The 50,000 Acre Land Deal!
More stories from the big house on the prairie.
Back in April I mentioned telling the story about Sam Edgar's oldest daughter and her husband's 50,000 acre South Dakota land deal. Well, here it is exactly as I came across it. Little did I know at the time that I would eventually meet the source of this story.
Margaret and her sister Marianna were each given large homes on Wayne Ave hill by their father, Samuel D. Edgar as wedding presents. When Margaret married Ezra the marriage was called by some people the Union of North and South. The Herrman family lived in North Dayton and the Edgar family in South Dayton. After the Civil War and some investments by Ezra that were unprofitable, he decided to take advantage of an offer to purchase a ranch of 50,000 acres in South Dakota.
To get to the area they had wagons of possessions loaded on railroad flat cars and at the end of the rail line, which I suspect might have been Sioux City, Iowa, the wagons were pulled by horses, mules or oxen. Mrs. Herrman brought the four children, many of her prized possessions i.e. Persian rugs, baby Grand piano, silverware, etc. To her dismay her new home turned out to be a sod hut.
When the rains came in the fall, she took the two younger children and what possessions she could back to Dayton.
Since discussing this story with the source, a descendent of Margaret and Ezra Herrman, it has been concluded that the families' tale of 50,000 acres (almost 10 square miles) is exaggerated and more likely to have been 5000 acres instead. This venture took place in 1881 or thereabouts. The two oldest sons remained in South Dakota trying to make the ranch work but abandoned the whole idea in 1884. This was fortunate because the winter of 1886 would have wiped out almost all their cattle. Ezra Herrman was described as a speculator and the "worst kind of gambler" by his descendent. The city directories list him as living in a hotel after his return from the west while his family lived in the house built for his wife, Margaret by her father. In 1892 Margaret divorced him. Most likely because her father's estate was scheduled to be settled up in 1895 according to the will he left and she couldn't afford to have her husband lose the last of her inheritance.
If anyone is reading this that lives in South Dakota and can locate were the ranch was then I know someone who would be thrilled to get the information. Knowing Ezra's luck they probably discovered uranium on the property in the 1950s and there were no provisions for his heirs to claim any mineral rights!
Someday I will cover Samuel Edgar's purchase of 8 acres of property for the sole purpose of donating it to the State of Ohio so that they could build the Southern Ohio Lunatic Asylum near his farm.....