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Thomas J. Lawrie Biography


This biography is from "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..." Published by G. A. Ogle & Co., Chicago, 1899. Pages 322-323

THOMAS J. LAWRIE, whose fine landed estate lies in Belle Plain township, Spink county, is one of the early settlers of this region who have demonstrated what pluck, energy and business sense will yield a man under conditions apparently the most unfavorable. 

Mr. Lawrie is a native of Illinois, and was born in 1854. His parents were born in Scotland, and came to America about the year 1842 or 1843. His mother was one of a family of twenty-one children, and her brothers and sisters are scattered all over the world, having found their way to Australia, America, England and the Philippine Islands. Our subject's father was a tailor by trade, but turned his attention to farming in 1859, abandoning his former following. He was an early setter in Illinois, locating in that state, before any railroad had penetrated west of Chicago. 

Our subject was reared on a farm in Illinois, and educated in the country schools. After starting out in life for himself he attended a business school which held its sessions evenings, and by this means secured a fair business education. He learned the trades of miller and carpenter, and worked eight years in Rockford, Illinois. In 1883 he went to Dakota, landing in Frankfort, in March of that year. He took up government land in Harrison township, put up a shanty 12 x 14 feet, and here his family joined him soon afterward. He rented land near Frankfort and farmed some, but devoted his attention chiefly to his trade. He built most of the buildings in his neighborhood and found plenty of work to keep him employed in this line. He proved up on his land in Harrison township, and then moved to a homestead claim which he had taken in Belle Plain township. Here he lived seven years, but there being no water on the premises, he again moved, this time to section 22 Belle Plain township, and took Up his residence on an unimproved quarter-section. Upon this land he erected new buildings, barns, etc., and improved it with many conveniences, supplying water both to his barn and residence. 

Mr. Lawrie was married in 1871 to Miss Mary Hines, a native of Massachusetts. Her parents were born in Germany and Ireland, respectively. Mrs. Lawrie has proved a faithful and helpful companion and devoted wife. Although they started their pioneer life in Dakota with nothing of importance, having only a team of horses which they brought with them, their landed interests now comprise six hundred and forty acres of lands well adapted to diversified farming, one hundred and sixty acres of which are cultivated, and the balance devoted to pasturage. Our subject has found stock raising the most profitable, however, and keeps about eighty head on hands at all times. In politics Mr. Lawrie holds to Republican principles. He takes an active interest in public affairs, and was the first township clerk elected in his township, which office he held four years. He is a member in good standing of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. Mr. and Mrs. Lawrie are the parents of three children: Hazel, Wylla and Thomas W., all living at home with their parents.