Biography of William B. Tobey

William B. Tobey, born September 21, 1856, in Steuben County, New York, moved to Davison County, South Dakota, in 1882. After farming for fourteen years, he established a grain commission business and later opened a general store in Ethan in 1900. Active in the community, Tobey served in various village and township offices, was a postmaster, and a member of the board of education. He married Frances Dabler on July 14, 1874, and they had eight children. Tobey and his family were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and he was affiliated with the Masonic order and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

William B. Tobey.—For more than a score of years the subject of this review has been identified with the industrial life of Davison County, and he is today one of the leading business men of the thriving village of Ethan, where he has a well-equipped general store. Mr. Tobey was born in Steuben County, New York, on the 21st of September, 1856, being a son of William and Catherine (Tobey) Tobey, both of whom were born and reared in the old Empire State, where the father was engaged in agricultural pursuits during the major portion of his long and useful life. He came to South Dakota in 1886 and was identified with farming until his death, which occurred January 21, 1899, at the age of seventy-four years. His devoted wife passed to the “land of the leal” in 1902, at the age of seventy-seven years. Both were consistent members of the Baptist Church, while in politics he was a staunch Republican, having been identified with the party from the time of its organization. They became the parents of two children, William B., the subject of this sketch, and Louisa E., who is the wife of N. W. Stilson, of Elmira, New York.

William B. Tobey received the advantages of the public schools of his native state and continued to be identified with agricultural pursuits in New York and Missouri until 1882, when he came to what is now the state of South Dakota and took up a homestead claim in Davidson County. He was actively engaged in farming for fourteen years, at the expiration of which, in 1896, he took up his residence in the village of Ethan, where he established himself in the grain commission business, having an elevator here and also one in the city of Mitchell. In March, 1900, Mr. Tobey opened his present general merchandise establishment in Ethan, having a comprehensive and select stock and controlling a large and representative trade throughout the territory normally tributary to the town. He enjoys the confidence and goodwill of the people of the community in which he has so long maintained his home. In politics, he gives unwavering support to the Republican Party, and he has held various village and township offices, and also been a member of the board of education. In the year 1900, he was appointed postmaster of Ethan. He and his wife hold membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and fraternally he is identified with the Masonic order and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Mr. Tobey retains valuable farm property in the county and is also the owner of real estate in the village in which he lives. He was one of the early settlers of this section of the state, has here attained success and independence, and is intrinsically loyal to South Dakota, in whose further advancement he has unlimited faith.

On the 14th of July, 1874, Mr. Tobey was united in marriage to Miss Frances Dabler, who was born in the state of Ohio, being a daughter of Samuel S. and Drusilla Dabler, who now reside in the home of the subject. Mr. Dabler was born in Ohio and later became a successful farmer in Missouri. Mr. and Mrs. Tobey have eight children, namely: Frederick, Edna, Eliphalus, Emma, Agnes, Don, Alfraretta, and Frances. Frederick married Miss Maggie Sexton and is now associated in the management of his father’s mercantile business; and Edna is the wife of C. E. Bordwell, of Westfield, Iowa.


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

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