History of Miller Township

Miller township is centrally located and the surface slightly undulating, with the exception of the quite prominent elevation upon which Britton is located. This low range of hills commences in the southwest corner of the township and gradually rises higher, and extends across the northwestern part of Pleasant Valley township into White township, where it abruptly terminates, Between this point , and the Coteaus there is a gap through which the Wild Rice flows north. All of this elevation is good farming land, and the best of water is easily obtained almost anywhere. This township was not surveyed until the summer of 1883, and consequently was wholly settled by squatters, some of them not hesitating to gobble school land when they must have known from the proximity of the town line that it was school land. It is a disputed point as to the first actual settler of the township. After carefully investigating this question, the writer sifted the matter down to the following, viz:

J. E. Roberts personally stated to the writer that in the fall of 1882, about November 1st, he built a small sod shanty on section 14. He then returned to his home in Rudd, Iowa, and came back here the next spring. Mr. Wm. H. Ross, of Stena, who located most of the settlers in the township, told the writer that about March 20, 1883, he was looking over this township and found a sod stable and a hay stack on what is now section 11. These improvements were that spring claimed by Mr. Wm. Greeves, who now lives on section 1. We regret that we did not learn the above statement in time to interview Mr. Greeves and settle the dispute. About the 11th of April James Merrill, of New York, settled on section 31. His son David died in 1884; Wm. Nay, from Michigan, settled on the same section. Chas. Craft, from East Burlington, Illinois, came into the township April 9, and on 11th and 12th built a shanty on section 6. He now lives on section 4.

Joseph S. Miller, for whom the township was named, was born in Green Briar county, Virginia in 1816. In 1822 removed with his parents to Jackson County, Ohio. In 1853 married Mary Staines, and in 1855 moved to Jo Daviess County, Illinois; later to Macon County, Illinois. In the spring of 1883, April 11th, settled on his present home, section 29. Mr. Miller was the first settler with a family and dug the first well in the township. Mr. Miller has taken an active part in the organization of the township and also in school matters, his age and experience giving him quite an advantage in such business.

His children located as follows: J. Lincoln Miller, section 32; Mary, section 29, now lives in Andover, having married Fred Pew. Ann Eliza, section 29; button, section 29. Alice, who lives at home, is the youngest daughter and took no claim.

The following named settlers all came here in 1883-4:

The Burch family was among the first and came here from Kent County, Michigan, Mrs. H. D. Burch and son, A. L. Burch, section 9; W. T. Burch, section 4; A. J. and E. Burch, section 17.
Chas. Mitchell, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, a brother to the Mitchells of Newark, settled on section 5, April 11, ’83.
Fred Cowan, from East Burlington, Illinois, section 6.
W. R. Rowland came here from California and located on section 6; afterwards sold out and settled northeast of Britton.
H. Christopher bought out D. Freeman in ’86 on section 5.
Julius Zellmer, from Wisconsin, section 4.
Robert Sayers, from Cassleton, Dakota, section 4.
Frank Tank, from Wisconsin, section 8.
Albert and Herman Bundrock, from Wisconsin, section 7.
Ferdinand Zielk and Albert Tesch, from Wisconsin, section 17.
John H. Moore, from Battle Creek, Michigan, section 18.
Ferd. Tank, from Wisconsin, section 18.
Rudolph Snyder, from La Pierre County, Michigan, [sic Lapeer County, Michigan] and Paul Snyder, section 19.
Agustus Smith and Chas. Smith, from La Pierre County, Michigan, [sic Lapeer County, Michigan] sections 19 and 20; Chas. Smith died in April, 1885.
S. Baker and father, S. C. Baker, from Burr Oak, Iowa, section 20. Mrs. S. Baker died Aug. 16, 1884.
S. T. Miles and S. T. Miles, Jr., from Macon County, Illinois, section 30. Opened their blacksmith-shop in Britton, ’85.
John and Edward Waite, from Kalamazoo, Michigan, section 21.
Fred Anderson and sister Lucinda, from Canada, sections 21 and 28.
J. L. Shepherd, from Macon County, Illinois, section 30.
George Heath, from Macon County, Illinois, section 30; June 12, 1885, he went with other parties to Four Mile Lakes on the reservation, fishing, where he ate a poisonous root and died within an hour. His mother, Mrs. M. E. Hughes, died December 27, 1885.
Benj. and James Madole, from Pennsylvania, section 32.
James H. Pike, from Greenville, Michigan, section 27;
Mr. Van Camp, from same locality and on the same section.
Miss T. Collins, from Canada, section 28.
George Anderson and Geo. Anderson, Jr., from Canada, section 33.
Lee Brown, from New York, section 33.
Richard Jones, from Howard county, Iowa, located his claim on section 35, April 7, ’83, but did not settle there until June 1st, same year.
John Guy, from Freeborn, Minnesota, section 35.
I. H. Olson came from Norway in ’79 to Lacque Parle, Minnesota, section 36.
Richard Ryse, from Shelbyville, Indiana, section .36. His father, Wm. J. Ryse, section 25.
D. C. Bell, from Hartland, Vermont, section 26. Mr. Bell is now assessor of Miller township, including Britton.
Quince E. Kreiger, from South Bend, Indiana, section 26.
Wm. P. Plaisted, section 23; he and Wm. Pomeroy now operate the steam feed-mill erected by Geo. Heath and M. Madole in spring of ’85.
Wm. Plaisted, the father of Harry, Thomas and Wm. P. Plaisted, came here in ’84 and settled on section 35.
Harry Plaisted came here in the spring of ’83 and squatted on section 25, now a part of Britton. (See Britton). The Plaisteds are from Lincoln, Maine.
J. Parker, from Grant county, Dakota, section 25.
Orlando Stevens, from Lisbon, section 36.
Geo. Hudson, from Wisconsin, section 34.
C. M. Peters, from Wisconsin, section 34.
Lyman D. Jacox, from Michigan, section 22.
Hans Overbo, from Wisconsin, section 24.
Wm. Kenner, from Michigan, and Chas. Buchart, from Wisconsin, section 15.
Henry Arness, from Iowa, section 24.
Isaac Robertson, section 23.
Geo. A. Wilson, from Freemont, Ohio, section 13. Mr. Wilson has been deputy treasurer since the organization of the county.
Orrin Martin, from Illinois, section 13.
Ralph Hay, from Minnesota, section 12. Mr. Hay was elected commissioner for the central district of this county in July, 1885.
Fred Jahnig, from Missouri, and Chas. Theiman, from Van Buren county, Michigan, section 14.
James Drake, Wm. Cook, F. Bennett and John Vicory, all from St. Johns, Michigan, and live on section 11.
Ole Dalberg, from Houston county, Minnesota, section 10.
Agustus McEldowney, from Kalamazoo, Michigan, section 10.
John Sutherland, from Kalamazoo, Michigan,
R. J. Stokes and Frank Taylor, from Buffalo, Minnesota, section 3.
Hugh Bell, on section 2,
Wm. Johnson, Wm. Greeves and Geo. Davis are all from Ontario, Canada, and settled on section 1.
Cyrus S. Cord, from Lansing, Michigan, section 18.

Brief Biographical Sketches

Col. Isaac Britton came here from Tower City with Dr. A. O. Squier and F. P. Squier about the middle of August, 1883, and lodged with J. B. Squier in his shanty, a small frame house now standing opposite Wooddell and Palmerlee. It then stood near where Mr. Sherin‘s house now is, on what is now Fair View Addition. Col. Britton was the prime factor in the Dakota & Great Southern Railroad project, and at the time of his above visit determined to locate a town here. The town site, was platted, as stated elsewhere, and named in honor of Col. Britton. Col. Isaac Britton was born in Concord, Massachusetts, August 1st, 1826; railroaded from 1842 to 1865 in Massachusetts, except fourteen months, during which time he served as Colonel in the Twenty-eighth Massachusetts Regiment; was for two years on the Atlantic & Great Western Railway; in 1867, went to Cincinnati, where he engaged in railroad supply and contract business; in 1878, went to Tennessee and built the Tennessee Sequatchie Valley Railroad; August 14, 1883, chartered the D. & G. S. Railroad, which he managed until December, 1885, when the line was sold to J. W. Bishop and Wm. R. Marshall, for the C. M. & St. P. R. R.

Captain Daniel T. Hindman was born in Butler county, Ohio, and came to Mercer county, Illinois, in 1854, where he resided until his arrival here in 1888-4; served as Treasurer of Mercer county from 1875 to 1882. He enlisted in Co. ” I,” Seventeenth Illinois Infantry, and served nearly six years; fought in the following battles: Fredericktown, Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, Juka, The Hatchie and Vicksburg, Jackson, Mississippi, and at Spanish Fort; recruited for the army in 1863-4, and was chosen Captain of his company. He served one year in Texas after the close of the war and was mustered out May 4th 1866. In 1866 he was married to Miss Viola J. Willits, and has two children. Mr. Hindman came to South Dakota in 1883 to recuperate his failing health. He spent the summer of ’83 riding over the country on horse back buying cattle and was so much pleased with the country and his improved health, that he concluded to make Dakota his home.. He built a handsome residence in 1884.

H. R. Turner was born in Indiana county, Pennsylvania, March 24, 1854; in 1858 with his parents moved to Henry county, Illinois., where his father died in 1860; in ’64 moved to Mercer county, Illinois, and in 1879 to Wilmar, Minnesota, where he was admitted to the bar in 1880; came to Lisbon in 1882 and later to Britton. He is a good specimen of the genuine Dakota ” rustler,” of the ” get there Eli,” type.


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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