Rev. Walter J. Edgar Biography


This biography appears on pages 823-824 in "History of Dakota Territory" by George W. Kingsbury, Vol. V (1915) and was scanned, OCRed and edited by Maurice Krueger, This file may be freely copied by individuals and non-profit organizations for their private use. Any other use, including publication, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission by electronic, mechanical, or other means requires the written approval of the file's author. This file is part of the SDGENWEB Archives. If you arrived here inside a frame or from a link from somewhere else, our front door is at


REV. WALTER J. EDGAR has for over three decades been an ordained minister of the Wesleyan Methodist church and since 1904 has been president of the Wesleyan Methodist conference. He was born in Brighton, Michigan, November 20, 1852, a son of Robert and Nancy (Whalen) Edgar. The Edgar family is of Scotch-Irish origin and Robert Edgar was a native of Ireland. His wife was born in Canada but reared in Vermont. He became a pioneer of Michigan, arriving in that state in 1832. He lived to an advanced age, dying in 1880 when eighty-one years of age, and was buried in the Baptist cemetery, in Brighton township, Livingston county, Michigan. After his death his widow brought the family to South Dakota and she passed away in this state in 1892, at the age of eighty-four years, interment being made at Webster. Walter J. Edgar received his education in Brighton, Michigan, and then taught for a number of years in the public schools of that state and South Dakota. He desired to become a minister of the gospel, however, and in 1883 was ordained pastor of the Wesleyan Methodist church. For over three decades he has been a faithful servant of the cause of Christ and his labors have been productive of much good in the communities where he has preached. For fourteen years he was stationed in Brookings county, his length of service there being all indication of the hold which he had upon the hearts of his people. Although an effective pulpit speaker much of his influence has been due to his truly Christian life, which has preached more effectively than it is possible for mere words to do. In addition to his work as a minister Rev. Edgar has devoted some time to the management of his farms. In 1881 he took up a homestead three and one-half miles northeast of Mellette and also entered a tree claim. He broke the land, which was wild, and brought it to a high state of cultivation but eventually leased the homestead and sold the tree claim. He then bought three hundred and twenty acres in Brookings county, which he held until 1913, when he sold it and bought another three hundred and twenty acres north of Cresbard. He rents this farm, which is in a high state of cultivation and well improved. He is at present building a residence thereon and making other improvements. Rev. Edgar has been married twice, his first union being with Miss Sarah King, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Richard King, both of whom are deceased and are buried near Benton Harbor, Michigan. The marriage was solemnized in the Wolverine state. Mrs. Edgar passed away in Bushnell, Brookings county, South Dakota, and was buried in the Brookings cemetery. She was the mother of four children, namely: Margery, the wife of Lawrence Phillbrook, who resides near Webster, this state; Elmer J., a farmer living hi the same locality; Bessie, who is a graduate of the high school and has taught for eleven years, her home being with her parents; and Edith, the wife of Blanchard Smith, a resident of Brookings. On the 15th of September, 1909, Rev. Edgar was married, in Northville, to Mrs. Mary Martin, a daughter of Thomas J. and Hannah (Tucker) Thompson, pioneers of that part of South Dakota. Mrs. Edgar has six children by her first marriage: Earl L., who is engaged in farming near Northville; Glen R., a resident of Aberdeen; Fern, the wife of William R. Hall, of Northville; Frank T., also of Northville; and Floyd W. and Pearl A., both at home. Rev. Edgar is a prohibitionist and his advice is much sought in the councils of that party, which at one time made him its candidate for governor. He has been instrumental in furthering all good movements, both those directly connected with the church and those inaugurated by other organizations, feeling that all who desire the triumph of righteousness should unite in their efforts to bring about a better and higher condition of affairs. To his own people he is a trusted counselor and spiritual adviser, and he holds the sincere respect of all with whom he has come in contact whether of his denomination or of any church affiliation.