Biography of Willard A. Lathrop

Willard A. Lathrop is a successful farmer and stock grower in Charles Mix County, South Dakota. Born in Iowa in 1848, he inherited his father’s passion for agriculture and dedicated himself to farming and stock raising. Lathrop acquired a well-improved ranch of four hundred and eighty acres, cultivating one hundred and sixty acres while utilizing the rest for grazing and hay production. Known for his expertise in breeding Shorthorn cattle and Poland-China swine, he ships a significant amount of stock annually. Lathrop is an esteemed citizen, actively involved in public service, and affiliated with various organizations, including Geddes Lodge.

WILLARD A. LATHROP is one of the successful farmers and stock growers of Charles Mix County, where he owns a well-improved ranch of four hundred and eighty acres, eight miles southwest of the village of Geddes, in Jackson Township. Mr. Lathrop is a native of the state of Iowa, having been born in Johnson County on the 23rd of October, 1848, and being a son of Henry W. and Mary W. (Welton) Lathrop, the former of whom was born in Massachusetts in 1819, while his wife was born in New York in 1820.

As a young man, Henry W. Lathrop removed from his native state to New York, where he was engaged in working on a farm and getting an education until 1847. He had made a careful study of the law and was admitted to the bar of New York State. In the year mentioned, he removed to Iowa, locating in Iowa City and becoming one of the pioneers of the Hawkeye State. There he was engaged in the practice of his profession for about four years, after which he turned his attention to farming and stock growing, with which line of industry he continued to be identified until his death. He was a man of high intellectual attainments and utmost probity, and wielded much influence in his community, where he ever commanded uniform confidence and esteem. In earlier years, he was affiliated with the Whig party, but he was one of those prominent in forwarding the organization of the Republican party, of whose principles he ever afterward remained a staunch advocate. Fraternally, he was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He died in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on the 27th of December, 1902, having moved there from Iowa about a year earlier, and he was eighty-four years of age at the time of his demise. His devoted wife, who was a zealous member of the Presbyterian church for many years, passed away in Iowa on the 18th of November, 1901. Of their five children, three are living, namely: Willard A., the immediate subject of this review; George F., who is a resident of Los Angeles, California, where he has a fruit farm; and Edith M., who is the wife of William I. Lathrop, a farmer and stock raiser of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The subject’s father achieved success in connection with agricultural enterprises, and his estate at the time of his death was valued at about fifteen thousand dollars.

Willard A. Lathrop spent his youthful days on the homestead farm and received his educational training in the public schools of his native state. After leaving school, he continued to be involved in farming and stock raising in Iowa until 1882, when he came to Charles Mix County, South Dakota, where he acquired government land. He later added to his land holdings and now possesses a fine ranch of four hundred and eighty acres, with approximately one hundred and sixty acres under cultivation, while the remainder is used for grazing his livestock and growing hay. He has made all the improvements on his property, which are of the highest quality, and he has achieved a high degree of success through his well-directed efforts. He gives special attention to the breeding of Shorthorn cattle and Poland-China swine and ships a considerable amount of stock each year. He is enterprising and public-spirited, and is one of the esteemed citizens of this region. In politics, he aligns himself with the Republican Party, and he has been called upon to serve in various positions of public trust, having been a member of the school board of his district for a number of years, and having served one term as a member of the board of county commissioners. At the time of this writing, he is chairman of the board of trustees of Jackson Township. Fraternally, he is affiliated with Geddes Lodge, No. 135, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, in Geddes.

In August 1882, Mr. Lathrop married Miss Nellie Smith, who was born and raised in the state of Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Lathrop have seven children, namely: Margaret, Henry, Josephine, Edith, Caroline, Florence, and Amy, all of whom reside at the parental home, except Josephine, who is currently attending school at Ward Academy in Charles Mix County, South Dakota.


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

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