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Spencer/Barber Ranch

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Fairbank, Sully, South Dakota, United Statesmap
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The Spencer ranch lies within Fairbank Township, once the potential site for the capital of South Dakota.

Former U.S. Senator Gladys Pyle (1890-1989) wrote of the Fairbank community and the Spencer Ranch to the original owner's grandson Bill Barber:

You cannot have grown up in your Mother’s home and lived with her these last years without absorbing many of those pioneer tales, when that little town was the largest in Dakota, over 1000 I have heard and seen in print. There was the spot for the C and NW to cross the Missouri and land boomed and eastern RR men came to gobble up the land for a base to a future fortune. There to bring the mail to the postmistress, your grandmother, the river boats stopped, after first blowing their whistle some way down warn the postmistress they would be along about dinner time (which they always were). Your Grandfather once took me for a walk over the ranch and showed me the place (a depression) where he would often hear voices, and would guess that something like the wireless would in time be developed. There was the basement of the old college. There was an active RR group looking forward to being the capitol of the state. ... (your) Grandfather’s ranch was the first irrigated from the River would make an interesting story, and one your Mother probably repeated to you. She was so disgusted because the Washington men who were there to negotiate the purchase of her wonderful acres for the (Oahe) Dam gave no consideration for that. And so shortchanged on the financial offer. The old engine with which the water was pumped up the hill to the retaining hole from which his ditches carried it down to the corn, alfalfa, etc. are probably under the lake now. The whole venture surely indicated a pioneering spirit in irrigation. And I remember your grandmother usually had some vegetables she raised in her garden.[1]

Research notes

Albert H. McGruder (1910-1997), better known as "Doe" was a longtime ranch hand on the Fairbank Ranch. He was first hired by William Henry Spencer (1856-1947) and continued to work on the ranch as an integral part of the ranch under William's daughter Fern.





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