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Delos Perry family

One of the earliest settlers in Kingsbury County, preempting land on the west side of Lake Henry. The Perry School was on Delos Perry’s later homestead south of the Ingallses.

Look Here! My wife has left for the west. My home residence north of the track is for sale cheap also horses, hay, corn oats and forty cows, some fresh, others to be fresh soon. D. Perry. – April 29, 1904, De Smet News

Laura Ingalls taught her second school term in a schoolhouse only a short distance from the Ingalls family homestead. The school district northwest of Lake Henry was organized in 1882, with its first term taught in the summer of 1883. The schoolhouse was about a mile south of the Ingallses’ on the northeast corner of Delos Perry’s homestead, the NE 10-110-56, and Delos’s father, Oliver Perry, was the school treasurer. When Laura taught there the following year, restructuring to the township system meant that it was under the jurisdiction of the De Smet Township school board. Clyde Perry, Delos’s son and Oliver’s grandson, was one of her students.

Delos Perry was born in Cayuga County, Pennsylvania, July 1847, the son of Martha and Oliver D. Perry; his name is spelled DeLoss on many official records. Two of Delos’s siblings had Little House connections; his sister Fannie (1849-1930) married David Ross and they homesteaded near the Ingallses, and his brother Ernest (1864-1946) worked for Charles Ingalls and showed romantic interest in Laura, according to Wilder’s Pioneer Girl manuscript.

New Year’s Day 1872, Delos married Melvina Bennett from Canton, Pennsylvania. Their son Clyde was born in Snedekerville, Pennsylvania, on June 13, 1877 (many sites list 1878 as his birth year, but this is incorrect). Soon after Clyde’s birth, the Perrys traveled by train to Des Moines, Iowa, where they bought a team of horses and wagon and drove to Dell Rapids (Minnehaha County) Dakota Territory, where they farmed for two years.

In June 1879, Delos and eight men – including Russel, David, and Harrison Ross – left Dell Rapids to seek land along the new railroad to be built through Kingsbury County. One of the members of their party had been with the railroad surveying party and was able to read the stakes. They came to Kingsbury County from the Jim River near the Huron townsite, following the township line to where De Smet was to be located. Here, they were in sight of the Twin Lakes and Silver Lake, and they turned southeast to the Lone Cottonwood, camping near Lake Henry while exploring the area. The men picked out about a dozen quarter sections between them, filing on them at the Lake Herman land office on June 12. At that time, the land office was in Herman Luce’s cabin on the east side of the lake. This cabin still stands and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Check it out next time you visit Lake Herman State Park near Madison, South Dakota!

Delos Perry returned to plant potatoes and build on his preemption claim on the west side of Lake Henry in May 1880. He started back to Dell Rapids in October but was caught by the October blizzard and had to wait it out near Oldham. In December, Delos brought his wife and young son Clyde to the preemption claim, where they lived during the Hard Winter. The family had shipped provisions to De Smet and were much better off than many in town, often hauling supplies by sled and snowshoes to Charles Mead at the hotel.

The Perrys had four children born in Kingsbury County: Fay (1882), Raymond (1885), Pearl (1887), and Viva (1893). In April 1882, Delos filed on a homestead on the NE 10-110-56. To the north was William Reifkogel’s homestead, then Charles Ingalls’ homestead. The Perry children attended school in the schoolhouse on their father’s land when young, but in 1896, Delos bought a parcel north of the railroad tracks in De Smet and the family moved to town so they could attend the De Smet school. Delos raised cattle on his farm and brought milk to the creamery in town.

In 1903, Mrs. Perry and most of the family moved to a fruit farm in Clarkston, Washington, but Mr. Perry stayed in De Smet so that Raymond could graduate with the class of 1904. Other graduates included Laura Bouchie (daughter of Joseph Bouchie), Madge Cornwell (Cap Garland’s niece), and Maude Loftus (daughter of Dan Loftus). Mr. Perry kept his land in Kingsbury County for many years, but moved west hoped that a milder climate would be beneficial to his health, as he suffered from rheumatism. The following profile was published in 1904:

DeLoss Perry, farmer, stock raiser and representative citizen, is a native of Bradford county, Pennsylvania. He spent his youth and early manhood in his native state, attending the public schools of Bradford county. He remained on the home farm and assisted to cultivate the same until his twenty-fourth year, and was united in marriage with Miss Melvina Bennett, of Tioga, Pennsylvania, after which he purchased a small farm and engaged in the pursuit of agriculture himself. Four years later he came to Minnehaha county, South Dakota, and entering a quarter section of land, lived on the same until he removed to a claim in the county of Kingsbury. Mr. Perry brought with him a good team of horses, a number of cattle and after building a small board house was better fixed for farming than the majority of his neighbors. Mr. Perry persevered in his attempts to found a home and get a start in the west and how well he succeeded is attested by his present large farm and livestock interests and the prominent position he occupies among the leading agriculturists and stock raisers of Kingsbury county. He owns one of the finest and most valuable farms in this part of the state, besides a larage amount of excellent grazing land and keeps on his place at all times blooded horses, cattle, sheep and the best breed of hogs. He is also engaged in the dairying business, this as well as his other enterprises proving quite profitable.

Mr. and Mrs. Perry have five children. In politics Mr. Perry formerly supported the Republican party, but of recent years he has been voting irrespective of political affiliations. He is a member of the Pyramids, a fraternal organization, and with his wife and family belongs to the Congregational church. —Doane Robinson, History of South Dakota, Volume 2 (Logansport, Indiana: B.F. Bowen & Co., 1904), 1850-1851.

Fay Perry died of heart trouble in 1904. Raymond became a railroad mail clerk. Pearl married Walter McNutt and settled in Spokane. Viva married Edwin Anderson and settled in Clarkston. Clyde became a prosperous farmer in Idaho.

Melvina Perry died in Clarkston, Washington, in August 1928 at age 78. Delos Perry died in Clarkston in July 1947 at age 86. They are buried in Lewiston, Idaho.


Perry family, see also Perry School
     Delos (THGY 18; PG)
     Clyde (THGY 18; PG), see Clyde Perry
     Ernest (PG)
     Fanny Perry Ross (PG), see Ross family
     Perry boys (THGY 18)
     Perry’s claim (THGY 18)
     Oliver (Delos Perry’s father) (PG), see Oliver Perry family