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James Philip Biography


This biography appears on pages 444-448 in "History of Dakota Territory" by George W. Kingsbury, Vol. IV (1915) 

The history of South Dakota is still in the making, but there are those who wrote its early chapters whose names deserve to be honored and their memory perpetuated throughout all the years to come while this commonwealth endures. They are those who penetrated into the frontier regions, met the hardships, difficulties and privations of pioneer life and aided in planting the seeds of civilization which are now coming into rich fruition. Among this number was James Philip, usually known as Scotty Philip. There was a time when almost every stockman, from the owner of large herds down to the humblest cowboy of the northwest, knew him, and he went through every experience of life on the plains from the period of early settlement here to the present age of advanced civilization. At all times his efforts and his influence counted for progress and the capability and resourcefulness which he manifested in business brought to him substantial success.

Mr. Philip was born in Morayshire, Scotland, in March, 1858, a son of George and Catherine Philip. The father was a farmer, living at Auchness, Dallas, Morayshire, and it was upon the home farm that James Philip spent his youth and received the initial training that enabled him to become a successful agriculturist and stock-raiser in later life. He acquired his education in the common schools of his native village of Dallas and in 1875, when seventeen years of age, he came to the United States, wishing to enjoy the benefits and opportunities offered by the great and growing western country. He made his way to Wyoming and to western Nebraska and, going to Cheyenne, in the former state, there entered upon an engagement to act as cattle herder. After a year he went to the Black Hills, where he spent a winter among the pioneer prospectors and miners, meeting the usual difficulties and 
hardships of life in the mining camps. Subsequently he returned to Fort Laramie, Wyoming, where he secured employment as a teamster in the government service, being thus engaged until 1877. He next went to Fort Robinson, where he became an army scout, acting in that capacity during the Indian troubles of that period. In the meantime he had been employed as a cowboy with the first cattle outfit that utilized the range on Running Water, remaining there until the fall of 1878-9. Subsequently he freighted with a bull team from Chadron, Nebraska, to the Black Hills and from Fort Pierre to Deadwood over the old Black Hills trail, being thus engaged until 1882. About that time he located on Bad river, near where the town of Philip now stands, and turned his attention to the cattle business, in which he was always afterward extensively engaged until the time of his death on the 23d of July, 1911. In 1896 he effected the organization of the Minnesota & Dakota Cattle Company, with headquarters at Fort Pierre, and was made general manager, so continuing until January, 1900, when he disposed of his interests. He afterward engaged in cattle raising on his own account and the business was conducted most successfully. He was widely recognized as one of the leading stockmen of the northwest. The Capital Journal of July 24, 1911, said of him: "He was known from Mexico to Canada and in all the stock yards of the country as Scotty Philip. His herds of cattle at times numbered many thousands and no roundup from the Black Hills to the Missouri river for more than a quarter of a century was complete without the presence of this cattle king, and at every shipping season his business was eagerly sought by the railroad companies. Mr. Philip a few years ago purchased the famous Du Pree buffalo herd and by an act of congress he fenced in about twenty thousand acres of land on the Missouri river above Fort Pierre, where this famous herd is kept." 

The buffaloes on the Philip ranch now number about four hundred and twenty-five and are valued at two hundred and fifty dollars each, although the hide with the head attached frequently sells at from six to eight hundred dollars, while specimens of the head mounted bring all the way up to five hundred dollars. 

Mr. Philip was not alone deeply and extensively interested in the stock business, for after the building of railroads west of the Missouri river he became unusually active in support of the commercial and industrial development of that section and cooperated in every movement for the upbuilding of the business interests of Fort Pierre. For many years he made his home in that city and was interested in everything of a financial nature throughout the entire community. He was not only associated with the Minnesota & Dakota Cattle Company but was for many years a director in the Stock Growers Bank at Fort Pierre, in the Missouri River Transportation Company and various similar concerns. He had extensive landed interests in Stanley county as well as many business investments and he was among the leaders of his section of the state who believed in the efficacy of irrigation as the means of developing central and western South Dakota. He had the confidence of thousands of business men as well as plainsmen and nowhere that he went was he without friends and acquaintances. Physically he was a man large of stature and in any gathering of people he was a conspicuous and prominent figure. 

Aside from business connections for profit or for the benefit of the town Mr. Philip was active in public affairs and was chairman of the first board of county commissioners in Stanley comity following its organization in 1890. Nine years later he was elected a member of the state senate from the district comprising Stanley and Lyman counties, but his ambition was not in the line of office holding and, while he did not hesitate to support the principles in which he believed, he was willing that others should fill the offices. He ever voted with the democratic party and did all in his power to further its interests and promote its success. 

In 1879, at Pine Ridge Agency, South Dakota, Mr. Philip was married to Sarah Larvie, daughter of Joseph Larvie, who was a French Canadian voyager and came to what afterward was the territory of Dakota in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Fur Company. Her mother was a Cheyenne Indian, who was afterward with the Sioux and became adopted as one of them. Ten children were born unto Mr. and Mrs. Philip, five of whom are living: Olive, now the wife of Hugh M. Schultz, of Fort Pierre, South Dakota; and Hazel, Clara, Stanley and Roderick, all of whom live at Fort Pierre, as does his widow. Their home is on the Buffalo ranch, about six miles north of the city, and they are widely and favorably known in this section of the state. Aside from his immediate family Mr. Philip had but one relative in South Dakota, this being George Philip, a well known attorney of Fort Pierre. 

Mr. Philip was a prominent Mason, holding membership in the various branches of that fraternity. He attained the Knight Templar degree of the York Rite, the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite and was a member of El Riad Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Sioux Falls. He became a charter member of Capital City Commandery, K. T. In the gallery of the Historical Society in the state capitol at Pierre hangs an oil painting of Scotty Philip. The above record of an eventful, useful, and busy life will in a degree perpetuate his memory, which is enshrined in the hearts of all who knew him. He was one of the typical pioneers of the northwest - resolute, determined and purposeful meeting uncomplainingly the hardships of frontier life and contributing in substantial measure to the work of general improvement and development, so that his name is inseparably interwoven with the history of the northwest.


 

 


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