Letter from Daniel Oaks
December 13, 1877
Sioux Falls, Dakota Territory
I received a few lines from you some time ago. Was glad to hear from you. We are all well as common. Having splendid weather here. Had some pretty cold weather here. Not very much snow. I got home from the station last night. I was gone two days so you see we are not far from a railroad and it will soon be a sailing into Sioux Falls, and then I shall only be four miles off. They have located the depot grounds today. It is going to start on the Sioux, about 40 rods east of the food store in town. The town gave them $20,000 payable in 20 years at ten percent per annum. We have to raise $85,000 by subscription because the county will not do anything. The Norwegians voted us down. The road is to be completed by September next. They only have 22 miles to build it eight miles this side of Luverne. Now they have built a depot and have built quite a little town there now. Now maybe you do not think our town does not grow. Village lots that sold for $50 two months ago to now are worth $500.
We have been blessed this year with a good crop. Have raised enough to pay up our old debt and have some to make improvements. I have built a granery 14 x 28 and finished it all up in good shape, but it was not large enough to hold my grain. I raised in all 1200 bushels of wheat, 750 bushels of oats, 500 bushels of barley. Makes in all about 2400 bushels of grain besides 25 acres of corn. I have sold most of my corn for 40 cents per bushel cash. I had some grain that went twenty-five bushels to the acre and some only 10. My sod did not turn out very well, but it turned out better than I expected. I have sold some of my wheat. I get about 85 cents at the station or 75 in Sioux Falls.
I bought me a yoke of steers for the spring. Have 18 head of cattle in all.
Now D.B. I would like to tell you about how we got along without wood for fuel instead of working my team to death a hauling wood from 6 to 20 miles all winter to get enough to last. All summer I just take my mower and horses and go down to the Sioux bottom and in two days I can cut and put up enough hay to last me one year. And then not having to cut it. That is the worst of all. I do sympathize with you that have to chop wood. Instead of doing that all you have to do is whenever tired you can go and sit down by the side of a stack of hay and twist and rest all the same time. I would not chop the wood if you would give it to me. I have altered my stove so that I can burn hay better than I can wood.
Lem Shawl has been out here this fall. Has taken some claims. Is going to move out in the spring. For want of room of must stop. They have all gone to bed. I guess I must go too. Delb is 21 next Tuesday. He has been a good boy. I hope you can say so about your boys when they are 21. They are all a going to school. They haven't missed a day yet. So good night. Please write soon.
Daniel W. Oaks