Biography of James O. Conrick

James O. Conrick, a successful farmer and ex-soldier, was born in 1838 in Montgomery County, New York. His father, E. P. Conrick, played a significant role in the construction of the first US railroad and the Erie Canal. James ventured west, seeking gold in California, before returning to agriculture. He enlisted in Company A, Tenth Wisconsin Infantry, fighting bravely in numerous battles during the Civil War. After the war, he settled in South Dakota, transforming his homestead into an exemplary farm. An active Republican and devoted community member, James Conrick raised a family, emphasizing education and achievement. His lineage dates back to the Pilgrims, and his descendants continue to uphold the family’s esteemed reputation.

James O. Conrick is a successful farmer and reputable citizen of Brule County, South Dakota, and an ex-soldier in the great war which tested the stability of America’s free institutions and proved that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people should not perish from the face of the earth. James O. Conrick is a native of Montgomery County, New York, and the son of E. P. and Harriet (Petit) Conrick, both parents born in the state of Connecticut. In early life, E. P. Conrick was a teacher, but later became a contractor, and as such helped to construct the first railroad in the United States. He also finished a considerable part of the old Erie Canal in New York, besides doing much other work of public character. He migrated to Wisconsin in an early day, took an active interest in the material development of that state, also became a leading Republican politician, and served at different times in the upper and lower houses of the general assembly. He was a man of prominence and influence, widely known and highly esteemed, and he lived to a ripe old age, dying in 1897 at the age of ninety-one. E. P. and Harriet Conrick reared a family of three children, namely, Mary, James O., and Frank, the subject of this sketch being the sole survivor.

James O. Conrick was born on September 8, 1838, and spent his early life in New York and Wisconsin, receiving a limited education in such schools as the latter afforded during the pioneer period. When a young man, in the company of a number of spirits as brave and daring as himself, he made an overland trip to California in search of gold. It took them six months to reach their destination. However, after spending four years in the mines and realizing some remuneration for his labors and struggles, he returned home and resumed the peaceful pursuit of agriculture. In 1860, he again went west, making his way as far as Pike’s Peak, and shortly after his return the following year, he enlisted in Company A, Tenth Wisconsin Infantry, which was soon sent to the front to experience all the realities and horrors of war. Mr. Conrick shared with his comrades all their varied vicissitudes and hardships and took part in a number of campaigns and battles, in one of which he was captured and sent to Libby Prison. After four months in that notorious bastille, he was exchanged and rejoined his command in 1863, serving until the close of the war. He participated in the battles of Stone River, Spring Hill, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, and many other engagements and skirmishes, in all of which he sustained the reputation of a brave, gallant, and fearless defender of the flag.

At the expiration of his period of enlistment, Mr. Conrick returned to Wisconsin, later moving to Dubuque, Iowa, where he continued to reside until 1885 when he moved his family to Brule County, South Dakota, and took up a homestead near the town of Chamberlain, where he still lives. Under his wise direction, his land has been converted into one of the best farms and most attractive homes in that part of the state. While devoting the greater portion of his time to agricultural pursuits, he also pays considerable attention to livestock, making a specialty of graded cattle and Poland-China hogs. He sells large numbers of them every year at good prices. Mr. Conrick is an enterprising man and, for his age, is still physically and mentally active. He takes a lively interest in the welfare of the community, uses his influence to promote its material prosperity and moral advancement, and is regarded as one of the alert, energetic, and progressive citizens of the county in which he lives. In politics, he is a Republican, and few in the community are as active as he is in public affairs. Fraternally, he is a Mason, belonging to Lodge No. 125 in Dubuque, Iowa, where he was initiated several years ago.

In 1868, Mr. Conrick married Miss Nancy M. Larnard of New York. They had four children: George E., who is the chief clerk at Lower Brule Indian agency in South Dakota; John P., a lawyer practicing his profession in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan; Frank M., a civil engineer and contractor for the Northern Pacific Railroad; and Clair H., a student at Vermillion College in South Dakota. Mr. Conrick values higher education and has provided his children with the best opportunities in this regard. All but the youngest are now occupying responsible positions in life and making records that are both creditable to themselves and their parents. The Conrick family is an old and honorable American family, having come as Pilgrims to the New England states in the seventeenth century. Many of its members have held high offices of trust in our country, and those who are living now are likely to maintain the reputation that the esteemed name has always carried.


Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota: together with mention of Citizens of South Dakota, [Logansport? IN] : B. F. Bowen, 1904.

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