Olson, Sarah Easterby; Day County - 1884


Sarah Easterby

Sarah Easterby was born June 6, 1863 in Otsego, Wisconsin. This is where she received her education and grew to young womanhood. At age sixteen she was confirmed in the Lutheran church. At age eighteen she went to live with a music teacher, who gave her music lessons and fifty cents a week for doing house work and cooking. Here is where she received a good music background. She played the piano and the violin.

In May 1884 she came to Dakota Territory and settled near Andover in Day County. When first arriving she helped her cousin, who was a dressmaker in Andover. In November 1884 she filed claim on a homestead seven miles south of Andover. Later that some month she married Ole J. Olson, who took her to live on his homestead. After Ole proved his land they moved the house to her homestead. It was while they lived in this home that three daughters were born; Lida, Bertha, and Olena. Olena died in infancy. In the fall of 1891 Ole disappeared, taking all the crop money. This left her with sheep, cattle, and horses to care for during the winter, besides the family to raise. Besides the debts she had to worry about, she had the added problem of getting Lida started in school.

She was very well known in the community as a nurse to help with new babies and their mothers. Many babies were born without the help of a doctor so she delivered many herself. She became a capable nurse and what we would call a midwife.

In the summer of 1894 she was married to Willis Black. It was about the same time that she helped organize Sunday School in the local school house. At this time, her music background became very useful as she was organist, choir leader and Sunday School teacher as well.

The year of 1895 was a very promising year. They had a very good crop but a hail storm hit in August and knocked the crop into the ground. Also that same summer lightening struck and burned the barn to the ground. That fall Will got tuberculosis and was very ill all winter. The farm had been mortgaged and they were unable to redeem it so they moved the house to Andover and sold livestock and other farm items. Will passed away in the spring of 1897. At this time Sarah was nursing to make a living.

Soon thereafter she was married again, to William H. Sexton. During this period she took in boarders. In 1906, Mr. Sexton got the urge to go west. Sarah’s daughter Lida, who had married Dennis Durick and their family moved west of the river also. They filed claim in Perkins County. In May 1907 the family moved to this homestead. Mr. Sexton was never very well and he passed away in 1910.

Sarah then finished living out the time required and proved the land. After that she then returned to Andover. Here she took up her nursing career again, which she did for number of years. During her nursing she took care of over a hundred mothers and their babies.

She spent many years beginning in 1922 boarding her grandchildren in Lemmon, SD where they attended high school. During this time she read many books to further her education. After this period she lived in Andover once again, until she returned when her daughter was ill and lived in Lemmon until Lida’s death in 1957. She then went to live at Pierpont, SD with her daughter, Bertha Stevenson. This is where she lived until ill health forced her to go to the Old Soldiers Home in Hot Springs, SD where she lived until her death on Christmas Eve 1962. She was ninety-nine and one-half years old. She is buried in Andover, SD.

Sarah lead a very rough and heartbreaking life. But her religious strength, courage and hard work proved her long life to be fulfilling, fruitful and very much a part of our South Dakota heritage.

Compiled by Mrs. Steve Durick Aberdeen, So. Dak.