|Potter, Daisy Herpel; Day County - 1883
First White Child Born in Andover
Written by Mrs. Potter in 1950
First White Child Born In Andover Writes Of Her Early Day Experiences
Father of Daisy Herpel Potter Overheard Minister Making Plans for his Funeral
My parents Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Herpel came to Andover from Michigan in the fall of `82. After suffering several hemorrhages of the lungs, my father was advised by physicians to seek a dryer climate, and like many others of that time, went west in the hope of a cure. Still weak and sick upon arrival, he was for some time confined to his bed in the hotel, and this story is told of his experience there. His room in this hastily built structure, was directly above the office, from which his constant coughing could be plainly heard. One afternoon a group of men were sitting around the office. Upon hearing the familiar coughing in the room above, the Doctor remarked, "Well, there's a man that came out here to die, and were going to have a funeral here some of these days." "And where shall we hold it?" asked the minister.
Different places were suggested, none of which seemed adequate, until it was finally decided, at the suggestion of the section boss, that they hold it in the depot, "And do you know", remarked the lawyer, "that we haven't a cemetery". So they got out the plat of the town and laid out a place for the cemetery. All of this time utterly unconscious of the fact that if they could hear him cough, he could hear them talk, and as he later remarked, "It isn't often one has the opportunity of hearing his funeral so fully discussed." At any rate the plans were laid aside, and to make a long story short, or rather to make a short story long, for it did take a long time, he got well, and still lives at the well seasoned age of 76, many years after the Dr. and the lawyer and the minister have been laid to rest.
Father did manage however to file on a claim in Union Township before winter set in. I was born in town the following spring the first baby in Andover.
The story goes that some one asked "Have you seen the new baby?" "Yes," the other replied. "She's a daisy", which of course was just a slang expression of the day, and had no particular bearing on the case. However some kind friend whose name is now lost in oblivion penned this little poem which was printed in the Reporter and Farmer in March, 1883. After that the folks thought it would be just the thing to name me Daisy Andover, and that I was baptized. In later years this was something of a cross for me, though I didn't say much about it, but I sort of envied the girls who had pretty names like Flora Belle, and such, but after I heard of J. Pierpont Morgan, I didn't feel so bad. Pierpont was the name of our nearest town.
Daisy of Andover
This morning there's joy in our little town,
Tis a sweet little woman, a wee little maid,
Tis the first little babe that has come to our town.
And may the fleet years as they journey along,
I remember having lived on the homestead as my parents moved later to a preemption which they procured on the south edge of town. Here we resided for many years. Our family consisting of Father, Mother, my sister Katha, three years older than myself, my sister Eva, better known as Bobby, who was two years younger than I, and myself.
There was a fairly good sod shanty on the place south of town which the folks later replaced with a frame house. As I look back over the years my earliest recollections center about the sod house. It was papered in newspapers but was later redone in real wallpaper with lovely blue roses on it. One end of the main room was fixed up for a bed room, and the other for a kitchen. There was also a lean-to on the west where we girls slept, three in a bed. Another lean-to on the east, served as back shed and summer kitchen. We also enjoyed a splendid well of water that came nearly to the top of the ground.
We girls walked back and forth to school in town, which then consisted of a wooden structure with one room upstairs and another down. The children I remember in the lower room were Lena and Willie Fortune, Jim and Agnes Murray, Nell and Dennis Sullivan, Nina and Eva Wilson, Al and Hattie Marske, the Rynan girls, Walter and Thel Griffith, May Gillolly, Lily Easterby, Leila Webster, Bennie and Bessie Mayo, Harry and Kitten Dixon, Roy and Lizzie Moore, Susy Tice, Marion Lewis, Will Collier, Raymond Fortune, the La Cherne girls, Mary Knudson, and August Blaedorn. The first teacher I remember was Ola Stafford and the next was Miss Walsh.
The artesian well which was one of the finest in the state, clear as crystal water very soft and about 70o, was a matter of considerable pride to the little village of Andover, especially since Groton had a muddy one. For besides supplying the town, the overflow was piped out to the end of Main street into a large artificial lake. The fountain that fed this was a constant delight to us children, we loved to watch it throw its stream of crystal water 15 or 20 feet in the air, running day and night, winter and summer. The lake was supplied with several row boats which afforded many an evening's enjoyment for the young people round about. Skating was enjoyed in the winter.
The powerful water pressure afforded fire protection also, the hose throwing water to the top of the highest elevator. I remember one day they were trying out the fire hose on Main street, then one of the men took it to flush off the side walk in front of his place of business. Another man came along, he was dressed in the latest fashion of that time. They had some disagreement, one hasty word followed another, the man with the hose turned it directly on the other. Bystanders fled to cover, I ducked into Bob Martyn's tailor shop from which point of vantage, I was an eye witness to this juicy bit of scandal, and can remember yet the half drowned man standing there, the water gushing in rivers from the beautifully tailored legs. I often think how well the men dressed in those days and can well remember Mr. Stickles, Ed Bryant, J. G. Wilson, A. E. Raynes, whom I thought particularly handsome, as well as my own father, coming down the teetery board sidewalk to church of a Sunday morning dressed in Prince Albert coats, high silk hats, gray trousers, kid gloves and walking sticks.
The Methodist Church was the same as it is now though improvements have been made from time to time. I believe previous to its erection, services were held in the homes and later in Mill's hall. Among the early day ministers I can remember were Rev. Ware, Dr. Carson, Rev. Warren, Rev. Clatworthy, and later Rev. Millet who came from England, and served our church and the one at Pierpont for so many years, and who filled so important a place in the lives of the young people of both communities was responsible for the sending of many of our young people to college.
The Catholic Church was the same building or a part of what it is now for it was later moved back and added onto. Father Mensing was the only priest I remember in the early days, and how fond he was of children, and when he came to town how we all flocked around him and many a good frolic we had.
I remember some woman being in charge of the Methodist Sunday School, perhaps it was Mrs. Ware, at any rate she was later replaced by Mrs. Carpenter who held that office for so many years. Who could ever forget the annual Sunday School picnic often held at Lynn Lake? I noticed in the paper just the other day that the Seniors of the Andover High School went out for a little outing. They stopped off at Lake Kampeska, from there they went to Aberdeen and took in a show. I wonder what they would think of sitting on boards across the box of a lumber wagon, in the broiling sun behind a slow team, over grass roads headed for Lynn Lake, for their only picnic of the year.
Yet how eagerly we looked forward to this important event. After scarcely sleeping the night before in excited anticipation, we rose early the next morning, fed and watered the calves and chickens, picketed out the cows, and left everything in as good shape as possible. Finished packing the lunches, then for a good scrub, and braid up the pig tails for each other, and don the brand new pink sunbonnets, and join the train of wagons headed for the cool and shady shores of Lynn Lake. I can still remember how stiff and tired we got, and oh, so hungry after our early and hurried breakfast. But when we piled out of these hot and dusty wagons, into the long cool grass under those lovely trees, it seemed that Heaven itself could hold no added joy.
How we scampered about, while the men carried water and the women unpacked the lunches, and made the lemonade, that inevitable accompaniment to every well regulated picnic. Meanwhile Mr. Carpenter got out the big coil of rope he always brought along, and soon had several fine swings in working order. While this was going on Ed Putman the town bachelor and descendant of the famous Israel of Revolutionary days, got busy with his sharp and trusty jack knife, and made willow whistles for all the boys and girls. In fact he never let up till every child had one. When the call to dinner came, how we fell to, and such an array of goodies. After eating our fill, then came the long afternoon of swinging, games, and frolicking under those wonderful trees, for we simply had none at home, remember. Then another lunch, the horses were watered and hitched, and next came the long trek home in the cool of the evening. How hard it was to stay awake on those hard boards after such a strenuous day. Then home again unloading in the dark, a few hasty chores by lantern light and bed time again. Such was the Sunday School picnic of the early days.
The first funeral I really remember, was that of little Ada Johnson, six year old daughter and only child of Mr. and Mrs. Art Johnson. "And we wept that one so lovely should have had a life so brief", for she was such a sweet little thing, with beautiful golden curls as entrancing as any Goldilocks of story book fame. Ever after that, young as I was, my heart went out to those sorrowing ones who laid their loved ones away, in that barren wind-swept spot, the cemetery that was platted out, you remember. It was but a little ways, and in full view of our house, perhaps it was a baby, or some poor mother, who had given up her life that another might live, or maybe the father of a family, who left his little brood, strangers in a strange land; we children would steal over the next day and smooth down the yellow clay, as best we could, outline the grave with rocks, or perhaps ornament it with a cross or heart done in pretty pebbles, or make a wreath of flowers, those yellow ones so common on the prairies.
The first prairie fire I remember was when I was about six and was not an important one but gave us something of a scare. My little sister was playing with her dolls in the back kitchen when she called, "Mama see the pretty, pretty". Mother was busy in the other room, and thinking it was only her doll, she said, "yes, that's nice." But she persisted and finally said, "Mama come see the pretty, pretty right now." So she dropped her work and came at once. To her surprise she saw the fire, some little distance off but coming right that way. It was early spring and there was a bare potato patch just south of the house, which sat on slightly rising ground concealing the fire from view of the town. Seizing her sunbonnet, as Father was away, and charging us not to leave the house till she got back, she ran all the way to town, and spread the alarm. Soon about twenty men were on the scene. Each had taken a new broom from Wilson's store and dipped it in the lake as they passed by and rushed on to beat out the fire. I think some neighbor plowed a furrow with a walking plow. We watched them straggling back several hours later tired and smoked up, their brooms burnt black, the fire out.
The first wedding that it was my privilege to witness was that of my aunt Miss Anna Ellis to Louis J. Gower. This was solemnized in the new house, which had been embellished with new ingrain carpet in the parlor and best bed room, new curtains and sofa, a fine Art Garland stove and an oak center table with two shelves for the albums. The guests included but a few intimate friends and as we had no relatives here the company was a small one. How sweet and womanly my aunt looked, in her well fitting gown of brown taffeta with the cream silk lace at the throat. Why did they all weep, and the supper, that was the main thing I thought.
The first Christmas I can remember was in the old Mills hall, but before that they had them in the depot. There was a big tree loaded with pretty things. My sister and I each got a bottle of Hoight's German Cologne and a big doll with a china head, and as well set a permanent as one would wish to see. Subsequent Christmases, mostly in the Methodist Church were equally delightful. I don't think we ever missed one no matter how deep the snow or how cold the night, Father saw to that. Snuggled down in the hay in the home made sleigh with plenty of blankets and the old buffalo robe the short distance we had to go took but a few minutes, and the effort was well repaid.
The first blizzard I remember was the famous one of `88. We were still living in the sod and I distinctly recall that a friend who batched it on a claim many miles to the south stopped with us when the storm came on. He and Father took down the clothes line and tied it about the waist of one of them, while the other held the end of it at the back door. Thus they brought in coal and water and did the chores, making things snug and tight. I even remember them pouring many pails of water over the shanty roof, where it froze in an icy sheet that kept out the bitter wind as well as snow that might have sifted in. We could scarcely tell when the storm was over as the snow was packed completely over the sod shanty so that every window was a blank wall. When the wind finally went down, the next day I suppose, they opened up the back door which luckily opened in, and there was the pattern of the door in the snow clear to the top, a neat white wall. After filling the wash boiler and tubs with snow, the men cut steps up and out for the snow was so hard it would hold up the weight of a man or even a horse. The bright sun on the white world was simply dazzling.
Another thing I remember so well was the barrels of apples that came from Michigan, what bright spots they were in a fruitless land. First the letter saying that one had been sent, then the weeks of waiting till the happy day arrived, when Father brought it home from the depot. How we gathered around when it was opened, oh, how good it smelled. If Grandma Herpel sent it, in the top would be a big package of home knit stockings and mittens. What a world of work they must have been! No one was forgotten, each was a size larger that the year before. Then farther down in the barrel was the usual flour sack of home dried apples for pies, and in the bottom the sack of black walnuts. If it were from Grandma Ellis, stowed away in the middle was a can of maple sugar, and a sack of butternuts or perhaps a stone jar of apple butter or blackberry jam sealed tight with rosin and beeswax. And the apples, how good they tasted, the greasy Pippins, the golden Bell Flower, the Rambos, the Northern Spys, and the Tolman Sweets. How good these mothers were to go to all this work for us. One a foster mother, the other a step mother with a large brood of her own still at home, for both our parents had lost their mothers at an early age.
Though we never suffered the real privations that fell the lot of some, I often marvelled later that Mother always found the money somewhere, for a few good books and the best of magazines and always the daily paper from Chicago or Minneapolis. Many a Sunday afternoon she spent reading aloud to the family, and Father realizing our restrictions and being an orphan in his childhood, was so good to take us with him whenever he could and painstakingly showed us many points of interest. I ever remember his taking me to Minneapolis on a business trip when I was only four and I still recall many things that happened, perhaps because we were blockaded and spent two weeks on the train. I was the only child along and came in for lots of attention, and no doubt came back badly spoiled. Another time he took my sister and me to Michigan to visit at the old home and treated us to several days of sightseeing in Minneapolis and Chicago. We were seven and nine then.
A narration of this sort would be incomplete without a reference to our pony, a red and white spotted bronco named Dan, and a real cow pony of the old school, having been trained on a big cattle ranch out west. At any rate he certainly knew his stuff, and his splendid training often made up for my inexperience. To really do him justice would nearly take a book. He could be guided by merely a hand on his neck, or simply leaning to the side, and leave it to him to head a cow for home. He could round up a bunch of cattle and take them out to feed with no one on his back, indeed I often saw him do it. I was only five when Reuben Stewart taught me how to ride. My older sister was never very strong and did not care to ride and my younger was too small and did not ride till later. It always fell my lot to be the cow boy of the family and do all the errands, even some for the neighbors, for there were no cars or phones. I'm sure old settlers remember me best in my yellow sunbonnet, tearing down the road on his back, chasing off stray stock, or on another jaunt after old Mrs. Schrader's cow that would run off while she was away washing.
I often wonder what life would have been to me in the early days without that horse, for I fairly grew up with him. Years later when I had been gone for over a year and returned to the old home, the first thing I did was to go down in the pasture in search of him. As soon as he saw me coming he let out a long piercing whinny rushed up and nuzzled his nose against my neck. He knew me and his welcome was complete. Could Fred Thompson have been any prouder of Silver King?
So as I pen these lines, it all comes back to me. I can see the miles of rolling prairie, a treeless plain, the soft green hills to the south and east, often scarred by prairie fires, the whirlwind, the mirages in the quivering heat, the scattered claim shacks, the oxen and the new turned sod.
I remember the trials that fell the lot of the early settler, the scorching wind, the prairie fire, the blizzard and the hail, each one a story in itself. Then came the wheat, how bright and green it looked on the nice clean sod, how beautifully it waved, changing color in the summer sun. How rich and golden in the autumn haze, and what possibilities it possessed. The new top buggy, a fur coat for Father which he needed badly, an organ for the parlor, and perhaps, yea perhaps, that long hoped for trip back home.
These and many more are the memories of a little girl.
Mrs. Floyd Potter
(Reprint from the Reporter and Farmer, Webster, S. Dak. dated June 11, 1931.)
The Pioneer Daughter's Collection of stories have been made possible through General Federation of Women's Clubs of South Dakota.