Biography of Henry H. Platts

Henry H. Platts was born in Cheshire County, New Hampshire, on December 25, 1829, to Harvey and Harriett (Davis) Platts. He moved west in 1852, settling first in Jones County, Iowa, and later in Worth County. Platts served in the Civil War, enlisting in 1861 and remaining in service until 1866. Post-war, he farmed in Iowa before relocating to Moody County, South Dakota, in 1876, where he developed a successful ranch. He later moved to Egan, SD, engaging in mercantile business until his death on February 23, 1904. Platts was married twice and had eight children.

Henry H. Platts is a native of the old Granite State, having been born in Cheshire County, New Hampshire, on Christmas Day of the year 1829. He is a son of Harvey and Harriett (Davis) Platts, and both families were founded in New England in the colonial epoch of our national history, while several representatives of the Platts family fought in the cause of independence during the War of the Revolution, and others were active participants in the War of 1812. The subject received a common-school education in New England and there continued to reside until 1852, when he came west in company with his brother Asa (who also resides in Moody County at the present time, being postmaster at Trent), locating in Jones County, Iowa, where he took up a claim of wild land. Later, he removed to Worth County, that state, where he became a pioneer farmer, being a resident there at the time of the outbreak of the Civil War. His farm was isolated in the early days, and he was compelled one winter to haul flour a distance of twenty-five miles on a hand-sled in order to provide for the family needs. In October 1861, he enlisted as a private in Company C, Fourteenth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, the captain of his company being George H. Wolfe. His command was in service to a large extent in the states of Dakota and western Iowa, the most notable engagement in which the subject took part being that at Falling Water, west of Bismarck. In the spring of 1864, Mr. Platts was transferred to Company M, Seventh Iowa Cavalry, with which he served on the western frontier, as he had also while a member of the infantry. In 1861, his command was at Sioux City and Yankton during the fall, and in December of that year was stationed at Fort Randall, remaining there until October 15, 1863, and having numerous sorties and battles with the rebellious Indians. The command was next sent to Fort Sully, this state, and there, in the spring of 1864, having been granted a furlough, the subject and other members of his company constructed flatboats on which they made their way down the Missouri River to Sioux City, where they remained about six months. After the expiration of his original term, Mr. Platts re-enlisted as a member of the same regiment, and thereafter continued in service until June 26, 1866, when he was mustered out, at Sioux City, where he received his honorable discharge. He was with General Sully in nearly all of that officer’s expeditions against the Indians and saw much hard and hazardous service, while his record is that of a valiant and faithful soldier.

After the close of the war, Mr. Platts returned to his farm near Bristol, Worth County, Iowa, and thereafter improved his land and brought it under effective cultivation. In 1876, he disposed of the property and came to South Dakota, making the trip overland with team and wagon. He located in Moody County, where he entered a claim to three hundred and twenty acres of government land in Egan Township, and here he improved one of the best ranches now to be found in the county, having erected substantial and commodious farm buildings and having placed the greater portion of the land under cultivation. The farm is one which would do credit to any of the older settled states of the Union, and bears slight resemblance to the barren tract which was here represented at the time when the subject assumed possession, nearly thirty years ago. Success attended his efforts, and though he encountered the various vicissitudes and hardships ever incidental to opening up the march of civilization and development in a new country, the results have amply compensated for the trials and the strenuous labors performed. Mr. Platts continued to reside on the homestead until 1893, in October of which year he removed to the village of Egan, where he engaged in the mercantile business, having a general store and securing a good trade. This enterprise received the major portion of his time and attention up to the time of his death, which occurred on the 23rd of February, 1904.

Mr. Platts gave a staunch allegiance to the Republican Party from the time of its organization and ever showed a loyal interest in the promotion of its cause, while he was influential in local affairs of a public nature. For a quarter of a century, he served almost consecutively as justice of the peace, and his wise counsel had much to do in bringing about amicable adjustments of the minor difficulties among his neighbors, while he was signally fair and impartial in all his decisions. He also served in various other township offices and ever commanded the unqualified esteem of the people of the community in which he so long lived and labored. He and his wife were zealous members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and fraternally he was identified with C. C. Washburn Post, No. 15, Grand Army of the Republic, at Egan, and with Lodge No. 71, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in the same place.

Mr. Platts was first married, February 7, 1854, to Miss Emma Sawtell, and to them were born eight children: Harvey E. (married Miss Laura Neff), Charles F., Emma A. (married to E. R. Hopkins and now living in Canada), Ella E. (the wife of E. F. Peck, of Austin, Minnesota), Hattie R. (wife of G. H. LaVanway, of Egan, South Dakota), Albert W. (married Bertha Wilson), Abel H., and Jennie L., of whom Charles and Jennie are deceased. Mrs. Emily Platts died in Iowa, May 13, 1876, and on March 27, 1877, in Dakota, Mr. Platts married Mrs. Nancy M. LaVanway (nee Wilkins). She was born March 30, 1831, at Stockholm, St. Lawrence County, New York, and on July 10, 1849, was married to Solomon LaVanway, who died November 3, 1869. She became the mother of ten children, all of whom are living. Her death occurred at Egan, South Dakota, on the 18th of January, 1901.


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

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