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Subject: Sd-Faulk Co. History (Chapter IX Weste)
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2005 16:42:47 -0500

Faulk County, SD History .....Chapter IX Western Third of County 1909
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File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:
Joy Fisher January 7, 2005, 4:42 pm


Late in the autumn of 1883 the west half of range 70 and all of ranges 71
and 72 were without a settler. Early in March, 1884, C. H. Ellis, who had been
located at Wessington in Beadle county for two years, started on a trip of
exploration of these lands, which had just come into the market. Leaving the
line of the Dakota Central railroad at St. Lawrence, in Hand county, and taking
a northwesterly direction, with his brother, Chas. V. Ellis, Joseph McGregor and
Rufus Richie, they arrived at Mr. Conner's, section 3, township 119, range 69
for dinner. In the afternoon they traveled about six miles north and eight miles
west, and stopped for the night at a sod shanty on section 34, township 118,
range 70. The following day until 3 o'clock p. m., was spent exploring land in
township 117 in ranges 71 and 72, and a location was decided upon on section 1,
in township 117, range 72. They then started in a south easterly direction,
hoping to reach Ree Heights, on the Dakota Central railway. A few minutes past 5
o'clock p. m., they sighted a shanty, which they decided to try to reach for a
stopping place for the night, and which they judged to be not over three miles
distant. Urging their weary horses as best they could, at dark the shanty was
yet in the unknown distance, but to their great joy a light appeared at the
window. At a few minutes past 9 o'clock the horses came to a sudden stop and
could not be urged further. Upon examination they found themselves at the top of
a deep ravine. As they made this discovery the light in the window went out; but
after a few loud halloos, to their delight it reappeared. Soon a man, light in
hand, made inquiry as to who was there and what was wanted. A few minutes later
he was with the party and piloted them to a very comfortable stopping place for
the night. The following day they reached their home at Wessington, via Ree

With their railroad base established at Ree Heights, a-few days later the
party of six, with wagons loaded with lumber, made their second trip to the new
location, which they had already christened Ellisville. When about fifteen miles
from Ree Heights and near the foot of a low range of coteaux that extended east
and west along the north line of Hand and Hyde counties, they had their first
experience with the sudden atmospheric changes peculiar to the Dakotas. In an
instant, from a beautiful, balmy, sunshiny afternoon, the weather changed and
there were dark, whirling clouds and furious, piercing winds that shut out all
hope of their reaching their destination that night. Their course was promptly
changed to due west, where they had discovered signs of civilisation, which
proved to be the home, consisting of a house and barn, of a pioneer settler.
After a heroic struggle they suceeded in reaching the place and were made
comfortable for the night.

The following morning they started due north and at the foot of tne coteaux
or hills, discovered a creek of considerable size. They decided to follow its
course in a northeasterly direction through the hills to the south line of Faulk
county, where they discovered a small lake out of which the creek before
mentioned flowed, and then made their course northeast about six miles to
Ellisville. After they had eaten a cold dinner the work on the shanty commenced,
and before night closed in upon them they had completed a good, board shanty
10x14, set up the stove, made themselves comfortable for the night and felt
quite at home.

This party consisted of C. H. Ellis, George Hines, Otto Hines, Charles V.
Ellis, Theodore Rector and Joseph McGregor. A land locating office was opened, a
post-office established, with semi-weekly mail from Ree Heights, a printing
office, store and school house soon followed. Ellisville was located on section
1, township 117, range 72, on the line of survey by the Chicago & Northwestern
railway, with the positive assurance from the officers of that company that the
road would certainly be built on the line of that survey. Ellisville was twenty
miles south and west of Faulkton, twenty-five miles north and west from Ree
Heights and twenty miles north of Highmore. And if the railroad officials had
carried out their part of the agreement Ellisville would today be the leading
and most influential town in western Faulk county.

It was not long before Highmore became the railroad town for mail and all
other communication with the outside world, on account of the shorter distance,
Even twenty miles over the prairie in the heat of summer, or cold, storms, and
high, piercing winds and drifting snow, of winter without a single landmark by
which to determine one's bearing, was a most severe and trying experience, that
demanded courage and heroism which taxed the full power of the inexperienced
pioneer. But for a light suspended twenty feet in the air, many a land-seeker
would have spent a night in the prairie. Not that the experience of the pioneers
was more exciting or tragic than many others; but as an illustration of the
common lot of the first settlers upon the broad prairies of the great northwest,
is this sketch published.

While some of these settlers are among the prominent and influential
citizens of Faulk county to-day, many of them were young, unmarried men, who,
after "proving up" their claims, returned to their former homes, leaving their
lands unimproved. Many of these broad acres are now upon the market at prices
that make them the most valuable of any land in Faulk county, when the price at
which they can be bought, is taken into consideration.

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