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Ernest & Minnie Green

Attorney and his wife who boarded with Caroline Ingalls after their marriage. A photo of the Greens is repeatedly misidentified as being that of Mary and Edwin Sanford.

E.F. Green, an attorney from Ocheyedan, Iowa, is expected to locate here in the course of a few weeks. At first he will office with Attorney E.S. Johnson. – May 2, 1902, Kingsbury County Independent.

Listen up, people. No matter how many times you see the photo shown here identified as Mary Power Sanford & Edwin Sanford, it’s not they. Yes, I know the photo was published by the LIW Memorial Society in The Ingalls Family of De Smet (2001),it’s in the first printing of annotated Pioneer Girl (2014), and you see it all over the internet identified as the Sanfords, but it’s still not the Sanfords.

Ladies and gentlemen: meet Minnie Reynolds Green and Ernest F. Green.

Ernest and Minnie Green are mentioned in “the Road Back” diary (published in A Little House Traveler, 2011). Laura and Grace go to Mr. Green’s law office to hear about Ma’s estate. They also meet Mrs. Green, who tells them that Ma was a mother to her when she moved to De Smet and the Greens boarded with her shortly after Charles Ingalls’ death. Caroline Ingalls and Mary Ingalls were laid out on the Greens’ glassed-in porch in De Smet before their funerals; the house on East Second Street is still standing, having been built in the spring of 1923 on lots previously owned by C.S.G. Fuller.

Ernest F. Green was born in 1869 in Clarence, Iowa, the son of Mr. and Mrs. William Green. Ernest attended school in LeMars, Iowa, and was graduated from Iowa State College in 1893. After teaching school, he enrolled in Drake University, graduating in 1899. He was admitted to the Iowa Bar that same year.

November 30, 1899, Ernest married Minnie Belle Reynolds, daughter of Nancy Jane and Carlos Reynolds of Sibley, Iowa. Minnie was born in 1872, and after finishing school at age sixteen, she taught for over two years before attending Western Union College, graduating from the four-year course in 1892. She returned to teaching and taught eighth grade and high school in Iowa before her marriage.

The Greens lived in Rock Valley, Iowa, until coming to De Smet in 1902, with Mr. Green joining the office of attorney E.S. Johnson. Ernest and Minnie had four children: a son who was born in Iowa in 1906 and died four months later of heart trouble; Blanche (born 1907)- she married Orville Apland and wrote a history of De Smet published in 1925); Paul (born 1911)- he joined his father in the firm of Green & Green in De Smet and was also States Attorney for Kingsbury County; and Ralph (born 1916)- he moved to Sioux Falls.

Ernest Green was sworn in as County Judge in January 1906. He was one of the first men in De Smet go get an automobile (a Holsman high-wheeler in 1908). In 1911, he moved his offices to the Bank of De Smet (John Carroll building), in the front rooms on the second floor. He was elected Mayor of De Smet in 1912. In 1916, he purchased the Congregational parsonage of the Lake Henry church and had it moved to his farm three miles east of De Smet. He was a member of the exemption board during World War I, along with Florence Garland’s husband, Charles Dawley; names were drawn for the draft in Washington, D.C., but exemptions were granted at the county level.

Ernest Green died in April 1949; Minnie Green died in May 1960. Both are buried in the De Smet cemetery.


Ernest and Minnie Green