South Dakota

Sully County South Dakota


Perry Swenson

submitted by Darleen Stritecky dstritecky(at)

My grandfather Perry Swenson was born in Sweden in 1855.  He came to this country and homesteaded in Sully county in 1887.  His home stead is 20 miles west of Onida S.D. about 5 miles east of the Missouri River.  He lived in a dugout for awhile. When Fort Sully was closed, he bought  wood out of the buildings and put up a 2 room house. He married my grandmother in 1898. She was Carrie Orsborne who had come west with her parents and family and settled just to the north of grandfather's home stead in Potter county. They had 4 children,  Elsie born in 1900, Anna in 1902, Jennie in 1904 and Clinton born in 1910. My grandmother and the girls also had homestead claims adjoining my grandfathers. My grandfather went to the River and brought trees to plant to improve the place. I think it was part of keeping the home stead.  Grandpa and grandma spent the rest of their lives on that homestead.  He died in 1935 and she in 1933.  They are both buried at the cemetry at Onida. Their son, my uncle Clinton took over the homestead  when grandpa died; he married Pansy Silbough in 1936. They adopted two boys, Mark and Paul.  Mark stayed on the homestead, married and had 2 sons. Paul was a music teacher in various school in S.D. Clinton died in 1987 and Pansy died in 1995.  They are also buried in the Onida cemetry. As near as I know, the homestead is still in the Swenson family.

The girls grew up, went to Aberdeen Teachers college and all taught school.  Elsie, the oldest never married.  She taught school in S.D. Oklahoma and California where she was living when she retired,  she died in 1984 and is also buried at Onida.  Anna, my mother  taught rural one room schools in S.D. and Nebraska. She married my dad Raplh Dunkelberger  in 1926.  He was a farmer and mom continued to teach until my older sister was born in 1930.  There was a shortage of teachers in the 40's because of the war, so she renewed her teaching certificate and taught for another 25 years.. My dad's family came to the U.S. in 1728.  They kept moving west as the country opened up and were also farmimg in Sully county when he and mom met. I am very proud to tell you that I am a member Daughters of the American revolution.  I love geneology. There are 4 of us girls. Esther born in 1930, graduated high school  in Onida in 1948, she had worked for Dr. Gladys Hale during her high school years.  She married the Dr. son, Allen Hale in 1948. They lived in Onida till 1965 when Allen starting working for Civil service,  Esther also worked for Civil  Service. They retired in Aurora Colorado.  Allen died in 2007, Esther still lives in Aurora. My sister Edna born in 1932 married a trucker Ralph Huckins in 1953.  They had 3 children.  Ralph died of a sudden heart attack  in 1977. Edna lives in Sioux City, Iowa.  I was born in 1934 graduated high school in Oneill, Nebraska  in1953.  My parents moved  to a farm there in 1948. My first husband, Herman Ehresmann worked construction.  We had a son.  Herman died in a car accident in 1965. I married Vincent Stritecky, who grew up in Tripp County, S.D., near Colome in 1967.  He died  in 2005 from cancer.  We have made our home in Sioux Falls most of our married life.  My younger sister Alice was born in 1936. She married Edgar Boyle and has lived in Oneill for 57 years  My parents, Ralph and Anna Dunkelberger are buried at Oneill Nebraska. Mom was 91 in 1993, when she died and my dad was 101 when he died in 1994.  Jennie Swenson, my mom's younger sister taught school for awhile before marrying a Stanley county rancher Martin Samuelson in 1931.  They had a daughter.  Martin died in 1971 and Jennie in 1998.  They are buried in Ft.Pierre.

I think that it's a tribute the the strength of those poineers who came here when there was nothing and stayed in spite of all the hardships. Mom used to tell us how they ordered groceries in bulk from Sears Robuck and the stage coach brought  them, when it was making mail and other deliveries  We all went to rural one room schools and got a good education. I was the only one in my grade for most of those years.  In 1973 when my son graduated from a Sioux Falls high school, his class had over 800 students. When living in Sully County, water was hard to find. My grandpa had a flowing artsian well, that is still in use. Unless something as changed the water for drinking and cooking was always hauled in 5 gallon cream cans and drank from a dipper.



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