WHEATLAND TOWNSHIP
DAY COUNTY
DAKOTA TERRITORY
SOUTH DAKOTA

 

 

Joe Mattecheck

 

 

 

“Somewhat rolling, however, not so much so but what every acre can be cultivated.”[1]

 

“There are many fine farms with large groves and substantial farm buildings.  There are still a number of homesteaders living on their land.”[2]  Wheatland Township is located on the southern boarder of Day County located in NE South Dakota.  Mr. L G Ochsenreiter wrote these words in 1926.

During the 1873 Territorial session different boundaries were established for Day County.  Wheatland Township and 5 other townships were moved out of Codington County and added to the boundaries of Day County.  The county was also divided in half with the northern portion named Marshall County.

The number of new settlers moving into Wheatland township varies from year to year.  The new settlers or families numbers:

1881                24

1882                25

1883                9

1884                2

1885                2

 

As with any new area, events were happening.  “The first recorded death was in 1888 Charles Hartman Sr.  The first child born in the township was in 1884.  The first marriage was consummated Thanksgiving Day 1884.”[3]

 

The first school in the district was held in a private home. It opened May 19th 1885, school was only 2 months long that year. The teacher received $25.00 per month.  By 1926 the teacher was paid $110 per month.  The 1st school was built in 1887 and was replaced by a brick tile building in 1924.  This school is the only brick school in the rural parts of the county.[4]  The township had three additional rural township schools over the years. They were located in sections 8, 11, 26 and 29.  Each school had some kind of play equipment on the grounds.  Three of the school grounds were approximately 1 acre while the last one was approximately. 2.5 acres.  The school building in sections 11 and 29 are in the center of the section while the other two are on north edge of the section and centered east to west.  The single room school building in Section 11 was removed in the 1970’s.  Access to Section 11 was on a dirt road.  The 1914 enrollment was 26 students.  The teacher some times lived part time in the front of the building.  The building located in section 8 is now a township meeting place and Section 26 is a home.  These are both wooden structures.  The township paid $249.00 for the building. The schools were identified as district 171, 172, 173 and 174.

 

Prior to 1926 two chicken hatchery’s existed within the township.  One hatchery had Full Blood Brown Leghorns and the other had Pure Bred White Rocks. They sold for 10 to 15 cents per chick.  Custom hatching was available for $.03 cents per egg.

 

J. J. Fosse of the township was elected as a state Representative for Day County when South Dakota was admitted to the union in 1889.  Johannes J. Fosse was born March 1860, and died in October 1935 He was a statehood member of State House of Representative only serving 1889 to 1890.  His name appears on many records of the township.  A picture of him also appears in the state capitol building on the House of Representatives side

 

The Public Land Survey System (PLSS) is a rectangular survey system.  It is called a rectangular system because wherever practicable the units are in rectangular form.  The rectangular survey system divides land into townships and ranges. A regular township is six miles on a side bounded on the north and south by township lines, and the east and west by range lines.  The township is divided into 36 sections, each one mile on a side, comprising about 640 acres, which was the basic unit under the Land Ordinance Act of 1785.  No township or section is mathematically perfect for various reasons, including the fact that the earth's surface is not flat.[5] 

 

Townships are numbered somewhat different.  Sections 1 to 6, 13 to 18, 25 to 30 are numbered right to left.  The other sections are numbered left to right.  Generally Sections 16 and 36 are considered school sections and were not allowed to be homesteaded.  Both of these sections are homesteaded on the tax records of 1886 and 1887.

 

Tax records for 1886 and 1887

 

Real estate tax records vary as the township grew in 1886 to 1887.  The total number of acres in the township is approx. 23,040 acres.  Wheatland Township had no acres controlled by the State or Federal Government.  Sometime in the 1940’s, 40 acres were transferred to state control for back taxes.

 

Acres taxed on the 1886 records, with 31 landowners is 3924 acres and a total tax value of $6389.00, a average of $1.628/acre.  In 1887 32 landowners had 4977 acres with a total tax value $9640.00 a average of $1.936 acre.

 

Thirty one people paidd real estate taxes in 1886 with 32 paying real estate taxes for 1887.

 

Personal property tax records are included in the 1886 and 1887 tax records.  Categories that have taxable values are:

 

Horses                        120                 $5155.00       $42.96

Mules/Asses              4                      $180.00          $45.00

Neat Cattle                 265                 $3517.00       $13.27

Swine                         114                 $196.00          $1.72 

Sheep                         36                    $36.00            $1.00

Carriages Vehicles etc.                   $3348.00

Money and Credits                                       $50.00

Household                                                      $82.00

All other Property not exempt by Law         $1696.00

 

Categories not used are Value as Equalized by Township Board, Value as Equalized by County Board, School Poll and Road Poll.  Both the School Poll and Road Poll were assigned as district 55, Stocks and Shares, Property Controlled by an Agent, and Real Estate Sold Yet In Possession Of Seller.  Some unusual categories were more inspired by the Federal Government than the plains of Dakota Territory.  They are Ferry Franchises and Toll Bridges, Capital Employed (In Merchandising and In Manufacturing).  The Dakota Territory Codes of 1876 goes on to list maximum amount to charge for ferry boats and toll bridges at different locations in Dakota Territory.

 

The last 4 categories on Personal Property Tax records are related to Census Returns.  The total Number of People as follows:

            1886

Over 21   Male           76        Female           40

Under 21 Male           67        Female           34

1887

Over 21 Male 86        Female           53

Under 21 Male           86        Female           54

 

The number of people with Personal Property taxes to be paid in 1886 was 76 and in 1887, 87 people.  Some of the taxed people are female landowners and female personal property owners. 

 

Neat Cattle can be defined as Head of Cattle or the Common Domestic Bovine.  Record books list people as summarized for totals.

 

Clerk records

 

“”Wheatland, Day Co S.D.

March 7th 1893

 

At the Annual Town Meeting held in the town of Wheatland in the County of Day and State of South Dakota, at School House No. 172 on the 7th day of March 1893.  The meeting was called to order by Joseph Paul.  Johannes J. Fosse, E. B. Gibson and Fred Bloom were then chosen Judges of Town Meeting, and Johannes J. Fosse was then chosen to preside as Moderator of the Meeting.  The Moderator, at the opening of the meeting stated the business to be transacted and the order of the same, as follows:  That the business to be transacted would be to elect three Supervisors one of whom should be designated on the ballots as Chairman, one Town Clerk, one Treasurer, one Assessor, two Juatices of the Peace, two Constables, one Overseer of highways for each Road District in said Town and one Round master and to do any other business proper to be done at said meeting.  The record book goes on for four pages and is signed off by three judges and the clerk.”[6]

 

Many of the township meetings were held in one of the four school buildings as well as residences of officers of the township.  Often, in the minutes of the township, it is referred to as the town.  Much of the minutes cover such things as election of officers, financial issues, road districts, election procedures, poll locations, and elections. 

 

The Town Clerk read publicly the report of the Board of Auditors, including a statement of the fiscal concerns of the town, and a raw estimate of the sums necessary for the current and incidental expenses of the town for the ensuing year. 

 

Elected supervisors were required to render a account in writing stating the labor assessed and performed in the town, the sums received by them for fines and commutations, etc..  Also a statement of the improvements necessary to be made on the roads and bridges, as well as a estimate of the probable expense of making such improvements beyond that of the labor to be assessed for the year, that the road tax will accomplish. A statement in writing of all expenses and damages in consequence of laying our, altering or discontinuing roads was made.

 

On motion it was ordered that the following sums of money be raised by tax upon the taxable property in said town for the following purpose for the current year;  For general township purposes $250.00[7]

 

Minutes were very detailed and in many cases items were very organized.  The official bond and oath of Henry as Constable was laid before the board and on motion it was approved.  The process went on for each member being sworn in and was written out.  Raising of taxes was also done by motion.  “On motion the board levied one (1) Day Poll tax labor and Five(5) mills on the Dollars as a special Road tax on all Real and Personal Property in the town for the year Eighteen Hundred and Ninety Three (1893).  On several approvals the elected person was not approved because they neglected to qualify.  Minutes reflected dollar values fees to be paid of $6.25 for town clerk, board chair person $5.25 board members of $3.25.  Sometimes a elected official was not approved for failing to qualify when elected for his 2nd term.  Special elections were held for various reasons.  On such election was for a INDIANA REVERSIBLE ROAD MACHINE.  The voter turn out was high as it was 8 to purchase and 76 against buying such a machine.

 

Complaints were received from residents that named residents were not assessed high enough as well that some items or livestock were not even on assessed lists.  The clerk was instructed to notify those with a complaint against them were to appear to a future board to answer the complaint against them.

 

At the 6/28/1893 meeting two complaints were addressed with one being $250.00 for a stallion not recorded in assessor books.  The other action was over land value.  The land value was raised to $250.00.  There was mention of what the value was before it was changed.  At other meeting assessed values were reduced, one meeting reduced assessed value of horses by $40.00.  Credits were reduced by $300 for one resident.  No explanation was given other than there was a motion and the vote passed.  Sometimes the lowering or raising was only $1.00. 

 

Another task that was recorded was selection of Jurors.  On Oct 31 1893 meeting 24 names were selected and 8 were drawn to be Jurors.  No mention was recorded of what they were going to be doing.  Two additional record books were used in 1895 thru 1899. The first book was Record of Jurors to Draw From and Record of Jurors Drawn by the Board of Supervisors.  The highest number of listed names in Jurors to Draw from was 18.  The highest number of listed names in Record of Jurors Drawn by The Board of Supervisors was six.[8]

 

Road construction and Road taxes were a topic of conversation and approval several times through the time frame of 1893 through 1898. 

 

Some of the officers were bonded officer’s and was generally bonded at $500.00.  This action was done each year the board held a organizational meeting. 

 

Many of the township clerk records are written almost in calligraphy.  Much of the hand writing in the 1880s and 1890s is generally very clear.  Many times one could almost feel as if you were at the meeting as to the way the minutes were thought out and written out.

 

Annual reports/notices were required for 48 different public functions.  Many reports were filed by the township clerk, others by the person in charge of that function.  Due dates are posted for each of these reports/notices.  January 1, May 3 are the most required dates. June and February are other dates.

 

Road notes

 

A record of road transactions was kept in a separate record book by the township supervisor’s. 

 

The back portion of the book was the Supervisor’s Road Order.  It consisted of four pages and was completed by the road supervisors.  These pages followed a printed format of how each step was to be processed and excited.  The first section of these pages was Owners, Description, to include Section, Town, and Range.  The second section was how each Owner was to be notified of action to be done.  The third section was the legal actions as well as an affidavit that the notification etc. was completed.  The fourth section was Township employee actions (could be a surveyor). The fifth section was award of damages section.  Section five was also recorded by the Township Clerk.

 

An affidavit was part of this process of adding, changing or removing the road structure.  When a road was built on a property line with two townships involved each township  was responsible of half of the work and costs. 

 

The township was divided into six road districts early on but in early 1909 it had been reduced to four districts.  On October 29, 1909 by a motion presented to the township board and approved by board the township was returned to six road districts.  It appears that each resident is assessed so many working hrs on building roads.  The territory code allow the assessment of work time.

 

One entry that was made in 1952 is a copy of a joint meeting from March 15, 1909.  An attached note says it is an exact copy of the minutes as recorded in the books of the adjacent township as well as a diagram of what how costs and maintains were to be divided.

 

Treasurer books

 

Treasurer meeting entries were sometimes a large list of people paid for services.  Money received was a entry, to what fund it was entered.  Money paided out it was recorded to who and from what account it was paid from as well as a warrant number and amount.  Service on elected offices were the largest in number.  The book contains many name and what acct charged and not much else.

 

Voter registration

 

Registration Law for South Dakota is printed on the cover of the Register Of Qualified Electors.  The Registration Law for South Dakota was composed of 14 different sections.  It gives the Precinct, Full Name of Elector, Residence, and Date they registered to be a qualified elector.  Entries are alphabetized by last name.

 

On the back cover 3 different sections existed first is Oath to be taken by Applicant for Registry before Registration Board, Affidavit of Qualifications of Elector and Affidavit of Two electors, Touching Residence of Applicant for Registration.  These were all in a 1899 Register of Electors book.

 

1908 Register of Qualified Electors was used for both 1908 and 1910.  Whoever made the entries must not have had a book available for 1910.  From 1900 to 1916 some variation existed from journal to journal but accomplished same thing.

 

As with most books a signature section of the Board of Registration saying they registered qualified electors.

 

 

Wheatland Township Cemetery

Deed/Transfer of Ownership

 

Know all men by these present.

That we A. M. Wilcox, Henry Paul and John Johnson as Supervisors of the Township of Wheatland, Day County Dakota Territory, owning a certain tract of land described as follows to wit:  Beginning at the North West corner of the South West quarter of Section Twenty Two Township One hundred and Twenty(120) North, of Range Fifty Five and running south on the section line 295.16 feet thence East 328.16 feet, thence North 295.16 feet. Thence West 328.16 feet to the place of beginning, have caused the same to be surveyed and platted for Cemetery purposes as shown upon the plat hereto annexed and we as such supervisors hereby dedicate to the public when lawfully upon said cemetery grounds the use of all alleys and driveways as shown hereon.

 

Witness our hands and seals this 26th day of Nov 1888.

 

A M Wilson, John H Johnson, Henry Paul

 

(All information is hand written).

 

 

 

 

Justice of Pease Info

 

Territory of Dakota

                                                SS

County of Day

 

On this 26th day of November 1888, personally appeared A. M. Wilcox, Henry Paul, and John Johnson, Supervisors of the Township of Wheatland who acknowledged the execution of the foregoing instrument as such supervisors, for the use and purposes their in expressed.

 

John Hanson

Justice of Pease

 

 

 

 

Plot information

 

I William Alley do hereby certify that the annexed is a correct plat of the Wheatland Cemetery as surveyed and platted by me for the Township of Wheatland, that the same is located on the SW1/4 Sec 22 T 120 R 55 and fully described as follows beginning at the North West corner of the South west quarter of Section twenty two (22) Tp 120 Rge 55 and running south on the section line 295.16 feet, thence east 328.16 feet, thence north 295.16 feet, thence 328.16 feet to the place of beginning, that the dimensions of all lots as indicated on said plat where the same is not shown by figures on the margin thereof is 18 by 22 feet, that all alley ways are four feet wide that the outside drive way is as shown by figures on said plat, that all other distances are as marked on said plat and that stone monuments for the base line were set in the ground at the points marked X on said plat Dated at Webster D.T. this 10th day of November 1888.

 

William Alley

Surveyor

 

 

 

 

Register of Deeds Seal

 

Office of Register of Deeds

Day County

Dakota Territory

Received for records the 14 day

of Feby A.D., 1889 at 11 O’clock

A.M. and Recorded in Vol. 1 of Plats

Page 24

G. S. Maynard Register of Deeds

E. S. Cotton Deputy

 

 

On the original papers lots 101, 102, 119 and 120 (the South East corner of cemetery) are shown as Potters Field.  Records do not show anyone buried in any of these lots.  Lots are number using the same scheme of numbers as a township.  1 to 10 was right to left and 11 to 20 was left to right.  This process went on till reaching 120.  Each lot was measured to hold 8 graves.  N/S was 18 feet and E/W was 22 feet, the back row of graves was numbered 1 to 4 north to south and front row was 5 to 8 south to north.

 

Burials were  1889 2, 1890 2, 1892 1, 1896 1, 1898 1,1900 to 1910 5, 1911 to 1920 7, 1921 to 1930 5, 1931 to 1940 10, 1941 to 1950 6, 1951 to 1960 10, 1961 to 1993 7.  The last one being 1993.  Four burials are recorded with no date of death.  Ten are under the age of 10. 

 

During 1941 a WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION GRAVES REGISTRATION PROJECT was conducted of cemeteries.  FIELD FORM 2-WPA-GR. Was filled out in the field during 1941.  A supplement form was added latter in 1941.  The township officers appear to have gone back and added additional dates and people.  They also continued to add burials that occurred after 1941.  The inventory was Name, Grave number, Block, Lot, Section, Date of death, Age at Death, Sex, Vet and Non Vet.  One person is listed as a Civil War vet.  I visited the South Dakota State Historical Society records section and was unable to find the same forms/information. 

 

On June 25, 1906  several lots were deeded to various parties as they had drawn various lots numbers for their use.  55 names are shown on records as to having drawn lots/assigned lots.  The one family now has 3 lots all side by side.  Only 5 lots have more than 3 graves in use.  The last lot was assigned in 1982.  Only 27 lots have bodies in them.  Several bodies have been moved to other cemeteries for family and/or religious reasons. 

 

Moving across the timeframe of the township we find that early on it is referred as town, education was a high priority, and the list goes on.  Many of the procedures that were used were controlled by the territorial legislature as well as the new statehood procedures.  The people who lived in these townships were the ones who implemented and carried out programs that were for the people of the township.  Many things had to grow as the township was settled by the incoming population. 

 

I have scanned all of these records.  I do not expect it will be easy for different people to go visiting these elected officials everytime someone is looking for a document etc.  Any time these documents are view by a researcher or others I feel they should be scanned and made available to anyone who wants to look at them.  Most of the elected officials will not have the time to work with researchers and that is the reason I feel them must be scanned etc.  The other possibility is turning over all these records to the state historical society.  Local availability is then no longer available so that has risks.

 

Are these records protected as time moves on?  So much information of life in early Dakota Territory/South Dakota is well hidden in these records. 

 


 



[1] History of Day County 1873 to 1926, LG Ochsenreiter

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

[4] ibid

[5] http://nationalatlas.gov/articles/boundaries/a_plss.html

[6] Clerk’s Record of Wheatland Township from the March 7th 1893 meeting.

[7] ibid

[8] Two record books maintained by the Township Clerk



Last Updated on 24 October 2006
By Curtis Sigdestad, Ph.D.
Email: cps@bcc.louisville.edu