually. This hay, however, has never yet been used for the subsistence of the horses, which are kept in fine condition throughout the hardest winters without a mouth full of prepared food. It must not be supposed that these western horses are bronchos or cayuse, as they are of the best blood, descendants of the most famous Norman, Clyde and Percheron imports and also of the best Leamington and Lexington stock. Our subject also owns stock in the Sturgis Lumber & Grain Company. Senator Hale was married January 6, 1881, to Miss Annie E. Kost, who was born in Galena, Illinois, and is a daughter of Adam and Annie Mary (Voltz) Kost, both natives of Germany. In early life, however, they emigrated to this country and their marriage occurred in Galena. The father arrived in the United States about 1855 and upon making his way to Galena was employed as a mason and plasterer. He later, however, turned his attention to farming. The family removed to Iowa from Illinois and in October, 1872, went to Battle Creek, Nebraska. Mr. Kost passed away at Sturgis. South Dakota, in 1911, and his wife is also deceased. They had ten children, of whom Mrs. Hale was the second in ordor of birth. Senator and Mrs. Hale, have a daughter, Mary Florence, who was born in October, 1882, and is now the wife of Dr. J. B. Naftzger, of Sioux City, Iowa. They have a son and daughter: John Hale, born August 26, 1908; and Anna Robinette, whose birth occurred October 16, 1909. Senator Hale became a resident of Sturgis in 1902 and is now making his home in one of the most commodious and attractive residences of that place. He has taken a prominent part in public affairs in the various places in which he has resided and while living in Madison county, Nebraska, was elected sheriff for one term. He resigned before the expiration of his term and went to the Black Hills. In 1S80 he was elected a member of the territorial council of Dakota, being one of two democrats so honored. For four terms he served in the house of representatives and is the present senator from his district, serving his second term. He is well informed as to all questions of public moment and also understands the most efficient ways of embodying the public will in effective legislation. He was appointed the first postmaster of Tilford under President Cleveland but resigned in favor of a merchant who was engaged in business at that place. He is a man of strongly developed social nature and finds a great deal of pleasure in his fraternal connections. He has taken all the Masonic degrees in the Scottish Rite from those of the blue lodge to the thirty-second degree and is also a member of the York Rite bodies. He is past grand treasurer of South Dakota and well known in Masonic circles. While connected with the Indians in the early days of the history of the territory he had a number of unique experiences, among which was the following incident. He was invited by Chief Spotted Tail to a banquet at which dog was the chief dish served. As he could not very well refuse, he attended the feast but by a cautious use of his handkerchief was able to convey the dog meat from his mouth to his hip pocket and thus did not really eat any of it. Senator Hale is thoroughly imbued with the western spirit and it is such men as he who, by their energy, force of personality and practical good judgment have made possible the wonderful material development of the state. He has also had a share in the promotion of the finer interests of life in this new state and has won deserved honor and esteem.

History of Dakota Territory George W. Kingsbury, 1915


James McNenny, judge of the circuit court, with jurisdiction over Lawrence, Butte and Meade counties, his home being at Sturgis, has long enjoyed statewide reputation as an able lawyer and jurist. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, December 6, 1874. His paternal grandfather was one of the pioneers of that state, settling in early days upon a homestead near Elgin, where he continued to reside until his life's labors were ended. He was a native of New York and was of Scotch-Irish descent. His son, James McNenny, Sr., lived in Chicago until his death and was engaged in the dairy business. He married Julia Harrington, a native of Ireland but now a resident of Meade county, South Dakota. Judge McNenny attended the Chicago public schools until nine years of age, when in 1884 his mother with her four children came to South Dakota, settling upon a farm in Meade county. The entire cash capital of the family at that time was less than one hundred dollars. James McNenny attended the only district school available, walking three miles across the prairies in order to receive the instruction therein given. He later had the benefit of two years' study in the schools of Rapid City and in 1S99 he began reading law in the offices of Mike McMahon. He afterward entered the Highland Park College at Des Moines, Iowa, where he pursued the study of law and special courses, including oratory. He had previously learned stenography and he made his way through college by doing stenographic work for lawyers in the evenings and on Saturdays. He was graduated with the class of 1901 and then took the Iowa state examination, which won him admission to the bar with the remarkable percentage of ninety-nine and one-half. In July of the same year he was admitted to the South Dakota bar and located for practice at Sturgis. The following year he joined Charles C. Polk, under the firm name of Polk & McNenny, which association was continued until 1908. He was elected states attorney of Meade county in 1903 and continued in that office until 1907. In February of the latter year he was appointed county judge by Governor Crawford and was reelected to the office at the following election, continuing upon the bench until January 1, 1911. He made an excellent record in that position and "won golden opinions from all sorts of people" by reason of the fairness and impartiality of his decisions. He acted as city attorney for Sturgis for a period of six years and in January, 1914, he was appointed to the circuit bench by Governor Byrne, so that he is now serving as judge of the circuit which embraces the three counties of Lawrence, Butte and Meade. He has the happy faculty of losing personal prejudices and any peculiarities of disposition in the impartiality of the office to which life, liberty and property must look for protection. Throughout the period of his residence in South Dakota, James McNenny has been an important factor in public life, contributing in large measure to those movements which have worked for the benefit and upbuilding of city, county and state. For some years he served as clerk of the board of education of Sturgis. He has been for years much interested in state military affairs. Joining the South Dakota National Guard as a private, he has advanced through successive promotions to the rank of major and is now commanding the Third Battalion of the South Dakota National Guard. He was in 190S a member of the first rifle team sent to the national encampment at Camp Perry. For one year he served as quarter-master and for a time was judge advocate general of the military organization of the state. On the 11th of February, 1902, Mr. McNenny was united in marriage to Miss Kate Halbert, a daughter of James B. and Margaret (Moore) Halbert and a niece of the late Judge Joseph B. Moore, of Lead, South Dakota. James B. Halbert was a prominent railway builder residing in Apopka, Florida, and both he and his wife came of old southern colonial families. To Mr. and Mrs. McNenny have been born five children, namely: Kate, Harold, Marion, Mabel and Wilbur. Judge McNenny is a republican in his political views and does all in his power to further the interests of the party and secure the adoption of the principles which he believes are best adapted to good government. He is a Mason and a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen and his wife has membership with the Daughters of the American Revolution. They occupy an enviable position in the social circles of city and state and Judge McNenny is recognized as an exceptionally able lawyer, with a splendid record as a jurist since his elevation to the bench.