Mellette County, South Dakota
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Estes Brothers History
by Mrs. David B. Estes
(Transcribed, with permission from the Mellette County Historical Society, from "Mellette County 1911-1961" published by the Mellette County Centennial Committee)

     Edward F. Estes and Stephen F. Estes, Jr., were sons of a prominent Government Agent who served both Pine Ridge and Rosebud Agency. Stephen F. Estes, Sr., came to Thatcher, Nebraska in 1876 from New York state where he had held various government positions during and after the Civil War. After serving as Agent for several years Stephen, Sr., moved his family to a ranch on the Little White River where Westover is now located. .
     He built the first house in this part of the country in 1880. When the family moved, this house. was used as a store and post office for years. In this log house on the Little White River, Edward and Stephen were born in 1881 and. 1884 respectively. Here the boys grew up working on their father's ranch until his death in 1910.
     Both sons were all-around cowboys of the early days and rode the government fence which was built with government wire and posts a rod apart. This fence ran south of White River until the Pine Ridge jumped that stream. Between the two reservations the fence started at the Nebraska line and north on the boundary between the two until it jointed the east-west line south of Belvidere at the mouth of Black Pipe Creek. This fence ran through rough country and since it was not well maintained the stock found their way through it, so the riders were kept busy, putting the cattle back on the correct side.
     Little remains of this government fence today; some of it was later sold for so much a mile. There are still a few solitary posts to be found on the old Anvil Ranch today.
     Edward and Stephen rode in the Big Roundup of 1902. Edward was an excellent roper and all-around cowboy. Stephen had quite a bit of business experience working in a general store at Rosebud so he made an efficient tally man. He had a long rope and for every hundred head of cattle counted through the chute he tied a knot in it.
     Later, when Mellette County was organized Stephen was the first sheriff and had quite a lot to do with settling some of the perplexing problems of that new county. After serving as sheriff, Stephen moved to a ranch on Big White River south of Belvidere joining his father-in-law's Anvil Ranch. Because of school he moved into the town of Belvidere and ran a livery barn and dray line for several years. He also spent a term serving on the Motor Patrol for the state of South Dakota. He moved back to the ranch to help care for his mother-in-law, Zoe Utterback, and stayed on the ranch until he retired and moved to Rapid City in 1951. Stephen passed away in 1958 and is buried in Rapid City.
     Edward raised his family on a ranch north of the town of White River and passed away in 1934. He is buried in the Belvidere cemetery. These two Estes brothers married sisters, Susan and Maud Utterback, daughters of the late prominent cattleman and rancher, J. E. Utterback of Belvidere.
     A diary, written by Edward and Stephen, Jr.,'s grandmother, was handed down to Stephen, Jr. by his father, Stephen Estes, Sr. This diary was written during the Civil War years and in it she relates many interesting incidents. One entry tells of Lee's surrender to General Grant on April 14, 1865. She tells of the shooting and death of Abraham Lincoln and a later entry tells of the assassin being shot in a barn. Two of her sons were in the Union Army and her son, Stephen, Sr., held a position under General Hooker
.



Estes Brothers History
By Myrtle Estes
(Transcribed by RB, with permission, from "Mellette County 1911-1986" published by the Mellette County Historical Society)

Edward F. Estes and Stephen F. Estes Jr. were sons of the prominent Government Agent, who was superintendent of the agency at both Rosebud and Pine Ridge. He had control of a band of Brule Indians at Yankton Reservation before coming to Rosebud. Stephen Estes Sr. came to Thatcher, Nebraska in 1876 New York state where he had held various government positions during and after the Civil War.

After serving as Superintendent of Agencies at and Pine Ridge for several years, Stephen Sr. moved his family to a ranch on the Little White River Westover is located. He built the first house in this part of the country in 1880. When the family moved, this house was used as a store and post office for years. In this log house on the Little White River, Edward and Stephen were born in 1881 and 1884 respectively. Here the boys grew up working on their father's ranch until his death in 1910. Stephen Sr. was buried in the cemetery at Rosebud on the hill just east of the hospital. Also his daughter is buried beside him.

Both Edward and Stephen were all-round good cowboys of the early day and rode the government fence, built of government wire and posts a rod apart. This fence ran south of White River until Pine Ridge the stream. Between the two reservations, the fence started at the Nebraska line and north on the boundary line between the two, until it joined the east-west line south of Belvidere at the mouth of the Black Pipe Creek. This fence ran through rough country, and since it was not well maintained, the stock found their way through it so the riders were kept busy putting cattle back on the correct side.

Little remains of this government fence today; some sold for a price per mile. There are a few solitary posts to be found on the old Anvil Ranch. Edward and Stephen J r. rode in the Big Round-up of 1902. Edward was an excellent roper; being a tall man he could throw a long loop. Stephen Jr. had experience in business working in a general store at Rosebud, so he made an excellent tally man. He had a long rope and for every hundred head of cattle counted, he tied a knot in the rope. Later when Mellette County was organized, Stephen Jr. was elected sheriff of the county, first election in 1911. He had quite a lot to do with settling some of the perplexing problems of that new county.

After serving as sheriff, he moved to a ranch on Big White River south of Belvidere where his wife, Maude Utterback Estes, owned an allotment adjoining her father's Anvil Ranch. Because of school problems, he moved to Belvidere where he ran a livery stable and drayline for several years. He also spent a term serving on the Motor Patrol for the State of South Dakota. He and his wife, Maude, moved back to the ranch to take care of his mother-in-law, Zoe Utterback, after her husband passed away. They stayed on the ranch until her death in 1950, retired and moved to Rapid City in 1951. Stephen Jr. passed away in 1958 and is buried in Rapid City, South Dakota. Edward raised his family on the ranch north of White River town. His wife, Susan Utterback, and he raised a family of four boys and one girl. Of the family, two sons and the daughter are still living. The oldest son passed on in 1980, Alvin, the second son, in 1973. Both are buried in the Belvidere cemetery as are their father and mother. The Utterback and Estes families are doubly related; the two Estes sons married two Utterback daughters.

An interesting note: A diary written by Edward and Stephen's grandmother was handed down to Stephen Jr. by his father, Stephen Sr. This diary was written during the Civil War and in it she relates many interesting events. One entry tells of Lee's surrender to General Grant on April 14, 1865. She tells of the shooting and death of Abraham Lincoln, and a later entry tells of the assassin being shot in a barn. Two of her sons were in the Union Army and her son, Stephen Sr., held a position under General Hooker. The two easterners, one from New York state and F. Estes Sr. called himself a "Bluebellied Yankee" and James Utterback from Virginia had quite a few arguments and fought several of the Civil War battles over again.

The remaining Estes relatives living in Mellette are David B. Estes and Stanley E. Estes. David has two children, a boy and a girl. The son was killed in a car accident and the girl, Patricia Jean Estes Willard, married and worked in the educational field with her husband until t.hey retired. They now live in Belvidere, South Dakota near their only son, Charlie J. Willard Jr., who lives and works on grandfather, David B. Estes, ranch right on the Big Muddy White River approximately 15 miles southeast of Belvidere, some land of the original Anvil Ranch. He also runs that famous brand his great, great grandfather, James E. Utterback, brought to South Dakota before the turn of the century. Patricia and her husband have three married daughters and a son Charles.

Stanley Estes and wife, Ida, have two sons, Stanley, Jr. and Todd, living in Mellette County. Vernon Estes lives in Luverne, Minnesota and Cleota Estes Monty and her husband, Ralph Monty, run a lounge in Huron which is famous for its good food. They are especially busy during pheasant season.

This pretty well brings the Estes family up to date. Oops! I forgot Steve Jr's daughter, Alma Ballon, who is a widow and lives in Chamberlain. Alma was a baby when Steve and Maude lived in White River.

Also I want to mention a great, great, great grandson James E. Utterback, Casey Jean Willard, son of Charles and Merry Willard, great grandson of David B. Estes, great, great grandson of Edward Estes and great, great, great grandson of that famous blacksmith from the Red Cloud Agency who came from Virginia and married a Cheyenne Indian wife and had a lot of descendants who he can be justly proud of. Casey is learning to rope. We are hoping he has inherited some of his ancestors' roping ability. He is a good cowboy at 10 years of age and helps at all the area brandings. He roped a big share of his dad's calves at their branding May, 1985. Charles Jr. and Merry Willard have two daughters who are cowgirls too. A proud grandmother speaks, "how Kola."
Family Histories & Biographies - Estes Surname
 
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Estes Surname
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Steve Estes Livery barn in White River in 1912. Left to right: Ned Bear Heels, Steve Estes, Silas Standing Hawk, Alex Turning Hawk
 
 
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