Biography of William H. Semple

William H. Semple, owner of a fine farm in Yankton County, represents the intelligent and progressive class of American agriculturists. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1858, he overcame hardships and embraced pioneer life. With perseverance and dedication, Semple and his uncle developed their land, facing challenges such as floods and grasshoppers. Despite setbacks, they achieved remarkable success, acquiring extensive acreage. Semple’s strong work ethic and honorable business practices earned him respect and friendship within the community. He married Augusta D. Fisher, and together they raised two children while actively participating in their Lutheran church and local organizations. Semple’s story exemplifies the rewards of hard work, determination, and integrity.

WILLIAM H. SEMPLE, who is the owner of one of the fine farms of Yankton County, stands as a worthy representative of the intelligent and progressive class of American agriculturists, who have done so much for the improvement of various sections of the country and who have laid the foundation for the present development and progress. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, in October 1858, a son of James and Mary Semple. His father died in 1864 and his mother yet lives in the Empire State. After his father’s death, William H. Semple, at the age of ten years, went to live with his uncle, Bartley M. Semple, and they have since been associated in business interests and have lived together. Through a long period, both resided with our subject’s grandparents, John and Jane Semple, who were of Scotch-Irish descent. The grandparents and uncle of the subject removed from New York to Illinois in July 1854, and the subject came to live with them in April 1869. His uncle followed painting. In 1871, however, he purchased two hundred and forty acres of land in Yankton County, most of which was wild, but the log cabin had been built thereon and a few other improvements had been made. The grandparents and the subject then located upon this farm, and with characteristic energy, Mr. Semple of this review gave his time and attention to its improvement and cultivation. In the flood of 1881, they lost stock amounting in value to thirty-five hundred dollars, including eighty-one head of fine cattle. He also lost a team and had other property destroyed. In these early days, they likewise suffered from the grasshoppers, and hardships and trials incident to pioneer life were to be made, but the persistent efforts of Mr. Semple, his uncle, and his grandfather at length overcame the difficulties and obstacles, and success was won. In 1881, the uncle purchased two hundred and forty acres of land which was partially cleared, and he continued to add to his possessions until he had nine hundred and seventy acres. Later, he sold six hundred and eighty acres but still retains the balance. In 1890, William H. Semple erected a very fine residence upon the farm, but he had just completed it when it caught fire and was burned to the ground, as were the barns and other buildings upon the place. He, however, rebuilt at once, erecting a very nice residence and substantial outbuildings for the shelter of grain and stock. Upon the old homestead, the grandfather died at the venerable age of ninety-five years, and the grandmother passed away at the advanced age of ninety-four years, but the uncle is still living with the nephew, one of the respected and honored pioneer settlers of the community, and a man whose upright life has gained for him warm friendship, while his well-directed business affairs have won for him splendid and deserved success. In religious faith, he is connected with the Scotch Presbyterian church.

On the 4th of June 1890, Mr. Semple was united in marriage to Miss Augusta D. Fisher, a daughter of Bernard and Elizabeth (Clausen) Fisher, who came to South Dakota in the fall of 1880 and were identified with farming interests here. The mother passed away in 1887, and the father is still living, now making his home in Iowa with his son. Like his wife, he is a member of the Lutheran church, and his political allegiance is given to the Democratic Party. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Semple have been born two children: Margaret Elizabeth, now twelve years of age, and William Bartley. The parents belong to the Lutheran church, and Mr. Semple is a Republican in his political affiliations. Socially, he is connected with the Knights of Pythias and with the Red Men. He raises alfalfa for the hogs, having twenty acres planted to that crop. Mr. Semple is a self-made man and a successful one. Starting out in life with little means, he has worked his way steadily upward, realizing that there is no excellence without labor and that there is no royal road to wealth. He has persevered in what he has undertaken, and at all times he has maintained honorable relations with his fellow men in every trade transaction.


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

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