Potter County Newspaper Items






SOURCE: Faulk County Record, Thursday, June 26, 1890, Page 1
Contributed by Harold Way


We clip the following from the Gettysburg Herald concerning the recent storm in Potter County and the casualties resulting therefrom.
In Elida Township, G. W. Smith's house was torn to pieces; Glenn Smith sustained a fracture of the shoulder blade and other bruises. Mrs. Smith was severely bruised, Buggy demolished.
Valentine Bohn was killed in his house which was blown away.
The storm was accompanied by a deluge of water and hail which beat down the crops over a large area in these two towns, but the full extent of damage is not yet known.
At Appomattox the damage came in the form of a flood caused by the heavy rains above, which poured a tremendous volume of water down Little Cheyenne river, suddenly raising that usually dry stream to the height of thirty feet.
The house of G. W. Wager and T. M. McElroy were swept away in the seething flood, eight persons losing their lives in the two families as follows:
- Mrs. J. T. McElroy, age 45
- Addie McElroy, 12
- Lydia McElroy, 12
- Mrs. G. W. Wager, 48
- Ella Wager, 18
- Myrtle Wager, 5
- Mable Wager, 3
- Sidney Mosher, 7

The last named was the grandson of G. W. Wager and with his mother and two other children were on a visit to the old folks from Kansas.
Of those thought to be lost at first were Mrs. Mosher, who clung in the tree-tops with her two little girls, age 3 and 6 years, until morning. Also Nettie Wager age 15, who saved herself and sister age 7, by clinging in the trees until rescued next morning. The bodies of the McElroys were taken to Forest City, those of the Wagers to Appomattox school house. The funerals will probably take place today (Thursday.)
At Miss Wheeler's Postoffice the water ran over the top of the counters. The occupants, however, got out before the flood struck them, but the damage to stock is considerable.
The old Fairbank building was blown down and partly swept away.
The Cheyenne bridge is gone.
Under the direction of Mrs. Bryan president of the W. R. C., the ladies of Gettysburg gathered up a quantity of clothing and the business men contributed a quantity of eatables to relieve immediate necessities.


Andrew Guppy Williams, FROM THE OLD TIMERS, Potter County News, Gettysburg, SD, ? ? 1933. [Published in 1933 prior to June because A.G. died in June of 1933.]

Transcribed by Peg Williams


3026 Richfield Ave.,

Minneapolis, Minn.

Editor News:

You picked my 49th anniversary for the Jubilee. I walked into Gettysburg from the East about 2 o’clock in the afternoon of June 19th, 1884. A man was drilling a well in the street of where Strickland has his store. I walked over and set down my grip and talked with him while I watched the wheels go round. It was Sode Hurley, the first man I talked to in Gettysburg. I came to Dakota, however, in April, 1880, so I am a 53-year-Dakotan.

I enjoy the letters from the Old Timers. I knew John Lattin and Tom Ziebach, who was the first clerk of courts of Potter County. That is J.E. Ziebach, known to his friends as “Tommie.”

I went June 20, 1884, on to Forest City, then the county seat, and opened a land and loan office in my hotel room. I had only $2.75 when I landed in Gettysburg. Paid “Grandma” O’Brian 75 cents for supper, lodging and breakfast and gave Ernest Adams and Bruce Homerick the $2.00 to take me to Forest City, broke.

I wrote to a brother and borrowed $10. I was in Forest City six weeks, and while I did not do any business I managed to pick up enough every Sunday in the penny ante poker game to pay my week’s board. I came back to Gettysburg with my board paid, but still broke.

I belonged to the Forest City baseball team and we came to the Fourth of July celebration. We played against Gettysburg and gave them a good beating. I played first base; Tommie Ziebach, short stop; Ed Dennis, Potter County’s first sheriff, was our pitcher; Stork Ashwell, catcher, but I have forgotten the rest of the gang.

A. G. Williams

J. E. Bevan, FROM THE OLD TIMERS, Potter County News, Gettysburg, SD, [Exact publication date is unknown, but the letter is dated April 30, 1933]

Transcribed by Peg Williams

East Sound, Wash.

April 30, 1933


Hearing of your coming celebration and that you are asking for experiences of old timers I will give you a few of mine. While I did not live in Gettysburg I had a little to do with its start.

I landed in Appomattox on the 6th of June, 1883, having walked there from Blunt, as they were asking $15.00 fare. I thought I could earn $15.00 easier than I could pay that amount.

I was the first stage driver from Appomattox to LeBeau for Hall Bros. And had many a hard trip, all kinds of weather and mud.

I hauled from Blunt one of the first loads of lumber for the courthouse which I understand has since been torn down.

The Bevan Orchestra, consisting of my brothers, Dave, Edd and myself played at the dedication of the courthouse when it was completed and believe me, everybody sure had a good time. We had a big supper and danced, and there was speech making until the wee small hours.

I believe I was the first man married in Gettysburg on Jan. 9, 1884, to the finest girl in that country, Miss Ida L. Andrews, and she has been the best wife in the U.S.A. We were married by Rev. Valentine in the Hotel, which was owned by him and run by a Mrs. O’Brian, I think.

While driving the stage, I left Appomattox at 5 p.m. Dec. 31, 1883, and landed in LeBeau on New Years Day at 8:30 a.m. It was a howling blizzard, and no road, shack or fence to guide one. My leaders refused to face the storm, it was so bad. I had to lead them part of the way, thaw out their nostrils several times by holding open my coat over their noses, but I got there just the same. It was 40 below.

I was the first to see a big buffalo coming down what was known as the gulch at Appomattox and I gave the alarm to the some 20 odd men that I was cooking for, and we mounted the old street car horses armed with .22 revolvers and rifles of same caliber and took after him. Every time we made a hit Mr. Buffalo would take after the guilty one and the crack of those old stiff horse bones made more noise than the guns. We chased him to a little town about 5 miles distant where a man came to the rescue with a 40-40 and I am letting you know we had some narrow escapes. We also had buffalo meat for the next few days which was quite a treat.

Once when a fire came sweeping down from the north, my mother drew water from the well and threw it all around where the cow was standing and when she got it good and wet the cow walked away. Next morning a Mr. Brinkman came down to tell us his troubles and he said he had taken a little too much wine the night before and was wakened by the fire and he said he got up and tried to open the door, and said he pulled and pulled at the door but could not open it so he got the axe and smashed it open. Then he said, “I think it opened out.” Luckily no harm was done except to the grass.

In closing will say we often look back to those days as some of the pleasantest times of our lives. Everybody was happy and full of hopes. Hoping you have a good time and that your little city will grow and prosper, I am

Respectfully yours,

J.E. Bevan

L. S. Wagar, FROM THE OLD TIMERS, Potter County News, Gettysburg, SD, [Exact publication date is unknown, but the letter is dated April 19, 1933]

Transcribed by Peg Williams


Florence, Kans.

April 19, 1933

Dr. John J. Mertens:


I spent five of the most enjoyable years of my boyhood up there. Would certainly like to go over the old ground again. Probably you don’t recall it, but I drove stage from Gettysburg to LeBeau in the early 1880’s, and at that time there wasn’t a tree within sight of Gettysburg, and none between there and LeBeau except on the Little Cheyenne River at Appomattox. And after that I came to the Missouri buttes.


Glad you wrote, and will see you this summer if I can possibly get away.



L. S. Wagar

BIG SAFE IN USE, Potter County News, Gettysburg, South Dakota, 6-22-1933.

Transcribed by Peg Williams

The original Potter county safe, the one that was brought by bob sled from Forest City to Gettysburg, Jan. 8, 1885, when the county seat was officially and hurriedly moved, is now in the possession of Quiett’s garage and is in use.

H. George Hanson, who was with the band of men who helped bring the safe to Gettysburg on that eventful day, recalls that it took several months to transport it from Blunt to Forest City when it was first put into service.

“But we moved it in half a day,” recalls Mr. Hanson.

He recalls, too that the roads up over the hills near Forest City were bare of snow and that not a man in the nearly 100 who helped in the moving party, had remembered to bring a shovel. However the drifts of snow were broken into chunks and carried by hand down to the road.

Six horses were required to draw the heavily loaded sleigh.


Gettysburg Herald, Gettysburg, Dakota Territory, Jan. 18, 1888

Transcribed by Peg Williams

Few persons have ever seen a worse blizzard than this one. The wind was a northwester; the snow filled the wind almost to suffocation & was as thick as dense fog. The wind seemed to force the breath from the body like the action of a suction pump, and after a few minutes exposure to its fury the average person was so confused as to scarcely know whether he was a-foot or on horseback.

Rev. J. S. Cox of Elida Twsp. had a close call in the blizzard when he prepared to go to the stables some fifteen rods from the house to look after his stock. Intending to be gone an hour, he directed his daughter to call for him at the end of that time to help him find the house in case he became confused in the storm. He finished his chores sooner than expected and started back, and was soon lost. He stopped to wait for the voice of his daughter, which fortunately came in a few minutes, but it was difficult to locate its direction, and he missed the house at first, but finally found his way. Miss Caddy frosted her face standing out calling for her father.

Newspaper clipping, Forest City File, Vertical File at the Potter County Library, Gettysburg, SD, publication unknown, publication date unknown.

Transcribed by Peg Williams

Petrified Man Brought Sensation
South Dakota Hoax Taken to Fair

Forest City, S.D., April 25 – The few real oldtimers living in Potter county vicinity today recall the sensation created in 1891 over the finding of what was purported to be a petrified man at the mouth of Little Cheyenne Creek near the original site of Forest City, and the subsequent airing of the hoax. Several prominent citizens of the state happened to be in Forest City when the report was received that James Horn, a lime-burner on the Little Cheyenne, had discovered the petrified body of a man in the bed of the creek. The prominent citizens and many local residents witnessed the exhuming of the body and swore it was genuine, especially when one of the legs was broken off to disclose a human femur in its proper position. The body was remarkably well preserved and showed every outline and wrinkle.

The discoverer and a Forest City butcher named William Sutton immediately started a tour of various fairs throughout the country and found curious and lucrative audiences everywhere, especially at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. After that they sold the “man” for an unknown figure.

Later facts reveal that Sutton had concocted the scheme and had enlisted the aid of Horn and a young Redfield doctor, whose name was not learned, to carry it out. From an Indian burial ground they dug up a skeleton, and a nephew of Sutton’s a tall young man permitted a cast to be made of his body. Into this mold the skeleton was placed and a kind of a plaster poured. Then the counterfeit man was hauled to the Little Cheyenne and buried to be later “discovered” at an opportune time. The hoax was a sequel to that of the Cardiff giant, discovered near Cardiff, N.Y. in 1869 and later put on exhibition.

About two years after the first petrified man was unearthed, Sutton, Horn and a Clark of Forest City created a second one. This time Clark’s body was utilized as a model and the bones used were said to be those of a young man who had committed suicide in 1888 and had been buried in that vicinity. Once more a gullible public fell for the fraud and a Forest City post trader named James Reid obtained an option on artificial man No. 2.

The post trader made a deal to sell the creation to a nearby farmer named Peter Person who was to pay part of the sum in cash and give a mortgage on his farm for the balance. But in attempting to persuade his wife to sign the mortgage a violent quarrel arose and the farmer killed her and then committed suicide.

It was shortly after 1900 before all the true facts in the mystery were cleared up and bared. At that time the second “petrification” which had been in circulation for a number of years passed into the hands of persons living in Minnesota. The ultimate disposal of both homemade men is not known, but little was heard of them after the hoax was disclosed to the public.

January 25, 1916

Aberdeen (South Dakota) Daily American


Gettysburg, Jan. 24 - John Albert, a farmer living southeast of Gettysburg, had a narrow escape from being killed last night when the auto which he was driving turned turtle pinning him under the car.  The unfortunate man was riding alone in the car, and it was only through the efforts of Bud Potte and Martin Healy, who happened along at the time, that he is now alive and able to tell the story, and save from a few bruises received, it is not thought that Mr. Albert will be much worse for the experience.


Aberdeen Daily American, Aberdeen, South Dakota

Friday, April 30, 1915





County Judge Samuel M. Howard returned home Tuesday from the south where he has been for some time in attendance at the annual reunion of the veterans of the battle of Shiloh.  Mr. Howard intended to extend the trip on to Panama but gave up the idea until some later date.


Mrs. Almira Paige died Tuesday afternoon, age 76 years.  She was the mother of Mrs. Frank Negars of Sully county ,and has lived in this country for about fifteen years.


Mrs. Gene Charlow returned home Saturday from Springfield, Ill., and reports that her mother has improved in health.  Mrs. Charlow came back by the way of St. Louis and Kansas City, at the latter place stopping off for a short visit with relatives.


Robert Phillips of Fort Pierre was in the city this week on business.  Mr. Phillips is part owner of the famous “Scotty Phillips” herd of buffalo, the greatest herd in the country, which is kept in a big pasture in Stanley county.



Aberdeen Daily American

December 30, 1914





Gettysburg, Dec. 29 – Mrs. Joseph Wienert* died Wednesday evening from the effects of burns received while she was starting a fire in the kitchen stove.  Kerosene was used to hasten the fire and an explosion resulted getting Mrs. Weinert’s clothing on fire.  In attempting to put the fire out she rushed from the house and rolled in the snow but before it was extinguished she was terribly burned.  Medical aid was at once summoned but after hours of suffering the unfortunate woman passed away.





Aberdeen Daily American

Friday, December 18, 1914




Mr. And Mrs. Will Breene have been engaged to teach the Seneca school.  Mr. Breene has resigned his position as manager of the Atlas Elevator company at this place.


Miss Hilda Mikaelson left Monday for Huron, S.D., where she will work during the winter.


Mr. Peter Mikkelson and his bride have been visiting relatives here the past week.  They leave today for their home at Timber Lake, S.D.


We are glad to hear that Mrs. Primus Anderson is recovering from her serious nervous breakdown.  She is now visiting at her home in Hector, Minn.



Aberdeen (SD) Daily News, Tuesday, Aug 18, 1914


In response to the dying wish of the bride's father, who wanted to see his daughter married before he died, the wedding preparations of Miss Hattie Knickerbocker and Ted Lake, two Gettysburg young people, was performed in the presence of the dying man.


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