South Dakota

Sully County South Dakota


Bonsey, Capt. Frederick

Garner, C. R.

Hoover, Ben P.



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


Ben P. Hoover was born in Wayne, Wisconsin, in 1854; came to Dakota territory in 1871; and located permanently at Fort Bennett, in 1876. He engaged in stock-raising and government contracts until 1879, when he moved to Fort Sully and was in charge of a  post trader's store until 1883. He held the office of county commissioner of Sully county  from 1883, until January 1, 1885; was a member of the constitutional convention held at  Huron in 1883; was appointed United States court commissioner by Judge A. J. Edgerton and held the office until Cleveland was inaugurated in 1885. He continued in stockraising until 1893, located in Gettysburg, was reappointed United States court commissioner by  Judge Edgerton and resigned when John E. Carland (democrat) was appointed United States circuit judge for South Dakota.

After the defalcation of W. W. Taylor in 1885, Mr. Hoover was appointed receiver of the Gettysburg State Bank. From 1891 to 1910 he was employed as legislative representative for the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul and the Chicago & Northwestern Railway Companies; and the American and United States Express Companies and the Western Union Telegraph Company. He was presented with a gold watch by the members of the legislature at the close of the session in 1901, and a diamond ring at the close of the session of 1903.

Of his legislative work the correspondent of the St. Paul Dispatch has the following to say:

"His effectiveness is in his ability to pick up the strings from other men's broken packages, restore the wreckage to the hand of its owner and in some way to weave into the meshes of the string the ties of a common interest. Ben Hoover knows the purposes of the most secretive men by knowing the humblest of men, bell boys, hack drivers, janitors, clerks and chief clerks, senators and representatives, boards and state officers are all alike to him, and from each he learns something about the other fellow.

"A word uttered here has a bearing on something there, and Ben Hoover gets that word, associates it with another word or an idea or a desire some other place; he pieces the segments of string together; it finally becomes the one important string, it touches all interests.

"Knowledge, not force, is power, and that is where Ben Hoover is more powerful than some men In the vocation of a professional lobbyist which he has reduced to a science. By his method of picking up here a little and there a little he knows more of the characteristics of the membership of the legislature on the opening day than any other  man, and he has probably saved more new and untried members from embarrassment through their own inexperience, than has any other man.

"More than this, he protects the men who favor his interests as well as those of the corporation which he represents.   It is claimed that no one ever beard a threat pass Ben Hoover's lips. He is not a, destroyer, but s builder. There is scarcely an educational or other institution, or an important act of legislature, or a public policy in the realm of the state that does not bear some mark of his indefatigable labor, his effort as a builder. Ben Hoover is a lobbyist, perhsps the most effective legislative agent now or ever in the state, but among 133 members of the legislature, and seventy-five elective and appointive officers, clerks and chaplains there is no personal enemy."

He is a member of the Masonic blue lodge and Eastern Star Chapter at Gettysburg, South Dakota; the Royal Arch Chapter at Faulkton, South Dakota; the Knights of Pythias, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Rebekah and the Woodmen Lodges at  Gettysburg. From 1907 until the present date, 1915, he has been engaged in the mercantile business at Gettysburg.

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


C. R. Garner, who is successfully engaged in the real-estate, loan and abstract business in Onida, was born in Douglas county, Illinois, on the 15th of December, 1872, a son of William E. and Hester A. (Turner) Garner, both natives of Clinton county. Ohio. They removed from the Buckeye state to Illinois shortly after their marriage and resided in the Prairie state until 2883, when they came to South Dakota and located on a farm near Onida. The father gave his time and energies to the improvement of that place until 1910,  when he and his wife removed to California. They now reside in Banning, Riverside county, that state, and he is living practically retired although he engages in the growing of fruits and nuts to some extent. He still owns land in South. Dakota and has many friends here. He was one of the early settlers of Sully county and erected the first residence in Garner township. Although never an office seeker he was elected to a number of township offices. To him and his wife were born two children: Camillus R.; and John Newton, who resides in Banning, California, and who is an important official in the government forestry service, having charge of a large district.

C. R. Garner received his early education in the public schools of Onida and Pierre and later attended the State Normal School at Madison and Huron College. A number of years before completing his education, however, he helped provide for his own support, as when about sixteen years of age he was employed by others. When twenty-two years old he began teaching school in Sully county and for two terms taught the Onida school and for seven terms the Waterford school. During vacations he farmed and thus added to his income. In 1901, however, he became a resident of Onida and engaged in the real-estate, abstract and loan business, with which he is still connected. He deals in South Dakota lands and also handles real estate in other states and has negotiated many important transactions. He also has a gratifying patronage in the other branches of his business. He is a stockholder and a director in the Mexican Oil Company, whose well at the time it was sunk, in 1913, was the second largest in the world; and in the Idol Island Oil Company of the same place, which now has three wells. He owns farm lands in South Dakota and is one of the substantial citizens of Sully county.   He devotes practically his entire time to his real-estate, loan and insurance business and has demonstrated his acumen and sound judgment.

Mr. Garner was married on the 12th of October, 1914, to Miss Maud Cole, a daughter of John F. Cole, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this work. To this union has been born a daughter, Audrey Belle, who is attending school.  Mr. Garner is a republican and is now serving his second year as mayor of Onida. He is a very able official and his conduct of the affairs of the office has gained him the commendation of his fellow citizens. His religious faith is that of the Presbyterian church, and fraternally he is identified with the Masonic order, belonging to the blue lodge of Onida, in which he is senior warden, and the chapter of Pierre, and to the Ancient Order  of United Workmen. He has gained the friendship of many and the respect of all with whom he has been brought in contact.

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


Captain Frederick Bonsey, of Pierre, South Dakota, carefully supervisee his invested interests and has contributed in substantial measure to the business development and prosperity of the city. A native of Maine, he was born in Ellsworth, May 5, 1855, his parents being Samuel and Susan (Lords) Bonsey, both of whom were descended from old New England families. The first of the Bonsey family came to America from Scotland early in the seventeenth century, making settlement in Maine and through generations representatives of the name have been seafaring men. Samuel Bonsey was a sea captain, devoting his entire active life to that vocation. His death occurred in 1896 when he had reached the venerable age of eighty-six years. His family numbered ten children, all of whom are yet living, excepting Edward, who passed away in June, 1915, and the youngest is fifty-four years of age.   Two of the sons are sea captains.

Captain Bonsey of this review attended the common schools until his fourteenth year when, following the family precedent, he went to sea, shipping before the mast. He sailed out of New York for eight years in the West Indies, Windward Islands and South American trade and subsequently became captain of the schooner Senator, plying between New York city and Maine, remaining there three years. He saw his share of excitement and dangers and when in a reminiscent mood relates many interesting experiences of those days.  In 1883 he resigned his command and came west, settling for a short time in Minneapolis, but later in the same year removed to Dakota territory. For a time he resided in Spink county and later in Sully county, where he took up homestead, preemption and tree claims. Later he returned to Spink county and at Ashton conducted the Bonsey Hotel for three years. In 1889, soon after the capital was established at Pierre, he removed to that city and served as the first chef of the Locke Hotel, remaining in that connection for three years, when he resigned to engage in the restaurant business on his own account. He continued therein with growing success for sixteen years, having one of the first class establishments of the city and enjoying a most liberal patronage. In 1914 he sold that business and then entered into the canning business, being one of the organizers and a director of The Hield Canning Company, of which he is also manager. Their only line is tomatoes and they now have forty thousand tomato plants out which they cultivate themselves. This company is one of Pierre's most important commercial productive institutions. He is likewise the owner of considerable residence property, from which he derives a gratifying annual income.

On the 7th of February, 1886, was celebrated the marriage of Captain Bonsey and Miss Frances Winter, a daughter of Nicholas and Mary Winter, of Boscobel, Wisconsin, and they have two children, Ruth and Andrew. Mr. Bonsey exercises his right of franchise in support of the men and measures of the republican party. In matters of citizenship he is thoroughly progressive, supports all measures of public improvement and does everything in his power to advance those interests which are a matter of civic virtue and civic pride. His chief sources of recreation are hunting and fishing and he has hunted big game in all sections of the northwest, bringing off many trophies of the chase. Fraternally he is a member of Lodge No. 23, A. O. C. W. In his broad and varied experiences he has learned much concerning the correct valuations of life and has due regard for all those forces which make for the benefit and upbuilding of the community and which count as factors in those warm friendships which make life worth living.


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