Lyman County, South Dakota  Genealogy

From Pennsylvania to Lyman and Brule County, Dakota

By Lola M. Weber
October, 2003

    As our story begins, all that is known to date of John RUTAN, the father of John, Charlena and Peter Rutan is that he was probably born in Pennsylvania. Attempts to locate possible Civil War records for him have not been successful. The last child was born in 1863 in Iowa City, Iowa and by 1865, Sarah Rutan was married to George W. ARNEL and by 1870, the combined family was living in Victor, Poweshiek County, Iowa.

   Our limited knowledge of Sarah is via her daughter, Minnie Arnel’s, death certificate in which it is indicated that her name was Swengan (this writer is pursuing the possibility of Swearingen for a surname). Little is known of Sarah except for a one line item in the Chamberlain Register newspaper, Vol. X No. XXI, Chamberlain, SD Nov 6,1890 which states, "Mrs. George Arnell, after a long illness, died yesterday." However, pictures have been located. 

   George W. Arnel ( you may also see it written as Arnold ) was born in Louisville, KY and much of his information is from the Bureau of Pensions. His tombstone at Riverside Cemetery, Chamberlain, gave me the information of his Civil War service in Company D, 44th Missouri Regimental Infantry. He enrolled the 9th of Aug 1864 and was mustered out 15th Aug 1865. A charge of desertion was given, he was arrested and tried and later found not guilty. Probably about 1877, the family went to Niobrara, Nebraska across the Missouri river from Dakota. They were there in 1880 and by 1882 were in Dakota Territory (in the Brule County vicinity). There is a very good lithograph in the SD State Archives at Pierre that depicts 1882 SD Cities – “Birds Eye View of Chamberlain, Dakota”. The 1890 Dakota special veteran’s census lists George W. Arnel of Chamberlain, Brule County and by newspaper accounts, he attended GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) meetings. 

    The three children born to George W. Arnel and Sarah (Swengan/Rutan) were: Minnie L. Arnel who married John A. “Jack” Jones and moved to Kadoka, Jackson County, SD; James Arnel who married Sadie C. Lorenz and is buried at Kadoka; and Orie Arnel who never married and died at Westover, Lyman County, SD. 

“A Cemetery Happening –
or what you might run into in a cemetery”

By Lola M. Weber 

    It was a clear, sunny and windy South Dakota summer morning and we were heading west on the interstate when we turned in at the little town of Kadoka….and I spotted the cemetery where I KNEW one of my ancestor’s sisters was buried.  It was one of those family lines that I hadn’t really “dug into”.  Although it was a small cemetery, I hurriedly walked up and down the rows hoping to spot her grave marker.
   Across the road from the gate from where we had entered was a farm.  I was intent on reading the gravestones when I looked up to see a pretty black calf about 3-4 months old galloping toward me.  In an instant of panic I wondered if I should try to run toward the car or stand my ground and get trampled – or maybe I could dodge him.  He came through the gate and disrespectfully stepped on grave sites and dodged the headstones as he continued toward me.  I looked toward the car where I saw my husband waving and laughing as he yelled, “he’s coming to get you”!  (a lot of help he was in my moment of need) 
   As the calf continued to run straight toward me, I thought, “Well, this is it.  My obituary will read – dedicated family researcher trampled to death in cemetery by calf”. My advantage was that he didn’t have horns – and I was TALLER than he was.  I reached my hands out in front of me to brace myself as the calf came to an abrupt halt with his head in my hands.  I quickly regained my composure and talked soothingly to him as I scratched behind his ears and rubbed his forehead. 
    I could hear my  husband laughing loudly as I determined to take side steps in the direction of the car with the calf following.  My new hairy friend had been someone’s pet and just came over to say hello and receive a good scratch.   Before we did any damage to the cemetery I got in the car and we headed toward the gate – the calf trailing along behind.  As we headed into town, the calf meandered back across the road to the farm.
    I hadn’t found the grave but I was going into town to the courthouse in search of information.  I couldn’t help but chuckle as I wondered what kind of critters I might run into there.

Other Rutan family members in the Lyman/Brule County SD area related to this line were the children of John Thomas Rutan and Lena Caroline Olson: Carl married Frances Zacek, Emil, Amos married Anna Geditz, Pearl married Lewis S Nordby. Also, the children of Peter Rutan and Lena C. Peterson: Jessie married Ernest Becker, William married Helen Gangard, and Eva Rose married Morris Eatherton. 

I think she should have allowed the calf to direct her to the marker she was looking for!   barbara

Anyone having information on this family is asked to contact:
Lola M. Weber, 106 Victoria St., Longview, WA 98632, phone 360-423-8359, email:     




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