Biography of Charles Nelson Herreid

Charles Nelson Herreid, the fourth governor of South Dakota, was born in Wisconsin on October 20, 1857. A dedicated student and self-made man, he pursued education, became a lawyer, and thrived as a leader in his community. Despite facing adversity, including a devastating fire that destroyed his town, Herreid remained resilient and committed to the development of his locality. He served as lieutenant governor, chairman of the Republican state committee, and was elected governor in 1900. Throughout his administration, he implemented administrative reforms and maintained a reputation for integrity and fairness. Herreid’s contributions to South Dakota are commendable, and his life is a testament to perseverance and dedication.

Charles Nelson Herreid, fourth governor of South Dakota, is a native of Wisconsin, where he was born October 20, 1857. His parents were among the earliest pioneers of that state. His boyhood was spent upon the farm, where he imbibed that love of nature and of life in the open which has continued as a marked characteristic of his life. He early evinced a love of learning and made his own way through the common schools and Galesville University. After a course of reading in a law office, where he acquired knowledge of practice, he attended the Wisconsin Law School and graduated with the class of 1882. That year, he was married to Miss Jeannette Slye of La Crosse County, and they took up their home at Leola in McPherson County, where Mr. Herreid, with commendable public spirit, became a leader in every movement for the development of his locality in material, moral, and educational lines. Very early on, he was recognized as a distinct power in the affairs of the territory. He prospered in his affairs, and two lovely children were born into his home. He also became associated in the ownership of one of the local banks. However, in 1889, a flood of flame swept McPherson County, and Leola was nearly wiped off the map. Miraculously, Governor Herreid’s home and bank were among the very few structures that escaped the fury of the flames. Leola struggled to recover from this disaster, especially with the reactionary period and the great drought of 1889 and 1890. Only the most courageous settlers remained to fight out the battle. Despite these challenges, Governor Herreid remained with abiding faith in Dakota and continued to carry forward his business, protect his property, and maintain his credit. He served as prosecuting attorney and county judge during this period and was appointed trustee of the State University in 1889. His good judgment played a crucial role in navigating the complications that arose after the death of President Olson. From 1893 to 1897, he served as lieutenant governor, earning high commendation from both political allies and adversaries for his good judgment and fairness. In 1898, he became chairman of the Republican state committee and conducted a masterful campaign, also serving as the acting member for South Dakota on the Republican national committee. In 1900, he was elected governor, a position he still holds. His administration has been highly satisfactory, characterized by several administrative reforms that will bring lasting benefits to the state. It is important to note that from 1897 until he became governor, Mr. Herreid was a regent of education.

Governor Herreid is a consistent member of the Presbyterian church and actively participates in its activities. He is a dedicated student of social problems and political economy, known for his courageous and original thinking on all lines of progress. In February 1903, he mourned the death of his son, Roscoe C., who was a splendid fifteen-year-old boy. Governor Herreid’s current residence is in Eureka, McPherson County, where he moved after the construction of the railroad. He is a thirty-second-degree Mason and has held various important positions in the grand lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. Additionally, he has served as grand chancellor of the Knights of Pythias in the domain of South Dakota.


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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top