By R. J. Courtney, in 1923

 The first settlers of Okobojo township came in the main from the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. They were an industrious class of people. Many of them came with the purpose of establishing homes, while a few came to use the various land rights that the government offered them, but not to become actual settlers.

Of the many who filed on land in the early 80's only a few are now left (1923) to relate the trials of those pioneer days. The land in Okobojo township was opened for settlement April 9, 1883. There was a great rush for desirable quarter sections of land. An extensive fire, reaching from Pierre to Bismarck, had swept across the country a few days before the township was opened, leaving what rocks there were exposed to view. If the settler desired land free of rocks or land covered with rocks, he could have it. It was a matter of choice.

When the surveyor laid off the land into sections they placed at each section corner a small mound of sod. In the center of each mound was a squared post on which were carved the markings of the corners of the four sections. In addition to the mounds and posts were rocks with markings. The mounds served as guides in traveling across the country and in the locating of the many new roads and trails.  

On the 9th of April, 1883, my brother, William M. Courtney, and I selected our land. Will chose the NW1/4-14-114-79 and I the NE1/4 of the same section. We had a board with us which we cut in two and sharpened. On the board we wrote our names and the words, "Home, Sweet Home", then set the boards up on our "farms".

In a few weeks the black prairie changed to a beautiful green. Those who had filed on land began the erection of small buildings called shacks. They were only temporary buildings, replaced by larger ones later on.

All through  the  season  of   1883   new  shacks  were   erected  daily, and at the expiration of six months we could count in Okobojo and adjoining townships about 250 buildings—a wonderful transformation in that length of time.

At that time settlers could file on land in three different ways. First there was the homestead entry, requiring five years residence on the land. Second, the preemption, requiring a residence of from six to thirty-three months and an additional payment of $1.25 per acre. Third, the tree claim, requiring the planting and cultivation of ten acres of trees for seven years.

The government allowed but one tree claim in a section. The settler had the privilege of filing two claims at the same time. He could file on a homestead and tree claim, or a preemption and a tree claim. The tree claims were in great demand and filings were placed on them early in the season.

Soon after settlement the settlers were requested to meet and choose a. name for the township. Several names were proposed, but the name chosen was Pymosa, a name suggested by Dr. H. G. Pease. Later on when the school bonds were issued, the township was known as Pymosa school township. When the township came under civil organization it was known as Okobojo civil township.

Those who had children were anxious to have schools for them. The first schoolhouse was built at Okobojo, but as it was at the west side of the township it did not afford good school privileges for those who were farther away.

The first school election was held June 27, 1884. J. W. Carpenter was elected treasurer and A. C. Parsons clerk. At the same election the proposition to bond the township for three schoolhouses was decided. The vote stood twenty-seven in favor of bonds and seven against the bonds. When the bids for building the school-houses were opened, Henry Bossier was awarded the contract.

The town of Carson was located on the SW1/4 of the NE 1/4 of section 25. It was platted by Frederick Steigamire, January 24, 1883. The surveyor was William Ashley Jones. Steigamire had associated with him two men by the names of D. D. Bryant and S. B. Carson.

During the season of 1883 there was considerable building activity. A large hotel owned by Steigamire and the printing office for the Carson Herald were two of the buildings. The paper was published by Frost Brothers, but discontinued publication in November, 1884. The Carson postoffice was at the residence of D. D. Bryant. Scott Bruner was the merchant and did a thriving business. There were four or five residences. Carson was one of the many towns that were in the race for county seat honors. After the location of the county seat the town went glimmering and the inhabitants were seen to "fold their tents like the Arabs, and as silently steal away".

The Fourth of July, 1883, was celebrated at Carson. By noon a large crowd was in attendance. Many came by "Shank's horses", the usual way of traveling. The women brought well-filled baskets of eatables, all of which looked good to the hungry bachelors who for the past three months had been subsisting on potatoes, bacon, coffee, pancakes, crackers, baking powder biscuits and molasses. The writer does not recall any spread eagle speeches. In the after noon two baseball nines were chosen and a diamond was staked out. The suits of the players were of various kinds and colors. One of the players was a tall, slender man who wore a brown suit of clothes and a plug hat. After a home run the man became quite warm and off came his coat, revealing the patches on his pants, some of them being on the bias. As is usual at gatherings of this kind, there were present those who could think of some ludicrous joke. They managed when this player was making a run for first base to form a jam pile and over went the player, crushing the plug hat quite flat. The game became quite interesting, and the umpire seemed fair in his decisions. The two nines were evenly matched and from beginning to end it was nip and tuck between the two teams. In the evening a dance was held in the Carson hotel. The supply of ladies was rather short. But Lee Wheeler of Iowa township, who had a wagon and a span of horses, said there were twelve maidens, "some older, some younger" living in his township, and that he would bring them to the dance. The ladies from Iowa township were a "Jolly Dozen". The dance broke up about midnight. All, with the exception of a few, found their way home. Those who were lost slept on the prairie until morning.

Only a few of the early settlers had horses, others had mules, and some had oxen. Among the latter group were the McGannon brothers, John Green and the Courtney brothers. On one occasion the editor in his paper said that the Courtney brothers made a flying trip to Pierre. Imagine, my dear readers, if you can, a joy ride behind a pair of fleet-footed bovines. Contrast that joy ride of forty years ago with a joy ride in a flivver of the present day (1923).