Lyman County South Dakota's Genealogy

Holmes/Wait  families
of Lyman and Brule counties


Harry Holmes.    Lizzie Holmes

Harry and Lizzie

Information found while doing research for a descendent and felt it was too good not to share.
Brule County History:
Pg 6- Harry Holmes, gf of Harry Wait, was the blacksmith at Lower Brule.
Pg 7- W.B. Wait, gf of Harry Wait, operated his steamboat, “Rosebud”, to between Lower Brule and
Chamberlain.  Photos of all of the steamboats servicing Chamberlain were taken and framed for posterity.
These photos hang on a wall on the second-story  of the Brule County Courthouse. (1977 article)
Pg 9- Mrs. John Wait performed with a musical group in a production to raise funds for books for a pro-
posed library. They raised enough money to purchase 100 books. 1913.
Pg 209- “Dear Grandma and Grandpa W.B. Wait always took Sunday School children for outings on the
Missouri River on their steamboat.”  Remembrance by Lena Eastman Anderson.
Pg 297-  In the early 1920’s, W.B. Wait and Son store on North Main Street in Chamberlain was mention-
ed in passing as a business on the street.
Pg 233- Merely mentions name of someone who worked at John Wait’s store.
Pg. 573- Elmer H. Holmes listed in Brule County Roster, Troop L., 59th Depot Brigade 1st SD Cavalry.
Oct. 17, 1917.
Pg 579- In 1902, Capt. John B. Wait, who had been a Missouri River steamboat captain, came to Chamber-
lain with his family. In 1907, he purchased a grocery store. The store continued for three generations and 48
years.  (Article written in 1977.)
Lyman History Book #1
Pg 13- Holmes name listed as early settlers at Iona, 1895.
Pg 34- Mrs. Harry Holmes was a Sunday School teacher at Oacoma
Pg 34- Frank Sheffer ran a store in Oacoma early 1900.
Pg 73- “When the ice was safe, I crossed the river to see the land I had bought near Iona. There were two
small log houses on the place; one occupied by a Mr. Holmes. The 12x24 shanty was vacant and Mr. Holmes
said we could move in there as they would be leaving in the spring.” Included in another family story.
Pg 105- Clarence Lillie piloted a boat between Iona and Chamberlain  for John Wait .
Lyman History Book #1
Pg 8- Harry Wait was a government blacksmith on the Lower Brule Indian Agency near present-day Oacoma
until 1894 when the agency was moved north to its present location. Harry continued his blacksmith shop and
made most of the brands used by early homesteaders to mark their livestock, some of which are still in use today.
Pg 50- J.H. Holmes purchased Lot 2 Block 2 in Reliance for $160. 1905. (Reliance was just organizing its town
Pg 95- Holmes listed in Iona area in 1895.
Pg 129- Nancy Holmes attended a box social at a Kennebec school at the end of the 1912 school year with
Earnest Pease, Esther Pease and May Shoemaker.
Pg 134-  Presho Pioneer Club, 1906. David Holmes listed as a member.
Pg 147-  J.H. Holmes’s real estate business, along with several other businessmen, found themselves barred
from entering the new town site of Herron (now Reliance) by a fence that had been put up around the town
site because of a problem between Mr. Herron who had sold the land and the Milwaukee Railroad officials. 
(Aug. 1905,
Lyman County Record.)
From the Lyman History Book #2, written by Florence Holmes Wait
Harry Alfred Holmes was born at Mineral Point, Wisc., on March 19, 1860, and came to Plankinton, S. Dak., when he was 21 with a young man from his home town, William  Harris. Harry had just finished an apprenticeship as a blacksmith and went west to take up land in South Dakota which had just been opened up for settlement.
Lizzie Ett Elliott was born at Holly, Mich., January 9, 1859. Her father had operated a logging camp in the forests of Michigan but he moved to Iowa Falls, Iowa, where he purchased a farm so the children could have better school advantages. When the two oldest sons, Clarence and Hawley, were of age they wanted to go to South Dakota to take up claims. Their sister Lizzie accompanied them and all filed on land in Charles Mix County. A freight car of farming and household supplies was fitted up. It included a team of work horses, cow, dog, chickens, plow, lumber and dry groceries. Lizzie had just finished a course in dressmaking and had  also been driving around the country giving organ lessons.
   After the 14 months required to make final proof, Lizzie returned to Iowa, never expecting to return to South Dakota. But her claim was contested and she had to come back to prove her right to keep it. She bought a return trip railroad ticket good for thirty days and started helping in the dressmaking shop in White Lake. She had her ticket extended once for another thirty days and when ready to leave, a friend wanted some sewing done so badly that she had her railroad ticket extended again. At the end of the 90 days she had become interested in the young blacksmith, Harry Holmes, who was boarding at the same hotel. The next year they were married and she never did return to Iowa to live.
   On June 26, 1888, a daughter, Florence Eliza, was born and on August 3, 1889, another girl, Daisy Elizabeth, was born.
    In about 1891, Harry Holmes accepted a position as Agency blacksmith at the Government Indian Agency, called Lower Brule, then located on the flat about two miles west of the Joe Bice ranch near Oacoma. A salary of $50.00 per month and a rent-free house were the inducement. Horseshoeing and wagon repairing were his chief duties with the help of two inefficient half-breed Indian fellows.
   Mrs. Holmes had a great fear of the Indians and with good reason, for a company of U.S. militia was stationed along the Missouri River just below the Agency to keep peace with the Indians. It was soon after the Wounded Knee uprising and the Indians were restless. Indian squaws filled with curiosity about the "whites" would spread their shawls over the outside of a window to shut out the light and peer into the room unabashed. Often both windows in a room would suddenly become darkened and she would look into the faces of two or more squaws.
   Two sons were born at Lower Brule Agency, with the assistance of the Agency Doctor Hughey. Harry Boyd was born November 14, 1890. He was known as "Bud" as he grew up. Calvin Hawley was born May 10, 1892. That made a family of four children in less than four years.
   About 1894 the Government decided to move Lower Brule Agency to its present location forty miles north. Harry Holmes then filed upon a fraction of land across the American Creek east of the Agency and moved his family temporarily into an abandoned Indian log cabin. They white-washed the walls and tacked muslin sheeting over the rafters. Later an unfinished four-room house was purchased from  Jay  Wellman and moved near the log cabin which was then torn down. An addition was added, making six rooms in all.
   Two more girls were born there-Willa Gertrude on June 13, 1897 and Eva Mildred on October 1, 1899. Eva lived only five months, dying after a siege of whooping cough and "lung fever," now known as pneumonia. She was buried on the northwest corner of the farm. Later her body was moved to the village graveyard.
   Harry Holmes established a blacksmith shop of his own in the little new town of Oacoma. It was originally platted as Gladstone but was never called that for the post office was named Oacoma.
  Oacoma's first school was started the fall of 1895 in a rented store building belonging to Jay Wellman. The first teacher was Miss Myrtle Farmer of Chamberlain. Florence Holmes, just five years old the preceding June, was one of the first pupils, together with Mabel Kenaston, Emily and Agnes Auld and some Hickey children. Parents had to purchase the school books for the children at the Kenaston General Store. Classes were differentiated as "Readers." A child started in the primer then to first reader and advanced according to his or her ability to read.
   School was held the second year in the Fulford building on the south side of Main Street with Bertha Stocks as teacher. Miss Mary Stocks also taught a year or two. Mr. E. E. Morford taught one year. Then the school was moved to a residence northwest of the courthouse. Miss May Griffin of Kimball taught two years until she married Henry Juelfs and moved onto a farm at Dirkstown. Some years later a frame two-room schoolhouse was built in the north part of Oacoma. Mrs. C. S. Brackett of Chamberlain taught two years, also Mrs. (Dr.) Chaney, Miss Bertha Smith, sister of Frank Smith of the Whitbeck Bank. After attending school for 12 years, Florence Holmes was the first high school graduate; and the first graduating exercises were held May 5, 1905, in the Christian
Church. Florence wore a new white graduating dress made by her mother and read an essay entitled, "The Value of a Purpose." The school superintendent that year was Professor J. D. Rouse.
   The Congregational Church was organized soon after Oacoma became a town. A minister from Chamberlain drove a horse and buggy over and held services on Sunday afternoons in the Fulford building upstairs hall. The little Episcopal Chapel was purchased after Lower Brule Agency was moved. The Congregational Home Board of Missions helped to pay the $200 and the deal was negotiated through the Episcopal Bishop Hare. The building was located on the south side of Main Street. The Rev. George E. Brown was the first resident pastor.He had a wife and three children, David, Jr., Jack and Helen. Preceding that, the Rev. David Parrin,  had preached in Oacoma as a summer student pastor. He later married Miss Lora Walker, whom he met there.     About 1903, Rev. George W. Dodge, a single man, came to Oacoma and began to hold religious revival meet-
ings in Martins' Store hall.. They continued for several weeks that summer and Disciples of Christ Church was organized as a result. Two lots on the west side of Lichtenstein Street two blocks north of Main Street were donated by a Mr. Lemuel Wait and his wife. A church building was built with some volunteer labor. It was called the Christian Church. In 1933 the little Congregational Church building burned. By that time the Christian Church discontinued so the Congregational Conference negotiated for the Christian Church building which was used for several years, being served by ministers from Chamberlain. About 1960 the Oacoma Church was merged with the Chamberlain United Church of Christ which was formerly called the Congregational Church. Sunday School
was maintained in Oacoma for a time, then the building was left vacant.With some alteration it was finally turned into a Fellowship Memorial Hall used by the Womens Fellowship for their monthly meetings.
   One of the first resident doctors in Oacoma was Dr. J. Y. Batterton. He and his bride  came from St. Louis and settled in Oacoma. He started a drug store. Previously "patent medicines" such as "Peruna," "Lydia Pinkham's Pink Pills for Pale People," "Swamp Root," "Fletcher's Castoria," "Allen's Footease," along with castor oil, liniments and cough syrup, were to be bought at the general store. After Dr. Batterton moved to Eagle Butte, a Dr. I. Ishkanian, a Syrian by birth, came to Oacoma and was a fine physician. He arrived there in the early thirties. He was a good singer, guitar player and took ardent part in the establishment of the new Christian Church. But some sort of gossip or scandal had followed him and he was forced very unfairly to leave.
   "Consumption," now known as tuberculosis, was very common and "consumptives" went about spitting on the street during their prolonged illness, and mortality ran high as a result. Diphtheria was a dreaded disease and took a great toll of lives of young and old. It was extremely contagious and sometimes several members of one family would succumb to it. Scarlet fever caused the death of many children as did measles, small pox and whooping cough. Vaccination for small pox was just being started at the turn of the century.
   Embalming was not accepted when it was first introduced. The older people were very much opposed to it. Upon the death of a relative or friends, a coffin was purchased in Chamberlain at the furniture store and friends "laid out," that is washed and dressed the corpse as a friendly service. Cloths were soaked in salt peter and kept moist over the face to prevent discoloration. Pennies tied in bits of cloth were laid on the eyelids to keep them closed. A few geranium blossoms picked from house plants were the first flowers used.
   Kindly friends often lined the unsightly open grave with strips of muslin. A baby's coffin was often carried on the knees of relatives to the graveyard. "Setting up" with the corpse was a custom and presumably necessary to keep the face cloths moistened. Several friends gathered at the home of the dead person and stayed up all night visiting, and a lunch was always served about midnight. Metal ornaments on the top of the coffin were often removed after the funeral to be saved as "keepsakes." Funeral services were usually held in the homes with a choir or quartet providing the several songs. Long tear provoking eulogies, sometimes scarcely recognizable as referring to the departed person, were read at the funeral service.
(Written by Mrs. Florence Wait in memory of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Holmes.  1961)
   In 1960-61, the Traveler's Club in Chamberlain devoted their year's study to South Dakota to celebrate our Territorial Centennial year. The following is a true story or relation of events in the family of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Holmes, as remembered by their daughter, Florence Holmes Wait.   "The South Dakota Homesteaders" was written to be given as a Traveler's Club program”.
   On January 9, 1859, a baby girl, Lizzie Ett, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Hawley Elliott in Holly, Michigan. She was the second of seven children, and the family lived in the timber land of northern Michigan, where the father was a lumber man, who made his living cutting trees with a crew of men, and floating them down the Saginaw River to a saw mill.
   Because of poor school facilities in that north Michigan country, the family moved to a farm near the town of Iowa Falls, Iowa, where the seven children grew up. News of the opening of Indian lands for settlement out in South Dakota in the early 1880's began to interest the two older boys, who were unmarried, so they decided to go to that far off place and file on land, or take homesteads, as it was called. Their father, knowing something of the hardships of pioneer life, knew that two young men would not be content or satisfied by themselves in that desolate country, so he persuaded their 26 year old sister, Lizzie, to accompany them and also file on a quarter section of land.
   Accordingly, a railroad box car, called an immigrant car, was outfitted with a team of work horses, wagon, cow, plow dog, and other farm equipment, and household furniture, and other things necessary to prairie living.
   So, early in the Spring of 1885 the group set out by the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad, arriving in White Lake, South Dakota, where the closest Government Land Office was located, through which they could each make application to file on 160 acres, which is a quarter section of land. A real estate man drove them by horses and spring wagon to a location some 25 miles south of White Lake, which is now in Charles Mix County.  There a surveyor staked out three adjoining quarters of land. Then lumber was purchased in White Lake, and a man engaged to haul the contents of the box car, and the lumber, to the location, where the claim shanties were to be built. It was decided that one building would be larger, with a gable roof, and be built straddling the
dividing line between the older brother's claim, and that of the sister, Lizzie. The other shanty was of the lean-to type commonly built by claim holders, and was to be well over on the land of Hawley Elliott.
   Lizzie and Clarence stretched a heavy wire across the center of the larger house and hung a calico curtain which was drawn at night, making two rooms for the brother and sister. Lizzie did the cooking and laundry for the brothers. Water had to be hauled on a stone boat drawn by a horse from the nearby creek, and it stood outside the door of the shack, and during the hot weather was always luke-warm to drink.
    At first, a hay burning stove was the only means of cooking and heating. Sometimes buffalo chips were added to the twisted wisps of hay. Food had to be cooked for every meal as there was no means of storing it.
Bread, which was raised over night with yeast foam, was baked in a stove pipe oven heated with the twisted hay. Trips to White Lake were made only once a week because it took several hours to drive a team of horses the 25 miles and back. Groceries  consisted of dried vegetables and dried fruit, sugar, coffee, flour and bacon and fresh meat. Daily newspapers were unheard of then, so the weekly mail consisted of the news sheet from Iowa Falls, and the White Lake Wave, and the regular letters from home.
   Lizzie was a great reader  and she brought several books from home. She had taken organ lessons through her girlhood, and had driven around the Iowa country side giving music lessons to those children fortunate enough to have an organ in their home. She had also taken a course in sewing or dressmaking after she finished high school. As no ready made garments were available, she sewed all of her clothes, including under garments, shirts, and night clothes for her brothers. So she spent many hours at her treadle sewing machine, after making her own patterns from a chart.
   Life on the claim was dull and lonely and Lizzie missed her Estey organ which was back on the Iowa farm.
One of the Elliott's new neighbors was a young family by the name of Steinfeldt, consisting of a man in his late twenties, his wife and two small children. The Steinfeldts lived in the same kind of one room shack as the Elliotts.Mrs. Steinfeldt came occasionally to visit Lizzie. One day she tearfully told of a very unhappy experience. The small one room shanty became unbearably warm in summer with the sun beating down on the thin roof and no shade anywhere, and she had long wanted and begged her husband to build for her a little lean-to summer kitchen into which she might move the small iron cook stove which had to be used for every meal. But her hard working husband never could get it built. One week he had a trip to make to Mitchell with the team and wagon and would be gone for several days, so she decided to build the little room herself of wooden packing boxes and scrap lumber and surprise her husband.
   Being a strong young person in 3 or 4 days she had constructed a sort of little room over the door, and she eagerly awaited the return of her husband to help move the cook stove into it. When he got home and saw what she had done, his masculine dignity was affronted, and he was so angry that he took a sledge hammer and smashed the little room into kindling wood. Poor little Mrs. Steinfeldt cried so hard as she related the story to Lizzie.
   Legal requirements to acquire a quarter section of land were, that a certain number of acres of the land had to be broken up or plowed, and so many acres of crop planted. As little can be grown on newly plowed prairie land, the crop necessarily had to be squaw corn, flax, beans, and a little kitchen garden. A habitable house had to be built and a required number of months of residence spent on the land. Because a living could not be made the first year or two on raw land, homesteaders usually had to procure work elsewhere. After 14 months, 8 of which must be continuous residence, "proof” as they called it, could be made, with neighbors acting as witnesses swearing to the statements made by the homesteader, and with the payment of $1.25 per acre to the government. The land could be their own with no cash payment if the family lived on their homestead continuously for 5 years.
   Sometime before they were to make their final proof, one day the Elliotts saw a team and wagon drive up, and stop about a quarter mile from Clarence and Lizzie's claim shanty. Two men got out and looked and pointed and talked for some time, then drove on leaving the Elliotts wondering what it was all about.
    After 14 months had elapsed and the legal requirements had been met, Clarence,  Lawley and Lizzie Elliott drove to White Lake to make "final proof'” on their homesteads. Their neighbors attested to the fact that the required acres had been plowed, crops planted, and a habitable house had been built on each quarter, even though Clarence and Lizzie's house was sitting astride the dividing line, but this was done frequently by claim holders. This information was sent to the General Land Office at Washington, D.C. by the Registrar of the Land Office in White Lake. If it were satisfactory, a govern-ment deed, called a "patent" would be issued to each homesteader. Then the Elliotts took the train back to Iowa Falls never expecting to see South Dakota again as they planned to sell their land.
  Some time later an official looking envelope addressed to Miss Lizzie Elliott arrived in Iowa Falls from Washington. A letter said that information had been received that Lizzie Elliott had NOT complied with the law. This misinformation declared that her house was uninhabitable that it was NOT on her own land and that she had NOT lived the necessary length of time on her homestead. OUTRIGHT lies they were of course, but this was done occasionally by unprincipled persons seeking to contest the proof and acquire the land for themselves. But the EIliotts were sincere, honest people who had in no way sought to make a dishonest proof on their claims.
    Lizzie wrote at once to the Land Office in White Lake, and in their reply they advised her to return immediately to South Dakota if she wished to save her homestead. Very much disappointed and thoroughly angered by the gross untruths sent in by the unscrupulous contestant, she took the next train to White Lake planning to stay only long enough to get the affair settled. While staying at the little hotel she learned that the village dressmaker was in need of a helper, so to occupy her time she applied for the job temporarily. In those days of no ready-made clothing, seamstresses or dressmakers as they were called, were important personages and often they had a sewing shop in the rear of a general store where the yard goods was purchased. This dressmaker,
whose name was Miss Jessie James, hired Lizzie for as long as she would be in town.
    A Mrs. Boone, the wife of the C.M.St. P. Railroad depot agent made a purchase of many yards of white muslin at this general store, which she wished sewed up into underwear, chemise drawers, petticoats, and corset covers for herself and her two daughters, and she asked Miss Elliott to do the sewing. Now when Lizzie returned to South Dakota she purchased a 30 day return trip ticket and it would then expire in five days and she was sure she could not complete the sewing so Mrs. Boone said she would have her husband send the ticket in to the Chicago office for a 30 day renewal. As this second  expiration time neared, Mrs. Boone wanted more sewing done, but Lizzie protested that she must soon return to Iowa. Again Mrs. Boone took the ticket to her depot-agent-husband who sent it in for a second extension.
    When it was returned, it carried the message, "Tell that young lady that this is the last time she may have this ticket renewed." During those three months, a certain young man had come from Mineral Point, Wisconsin also to file on a claim, and was staying at the same little hotel. He had become very attentive to Lizzie who played the organ at the hotel and he liked to sing. Having taken an apprenticeship in blacksmithing in his home town in Wisconsin, he was working temporarily in the local blacksmith shop. 
     By the time that her last extension on her railroad ticket had expired, Lizzie had been in White Lake for 3 months and her interest in the young man, Harry Holmes, by name, had reached the point where she did not care to return to the farm in Iowa. You see, by then she was 27 years old. So she kept her dress making job and the homestead was saved and the romance progressed until the next year in May 1887 the young couple were married, and set up housekeeping.
    Harry bought out his partner in the blacksmith shop and was sole owner. Lizzie became organist in the little Methodist Church of the young preacher who married them, and Harry sang bass in the choir. Thirteen months later on June 26,1888, a baby girl was born, and in a little over a year another daughter came and 16 months after that in 1890, they had a son.
   Through a friend, Harry learned that on the Indian Reservation at Lower Brule Agency, which was then located 40 miles west of White Lake across the Missouri River, a position as Government black-smith was open at the fine salary of $50.00 per month and a house. With his rapidly growing family there was need to earn more money. So, after careful consideration between Lizzie and Harry, he applied for the job and was accepted.
     They moved to the little Agency which was then located on the Flat, 4 miles west of the little town site called Gladstone. This was a mile west of the present Joe Bice ranch at Oacoma. Harry super-vised the blacksmith shop with several Indian helpers.
    Lizzie had been very apprehensive about this move, as this was the Fall of the year 1891, not long after the Wounded Knee Uprising and Massacre. Because of the restlessness of the Sioux Indians, a company of United States Militia was camped along the Missouri River below the Agency to protect the white people. Lizzie was very lonely and many times during those early days one or two windows of the house might become darkened and looking up Lizzie would look right into the faces of Indian squaws holding up their shawls to shut out the light so they could peer inside the house. They were very curious about the white women.
   In May 1892 a second boy was born to the Holmes family making 4 children in a month less than four years. So Lizzie and Harry were very, very busy.
   In the Fall of 1894 the Government decided to move the Lower Brule Agency from west of Oacoma to the present location 50 miles north across the river from Crow Creek Agency. So Harry decided to file on an available piece of land adjoining the village of Gladstone, which by this time had a post office established by the name of Oacoma. Harry gave up his government job and set up a blacksmith shop of his own in Oacoma, then a thriving little western town serving the homesteaders who had settled out west of there.
    They moved into a large abandoned Indian log cabin which was on their land and tried to make a home of it. To make the sordid log cabin livable Lizzie bought a bolt of unbleached muslin at 2 yards for 5 cents at the general store at Oacoma and they tacked it to the log rafters making a white ceiling. She sewed dozens of balls of carpet rags on the treadle sewing machine and had the carpet weaver in Chamberlain weave them into strips of rag carpet. These strips Lizzie sewed together with a darning needle and heavy thread. After spreading a thick layer of hay over the wood floor, they stretched the carpet making a soft but lumpy floor covering (so we had wall-to-wall carpeting in those days). With the white ceiling and white washed log walls and gay rag carpet they were as cozy and comfortable as were any homesteaders of that time.
   The horizontal heating stove filled with cotton-wood logs, poured out heat in the winter and kerosene lamps were a cheery glow around the combination living room and bedroom. Rain and snow would trickle down through the dirt roof staining the sheeting, so every spring, it had to be untacked, taken down, washed, ironed with the heavy sold irons and retacked. The next job of house cleaning was taking up the rag carpet, dragging it out to the clothes line and beating it with a broom to remove the dust. The hay padding which would be pulverized to a fine dust was swept up and new hay put down. Those house cleaning days were back breaking jobs for the parents, but a delightful time for the children.
    One of the little boys had a bladder weakness so he had to sleep alone in a little trundle bed pushed beneath the parents bed during the day. His bed tick had to be filled with hay and because of his affliction had to be changed real often.
   Lizzie baked all of the bread, filling a washoiler with 7 big loaves twice a week. The children's day and night clothes as well as shirts for the boys and dresses for the girls had to be made at home. Lizzie would devote one day a week after the children had taken their dinners to school to cutting out garments and rolling each one separately then when she sat down to sew she could finish several garments in a day.
    Few magazines came to that prairie home. One was the Delineator, a fashion magazine, later merged with McCalls and one the Household and a weekly paper called the Inter-Ocean. Lizzie read them faithfully, gleaning many good ideas for easing her house work. The laundry was at first done on a washboard, then thewhite clothes were boiled, sudsed, rinsed, and blued before hanging on the clothes line summer and winter. Later years a hand operated washing machine made the laundry work easier.
   In 1897 a third girl was born to the family whom they named, Willa, the birth taking place in the big log cabin living room where the whole family slept. Dr. Goodrich delivered the baby. The four older children were sent to the home of a kindly neighbor, Mrs. I. N. Auld, who kept them for 2 or 3 days till they could return home.
   Two years later another baby girl was born October 1, 1899. That winter whooping cough and chickenpox went the rounds of the children and the five month old baby girl became very ill with what was called lung fever, but which we know now as pneumonia. It was a hard cold winter with  heavy snow and there was no doctor in the little village. Harry drove the horse and cutter to Chamberlain to see good old Dr. Goodrich who prescribed for the baby. But weakened by the whooping cough and chicken pox she grew steadily worse. A dear old neighbor, mother of 13 children, most of whom were grown, came to the log house to help the distracted Lizzie. But
at midnight on Friday, March 2, 1900, little Eva Mildred Holmes died in the arms of the gentle old neighbor who was caring for her.
    The little body was placed out in the cold storeroom and covered with a sheet. The next morning, the oldest girl, Flossie, then 11, was sent to the general store to purchase 5t worth of salt peter, which was dissolved in water and cloth wrung from it were placed over the tiny face to retard discoloration. Pennies were tied in tiny bits of cloth and placed on the eyelids to keep them closed.
    Harry drove across the ice on the river Saturday and bought a tiny white casket for $5.00 from Lumbard's furniture store. Kind neighbors washed and dressed the little body and "laid it out" as it was called. Other friends came and sat up all night in the kitchen and kept the cloths wet on the tiny face. The funeral was held in the combination living room and bedroom and the log house was packed on Sunday afternoon for the funeral. Rev. Grinnell, Congregational Minister from Chamberlain conducted the service and four young people sang hymns to the accompaniment of the Estey organ. Then the tiny casket was carried on the laps of friends in the back seat of a spring wagon and the procession on a cold blustery day took the little coffin to a grave in the corner of the homestead.
    The oldest girl grieved a long time over the loss of her baby sister for whom her mother had let her choose the name, Eva Mildred. Children's caskets had little silver ornaments screwed to the cover and it was a common custom to have these unscrewed after the funeral to keep them. The oldest daughter coaxed her father to have them taken off. One was a little kneeling angel, which she wanted, one was a rosebud with leaf for the second sister and the center had a silver name plate with the words "Our Baby", which was to be the mother's. Many times afterward, the mother wished they had never been removed. After the funeral services the oldest girl gathered together her baby sister's bootees, bottles, bib, rattle and kept them in a shoe box with the kneeling angel. Many tears were shed over that box of treasurers.
    In September of 1899 just before the baby Eva was born an unfinished house of four rooms had been purchased from a Mr. Wellman who had built it a half mile away expecting to move his family out from Iowa but in the meantime his wife had died. Lizzie was so very eager to have the new house that she was impatient to have the winter pass so it could be moved and finished. Many times later she said she never again would wish for the passage of time as during that winter she lost her baby.
    Many evenings after the children were tucked in bed in the big log living room Lizzie would play the organ while Harry tapped time on a tiny bell. Lizzie had brought a lot of music with her from Iowa and the children loved to be played to sleep.
   For her time, Lizzie Holmes was an educated, cultured woman as few women in the little town of Oacoma had had even a high school education. After the children were out of babyhood, Lizzie was persuaded to be the organist in the little Congregational Church while Harry sang bass in the choir. Music had always been an important part of the life of that little homestead. Lizzie gave organ lessons to the girls as they grew up. One day when the two older Holmes girls were about 8 and 9 years old they were coming home from school. As they reached Main Street a drunken cowboy was riding his horse on the wooden sidewalks. He pulled out his revolver and shot at the plate glass windows of the Kenaston General Store, then yelling at the clink of falling glass, he rode on and shot out the windows of the Martin Bros. Store. The little girls, who were terribly frightened ran to the back door of a house on Main Street for refuge.
   Harry Holmes was deputy sheriff at that time, and seeing the cowboy, Olaf Nelson, breaking the law he ran and stopped his horse, and persuaded Olaf to go to the Schmitt Hotel to bed. The next day Olaf sobered up and thoroughly ashamed of his actions went around and paid the merchants for the damage he had caused. Ten years later when the gjrls, as young women, were hired at the Bank for the Dirks Trust and Title Company, Olaf Nelson was one of their bosses. He told them that he was so grateful to their father for what he did for him that day and he said, "I've never taken a drink from that day to this."
     With the opening of land to homesteaders on the  west side of the river, new people were arriving
daily to the country in covered wagons. Much horse shoeing, wagon repairing, as well as the making of branding irons kept the little blacksmith shop a busy place. Harry also did farming on the side, building up the homestead with cattle, horses, hogs and chickens. He finally bought 10 acres of land to the north on which he planted the first crop of alfalfa that was grown in Lyman County. He raised two thorough- bred colts from the heavy old mares that had taken the family to church and out riding on Sunday afternoons. But how they did enjoy the younger horses, which they named Mike  and Mack.
    One day when the girls were in their early teens  an enterprising young salesman from Mitchell came to the homestead with the proposition that  he would like to store a Cable piano for a week. Now, a piano was rare then. Feeling they had nothing to lose and much urging from the girls, the father and mother agreed to keep the piano for the week,  more to favor the salesman it seemed. A happy week it was with someone playing the new piano most of the time. In the evenings the family gathered around and sang hymns with Lizzie an accomplished musician.
    According to the scheme of the salesman, a Mr. Hofeldt, the family fell in love with the new piano as he knew they would and when the week was ended they could not bear to part with it. Two other families in Oacoma had also stored pianos.BUT THE PRICE WAS $300.00! That was a terrific sum with $1.00 per day being the going wage for a man. No one had heard of the plan of installment buying. The only way Harry could finance the deal, was to sacrifice his beloved team of matched colts of which he was so proud. They were the offspring of a sire owned by Dr. Goodrich of Chamberlain. But after much consideration, a deal was made, and the salesman allowed $25 on the Estey upright organ which he took in on the sale and accepted the spirited team of horses for $275. Those girls never knew until they  were married what a sacrifice it was for their father to make, when he let his prized driving team go and had to go back to driving the old team of work horses. But the home was happy and rang with music, day and night, and Harry knew that the purchase of that piano made a greater contribution to their lives than would the thoroughbred team.
    The children grew up, married, and went to homes of their own, and Harry and Lizzie sold the old homestead  in 1922, and moved to Chamberlain, and it is now inundated by the Ft. Randall reservoir.
     During his retirement years in Chamberlain , Harry operated a Cream Station, and also served for some years as the Justice of the Peace.
     Lizzie died in 1941 and Harry died in 1945.  


                      John Wait  Florence Wait

     John B. Wait was born in Lennox, Dakota Territory in 1880. He graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University in 1903 and went to work for the bank at Murdo, S.D. In 1907, John left the bank and went into the grocery bus-iness with his father. They established W. B. Wait & Son on the comer south of the Mussman Hotel. The grocery store was one of several businesses in a two story building. Besides the grocery store, there were a saloon, a barber-shop and a bank.
    In 1910, John married Florence Holmes, a young lady who had been a clerk at the Murdo bank at the same time he was working there. Florence and John set up house-keeping in a duplex-type house on River Street. In Feb. 1912 they had a son, Harry Walter, and in Dec.1916 a girl, Wilma Gertrude. Prior to Wilma's birth, they purch-ased a larger home on Courtland Street.
      On a freezing cold night in February 1922, the owner of the saloon next door to W. B. Wait & Son was having trouble with frozen water pipes. He took a small, single burner kerosene stove and set it up on a table to get heat near the pipes near the ceiling in the basement of his business establishment. He locked up his business and went home, and some hours later, the kerosene stove "ran up" causing a fire to start. By the time the firemen reached the fire, it was too late to save much of anything, and the grocery store, the saloon, the barbershop and the bank were all burned to the ground.
     So, W. B. Wait & Son was put out of business! The store was partially, at least, covered by insurance. The bank gave John temporary office space and he and his father borrowed money to build a new, modem, brick building on the same comer.
     The Methodist Episcopal Church was near and dear to John and Florence and their children.Florence directed the choir and John sang bass.Both John and Florence were Sunday School teachers throughout the years.  
    Florence took her turn as President of the Ladies Aid Society, the Women's Foreign Missionary Society and the WCTU. Their home was always open to visiting or new ministers and their families who were waiting to move into the parsonage. In those days, Methodist ministers were moved from church to church, every year or two.
   Florence had lots of early home musical training in her growing up years and had a year at Drake University before she and John were married. As a young married woman in Chamberlain, she was invited to sing solos in church and at social affairs.
     For many years, a sort of itinerant voice teacher, Mrs. Hattie Murray, came from Mitchell to give voice lessons in Chamberlain and Florence was one of her pupils.
    In those days before much radio entertainment,and with no television, there were many home talent pro-grams, musicals and the like. Florence was called upon very often to sing at these affairs as well as at weddings and funerals. She always said that she was going to quit singing before people wished that she would, and this she did. There came a time in her middle years when her voice developed a tremolo and she soon gave up her solo work.
    John and Florence's son, Harry Wait, after graduation from Dakota Wesleyan and a year of graduate study at Northwestern University, returned to Chamberlain about 1940 and went into the grocery business with John. So, with the third generation in the business, it became John B. Wait & Son. Harry still operates the business, and it is
now called Wait's Supermarket and will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 1977.


John B. Wait home on Courtland Street, Chamberlain, South Dakota

     John died in 1954 and had been active in the grocery business to the day of his death. Florence, continued her active interest in the church, the Traveler's Club and other social activities after John's death.
     She modestly never considered herself any kind of a writer, but in her later years she attained some recognition for the outstanding programs she "wrote" and delivered at various organizational meetings. She died in January 1972.

               WALTER B. AND JESSIE M. WAIT

Top -John and Lila Wait.
Bottom -Walter and Jessie Wait, 1908

    Walter Wait and Jessie Millie were both born in the very early 1850's. During their early married life, they came from near Kenyon, Minnesota to settle in Lennox, Dakota Territory, where Walter operated a successful feed and grain business.
    The Waits had four children, three girls and one boy. During a Scarlet Fever epidemic in the middle 1880's, they lost two of their little girls, only a few weeks apart.
    In about 1901, a disastrous fire totally destroyed the feed and grain business and left Mr. Wait with no way to support his family. He owned some land in Lyman County, and so they moved to the Chamberlain area in about 1902, and he purchased a river freight boat named “The Rosebud”.
    In those days, the river was an important trans-portation artery as there were no freight trucks, as we know them today, and there were no highways and not too many roads. So, supplies, lumber, coal, cattle, hogs, etc. were transported up and down the river on boats. Supplies were hauled to Chamberlain by railroad and then transported by boat to Lower Brule and Crow Creek Indian Agencies and down river to Oacoma and beyond.
     Likewise, cattle, hogs, grain, etc. were hauled to  Chamberlain by boat to be shipped out on the railroad.
     Mr. Wait was a big man and a very strong man and he did most of the loading and unloading of the boat himself. He soon acquired the name of Captain Wait, a name which he was known by all the rest of his life.
    Both Mr. and Mrs. Wait were staunch supporters and great workers in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Every summer, Captain Wait would take a group of the Methodists on an all day Sunday School picnic and outing, taking them on the boat to some point up or down the river where they could spend the day swim-ming and have their picnic. But, the picnic had to be planned for a week day, as the Waits were firm believers in the 4th Commandment, "Remember the Sabboth Day to keep it Holy. Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabboth of the Lord God. "
    Captain Wait acquired another boat called the Douglas. It was in use on the Mississippi River at the time of the purchase and had to be taken down stream to the mouth of the Missouri River and then upstream to Chamberlain.
     In 1907, Captain Wait traded his Lyman County land for the Coffin & Eastman grocery store in Cham-berlain, located on the corner across from the Mussman Hotel.
     He and his son, John B. Wait, operated this grocery business by the name of W. B. Wait & Son. Captain Wait's grandson, Harry Wait, still operates a grocery business in the same location. (1977)
    In 1918, Captain Wait sold the boat and retired. He had long dreamed of seeing California, which he called "Californee". So, soon after his retirement, he and Mrs. Wait, both now in their late sixties, set out in their little Model T sedan over mountains and across deserts on dirt roads with their tent and camping equipment. 
     It was a great adventure for the two old people and they made it home alright, but not without having an accident and tipping over in their Model T.

     Captain Wait died in 1924 and Mrs. Wait died

right after the Typhoid epidemic in 1933.


The "Rosebud" -Walter Wait in overalls beside wheelhouse on top.




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