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Thomas Reed Biography


This biography appears on pages 1603-1605 in "History of South Dakota" by Doane Robinson, Vol. II (1904)

HON. THOMAS REED is a native of Scotland, born in the town of Auchleblest on the 1st day of October, 1839. His parents were Robert Reed and Agnes Farley, both born and reared in Scotland, and their marriage also occurred in that country. Robert Reed farmed in his native land until 1841, when he came to America and after following the pursuit of agriculture for a few years in the state of New York moved to Ogle county, Illinois, where he continued his chosen vocation until his death, in 1894. Mrs. Reed died in New York in 1842, leaving four motherless children to be cared for by her husband, and right nobly did he discharge this loving duty. Mr. Reed never remarried, but kept his family together until each child was grown and able to care for himself. He possessed more than ordinary powers of mind, was a close student, and ardent friend of high education and at the age of fifty-five took up the study of astronomy, in which he became quite proficient. The following are the names of his children: John, Michael. Agnes, who married Henry Earl, and Thomas, all deceased but the subject of this sketch. 

Thomas Reed was quite small when his parents came to the United States and after spending a short time in New York he was taken to Ogle county, Illinois, where he remained until his eighteenth year. He attended school of winter seasons until that age, but began earning his own livelihood when a youth of fourteen by working at different kinds of labor. In 1857 he went to California, via New York city and the isthmus of Panama, and after spending three years mining in Placer county, that state, enlisted in August, 1861, in Company E, First California Infantry, for service in the Civil war. This command marched to Santiago, thence to Fort Yuma, and from there through Arizona, New Mexico and a part of Texas, retaking the government forts and posts that had been captured by the Confederates, finally returning to Santa Fe, where Mr. Reed was mustered out in the year 1864. After a brief rest he re-entered the army, joining Hancock's Veteran Corps, which he accompanied throughout its various experiences, until 1866, in September of which year he received his final discharge at the national capital. 

Returning to Illinois at the expiration of his period of enlistment, Mr. Reed settled down to farming in Ogle county, and there remained until I88I, when he came to Kingsbury county, South Dakota, and purchased eight hundred and sixty acres of land, on which he lived during the nine years following. At the end of that time he changed his abode to Arlington and opened a real-estate office to which line of business and money loaning he has since devoted his attention. 

Mr. Reed's financial success has been commensurate with the energy displayed in all of his undertakings and in addition to a large amount of valuable property in Arlington, he now owns three thousand acres of fine land in the counties of Kingsbury and Brookings, all under cultivation and yielding him a liberal income; also two hundred acres of valuable farm land in Ogle county, Illinois, besides the ample fortune represented by personal property and private capital. He has other than his business standing and financial success to recommend him to the favorable consideration of his fellow citizens, as he has long been deeply interested in the public affairs of this city, county and state. Since coming to South Dakota he has been actively identified with the Republican party, in local and state politics, has been honored with a number of responsible official positions, prominent among which was that of state senator, having been elected to represent his district in the upper house of the legislature in 1892. He served the district very acceptably for a period of two years and refused a renomination, although importuned by his constituents to accept the honor, as his record as a law-maker was eminently satisfactory, not only to his own party but to the people of his jurisdiction, irrespective of political ties. 

Mr. Reed is a member of the Masonic brotherhood, belonging to the blue lodge and chapter at Arlington, the commandery at Brookings, and it was through his individual efforts that the charter for the second named organization was procured, this being the first chapter instituted in South Dakota after its admission to the Union as a state. He is also identified with the Odd Fellows lodge at Arlington, and for over twenty years has been an active worker in the Grand Army of the Republic, being a charter member of the post in the city of his residence and a leader in all of its deliberations. He stands high in Grand Army circles throughout South Dakota, and at the present time is commander of the order in this state, to which honorable position he was elected on June 24, 1903. In August of the same year he attended the national encampment at San Francisco, the place where he enlisted forty-one years before, and also revisited many of the scenes made interesting by reason of his thrilling experiences as a miner. Mr. Reed was married November 22, 1871, to Miss Margaret A. Knapp, daughter of Jarrald and Harriett Knapp, of Ogle county, Illinois, the union being blessed with two children, Robert W. and George P. Mrs. Reed comes of a very old English family, the history of which is traceable to an early date in this country, and to a much remoter period in the land of her forefathers. Among the relics of her ancestry still in her possession is an old chair, which has been in the family and in constant use for over one hundred and fifty years, a piece of furniture not only interesting on account of its great age, but highly prized as a heirloom by reason of its associations. 

Mr. Reed and family belong to the Disciple church of Arlington, and are among its active and much respected members. He finds time from the pressing claims of his business affairs to devote to church work and as a faithful and consistent Christian never allows his secular interests to interfere with his religious duties.