Trails to the Past

Burleigh County North Dakota Biographies


HENRY U. THOMAS. The world instinctively pays deference to the man whose success has been worthily achieved, who has acquired a high reputation in his chosen calling, and whose social prominence is not less the result of an irreproachable life than of recognized natural gifts. It is a pleasing indulgence to write the biography of a man of this character, such as Mr. Thomas is known to be. He is now serving with distinction as commissioner of agriculture and labor of North Dakota, and makes his home in Bismarck.

He was born in Magnolia, Rock county, Wisconsin, December 10. 1853, and is a son of Asaph U. and Mary C. (Flint) Thomas, the former a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, and the latter of Wethersfield, Connecticut. The father was a machinist by trade, but the latter part of his life was devoted to farming. From Massachusetts he removed to Pennsylvania, and in 1847 became a resident of Wisconsin, where he made his home for ten years and then went to Freeborn county, Minnesota. There he spent his remaining days and died in April, 1883. the wife and mother passed away in the same county in 1874. In their family were eight children, four sons and four daughters, of whom our subject and all of the daughters are still living. The paternal grandfather, David Thomas, was born in Massachusetts, April 8, 1781, and died February 28, 1842. He had only one son, Asaph U., father of our subject.

Henry U. Thomas, of this review, grew to manhood in Minnesota, and the early education he acquired in the common schools of that state was supplemented by a course at the Adventist Seminary in Freeborn county. He continued to make his home in Minnesota, engaged in agricultural pursuits, until April, 1883, when he became a resident of Benson county, North Dakota, where he took up land from the government, becoming the first settler of Antelope valley, which he named. He lived there until the fall of 1885, when he was elected county commissioner and removed to Minnewaukon, the county seat. After filling that office very acceptably for two years he was appointed probate judge and served in that capacity for nine years, or until elected to his present office in 1896, His official duties have always been performed in a most commendable and satisfactory manner, and have gained for him the confidence and respect of all.

In January, 1889, Mr. Thomas was married in Fargo, North Dakota, to Miss Laura A. Spotts, a native of Ohio, and to them have been born seven children, namely: Merrill C, Paul C, Lyle J., Erma M., Harold U., William H. and an infant boy who died August 15, 1899. The wife and mother is a consistent member of the Congregational church, which Mr. Thomas also attends. He is a thirty-second-degree Mason, a Shriner, and a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. In his political views he is an ardent Republican, and does all in his power for the success of his party. As a citizen he has at all times the good of the community at heart, and his abilities arc exerted to make the state of his adoption one of the best in the Northwest.

AUGUST TRYGG. Among the agriculturists of township 139, range 79. in Burleigh county, few are more useful in sustaining and extending its farming interests than Mr. Trygg. He is one of the substantial and successful citizens, and is well versed in the most approved methods of operating a farm.

Our subject was born in the town of Linefors, county of Ostorgotland, Sweden, November 20, 1852. His father, John Trygg, was a miller and millwright, and the grandfather, Andres Trygg. was a soldier in the Swedish army until he was retired. The mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Christina Falk, and she was born and raised about seven miles from the birthplace of our subject. The parents were married in Sweden, and reared a family of three children, of whom our subject was the eldest. The father operated flouring mills in different parts of Sweden, and our subject was reared at home and helped his father until he was about sixteen years old.

Mr. Trygg's first work was in a woolen mill where he spent three years and then took charge of his father's business after his death, and followed! farming on the small tract and also did carpenter work and remained with his mother until he came to .America in 1880. He landed at New York City and remained there two and a half years, working in a rolling mill, and also worked at carpentry for the same company, and in 1882 came to Dakota. He located land m October of that year and still resides thereon, and then worked at Bismarck as a carpenter, and the family remained in that city during the first winter, and in the spring moved to the farm and lived in a small shanty. .Mr. Trygg began his farm improvements and cultivation without means or implements, and purchased the necessary machinery and an ox team in partnership with C. U. Engdahl. and these two gentlemen farmed together for several years. Mr. Trygg working at his trade and Mr. Engdahl conducting the farm. Success attended the first year's work, but prairie fire destroyed the crop the next year, but this, however did not cause him to cease striving, and he now has a farm of-four hundred and eighty acres, and operates one hundred and eighty-five acres of cultivated land, and he has placed valuable improvements on his farm and has all machinery and stock for operating a model farm.

Our subject was married, in 1876, to Matilda Johnson. Her father, Johanis Johnson, was a native of Sweden, Mrs. Trygg died in America in 1883, and left one daughter, Lydia Sophia, now married. Mr. Trygg was married to Mrs. Augusta Anderson in 1886. Mrs. Trygg was born in Sweden and came to America in April, 1886. Her father, Andres Orest, was a soldier in the Swedish army. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Trygg, who are named as follows; David, born February 14, 1888; Oscar, born August 2, 1889, and Frank, born April 3, 1891.

Mr. Trygg is independent in politics, and has never held any public office except school director. His rule in life has always been so far as he could do it, whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.

TRUMAN E. WALDORF. In compiling a list of the earliest pioneers or North Dakota, who are thoroughly familiar with her development and have aided materially in the same, the name of our subject must be included. He is now a resident of Menoken township, and has a well-improved and valuable estate and has made a success of general farming.

Our subject was born on a farm in Grant county, Wisconsin, February 23, 1857. His father, Marion Waldorf, was of German descent and was born in Pennsylvania or Ohio. He was a farmer by occupation and died of disease in the army in 1862. The grandfather of our subject, Joseph Waldorf, was a farmer by occupation. The mother of our subject, whose maiden name was Virginia Wilcox, was born in Michigan. His parents were married in Wisconsin, and our subject was the eldest in a family of three sons born to them, two of whom are now living. After the father's death the family moved to Cassville, Wisconsin, and there our subject attended school and received a good education and when he was thirteen years of age the family returned to the farm in Grant county, where he remained until after his mother's death in 1879. The following spring he drove across the northern line of Iowa to Yankton, South Dakota, and then went to the Black Hills by team and remained there two years and then proceeded to Montana in the same manner and then back to Burleigh county. North Dakota, after one year spent there, and landed in North Dakota in 1883. He graded on the Northern Pacific Railroad in Montana from Helena to Miles City, and after reaching Burleigh county. North Dakota, began farming and during the first summer worked for others, and did not begin his own farming until 1884. He then took land as a homestead and erected a claim shanty and lived alone on his farm thirteen years. He sold his homestead farm in 1897 and the next year bought three hundred and twenty acres of land, one hundred and thirty of which was cultivated, and he engages in stock and grain raising. He has one hundred and twenty acres in pasture and ten acres in forest trees and one of the best groves of the county, and he devotes sixty acres of land to hay. He has a complete set of farm buildings on the place and every appointment for conducting a modern farm and has made a success of his work there.

Our subject was married, in 1891, to Miss Hannah Peterson, who was born on a farm near Joranna, Sweden. Her father, Gus Peterson, was a farmer and came to America in 1885, and is an old settler in McLean county. North Dakota. Mr. and Mrs. Waldorf are the parents of four children, named as follows: Emma, born in 1892; Edna, born in 1894; Bertha, born in 1897; and Grant P., born in 1899. Mr. Waldorf is a member of the town board and has also served on the school board for six years and takes an active interest in local affairs of importance. He is a member of the Independent Order of Foresters.

WILLIAM O. WARD is an ex-soldier and prominent farmer of township 139. range 80, in Burleigh county, and he also owns considerable city property in Bismarck, and has made a success of his work in North Dakota. He was born on a farm in Erie county, Pennsylvania, May 3, 1839.

The father of our subject. Jeremiah Ward, was a mechanic, and also operated a small farm. He was a native of New York state, and the grandfather of our subject. Shadrick Ward, was born in Vermont, and was a hotel keeper. The Ward family has been in America many generations, and were among the first settlers in Massachusetts. The mother of our subject bore the name of Emma Loomis prior to her marriage, and she was a native of Pennsylvania, and her people came from Connecticut. The parents were married in Pennsylvania and our subject was the eldest in their family of ten children. He was raised on a farm, and had limited school advantages, and when he was sixteen years of age removed with his parents to Delaware county, Iowa, where the father followed his trade, and in 1858 the family went to Minnesota and settled in Freeborn county, and the father was engaged at his trade and our subject conducted the home farm. He left home at the age of twenty-one years and worked at farm labor for others, and October 11, 1861, enlisted in Company F, Fourth Minnesota Regiment. They garrisoned forts in Minnesota during the winter of 1861-62, and in the spring were sent to St. Louis, Missouri, and then arrived at Shiloh to engage in the last day's fight, and our subject also participated in the siege of Corinth, battle of luka, battle of Corinth, and in numerous long marches and skirmishes, and in the Yazoo Pass expedition, where the regiment had the hardest fighting of any during its service. He then went through the battle of Vicksburg, and after the siege was taken ill with fever and ague and went home on a short furlough, and again joined his regiment at Chattanooga after the battle there, and then took part in the Atlanta campaign and the battle of Altoona. He was with Sherman on his march to the sea, and was discharged at Savannah, Georgia, and returned home December 28, 1864. He remained at home one week only, and then enlisted in the United States Veteran Volunteers, and was sent to Washington, D. C, and was in the Shenandoah Valley at the time of Lee's surrender. He was discharged in New York city, February 6, 1866, having served four years and three months. After his return from the war he followed farming in Minnesota until the spring of 1872, when he went to Jamestown, North Dakota, and there located, but lost the land and then went to Bismarck and settled east of the town and started farming and stock raising. He went to the Black Hills with thirty-five head of stock and a wagon and oxen in March, 1876, and when about half way there Indians stampeded the cattle and took them away, but they were regained the next day, and this battle with the Indians cost the life of our subject's brother, and two others of the party were wounded, and in the evening the Indians again took the cattle. On the way back they again encountered Indians and one man was wounded. Mr. Ward returned to Minnesota, and then later went again to Bismarck and located on his present ranch. He began cattle raising and dairying, and has had an extensive ranch for cattle raising there. His home ranch is located three miles up the river from Bismarck, and our subject and son now have three hundred and fifty head of horses, having sold the cattle interests in the spring of 1900. They have two thousand one hundred sheep, and make this the principal business of the home ranch, the horses being kept on another ranch which they own about ninety miles up the river from Bismarck. They have one thousand and seventy acres of land in the home ranch, and have two sets of buildings thereon. Mr. Ward has five tenement houses in Bismarck, and is one of the wealthy men of his community.

Our subject was married to Miss Florence Manley, December 13, 1868. Mrs. Ward was born in Pennsylvania, and taught school in Minnesota. She is a daughter of H. M. Manley, a native of Pennsylvania, and a farmer by occupation. Mr. and Mrs. Ward are the parents of six children, named as follows: Jennette, Isabelle, Ralph, Aldyth, Milan and Birlea. Mr. Ward is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and the North Dakota Sheep Breeders Association, of which society he is vice-president. He has held various local offices, and is a man of active public spirit, and politically is a Democrat.

ERASTUS A. WILLIAMS, surveyor general of North Dakota, and now a resident of the capital city of the state, is a native of Connecticut, having been born in Mystic, New London county, October 13, 1850. His parents were David and Matilda (Appleman) Williams, and were also native to the soil of Connecticut. The father was a ship builder by trade, and removed to Wisconsin about 1856. and died in Freeport, Illinois, in 1873. Late in life he was engaged in the lumber business, and was a man of sterling worth and character. The mother also passed away in Freeport. They were the parents of three sons, and our subject and one brother are now living in North Dakota.

Mr. Williams was educated in the schools of Wisconsin and Illinois, and began reading law in Freeport in 1869, and later became a student of the law department of the University of Michigan, from which he received a thorough rooting and grounding in the elementary principles of the legal profession. He was admitted to the bar at Freeport in 1871, and the same year came to Yankton, South Dakota, spending about a year in legal work in that town. The following year he was called to what is now North Dakota by a chance to do business, and came to the ground on which the city of Bismarck now stands, making the journey overland with a wagon train of railroad graders and assisting in guarding against the unfriendly Indians. He took employment with the railroad company, and later was given a position as clerk in the land office. In the fall of 1872 he was elected to the lower house of the territorial assembly from Buffalo county, and at the next general election was made a member of the territorial council. As soon as the town had grown sufficiently to admit it. Mr. Williams began the practice of law. The settlement then bore the name of Edwinton, and in 1875, largely through the efforts of our subject, it was called Bismarck, and has become widely known under that name. Mr. Williams served as assistant United .States attorney in 1874 and 1875 under Colonel William Rounds, and in 1890 was appointed surveyor general, and served four years in that capacity. President McKinley appointed him to the same position in 1898.

Mr. Williams and Jennie E. Hettinger were married in 1882. She was a native of Illinois, and died 1894. She was the mother of five children: Eva, Odessa, Matilda, Erastas and Alice J., all living. Mr. Williams is a member of the order of Knights of Pythias, and has always been a strong Republican. He has repeatedly taken the hustling during important campaigns, and is generally recognized as one of the stronger political orators of the west. His forensic and parliamentary ability at once commanded respect as soon as he entered the territorial assembly. He was made speaker of the house, and he has been the recipient of many honors at the hands of his party. He is an able lawyer, and commands the respect and confidence of all who know him.

JUDGE WALTER H. WINCHESTER , judge of the sixth district court of North Dakota, holds and merits a place among the representative legal practitioners and citizens of Bismarck, and the story of his life, while not dramatic in action, is such a one as offers a typical example of that alert of American spirit which has enabled many an individual to rise from obscurity to a position of influence and renown solely through native talent, indomitable perseverance and singleness of purpose.

The Judge was born in Malone, Franklin county, New York, March 21, 1844, and is a son of David and Elvira (Blanchard) Winchester, natives of New York and Vermont, respectively. The father, who was a farmer and carpenter by occupation, died in 1845, during the infancy of our subject. Besides the Judge there were two daughters in the family. The paternal grandfather was Henry Winchester, a native of Massachusetts.

Judge Winchester passed his boyhood and youth in New York, and his early education, acquired by the common schools of that state, was. supplemented by a course at the Franklin County Academy, from which he was graduated in 1866. In 1864 he enlisted in Company G, Eighth New York Cavalry, but was afterward transferred to Company C of the same regiment, with which he served until the close of the war. He participated in the battles of Cedar Creek and Waynesboro, Virginia; Five Forks. April 1, 1865, and was in all of the engagements in which his command took part up to and including Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

At the close of the war Judge Winchester returned to his home in New York and completed his education. In 1867 he entered Amherst College, Massachusetts, where he spent two years in study, and in 1870 went to Davenport, Iowa, where he was employed as a reporter on the daily and weekly "Democrat" for six months. He then accepted the position of principal of the Cordova Academy at Cordova, Illinois, which he filled for one year and then returned to New York, where he commenced the study of law in his native town under John I. Gilbert, a well-known attorney of northern New York.  Subsequently he served as principal of the Fort Covington Academy, New York, for three years, at the end of which time he entered the law department of Albany University, graduating from that institution in 1873. After his admission to the bar, in 1873, he began practice in his native county, and remained there until coming to Bismarck, North Dakota, in 1883. Here he has since successfully engaged in practice and is recognized as one of the ablest attorneys of the state.

On the 16th of September, 1873, Judge Winchester married Miss Ella S. Kimball, also a native of New York, and to them have been born three children : Edith, now the wife of Lieutenant Conklin. of First North Dakota Volunteer Infantry; Edna May and Harold E.

Since attaining his majority the Judge has been identified with the Republican party, and has taken an active part in campaign work in Burleigh county. For six years he has most ably and satisfactorily served as county superintendent of schools, and in 1889 was elected judge of the sixth judicial district, in which capacity he is still serving. On May 14, 1900, he was unanimously re-nominated for the fourth term. Fair and impartial in his rulings, he has gained the respect and confidence of his professional brethren, and is held in high regard by all who know him. Fraternally he is an honored member of the Grand Army of the Republic, in which he has served as senior vice-commander; is a Knight Templar Mason, a member of the Mystic Shrine, and has been master of the home lodge for two years, and a member of the I. O, O. F. 


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