George Hugh Green
[Excerpt from George's Memoirs]
I was born on June 17, 1909 an assume I was welcomed to Okobojo South Dakota with a slap on the butt to make me squall so that the air way to my lungs would open and allow the air to flow in. I’m not sure if a doctor was present or not. Most cases of childbirth in the early days were taken care of by a midwife, especially in the outlying communities.
Now as this early stage of my life is mostly black I will move on to a deferent subject.
In 1883 Okobojo Township was opened for settlers. Among the many who came that year to file on claims were J. W. Glessner and John S. Green. They came with their families. John and Josephine Glessner had five Children – George, Kitty, Charley, Margaret and Hal. John Green and his wife Sarah had three boys – William, Hugh and Charley.
William (Will or Bill) and Margaret (Madge) were later married (July 24, 1902) and had three children – Frances (Cathie), Willis and George.
The John Green family came from Illinois and settled near Olivet, Dakota Territory in 1875, where they lived until moving to Okobojo Township in Sully County in 1883.
As I remember hearing about it they moved from Olivet with Oxen and wagon with some farm equipment. The Glessner family came from Waynesburg Ohio where John had had practice as a jeweler, dentist and undertaker but no farming. It was rough going for all of the new settlers for the first few years but there is no object in my trying to describe their up and downs. The important part is that they made it.
I do know that the main fuel was buffalo chips and twisted hay and if lucky a load of wood from the Missouri river about 20 miles away.
I’m not sure if the Greens had a frame house the first year or not. But it seems to me that Glessners lived in a dug-out or it may have been a sod shanty.
Now lets take a look at Okobojo. The Okobojo Valley lies about twenty two miles north of Pierre. If we were to start at the townsite of Okobojo and go east to the source of the Okobojo Creek, which runs through the Valley we would come out about eight or ten miles east and maybe some south of Gettysburg. The creek empties into the Missouri river about eighteen miles west and south of the Okobojo townsite.
Before the dirty thirties came along and before sully lake dam was built the Okobojo had running water most of the year. Before the white man arrived the creek was a watering place for buffalo and Indians. Some of the old buffalo trails were still visible when I was growing up. The word Okobojo, so I have been told, means “Valley of Nettles”. This is an Indian name and was so named by them.
I can remember bunches of nettles growing along the creek bank. If you put your had on them they would sting and small blisters would appear. We kids used to dare each other and then get stung for our bravery.
The Valley is not wide. Maybe half a mile at most and is not too fertile for vegetation. The reason for this is the alkali spots.
The buffalo used these spots or beds for salt licks when they would come for water. In later years I’ve seen cattle and horses lick these alkali beds when salt was not available.
I probably should mention that Fort Sully was less than twenty miles from Okobojo. The Fort was located west and some south overlooking the river. Okobojo was where the Army freight wagons crossed the creek going to and from Pierre. There was a stone crossing just east of where Binkleys house now stands. The bridge that you and Minnietta named “Rattlesnake” wasn’t built until years later.
Fort Sully was located in Sully Co. in 1866 and abandoned in 1894. Sully County, of course, was named after General Sully who was in charge of the Fort. The Fort was built to accommodate four companies of Cavalry. So you can see that when the settlers came in ’83 they were not exactly alone on the open prairie.
At one time Okobojo had a hotel, two stores, printing office, livery stable blacksmith shop, a town hall and several houses. But never a saloon. At least I never heard of one. Pierre had several that could be reached and that must have been enough.
Well, by now I should have grown to the point of remember a few things so we will move ahead to 1914 or 15.
We lived one and a half miles north east of Okobojo on a 160 acre farm. Pa had purchased the farm from his dad somewhere around 1901 or 02 and this was where the folks lived when they were married.
[This is only the first few pages. George's entire memoir can be read here]