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Brookings County South Dakota

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Lois Crawford letter to Gilman Newton

Bob Bandel submits this letter and photos.

First home of Russell & Lois Crawford - Medary Township, Brookings County

A picture of Russel and Lois Crawford's first home in Brookings County.   It was a small building, about 10 x 14, built near Elgin Minnesota and hauled to Medary, Dakota Territory by oxen, with the family on board.

Back of picture of first home of Russell & Lois Crawford in Medary Township, Brookings County

On the back of the picture the following note is written:  " Photo taken August 1, 1906, by W J Watson of Toronto Can.    R. M., L. D., & G. H. Crawford. [the initials are for Russ,  Lois, and George.] Building in background was built in the spring of 1875, & was hauled to Medary by oxen, with the family on board. In it two children were born: Jessie (Now Mrs. R. S. Carter) & George. It is now used as a store room for seed grain. Size 7 x13 feet.  George H. Crawford.  PS: The building was built on the farm of Joseph Crawford near Elgin Minn.   12/23/07 ".

The following is part of a letter written by Lois Crawford to her Brother Gilman Newton in Rochester, MN describing, in part, her home and stable.


Medary, Dakota, Dec 28th 1879

G. S. Newton

Dear Brother. almost 1880

Well I will wish you a "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year" I suppose it will be the same with me the year around.  I try to be as merry as I can considering my surroundings.  We have a small house shanty fashion (12 x 14) that is roof one way but we do not suffer with cold if we stay in. It has been xtremy cold but yesterday was thawing.  Stormy today Pa stands it well He cut some wood and brings some water when R. M. is not at home.  I take the whole care of my cow her stable is made by putting poles top of hay stack & laid on posts in the ground and covered with hay It was just big enough for her but she has eaten the stack so now she has quite a little room.  ..."

Ever Your sis Lois 


There were 5 people living in this house at the time of the letter.  The letter later mentions Lois' Father living with them at the time. He was in Dakota looking for land to homestead, or buy outright from the railroad.  A real pioneer family.  I wonder if this could be considered the first travel trailer.

Well Lois' father, Henry, did get hold of some land, and left it to Lois via his will when he died in 1899.  Henry's will describes it as follows:   "I give and bequeath to my daughter Lois D Crawford and her husband R M Crawford during their lives and to the survivor of them during his or her life the use of the South Half of the South East quarter and the North East quarter of the South East Quarter and the South East Quarter of the North East Quarter of Section Seventeen in Township one hundred and nine Range Forty Nine in the county of Brookings Dakota Territory and after the decease of the survivor of them I give and bequeath the same to the children of my said daughter Lois D Crawford absolutely equally share and share alike."

Henry died in 1899 at the ripe old age of 89.

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