History of Britton, South Dakota

During the spring of 1883 a few claim shacks were built on what now comprises the town site of Britton; the squatters little dreaming that three years of ‘time would bring, them a railroad, a flourishing town and county seat. Wm. Ross, of Stena township, while tramping over this portion of Miller township the latter part of April, 1883, became tired and lay down. He fell asleep, and awoke when the sun was fast sinking in the western horizon; about twenty rods from him were eleven antelope quietly grazing, where Mr. Hindman‘s lumber yard now is, near the railroad, unconscious of the proximity of a human being. In almost the twinkling of an eye they were over the hill and out of sight. J. B. Squier and F. P. Squier, from Fargo, came here in the spring and squatted on claims; J. B. on SE. 1, section 23; F. P. on SW. 1, section 24; D. C. Bell on NE. , section 26, and Harry Plaisted on NW. 1, section 25. During the summer Col. Britton came here to visit the Squiers and conceived the idea that it would be a splendid location for a town site. August 14, 1883, he chartered the Dakota and Great Southern Railway, to extend from Tower City to Sioux City. The road was surveyed through this county by November 15, 1883.

November 23, 1883, H. R. Turner script the W. 9 of SW. 1, section 24, and bought Bell‘s relinquishment of the NE. I, section 26; also placed soldiers’ additional homestead script on E. of NE. , section 26; and used his homestead right on the west half of the same quarter section. Late in December he engaged Thos. Allison to plat the script 160 acres on sections 24 and 26. He completed and filed the plat of the original town, Jan. 19, 1884, with register of deeds of Day county. J. B. Squier made final proof January, 1884, and in February Sam Denton surveyed the same. It was named Fair View Addition and plat filed April 9th, ’84. Harry F. Plaisted, having made final proof, engaged Sam Denton to plat his farm, and filed his platted addition March 16, 1885, now known as Plaisted‘s Addition to Britton.

The Britton Land And Trust Company

April 6, 1885, the Britton Land and Trust Company was incorporated by the following named gentlemen: Capt. Vander Horck, of Ft. Sisseton; D. T. Hindman, of Britton; M. Jorgenson and H. J. Dale, of Wilmar, Minnesota; S. J. Watkins, of Fargo, and H. R. Turner, of Britton.

Britton Lumber Company

In December, 1883, the above named company was organized by Wm. Drury, of Verdurett, Illinois. A. M. Byers and Iii. H. Holmes, of Aledo, Illinois, and D. T. Hindman, of Britton, the only resident member of the company who conducts the business, being assisted by Wm. Sentman, from Altona, Pennsylvania. In January, 1884, Mr. Hindman shipped 50 car loads of lumber to Andover and engaged 50 teams to haul this immense quantity of lumber to the platted, or really a paper town until then. The writer could see nothing in the future that would ever justify this large outlay of capital, and like many others considered “that man Hindman a leetle off,” and the whole business a “wild cat” scheme; the sequel shows Mr. Hindman’s business capacity and judgment. The first building was erected by Jno. P. Holman and Isaacs in February, 1884, to accommodate those hauling lumber. Capt. Poor did the carpenter work. Mrs. Sexton was the first woman to live in Britton. She and her husband came here from what is now Haupt and took charge of the boarding-house. Our genial friend Coppock, the pioneer barber, was there, and as now, shaving persons, when the writer was introduced to him by Mr. Sexton about the middle of March. Early that spring Sergeant Snyder, of Ft. Sisseton, purchased the boarding-house, which has since been conducted by Mrs. Snyder, and known as the Snyder House. Sergeant Snyder went with his command to Ft. Totten in 1884, and has served in the regular army in Dakota over sixteen years. He comes home about once a year on furlough.

Pioneer Business Men of Britton, South Dakota

H. H. Downes, from Maryland, came through here with Major Jewett’s surveying party in the fall of ’83. The following spring he and Chas. E. Printup opened the first grocery store in Britton. The railroad not being completed that year they quit business, and Mr. Downes returned east. Returned here last winter and under the firm name of Downes & Co. Is doing a large grocery business.

Marshall Vincent, from Three Mile Bay, New York, located a claim at Andover, which he sold to Wm. Mills. In March, 1883, erected the building now occupied by A. Lawrence, and April 9th opened a flour and feed store. Mr. Vincent was elected county commissioner in 1884, and ably represented the Britton District of Day county.

C. M. Furber, originally from Massachusetts, came here from Andover and early in April ’83 opened his hardware store; recently sold out to H. H. Rice.

The Daylight Office was built early in the spring see history of the Daylight.

Wooddell & Palmerlee

Richard D. Wooddell and Albert S. Palmerlee, from Dodge Center, Minnesota, came here in April and built their present business place, and are doing a general merchandise business. They also handle horses and cattle. It is a cold day when Wooddell has not a horse to trade or sell. S. C. W. Hall, from Dodge Center, Minnesota, is their right hand man.

Britton, South Dakota Merchants

The following is a list of those not yet mentioned, now engaged in business in Britton

The New York Cash Store was opened in August, 1885, by Wm. Culver, from Livonia, New York. The business is conducted by his sons, George and Marvin Culver. They have just completed a large store 24×80.

Richard S. Wilkins, from Princeton, Wisconsin, came here in ’83 and located claim on section 1. Opened his present business place in December, 1884. H. L. Stokes, now over in the Missouri country, was associated with him until March, the present year.

H. H. Downes & Co., groceries.

H. W. Hormann, from Westport, Minnesota, opened his general merchandise store last May.


A. Lawrence, from Pontiac, Illinois, came here Oct. 12, 1884, and opened his present business place.
Furber & Bell bought out H. H. Rice, July 1886.


S. S. Augur, from Stark County, Illinois, came here last fall, and last opened a photograph gallery.


John Wallace, from Wilmot, Dakota, opened his furniture store last March.

Meat Markets

Chas. N. Pierce from Joliet, Illinois, opened the first meat market in 1884.
A. G. Waterburry, from New York, in 1885, recently engaged in the butcher business.
Alonzo M. Noble, from Sioux Falls, opened the first bakery the beginning of last June.
John Glasaner, from Lisbon, opened a dairy and laundry last April.
G. W. Thiel, from Hartford, Wisconsin, opened his harness shop May, 1885.
Oscar Rindermann, from Otter Tail County, Minnesota, opened his shoe shop, Jan. 1st, 1885.

Drug Store

The Rose Brothers, from Lisbon, started the present drug store in the summer of 1884. Later sold out to G. L. Baker, who originally came from Bureau County, Illinois. Mr. Baker is the present postmaster, and sold the drug business to Dr. Wm. E. Young.

Dr. Young, the pioneer physician of Britton, was born in New Brunswick and graduated at Ann Arbor in June, 1882; came here from Lisbon in 1884.

Dr. A. H. Marsh, dentist, recently located here; came from Lisbon, Dakota.


The Snyder House is mentioned elsewhere. The Dwight House was built by Chas. Lancaster and G. L. Baker in 1884, and until recently known as the Lancaster House. Mr. Lancaster disposed of his interest and went to Webster. Last winter the genial and popular host, Chas. A. Dwight, for several years landlord of the Dunn House, Montevideo, Minnesota, came here from Andover. His father, Deloss Dwight, makes it his home with him. The Summit House was built by the Quarve Brothers in the spring of 1884, who came here from Spring Grove, Minnesota. The Quarve Bros. know their business thoroughly and conduct a first-class hotel. Fearer Bros. of Wahpeton, have erected a large restaurant with a public hall above.


H. E. Henry, Home Nursery.
Geo. S. Vanderveer, North-western Chain of Nurseries.


The Fulton Brothers, from Green County, Wisconsin, came here from Wilmot, Dakota, in June 1884.
Norman Sturgis, from Greenville, Michigan, came here in May, 1885.
C. D. Gaylord, from Cleveland, Ohio, came here May 20, 1884.


Bank of Britton was established May, 1885, by N. J. Berston, from Yonkers, New York, and L. Guillaudeu, from Jersey City, New Jersey.
Job. Voak & Co. opened their banking house last April, with J. J. Aplin as cashier. Mr. Alpin was for many years cashier in Grundy County, Iowa.
Marshall County Bank was established January, 1886, by C. J. Harlow and G. H. Craig, from Buffalo, New York. Mr. Craig is the cashier.

Livery Stables

F. W. Blood, of Green Lake, Wisconsin, built his present barn in 1884, and is the pioneer liveryman.
Atchison Brothers, originally from the north of Ireland, came here from Lisbon, in 1885, and built their present large barn the same season.


E. L. Howe came here from Dayton, Minnesota, and has just started his brickyard south of town. We are unable to state the quality of the brick, but he being an old hand at the business we predict success to his enterprise.

Lumber and Coal

The Dougherty Brothers came here from Green Bay, Wisconsin, last February, and bought out W. J. Byse, near Britton. Are engaged in the lumber business.
H. A. Salzer & Co. from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, have a lumber and coal yard.
The Dakota Lumber Co. have just put in a lumber yard.


S. T. Miles & Son and John Voigt each have a first-class blacksmith and machine shop.
James F. Mathews, from Norfolk, Ontario, opened the first jewelry store last May.
John S. Johnson, from Nova Scotia, contractor and builder.
W. Stone,, from Orinoco, Minnesota, has recently started the first wagon shop.
Jno. D. Stanley, from Huron Co., Ontario, came here in 1884, is now deputy sheriff.
Frank Hessel, from Heerenveen, Netherlands, came here in 1884, and has been engaged as foreman in the Daylight office since.
Jno. McCullough, from Red Wing, Minnesota, opened his agricultural implement depot last February.
J. T. Thompson came here in ’84, and for a time was connected with the Daylight.
Thos. Taggart came here from Brown’s Valley.
Chas. Burgoyne, from Lisbon in 1885.

Legal Lights, Real Estate and Loan Agents

E. A. Cooper is the pioneer land agent of Britton and was appointed clerk of District Court in 1885, and recently was succeeded by Thomas Plaisted, of Lowell township.
A. Sherin, from Peterboro, Ontario, came here in 1884. He was formerly a minister and preached the first sermon ever preached in Britton in Downes store in June 1884.
J. I. McCoy, from Mason County, Illinois, where he was admitted ~to the bar in 1880, is in partnership with H. R.. Turner.
T. M. Plaisted who is now clerk of the Court.
Thos. B. McDonough, from Chicago, studied law in Chicago, was admitted to the bar by the Supreme Court in 1880; came here in 1883 and settled on section 1, in Stena township; was elected district attorney of our county last year.
The Kirk Brothers came here in 1885 from Sioux City, Iowa.
J. E. Dyer, from Spring City, Tennessee, came to Dakota in the employ of the D. & G. S. R. R., as auditor in 1883. Came to Britton July 1st, 1884; that fall was elected Probate Judge of Day Co., and last July was elected Register of Deeds and County Clerk of this county.

Mail Service and Stage Routes

In 1883 the Alta post office in Pleasant Valley was established and the weekly mail carried by Chas. Coppock to and from the fort. The next spring, 1884, W. Paul, of Webster, ran a stage line, about one month, from Britton to the fort, after which E. W. Blood carried the mail and passengers until September. The settlers chipped in their mites, but Mr. Blood lost money. He also, for a time, ran a stage line to Andover. About September, ’84, a daily mail was established between Britton and Fort Sisseton. The writer lives within sight of Britton, yet it requires ten days to get the Daylight or a letter. The mail going around via Webster, Andover and Haupt, Dayton and Stena post offices, west of Britton, in this county, could only get Britton mail by the way of Webster and Groton, a round about way of one hundred miles. With the railroad and new mail lines all this has been changed.


This magnificent building was erected in the fall of 1884, and we may safely say that few large cities in the Territory can boast of handsomer ones.

Three good school-houses were erected at the same time in different parts of Miller township. E. A. Cooper taught the first school in Britton in the winter of ’83-84, and Geo. Hickman, then County Superintendent of Schools of Day county, held the first public examination of teachers in Britton, April 1st, 1885


Hickman, George; History of Marshall County, Dakota: Its Topography and Natural History, and Sketches of Pioneer Settlers, with the Names of Actual Settlers where They are From, and where They Live; Also the Military and Sisseton Reservations; J.W. Banbury, 1886.

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