Eli Stearns Biography



                This biography appears on pages 1113-1114 in "History of Dakota

                Territory" by George W. Kingsbury, Vol. IV (1915) and was

                scanned, OCRed and edited by Maurice Krueger, mkrueger@iw.net.


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                                                                ELI STEARNS


                Among the efficient officers of Day county is numbered Eli Stearns, who is filling the position of register of deeds. His life record began in Wisconsin on the 27th of July, 1857, and he is a representative of an old New England family founded on American soil during colonial times. His paternal grandfather, David Stearns, was born in Massachusetts and died in New Jersey after devoting his active business life to the operation of cotton and flour mills. His son,

Caleb Stearns, was born in New Jersey in January, 1820, and in the year 1845 removed westward to Wisconsin, where he entered a claim, becoming one of the earliest settlers in his part of the state. For a number of years he lived upon and developed his farm, after which he sold the original tract and purchased other land. He continued his residence in Wisconsin until 1883, when he removed to Day county, South Dakota, and took up a homestead, upon which his remaining days were passed. He there lived for a quarter of a century and converted his place from a tract of wild prairie into richly developed fields, winning a considerable measure of success in his farm work. He was a well-educated man and exercised considerable influence in community affairs. Fraternally he was connected with the Masons, which his political belief was that of the Republican Party. After removing to Wisconsin he married Catherine Grosshans, who was born in Germany in 1829 and was a daughter of John Grosshans. Her father was also a native of Germany and after coming to the New World engaged in farming in Wisconsin, his death eventually occurring in Milwaukee. His daughter was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and died in that faith in 1907, while Mr. Stearns passed away in 1908.


                Eli Stearns was the sixth in order of birth in a family of eleven children, eight of whom are yet living. He attended the common schools of Wisconsin and started out in life as a farmer, following that occupation for a time in South Dakota, to which he came in the spring of 1883. He later began business as a stonemason and plasterer near Pierpont, Day county, continuing in active connection with industrial interests until elected to the office of register of deeds in 1906. He served for two years and then retired. In 1912, however, he was reelected and again in 1914, so that he is now serving for a third terms in that office. He has also been township clerk and is recognized as one of the leaders of the Republican Party in Day County.


                In 1883 Mr. Stearns was married to Miss Permelia G. Smith, a native of Wisconsin and a daughter of Andrew Smith, one of the early settlers of that state. Her father was a stanch abolitionist and was with John Brown in Kansas, where he lived for several years. He at length met death at the hands of the Indians. Mr. and Mrs. Stearns have become the parents of three children: Nina, who is engaged in teaching in the state of Washington; Clara, the wife of Fred Galbraith, a bookkeeper living in Nebraska; and Lydia, who is acting as deputy register of deeds. The parents are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and guide their lives according to its teachings.


                Mr. Stearns is also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. His influence is always on the side of right and improvement, progress and reform. He devotes the major part of his attention to the duties of his office, which are discharged in a systematic, capable manner, his work giving entire satisfaction, as is indicated by the fact that he has been three times chosen to the position.