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Charles Lamson

Cousin of Almanzo Wilder, who homesteaded in Kingsbury County. — Webster, 1882

Chas. Lampson, one of our young capitalists, has purchased the city grist mill and will go into the flour business quite extensively. Success. – Kingsbury County News, February 24, 1880

On the 1880 census, the person listed immediately after Almanzo Wilder was Charles T. Lamson, age 21, a farmer born in New York. Not a character in the Little House books, Charles was Almanzo, Royal, and Eliza Jane Wilder’s first cousin, the son of their father’s sister Phebe and her husband, Joseph Lamson. Charles Lamson was in De Smet during the Hard Winter of 1880-1881, and he had an interesting part in the survival of the town after the trains stopped running.

According to the Kingsbury County News, Daniel Loftus made his first grinding of wheat (where the wheat came from is not specified) in town on February 5, 1881. Was this part of the wheat supposedly brought to town by Almanzo Wilder and Cap Garland, and paid for by Mr. Loftus? Who knows! Newspaper stories about the Hard Winter published before The Long Winter was written tell the story that Charley Lamson negotiated with Mr. Loftus for a commercial coffee grinder, which he fastened to a dry-goods box in the store. He ground wheat into flour, winnowing the grain in the open air, grinding about a bushel per day. He soon moved his grinder to the parlor of the hotel, attaching it to a carpenter’s bench, and later moved to Fuller’s Hardware and continued in business “until the blockade was raised.” According to Charley Lamson, he estimated that he ground about fifty bushels of wheat that winter.

Charles Thomas Lamson came to De Smet in 1880 and filed on a tree claim and homestead in Mathews Township. He married Cecelia Smith and they had two daughters: Phoebe (born 1888) and Fern (born 1893). Cecelia Lamson died in 1900 and Charles and his daughters moved to Sparta, Wisconsin, where he ran a grocery store. Charles died in Sparta in 1926.

It has been suggested in the past that the cousin of Almanzo’s who lived in De Smet was named Chet Lamson. Chester “Chet” Lamson was Charles’ older brother, but Chet never lived in Dakota Territory. He did, however, live with the James Wilder family for a time in Spring Valley, where he later served sixteen years as chief of police. Chet Lamson died in Spring Valley in 1934.


Charles Lamson