HISTORY OF OKOBOJO TOWNSHIP
The first settlers of Okobojo township came in the main from the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. They were an industrious class of people. Many of them came with the purpose of establishing homes, while a few came to use the various land rights that the government offered them, but not to become actual settlers.
Of the many
who filed on land in the early 80's only a few are now left (1923) to
relate the trials of those pioneer days. The land in Okobojo township was
opened for settlement April 9, 1883. There was a great rush for desirable
quarter sections of land. An extensive fire, reaching from Pierre to
Bismarck, had swept across the country a few days before the township was
opened, leaving what rocks there were exposed to view. If the settler
desired land free of rocks or land covered with rocks, he could have it.
It was a matter of choice.
surveyor laid off the land into sections they placed at each section
corner a small mound of sod. In the center of each mound was a squared
post on which were carved the markings of the corners of the four
sections. In addition to the mounds and posts were rocks with markings.
The mounds served as guides in traveling across the country and in the
locating of the many new roads and trails.
On the 9th of
April, 1883, my brother, William M. Courtney, and I selected our land.
Will chose the NW1/4-14-114-79 and I the NE1/4 of the same section. We had
a board with us which we cut in two and sharpened. On the board we wrote
our names and the words, "Home, Sweet Home", then set the boards
up on our "farms".
In a few
weeks the black prairie changed to a beautiful green. Those who had filed
on land began the erection of small buildings called shacks. They were
only temporary buildings, replaced by larger ones later on.
the season of
erected daily, and at
the expiration of six months we could count in Okobojo and adjoining
townships about 250 buildings—a wonderful transformation in that length
At that time
settlers could file on land in three different ways. First there was the
homestead entry, requiring five years residence on the land. Second, the
preemption, requiring a residence of from six to thirty-three months and
an additional payment of $1.25 per acre. Third, the tree claim, requiring
the planting and cultivation of ten acres of trees for seven years.
government allowed but one tree claim in a section. The settler had the
privilege of filing two claims at the same time. He could file on a
homestead and tree claim, or a preemption and a tree claim. The tree
claims were in great demand and filings were placed on them early in the
settlement the settlers were requested to meet and choose a. name for the
township. Several names were proposed, but the name chosen was Pymosa, a
name suggested by Dr. H. G. Pease. Later on when the school bonds were
issued, the township was known as Pymosa school township. When the
township came under civil organization it was known as Okobojo civil
Those who had
children were anxious to have schools for them. The first schoolhouse was
built at Okobojo, but as it was at the west side of the township it did
not afford good school privileges for those who were farther away.
school election was held June 27, 1884. J. W. Carpenter was elected
treasurer and A. C. Parsons clerk. At the same election the proposition to
bond the township for three schoolhouses was decided. The vote stood
twenty-seven in favor of bonds and seven against the bonds. When the bids
for building the school-houses were opened, Henry Bossier was awarded the
The town of
Carson was located on the SW1/4 of the NE 1/4 of section 25. It was
platted by Frederick Steigamire, January 24, 1883. The surveyor was
William Ashley Jones. Steigamire had associated with him two men by the
names of D. D. Bryant and S. B. Carson.
season of 1883 there was considerable building activity. A large hotel
owned by Steigamire and the printing office for the Carson Herald were two
of the buildings. The paper was published by Frost Brothers, but
discontinued publication in November, 1884. The Carson postoffice was at
the residence of D. D. Bryant. Scott Bruner was the merchant and did a
thriving business. There were four or five residences. Carson was one of
the many towns that were in the race for county seat honors. After the
location of the county seat the town went glimmering and the inhabitants
were seen to "fold their tents like the Arabs, and as silently steal
The Fourth of
July, 1883, was celebrated at Carson. By noon a large crowd was in
attendance. Many came by "Shank's horses", the usual way of
traveling. The women brought well-filled baskets of eatables, all of which
looked good to the hungry bachelors who for the past three months had been
subsisting on potatoes, bacon, coffee, pancakes, crackers, baking powder
biscuits and molasses. The writer does not recall any spread eagle
speeches. In the after noon two baseball nines were chosen and a diamond
was staked out. The suits of the players were of various kinds and colors.
One of the players was a tall, slender man who wore a brown suit of
clothes and a plug hat. After a home run the man became quite warm and off
came his coat, revealing the patches on his pants, some of them being on
the bias. As is usual at gatherings of this kind, there were present those
who could think of some ludicrous joke. They managed when this player was
making a run for first base to form a jam pile and over went the player,
crushing the plug hat quite flat. The game became quite interesting, and
the umpire seemed fair in his decisions. The two nines were evenly matched
and from beginning to end it was nip and tuck between the two teams. In
the evening a dance was held in the Carson hotel. The supply of ladies was
rather short. But Lee Wheeler of Iowa township, who had a wagon and a span
of horses, said there were twelve maidens, "some older, some
younger" living in his township, and that he would bring them to the
dance. The ladies from Iowa township were a "Jolly Dozen". The
dance broke up about midnight. All, with the exception of a few, found
their way home. Those who were lost slept on the prairie until morning.
Only a few of
the early settlers had horses, others had mules, and some had oxen. Among
the latter group were the McGannon brothers, John Green and the Courtney
brothers. On one occasion the editor in his paper said that the Courtney
brothers made a flying trip to Pierre. Imagine, my dear readers, if you
can, a joy ride behind a pair of fleet-footed bovines. Contrast that joy
ride of forty years ago with a joy ride in a flivver of the present day