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Margaret Garland family / Cap Garland

A stock company has been organized for the purpose of building a hotel. The Garland property will be purchased and the building used for a wing to the hotel. – The De Smet Leader, May 7, 1887

Walter Bell Garland was born in Ireland in 1832. Margaret Petit was born October 1837 in Randolph County, Illinois. The two were married in 1854 in Iowa County, Wisconsin. They had five children born in Wisconsin: Walter (1855), Lovenia (1856), Josephine (1859), Florence (1862) and Oscar (1864). Walter and Josephine died young.

Walter Garland died in 1874 in Avoca, Wisconsin. His brother, John Garland, convinced Margaret and other Pettit relatives to try homesteading in Dakota Territory. John Garland settled in Brown County and became the first mayor of Aberdeen. In June 1879, Margaret Garland filed on a homestead in Kingsbury County. The quarter section is now part of the town of Lake Preston and a portion of the former claim has been taken over by the lake itself. Mrs. Garland later filed on a preemption claim in Clark County; she purchased another quarter section near Spirit Lake and several properties in De Smet.

Mrs. Garland worked as a seamstress in De Smet until bachelor pioneers unhappy with the food provided by the hotel in town persuaded her to open a boarding house. Her property was located directly behind Charles Ingalls’ building in town. To read more about the Syndicate Hotel that was built on the Garland property (and see a photo of the Garland house), click HERE.

After selling her boarding house, Mrs. Garland moved into a house on Second Street in De Smet. In later years, she lived with daughter Florence. She was afflicted with rheumatism and was unable to walk the last year of her life. She died in 1913 in De Smet. Although Mrs. Garland lived in De Smet for many years, it was her desire to be buried next to her son Cap, so she was buried in Willow Lake Cemetery in Clark County.

Cap Garland.
Baseball notes. Cap Garland holds left field and is the best fielder De Smet every had. The De Smet ball tossers expect to have a strong team this season. – Kingsbury County News, May 18, 1888

Oscar Edmund Garland (called “Cap” or “Ed”) was born December 27, 1864 in Avoca, Wisconsin, the youngest child of Margaret and Walter Garland. At age nine, his father died, and shortly afterwards, his mother decided to try homesteading in Dakota Territory. Cap and his sisters remained in Avoca until 1879, when Mrs. Garland filed on her homestead adjoining the townsite of Lake Preston. In 1880, they relocated to the new town of De Smet. Cap was fifteen.

Laura Ingalls Wilder introduced Cap’s character in The Long Winter (see Chapter 9, “Cap Garland”) as one of the bigger boys in school. His sister Florence was the teacher. Cap had blue eyes and hair bleached blond by the sun. In later years, Wilder admitted to having once had feelings for Cap, but the two were never a couple. In spite of the almost eight-year difference in their ages, Cap was great friends with Almanzo Wilder. After leaving school, Cap worked as a drayman. For a while, he owned part interest in a De Smet livery stable with On the Way Home character Frank Cooley. He also lived in Pierre for a while, running a draying company there.

On November 3, 1891, Cap was working as engineer with a threshing crew in Badger Township when the boiler exploded, throwing Cap over the separator and into a nearby field. He lived for only several hours. Cap Garland was buried in Willow Lake Cemetery in Clark County.

Florence Garland.
She was a smiling young lady, with curled bangs. The bodice of her black dress was buttoned down the front with twinkling jet buttons. – The Long Winter, Chapter 9, “Cap Garland”

Florence Adelia Garland was born May 14, 1862 in Avoca, Wisconsin, the fourth child of Walter and Margaret Garland. After her father’s death, she moved with her mother, sister Lovenia and brother Cap to Kingsbury County. Mrs. Garland ran a boarding house and Lovenia worked as a milliner. Florence was one of the first three teachers to be certified by Superintendent Amos Whiting in October 1880. She was awarded a First Grade certificate and hired to teach the De Smet school; classes began in November, shortly before the Ingallses moved into town from their homestead. Following this term, Florence taught school in Clark County, where she also homesteaded.

In December 1887, Florence married Charles Lansing Dawley, son of Richard and Mary Dawley. Charles Dawley was born in 1856 in Plymouth, Wisconsin, and was raised in St. Charles. In 1879, he moved to Dakota Territory; the next year he settled in De Smet, where he worked as a lumber dealer for six years. For many years, Dawley served as Clerk of Courts in Kingsbury County. He worked in real estate and sold insurance.

Charles and Florence had two children: Lansing Edmund (born March 1893; he died at age 18) and Walter Averill (born 1900).

Charles Dawley died in 1933. Florence Dawley died in 1935. Both are buried in the De Smet cemetery.


Garland family
     Margaret (LTP 17-18; PG)
     Florence (TLW 9, 14; LTP 17-18; PG)
     Oscar Edmund “Cap” / “Cappie” (TLW 9, 11, 14, 20, 26-29, 31; LTP 8, 16-17, 19-21, 23-24; THGY 8, 11, 13, 16-17, 19-21, 24; PG)
     Garland’s house / boarding house (TLW 1, 27; PG) – see also Syndicate Hotel
     Lovenia / Vena (PG)
     Cap Garland would “fight his weight in wildcats” (TLW 27) – Suggesting that Cap was fearless when the need arose
     Cap and Almanzo fetch wheat for the people of De Smet (TLW 26-29; PG)