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Charleton Fuller / Gerald Fuller

Early De Smet hardware and farm emplements merchant, at times in partnership with his younger brother, Gerald.

Alphabetical C.S.G. Fuller, our enterprising hardware man, came up from Bookings Tuesday on horseback. He declares that there is a “bloody nail in that saddle.” / G.C.R. Fuller, brother of the other fuller, arrived from Chicago by late train Tuesday night. He will become a resident of our town. – Kingsbury County News, April 5, 1880

     
O
f the two Fuller brothers, Laura Ingalls Wilder mentions Charleton (often misspelled as Charlton) Fuller by name in Pioneer Girl, and she only mentions Gerald Fuller by name in the De Smet Little House books; usually she writes about Mr. Fuller, as if there was only one man by that name in town.

Coming west from Chicago in 1879, Charleton Fuller had been in the hardware business with Andrew J. Dox in Brookings for several months before a trip west in March 1880 convinced him that prospects were excellent in De Smet, and he began construction of a store there. He dissolved his partnership with Mr. Dox in January 1881, Fuller keeping the De Smet store and Dox the one in Brookings. Charleton took his younger brother (they were not twins, as Wilder remembered), Gerald, as partner in 1882, although it seems that Gerald Fuller was selling large farming implements in De Smet as early as 1880.

     


     

From the De Smet Leader, March 19, 1887:

HARDWARE, STOVES AND FARM MACHINERY. This branch of trade is unusually well represented in De Smet, by large stocks, and firms of unquestioned reliability, and as one that occupies a foremost place in business matters we are pleased to refer to the well known, pioneer establishment of C.S.G. Fuller & Bro. Inaugurated in March, 1880—seven years ago—this house is not only the oldest in the county, but the business transactions have been of such a character and extent as to entitle it to a foremost place in this review. The above firm came to Dakota from Chicago, Mr. C.S.G. Fuller locating first in Brookings in 1879, before De Smet was located, and since the origin of the business here, they have always been prominently identified with every movement that tended in the direction of improvement. They are the occupants of a store, the entire length of which is 164 feet by 22 in width, which is filled to its utmost capacity with goods, comprising shelf and heavy hardware of every description, cook and heating stoves, tools, cutlery, sheet-iron, copperware, etc., making one of the very largest as well as one of the most complete hardware stocks in eastern Dakota. They are also extensive dealers in farm machinery, and in this department not only a very large stock is carried, but comprise the best and most popular goods made. Some of the leading articles in this department, Walter A. Wood Binders, Jackson wagons, Empire grain drills, Richmond Champion seeders, J.I. Case thrashers, etc. Messrs. Fuller & Bro. are beginning to stock up for the season’s business, and their facilities this spring are better than ever before. This is one of the solid and substantial houses of Kingsbury county.

In the summer of 1902, Fuller’s store was moved across Calumet to Block 4 and he built a modern brick building that filled the entire 165-foot by 25-foot lot, with a 30-foot basement below and a 25-by-70 foot second story above; he installed a 4,000-pound safe in the office. A full-fledged department store, Fuller changed the name to De Smet Mercantile Company. It was nicknamed “The Corner Store” due to its unique front door placement.

Chloe Fuller ran the business for a while following her husband’s death in 1905, soon selling to J.E. Mallery, whose brother George ran the former Bradley Drug Store next door. The business became the Mallery Mercantile Company. After J.E. Mallery was elected mayor of Pierre; he sold to Burkart Brothers from Illinois in 1909. Burkart kept the store only about a year, and in July 1910, it became The Golden Rule (the huge safe went to The Farmers and Merchants Bank in De Smet at that time). For several years, the Harthorn Company (Bert Harthorn and son Frank) occupied the building, known at that time as The Big Store, comparing it to their former building up the street. They rented the building from Burkart, who still owned it.

In February 1914, Burkart sold to J.A. Tennies, and the Harthorns moved out. Tennies opened a department store. He put in “a complete stock of men’s clothing, and furnishings, women’s coats and suits, dress goods, underwear, and all other lines that go to make up a clothing and dry goods store.” This didn’t last long, Tennies’ store becoming Cohen’s General Store in 1917. In 1921, Sam Cohen sold to E.J. Bouchard of Sioux City, Iowa, who opened “a big downtown department store” there with his son Edgar, calling it Bouchard Department Store. The second floor was expanded to the full lot size, and contained women’s ready-to-wear clothing and a women’s rest room. Bouchard installed large plate-glass windows on the storefront, with prism windows above. The store was called E.J. Bouchard & Son, and occupied the building until it burned down in December 1925. Bouchard then split his grocery and drygoods store into two locations, one of them being in the former Couse building.

Mallery Drug Store took over the corner lot, their new Mallery Drug Store building finished in June 1926. Mallery occupied the building until January 1945, when it was taken over by Charles G. Buchele, and the business became Buchele Drug Store. Closed after almost sixty years of operation, the third building on the site was purchased in 2015 by Tim Sullivan, owner of Ingalls Homestead, and became Wilder Welcome Center.

     


     

Charleton Sumner George Fuller – or C.S.G. “Alphabetical” Fuller – was born in Bath, England, on June 20, 1847, to Samuel Fuller (1818-1882) and Elizabeth (George) Fuller (1822-1906). As a young child, he came to New York with his parents, was educated in Syracuse, New York, and at McGill College in Montreal, Canada.

Charleton moved to Chicago, where he married Minerva Beers in 1868; she died nine years later. The couple had no children.

In 1879, Charleton Fuller and Andrew Dow followed the railroad west and opened a hardware store on the west side of Main Street in Brookings, Dakota Territory. It was called Fuller & Dox.

In March 1880, Charleton traveled to the De Smet townsite and decided to put in a store there. He built on a corner lot directly across from the Ingallses. For a while, Dox mainly ran the Brookings store and Charleton the De Smet one. They advertised: “Cooking stoves, a good one with 40 pieces of furniture, $22.50.”

Gerald Fuller soon joined his brother in De Smet, running the store when Charleton had to be in Brookings or on buying trips to Chicago. During the Hard Winter, Jake Hopp’s printing press occupied a back corner of the hardware store and he slept on boards across rafters overhead. Almanzo Wilder’s cousin, Charles Lamson, set up a commercial coffee grinder in Fuller’s store and he and Gerald ground wheat into flour on demand. That spring, Gerald was said to rush out into the middle of Calumet to shoot at flocks of geese flying overhead.

During the Hard Winter, Andrew Dox and Charleton Fuller dissolved their partnership and, in 1882, Charleton took his brother as partner. The store then became known as “C.S.G. Fuller & Brother.”

Charleton married Chloe Dow on February 26, 1883; she was the sister of Nathan Dow, and they were married by Little House character, Reverend Horace Woodworth. The Dows lived on Second Street, and they had four children: Robert Cannings Fuller (1884-1961), Claude Eugene Fuller (1886-1949), Charleton Edwin Fuller (1892-1895), and Jack Glendon Fuller (1895-2001).

Charleton Fuller ran the new store for only a few short years. In March 1905, he was suddenly taken ill with pleurisy, and died on March 22 after an illness of ten days. His funeral was conducted from Couse Hall, and he was buried in the De Smet Cemetery.

     


     

Chloe Thomasa (Dow) Fuller was born February 24, 1865, in Columbia County, Wisconsin, the youngest child of Thomas Wellington Dow and Caroline (Fish) Dow. In 1882, the Dows came to Kingsbury County, Thomas having filed a homestead claim in October, 1881, the W-SE 8 and the SE-SE 8 and the SW-SW 9 of Township 110, Range 57. February 28, 1883, Chloe married C.S.G. Fuller of De Smet.

March 9, 1883. Iroquois Herald: Married at the residence of the bride’s father one and one half miles of this place, Mr. C.S.G. Fuller of De Smet to Miss Chloe Dow, by Rev. H. G. Woodworth. May their journey through life be a pleasant one, is the wish of their many friends.

The Fullers had four sons: Robert, Claude, Edwin (he died young), and Jack. Chloe was very active in the Women’s Relief Corp in De Smet (the ladies being spouses or mothers of men belonging to Harvey Post, G.A.R.). She was also a member and officer of Eastern Star, and she and her husband were part of a social group that entertained together frequently and involved a number of names Little House fans will recognize, including Mary and E.P. Sanford, Elizabeth and Lewis Sasse, Susie and Jake Hopp, Elgetha and Carter Sherwood, Adeline and Charles Tinkham, Florence and Charles Dawley, and Nora and Delbert Wilmarth.

Following the death of her husband in 1905, Chloe Fuller ran the store for a while before selling it. In October 1907, she and Carrie Ingalls took a trip west to look over the country with the idea of filing claims. Chloe decided not to file at that time, but Carrie later filed on a claim in Haakon County. Chloe and son Jack left De Smet to spend several months in Oregon in the spring of the following year, accompanied by her brother, Nathan Dow, and his wife, Grace (Ingalls) Dow, Chloe’s sister-in-law. They returned to De Smet in August.

In July 1911, Chloe Fuller and her son Claude (who was a veterinarian practicing in Iowa at the time) filed on homestead claims in Ziebach County, South Dakota (northwest of Pierre), hers the NE 25 and his the SE 25-17N-18E. The land was part of the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation opened up to non-Native settlement by the Land Acts of 1909 and 1910. Jack Fuller lived with his mother and brother on their claims until starting Redfield College in the fall.

After proving up on her claim, Chloe Fuller moved to Minneapolis. She died there on September 9, 1916, and was buried in the De Smet Cemetery.

     


     

Gerald Cannings Reginald Fuller was born October 7, 1848 in Somerset, England, to Samuel Fuller (1818-1882) and Elizabeth (George) Fuller (1822-1906). The next year, he came to New York with his parents, arriving in October. He was educated in Syracuse, New York.

Gerald seems to have accompanied his older brother Charleton to Chicago, and followed him to Dakota Territory; the first issue of the Kingsbury County News on April 5, 1880, records that “G.C.R. Fuller, brother of the other Fuller, arrived from Chicago by late train Tuesday night. He will become a resident of our town.” An 1880 printed calendar advertised Gerald Fuller as dealer in heavy farm equipment in De Smet. In business with his brother, Gerald was made a partner in 1882, the firm called “Fuller & Bro.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote that Gerald Fuller “danced a clog dance on his sidewalk” and was one of the men who performed in the “Mulligan Guard” skit in De Smet. Gerald was also a member of the De Smet Cornet Band, playing 1st alto. Other members included Carter Sherwood, John Carroll, Delbert Wilmarth, Henry Hinz, and Kirk Ely.

On November 29, 1883, Gerald married Luella Mary Burns in Huron; they had five children: twins Samuel (1884-1909) and Elizabeth (1884-1898), Geraldine (1889-1952), Eva Fern (1893-1894), and Neva Dorothy (1896-1991).

In 1895, the Fullers moved to California. Daughter Elizabeth (nicknamed “Elba”) had typhoid fever shortly before the trip; George Bradley’s daughter died of typhoid fever the same week. When the Fullers moved away, Gerald sold his homestead for $1000 to be used as the County Poor Farm; his land remained the Poor Farm until the 1960s. When his brother left De Smet, Charleton Fuller changed the same of the hardware store to, simply, “C.S.G. Fuller.”

Luella (Burns) Fuller died in 1915. Gerald Fuller died June 7, 1930 in Redondo Beach, California. No mention of his death was found in the De Smet News. Gerald and Luella are buried in Pacific Crest Cemetery, Redondo Beach (Los Angeles County) California.

     

Charleton S. G. Fuller
     Mr. Fuller (TLW 2, 9, 11, 20, 23, 29; LTP 18-19, 21; THGY 4)
     Carleton Fuller [sic] (PG)
     Gerald Fuller (TLW 20, 29; LTP 18-19; PG) – born 7 October 1848
     Fuller’s Hardware / Fuller Bros. Hardware (TLW 2, 8-11, 13, 15-16, 28-29; LTP 18-19, 23, 25; THGY 4, 8, 28; PG) –
     Gerald Fuller clog dances in minstrel show (LTP 21)
     Gerald Fuller plays the accordion (LTP 19)
     Gerald Fuller portrays Mrs. Jarley at waxworks performance (LTP 19)
     twin brothers (PG)