Trails to the Past

Burleigh County North Dakota Biographies


JOHN SATTERLUND. No foreign element has become a more important part of our American citizenship than that furnished by Sweden. The emigrants from that land have brought with them to the new world the stability, enterprise and perseverance characteristic of their people and have fused these qualities with the progressiveness and indomitable spirit of the West. A prominent representative of this class is Mr. Satterlund, the present receiver of the United States land office at Bismarck.

He was born in Carlstad, Sweden. May 3, 1851, and in 1860, came to America with his parents, Errick and Mary Satterlund, who located in Traverse County, Minnesota, where the mother is still living, but the father is now deceased. After some time spent in that state our subject came to Bismarck, North Dakota, in 1872, and remained here for some time. Subsequently he spent about four years in Port Arthur, Canada, and then, in 1878, returned to Burleigh County, North Dakota, where he purchased two thousand acres of land north of Bismarck, on which he engaged in farming and stock raising. In 1882 he removed to Washburn, which was laid out and platted by Mr. Satterlund. McLean County was not organized until November, 1883, and Washburn was made the County seat. Upon the organization Mr. Satterlund was chosen the first sheriff of the County and re-elected to that office in 1884. In 1890 he was elected to represent his district in the state legislature and re-elected two years later. He was the moving spirit in having the County enlarged in 1891, and is now president of the Washburn Real Estate Company.

In Duluth, Minnesota, Mr. Satterlund was married, in 1877, to Miss Charlotte Peterson, of Clay County, Iowa, and they now have a family of four children, one son and three daughters: Hilda, Lulu, Florence and Floyd. In business affairs Mr. Satterlund has met with marked success and has large landed interests in this state. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity and is a prominent representative of the Republican party, having served to all the County and state conventions since coming to North Dakota. Besides the offices already mentioned he filled that of County commissioner of Burleigh County in 1882 and was deputy United States marshal for four years from 1883. In 1898 he was made receiver of the United States land office at Bismarck and is now most creditably and acceptably filling that position. His public and private life are alike above reproach and he stands high in public esteem.

BENJAMIN F. SCOVIL is one of the most useful citizens of Burleigh county, and is a pioneer settler of that locality, and has gained his possessions by honest industry and judicious management. He was born in Illinois, on a farm in 1840.

The father of our subject. Pulaski Scovil, was a silversmith by trade and also followed farming. He was descended from an English family who settled in America prior to the Revolution. The mother of our subject was of Scotch descent, and the parents were married in Illinois and our subject was the only child born to this union. He has five half brothers and sisters.

Mr. Scovil was raised in Illinois and at the age of twenty years began farming for himself and resided there until 1883 and cultivated a fine farm of eighty acres. He enlisted in Company C, Eighty-fifth Illinois, in July, 1862, and was sent south to the Army of the Cumberland and was engaged in the battle at Perryville, Kentucky, Stone River, Murfreesborough, Chickamauga. Chattanooga, and was in the Atlanta campaign and taken prisoner July 19, 1864, and sent to Andersonville, where he was held one year. He saw three years of active service and participated in some of the hardest fought battles of the war, and after his discharge from the service he returned to Illinois and began his farming operations. He went to North Dakota in 1883 and settled in Burleigh county, and with a small start has become well to do. He built a shanty and had an ox team and with it farmed two years and met with varying success in raising grains. In 1887 he embarked in the mercantile business in McKenzie and conducted a general merchandise store and was also appointed postmaster of McKenzie in 1887. He built an elevator in that town in 1888, with a capacity of twenty thousand bushels and engaged in the grain business and in 1887 began dealing in stock and has continued in this line of business since that time. He has also followed stock-raising extensively and in 1898 built a sawmill in the southeastern part of Burleigh county on the Missouri river and has operated the same each season since that date. He now has a farm of eleven hundred acres, seven hundred acres of which is under cultivation and he has all buildings and machinery for conducting a good farm and leases most of the land.

Our subject was married when about twenty years of age to Miss Elizabeth May. a native of Illinois. Her father, William May, was a farmer by occupation and the family has been in America many generations. One child has been born to Mr. and Mrs. Scovil, who bears the name of Cordelia. The daughter was born in 1868 and is now married. Mr. Scovil served as assessor in 1896 and 1897 and is actively interested in local affairs. He is a member of the G. A. R., and is widely and favorably known.

JOHN SEBRY, one of the pioneers of Burleigh county, and an old soldier with an enviable record, has been classed among the substantial and useful citizens of North Dakota and a valued member of the community in which he resides.

Mr. Sebry was born in Ireland, in 1841, his father, John Sebry. being a native of Ireland and a farmer and mason by occupation. The father came to America when our subject was ten years old and died on board ship at Quarantine Island, New Brunswick. Our subject, the youngest of a family of eleven children, accompanied his mother and one brother and one sister to America the following year and they landed at St. Johns, New Brunswick, and went to Whitneyville. Washington county, Maine. They remained there six years and then the mother and two sons went to Dakotah county, Minnesota. Our subject worked on a farm and also worked out at day labor until 1862, when he enlisted in Company K, Tenth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, and was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division, right wing of the Sixteenth Army Corps. They started May 10, 1863, and went to the plains of Dakota as far as the Missouri river, encountering Indians in several skirmishes. In the fall of 1863 the regiment was sent to St. Louis, where they did guard duty six months and then went to Columbus, Kentucky, and thence to Memphis, Tennessee, and thence to Tupelo, Mississippi, where they had an engagement with General Forrest and General John Lee. He was also at the battle of Nashville and at Spanish Fort. In 1863 the regiment started from Dauphin Island to Montgomery, Alabama, and when within fifteen miles of that place received word that the war was ended. They then went to Jackson and Vicksburg. Mississippi, and then to Fort Snelling, where our subject received his honorable discharge in August, 1865, after an arduous service of three years, being almost constantly on raids and marches.

After his discharge he returned home and went to work in a saw-mill at Minneapolis. In 1872 he brought his family to Burleigh county. North Dakota, then a wilderness. The trip was made by team, occupying about six weeks on the journey. He lived for the first six years in Bismarck and then, in 1878, moved to his farm north of that place. He had but one cow, one hog and three horses and but little farm machinery. He now has one hundred and sixty acres, about half of which is under a high state of cultivation and the rest devoted to pasturage and his farm is abundantly stocked. He has succeeded remarkably well in his farm enterprise and has won a comfortable competence.

Mr. Sebry was married, in 1871. to Miss Mary Casey, a native of Ireland, and a daughter of Mark Casey, one of the early settlers of Minnesota. Mr. and Mrs. Sebry are the parents of six children, as follows: Mark, Mary, James, Jane, Agnes and John H., all of whom, except the eldest, were born in North Dakota. Mr. Sebry is a Democrat in his political faith and has always felt an interest in public affairs. He has been a member of the school board for many years and has devoted his energies to the cause of education in his community. Being one of the pioneers of the state, he has watched its growth and development and his reminiscences of early days are well worthy the pen of North Dakota's future historian.

FRANCIS R. SMYTH, M. D., is a skillful physician and surgeon of Bismarck, North Dakota, whose knowledge of the science of medicine is broad and comprehensive, and whose ability in applying its principles to the needs of suffering humanity has gained him an enviable prestige in professional circles.

He was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, June 8, 1852, a son of James and Euphemia (Robertson) Smyth, also natives of that country. In his younger days the father was a member of the English army and assisted in conquering India, and later served as postmaster of Dalmellington, Scotland, for a quarter of a century. He died in 1880, his wife in 1875. To this worthy couple were born nine children, six sons and three daughters, of whom our subject is the only one in America.

Dr. Smyth was educated in his native land, attending the Free Church Training College, of Glasgow, and Anderson's University, of the same city, the latter being a medical school, from which he was graduated in 1875. The same year he joined a whaling expedition to the Arctic regions as ship surgeon, and thus spent about one year. He then engaged in the practice of his chosen profession in London, England, for nearly five years, at the end of which time he returned to Glasgow, Scotland, and practiced there until coming to America in 1885. He first located in Mercer county, Dakota territory, and from there removed to McLean county. North Dakota. In 1890 he entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Chicago. Illinois, and was regularly graduated from that institution. He came to Bismarck in 1893. where he soon succeeded in building up the large and growing practice that he now enjoys.

In 1898 Dr. Smyth was united in marriage with Miss Mary E. Clayton, a native of Iowa . He is local surgeon for the Northern Pacific Railroad, and is acting assistant surgeon of the United States marine hospital service for the district of Mississippi. He is also a member of the state board of medical examiners of North Dakota : was president of the North Dakota State Medical Society in 1898, and a member of the American Medical Association. Socially he belongs to the Knights of Pythias and the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and political affiliates with the Democratic party, but has never sought nor desired public office, preferring to give his undivided attention to his professional duties.

EUGENE H. SPERRY, county treasurer of Burleigh county, and one of the most prominent citizens of central North Dakota, is a farmer by occupation and has achieved success for himself, while at the same time rendering assistance in the development of a new country, and he has been an important factor in the shaping of the policy of his adopted county in many material interests.

Mr. Sperry is a native of Chautauqua, New York, where he was born in 1848. His father, Orville Sperry, was a contractor and builder, and also devoted attention to farming. The family was of Welsh descent and were early settlers of Connecticut, and founded the village of Sperryville, in that state. They were of the Puritan faith. The Sperry's were a long-lived race, and the grandfather of our subject, a veteran of the war of 1812, lived to be ninety-six years old, and a brother lived to the advanced age of one hundred and nine years, while the father of our present subject is about ninety years old, and still hale and hearty. The mother of our subject, whose maiden name was Diantha Howard, was a native of New York, born at Utica, and traced her ancestry many generations back, all being Americans. Both the Howard and the Sperry families sent many members to the Civil war. The parents of our subject were married in the state of New York, and Eugene H. was the fourth in a family of eleven children born to this worthy couple. He attended the public schools and also took a course at the Academy at West-field, and received a teacher's grade certificate to teach in the schools of the state of New York. He worked for a time in a pail factory in Pennsylvania, and was then given the superintendence of the poor farm of Chautauqua county, holding that position about three years. In 1874 he built a cheese factory and manufactured butter and cheese. In 1877 he was made warden of the Chautauqua county asylum for the insane and held that position nine years.

In the spring of 1885 Mr. Sperry came to Burleigh county and rented a ranch, which is now his home farm. The family soon afterward joined him. He now owns about seven hundred and ten acres of land, and controls about three thousand acres for stock raising purposes. It is regarded as one of the best ranches in the county, and accommodates about four hundred head of cattle per year.

Mr. Sperry was married, in 1874, to Miss Mary Aylesworth. Mrs. Sperry was born in Warren county. Pennsylvania, her father being a lumberman in that state. The family was of Welsh descent .but had been domiciled in America for many generations. Four of Mrs. Sperry's brothers served in the Civil war, one being a prisoner at Andersonville and another at Libby prison. Mr. and Mrs. Sperry are the parents of two children: Lynn W., born in May, 1877, and Mabel L., born in December, 1884. Lynn W. served in the First North Dakota Volunteers in the Philippines.

In politics Mr. Sperry is a Republican, and has taken an active and prominent part in the public affairs of Burleigh county. He has attended many state conventions, and was county assessor one term, and in 1898 was elected treasurer of Burleigh county. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity. His fine ranch is located eight miles northwest of Bismarck on the east bank of the Missouri river. 


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