Pettigrew Collection

cropped-g2p_2019-logo_wider-1.pngThe Pettigrew Collection is a special group from the estate of Bessie Pettigrew, which includes some items from her parents, Jennie and Frederick Pettigrew and grandfather, Elon Pettigrew. Although unoccupied for the last several decades, the home and all its contents remained intact since last inhabited. All items in the collection were removed from the family home, Larchwood Place, in Flandreau, South Dakota in 2020.

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The full collection, including oversized items and furniture, may be seen
at our retail location at 111 E. 2nd Avenue in Flandreau, South Dakota.


Brief History of the Family and Home

Bessie Pettigrew (1881-1978) was the daughter of South Dakota homesteader Frederick W. Pettigrew (1850-1901) and niece of United States Senator Richard F. Pettigrew (1848-1926). She was born in Flandreau and taught in rural schools in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota area. She graduated from Harvard University in 1914 and later taught at South Dakota State University in Brookings. She and her mother, after the death of her father, cared for her grandfather at Larchwood Place until his death in 1927. Bessie remained at Larchwood Place until her death in 1978.

Larchwood Place, at 203 E. Broad Avenue in Flandreau, was built by Elon G. Pettigrew in 1879 and was just the second house to be built in that town; not less than twenty homes were built by him in Flandreau. A brass plaque on the front door of Larchwood Place still bears his name. A description of the home is included in the following biographical sketches.

EGPettigrew“ELON G. PETTIGREW, one of the most prominent men of Flandreau, … had an extensive farming and stock business. He… grew to manhood in his native home and came west, reaching Dakota March 5, 1879, and located at Flandreau, where they lived about six months in a small shanty and carried on farming operations with oxen. … then he secured an unimproved farm and the same year built an elegant residence, the material alone costing $700.00. He bought the doors, windows and blinds in Boston and the hardwood casings came from Vermont, and the structure altogether is composed of the finest material that could be obtained. The farm …furnished with a good barn and outbuildings and about twelve acres of fine grove in which are 200 black walnut trees, all bearing.” (Memorial and Biographical Record 261)

“Elon Galusha Pettigrew, of Flandreau, one of the venerable pioneer citizens of south Dakota, was born in Ludlow, Vermont, December 8, 1831… He made his first trip to the west in the ’60s, with Wisconsin as his destination, but soon afterward he returned to Vermont. Later he went by rail to Minnesota and on to Marshall, taking this journey on the second trip the train made over that route. There were only two white families in a distance of eighty miles, between Marshall and Watertown. There was no town upon the present site of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, en route to Marshall, but it was made possible for him and others to go to a farm house and have a dinner cooked while the train waited. At length he proceeded to Marshall and thence by stage to Lake Benton, where there was only one log house. From that point he continued on foot a distance of twenty-five miles to where the town of Flandreau now stands. In the journey he used the sun as a compass. There was no settlement there, but his brother, M.D.L. Pettigrew, had preceded him and was living in a sod house. To that typical western habitation of the pioneer times. E. G. Pettigrew made his way and thus cast in his lot with the early settlers of the country. The Indians were on all the hills about and one of them took Mr. Pettigrew on his horse and thus crossed the river. In 1878 he filed on a quarter section west of what is now the town of Flandreau, after having previously taken a tree claim, and thus he made preparations for becoming a permanent resident of that section of the country. On the 7th of March, 1879, Mr. Pettigrew brought his wife and daughter to South Dakota and has since remained in this state. Where his attractive home is now found was then a wild, wide prairie, but he broke the sod, planted the seed and in due time cultivated and harvested good crops. While in Vermont he married on the 7th of May, 1856, to Miss Salome C. Bixby and unto them was born a daughter, Jennie, now the widow of Fred Pettigrew. The mother passed away in 1870 and in 1871, at Cambridge, New York, Mr. Pettigrew was again married, his second union being with Mrs. Mary Jane (Rice) Maynard, a widow. Mrs. Pettigrew has shared all the trails and hardships of pioneer life. She had never lived outside of the city until she came to South Dakota to take up her abode in a pioneer cabin, but she readily adapted herself to changed conditions and has made a happy home for herself and her husband. In 1879 Mr. Pettigrew erected the residence which he now occupies. It is one of the old-time homes, spacious and substantial, the blinds for which he purchased in Boston at eighty-five cents per pair. The heavy doors, three by seven feet, are molded on both sides and were purchased in Boston at a dollar and eighty-five cents each, while the interior finishing of black ash and butternut was brought from Vermont. The materials in the house is one of the best and the home provides every comfort and convenience. Mr. Pettigrew followed a custom unusual at that time by digging a cellar under the whole house. The grove of fine trees about his residence has been grown from seed which he planted in 1880 and in 1881. At one time he had over four hundred acres under the plow, using oxen in the operation of his farm and working as many as eight or ten yoke at one time. An active, busy life has been that of Mr. Pettigrew and the wise use which he has made of his time and opportunities has gained for him a place among the substantial citizens of his county. While living in Vermont, Mr. Pettigrew served for two years as a member of the state legislature and was afterward chosen one of the directors of the state prison at Windsor and served for four years. In his home city, too, he filled various officers, the duties of which he discharged with promptness and fidelity. At Flandreau, South Dakota, he was alderman for several years, making a most creditable record by the prompt, faithful and progressive manner in which he discharged his duties. At length, however, he retired, but again in 1915 he was called to office by the voter of his fellow townsmen, who wished him once more to serve his city as alderman… In his fraternal relations Mr. Pettigrew is a Mason and he and his wife are members of the Eastern Star, while both also hold membership with the Methodist Episcopal church of Flandreau. Their many sterling traits of character and their kindly, helpful spirit and their fidelity to what they believe to be right have been the salient elements which have gained for them a place among the valued and prominent residents of the state in which they have lived since early pioneer times.” (Kingsbury 458-461)


Works Cited

Geo. A. Ogle & Co. Memorial And Biographical Record: an Illustrated Compendium of Biography, Containing a Compendium of Local Biography, Including Biographical Sketches Of…prominent Old Settlers And Representative Citizens of South Dakota With a Review of Their Life Work… Also a Compendium of National Biography. Chicago: G.A. Ogle, 1898. Print.

Kingsbury, George W. History of Dakota Territory; South Dakota Its History and Its People, Volume 5.Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1915. Print.

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