South Dakota

Walworth County, South Dakota



From "History of Dakota Territory" by George W. Kingsbury, 1915


Lars Larson is the proprietor of a furniture and undertaking establishment at Mobridge, where he embarked in business in 1909, having now one of the best stores west of Aberdeen. He was born in Norway, September 22, 1860, and is a son of Lars and Regina Larson, who were also natives of the land of the midnight sun, where their entire lives were passed. In their family were ten children, of whom five are yet living, and three of the number still remain in Norway.

Lars Larson was reared and educated there and the common schools afforded him his opportunities for intellectual progress. He remained in his native country until he reached the age of twenty-four years, when in 1884 he crossed the Atlantic and established his home in Kansas, where he was employed as a common laborer for a year. He next went to Colorado, where he remained for three years connected with the stamp mills and mining interests. On the expiration of that period he removed to Walworth county, South Dakota, where he arrived in 1887. He at once took up a homestead, which he occupied for twenty-one years and during that period he greatly improved the property, adding to it substantial buildings and all modern equipments. To his original holdings he added until he became the owner of eight hundred and twenty acres, which he still retains. Year after year he carefully developed and tilled the soil until he brought his farm to a high state of cultivation, residing thereon until 1909, when he removed to Mobridge and embarked in commercial pursuits, establishing a furniture and undertaking business. He has since built up a trade that enables him to handle a large and well selected line of goods, so that he has one of the best stores in his part of the state.

In 1887 Mr. Larson was joined in wedlock to Miss Hannah Ekrem, a native of Norway, who came to the United States in 1886. The children of the family are ten in number, namely: Martin L. and Richard P., who are engaged in agricultural pursuits; Maria, at home; August L.; Lewis K.; Regina; John H.; Edwin R.; Theodore R.; and Helmer. The parents are members of the Lutheran church and adhere loyally to its teachings because of their firm belief in the Christian religion. In his political views Mr. Larson is a republican and has been called upon to fill various local offices, for his fellow citizens recognize his worth and ability. He acted as road superintendent for twelve years and for two terms has been a member of the city council of Mobridge. He was also school director for nine years and he is interested in everything that pertains to the work of public progress and improvement, doing all in his power to promote the welfare of Mobridge and its advancement along material, intellectual, political and moral lines.

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


Orson Clark, vice president of the First National Bank of Mobridge, has devoted practically his entire life to the banking business, starting out in a clerical capacity. He was born in Lawson, Ray county, Missouri, May 31, 1873, and is a son of Robert J. and Sallie A. (Moore) Clark, the former a native of Tennessee and the latter of Missouri. In young manhood Robert J. Clark toured the western country, covering many of the middle western and coast states looking for a permanent location. However, after his marriage, which was celebrated in Missouri, he settled in Lawson and for many years was prominently identified with its mercantile interests. Subsequently he became associated with the banking business and for twenty-six years was cashier of the Lawson Bank, becoming well known among the loading financiers of the state, remaining in active connection with the bank until he retired from business life, his home being now in Richmond, Missouri. He was formerly a prominent figure in democratic circles but while he had marked influence in party councils he was never an aspirant for public preferment although he served for some years as public administrator in Ray county, Missouri. He and his wife are consistent members of the Methodist Church, South, and he belongs to the Masonic lodge, of which he was secretary for thirty years.

After his graduation from the Lawson high school Mr. Clark entered the Presbyterian College of Upper Missouri but toward the close of his first year the college was destroyed by fire and his educational work was never resumed. He then entered a mercantile establishment in Lawson and for seven years gave his attention to clerical work in the different stores of the town. Still later he entered the Lawson Bank as assistant cashier of that institution, serving under his father for seven years. In July, 1907, he arrived in South Dakota, making his way to Lemmon, where he became assistant cashier of the Grand River State Bank. That bank was afterward nationalized and merged into the First National Bank, of which Mr. Clark became the vice president, continuing in that capacity until March, 1910, when he sold his interest and returned to Missouri. For two years thereafter he engaged in the hardware business in Maryville and in the spring of 1912 he returned to South Dakota, settling at Mobridge, where he acquired an interest in the Mobridge State Bank, which was later converted into a national bank and merged into the First National Bank, of which Mr. Clark is now the vice president. Thorough training along banking lines with broadening experiences throughout his entire business career has well qualified him for the discharge of the duties which devolve upon him and for the solution of the intricate problems connected with the banking business.

On the 19th of September, 1899, Mr. Clark was married to Miss Emma Campbell, of Lawson, Missouri, and to them have been born two children, Ernestine Frances and Dorothy Virginia. Mr. Clark votes with the democratic party and is active in public affairs, serving as police commissioner and as member of the school board of Mobridge, acting as treasurer of the board at the present time. His fraternal connections are with Mobridge Lodge, No. 164, A. F. & A. M., and Lemmon Chapter, R. A. M., while he and his wife are members of the Order of the Eastern Star at Mobridge. He is also identified with the Mobridge Lodge of the Knights of Pythias, the Elks, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Owls. He and his wife hold membership in the Congregational church and the varied phases of public life are to him matters of interest. He never neglects his obligations of citizenship nor his opportunities to aid in promoting public progress.

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


Colonel Thomas G. Orr, the efficient superintendent of the South Dakota State Soldiers'
Home at Hot Springs, was born in Martinsburg, Knox county, Ohio, June 22, 1848, a son of Dr. Thomas and Lavinia (Thompson) Orr. The father was born in Pennsylvania and the
mother was a native of Newell county, Ohio. Both have gone to their final rest, the father's death occurring in 1855 at New Cumberland, West Virginia, and the mother passing away in 1853 at Martinsburg, Ohio. For forty-five years Dr. Orr was actively engaged in the practice of medicine. To him and his wife were born five sons and two daughters, Colonel Thomas Orr being the youngest.

The last named had but meager opportunities for schooling in his boyhood days and acquired the greater part of his education after the Civil war. He was left an orphan when
about seven years of age and went to Volney, Allamakee county, Iowa, where he made his home with a brother. While still a child he found employment with a dry-goods firm and continued with that house for three years, after which he went to Lansing, where he entered the employ of the Lansing Mirror as printer's devil. His connection with that paper was maintained until July, 1861, when he put aside all private considerations and enlisted in the Union army, becoming a member of Company C, Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He was but thirteen years and fifteen days old when he stood on the box to be sworn in and because of the United States rules he was not accepted at first. Later his captain interceded for him and explained to the mustering officer that he had no parents and no home and the officer in charge Bent an account of the case to headquarters in Washington. In the meantime Colonel Orr was made captain's clerk and served in that capacity for three months, at the end of which time authority came from Washington to muster him into the army as a drummer boy. In 1864, after three years of service, he was transferred to Company G, Fifth Iowa Cavalry, at Atlanta, Georgia, as a veteran volunteer. Until the 8th of November, 1865, he held the rank of orderly to the colonel of the regiment and on that date was mustered out at Nashville, Tennessee, after which he returned to Clinton, Iowa, where he received his pay and then went to Lansing, where he spent a few weeks in visiting. He felt the need of a more thorough education and attended a select private school at Waukon, Iowa, for three months and in 1864 went to Chicago and accepted a position as express messenger for the Merchants' Union Express Company, which operated between Chicago and Burlington, Iowa. During that time he took a night course in a commercial school in Chicago, from which he was graduated in the course of time. In the fall of 1866 the company with which he was connected failed and he returned to Lansing, Iowa, where for a time he acted as clerk in a clothing and hardware store. He then became bookkeeper for a large grain firm, holding that position for five years. Upon the dissolution of the firm in 1873 he entered into a copartnership for the conduct of a grain business at De Soto, Victory and Badax City, Wisconsin, and he was a resident of Victory until 1877, when he became a partner in and general manager of a large company buying grain at twenty-six different stations. He devoted his time and energies to his duties in that connection until 1883, when he resigned and came to Dakota territory, filing a claim near Aberdeen on the 9th of November, 1883. He then went to Viroqua, Wisconsin, which remained his home until April 2, 1884, at which date he located on his claim in Dakota territory, his family arriving a few days before Christmas, which anniversary was spent at Bayles' ranch.

In the fall of 1884 Colonel Orr was asked by a committee of citizens to become a candidate for register of deeds of Walworth county, which he did, being elected and serving for four years, It is interesting to note that his campaign cost him only five dollars. While he served as register of deeds his wife and family continued to reside upon the claim. At the end of his term he was made chief of the enrolling and engineering force appointed by the territorial legislature of 1888 and 1880. He served in that capacity for sixty days and then opened a real-estate office at Bangor, Walworth county. In 1892 the family removed to Brookings in order that the children might have the educational advantages afforded there but the Colonel did not join them until some time afterward. In 1893 he accepted a position is collector for the Walter Atwood Company Of Hoosick, New York, his territory being Dakota and the southern half of the state of Minnesota. He continued with that company until 1895, his residence remaining in Brookings, and then became field manager for a fire insurance company, whose headquarters were in Madison, Wisconsin. After a year spent in the employ of that concern he resigned to accept a position with the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad and was made townsite agent at Evarts and he was engaged in selling town lots there until the town of Mobridge was platted and he was made townsite agent for a year under the municipality. He sold the first lots recorded there for one hundred and ninety-five dollars apiece. A few weeks later he was taken sick and returned to his family at Brookings. It was necessary for him to undergo an operation for cancer of the bowels and he went to a hospital at Rochester, Minnesota, conducted by the celebrated Mayo Brothers. The operation proved successful and he is now one of the two patients who have recovered from that disease.

In 1897 Colonel Orr returned to Brookings and was made deputy food and dairy commissioner under Professor A. H. Wheaton. When Mr. Cook became head of the service the Colonel was reappointed and continued to act as commissioner until he resigned in 1900 because of impaired health. Seven years later he was appointed a member of the board of the State Soldiers' Home under Governor Herried and a year and a half later was reappointed, serving for two years under Governor Vessey. In January, 1911, he was elected by the board as superintendent of the State Soldiers' Home and assumed office on the 1st of April of that year. He has since had charge of the affairs of the institution and has been ably assisted by his wife, who serves as matron. She has had much experience in that line of work, having been for about five years matron in the State Agricultural College at Brookings.

Colonel Orr is a republican but his interest in public affairs has never taken the form of a desire to hold office. He is a member of the blue lodge, chapter and council in Masonry and has held a number of offices in that order. He is president of the Home Coming Association and believes firmly in the value of gatherings that bring together all those interested in any way in this section of the state. Colonel Orr has invariably manifested the same spirit of devotion to the public good that led him as a boy of little more than thirteen to offer his services to his country as a soldier, being the youngest enrolled soldier from Iowa. His record was one of hard service as he took part in from sixty-one to sixty-five engagements, was twice wounded and yet was with his regiment every day of the time that elapsed from his enlistment until his discharge at the close of the war. His experience as a soldier and his understanding of the veterans of the war, coupled with his wide business knowledge, make him an excellent man for the post of superintendent of the South Dakota State Soldiers' Home and his administration is proving not only satisfactory to the board of directors but also meets the approval of the soldiers who live therein.

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


Hon. George W. Ryan is one of the most successful stockraisers of Walworth county, where he owns seven hundred and twenty acres of excellent land, and he is also one of the leading men of affairs of that county. He has held a number of local offices and has also served as a member of the state senate, at all times discharging his official duties with ability and regard for the public welfare. A native of Erie county, Pennsylvania, he was born on the 30th of January, 1851, and is a son of James and Abigail (Allen) Ryan. The parents were natives respectively of Pennsylvania and New York and were married in the Keystone state, where they continued to reside until called by death. In their family were nine children, four of whom survive.

George W. Ryan received a good education, attending normal school after completing the course offered in the public schools. He remained under the parental roof until he attained his majority, teaching school for three winters and working on a farm during the summer months. He continued to engage in teaching until April, 1883, when he removed to South Dakota and located in Walworth county on a farm which he still owns. He worked diligently and to good purpose and as the years passed he prospered financially and purchased additional land, so that he now holds title to seven hundred and twenty acres, all of which is under cultivation. He raises stock of all kinds and finds that occupation very profitable. Mr. Ryan is also president of the elevator company at Java and the prosperity of the concern is largely due to his business ability and good management. He is a member of the Java Equity Union and a director and president of the Java Equity Exchange, which is an organization of farmers for their protection and benefit. They deal in grain, coal and farm implements and are doing an excellent business.

Mr. Ryan was married in 1881 to Miss Mary A. Zindel, a native of Forest county, Pennsylvania, and a daughter of Conrad and Elizabeth (Babendorf) Zindel. Her father, who was a native of Germany, has passed away, as has also her mother. Mr. and Mrs. Ryan have become the parents of five children: Mabel, the wife of Robert Wagy, a resident of Freda, North Dakota; Ethel E., who married P. L. Nies and resides in Montana; Helen D., who is teaching school and resides at home; and two who died in infancy.

Mr. Ryan is a republican and takes quite an active and prominent part in political affairs. He was a member of the last territorial legislature, which convened in 1889, and he also represented his district in the state senate in the session of 1911. He has filled a number of local offices, serving as school treasurer for several years and for two terms, from 1903 to 1907, was auditor of Walworth county. Although he began his career without capital and without influence he is now one of the well-to-do residents of his county and is recognized as one of the foremost men in the locality.