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 808-812
ALFRED B. ROWLEY. The world instinctively pays deference to the man who
has achieved a well-merited success, overcoming the obstacles in his path and reaching a high position in the business world. This is a
progressive age and he who does not advance is soon deft far behind. Mr. Rowley, by the improvement of opportunities by which all are
surrounded, has steadily and honorably worked his way upward and has attained a high degree of prosperity. He now owns and operates the
largest farm in Ravenna township, Sanborn county, South Dakota.
A native of New York Mr. Rowley was born in Steuben county, in 1855, of
New England parents, and on the paternal side is of Scotch descent, his grandfather being a native of Scotland, but on the maternal side his
ancestors have been Yankees for several generations. The father, who was a farmer by occupation, removed to Steuben county, New York, when
it was a frontier settlement, and spent the remainder of his life in clearing and improving a farm, which finally sold for fifty dollars per
In 1869 our subject removed with his parents to a farm near Chicago,
Illinois, but after living there for one year located on a farm in Indiana, where he grew to manhood, remaining with his father until
1882. He was given the advantages of a good country school education and was a student for one winter term in the commercial department of
Hillsdale College, Michigan. On leaving home in 1882 he came to Mitchell, South Dakota, where he engaged in the grocery business and
also took up government land west of Letcher.
Mr. Rowley was married in 1883 to Mrs. Anna Roberts, a daughter of
Benjamin and Sarah E. (Morse) Roberts, a native of New Brunswick, who removed to Ohio, in 1848, and was there employed in a powder mill,
though he was a cabinetmaker by trade. In 1856 he removed to Iowa, where Mrs. Rowley was reared and first married. At one time she was a
successful school teacher. By her former marriage she had two children: Benjamin Carlton Roberts and Sarah Lula Roberts, now the wife of E. H.
Mortimer, who is now connected with the Martin dry goods house of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The children born to our subject are Anna May, born May
11, 1886, and Fay Alice, born October 6, 1888. Mrs. Rowley is a relative of S. L. Tilley, who at one time held an important position
under the British government in Canada.
The same year of his marriage, Mr. Rowley sold his grocery store in
Mitchell and removed to his farm in Jerauld county, where he and his wife lived in a shanty, 8 x 10 feet, burning hay for fuel and
experiencing all the discomforts incident to pioneer life while proving
up the place. The farm was situated on the top of the Wessington Hills. Returning to Mitchell, Mr. Rowley engaged in the grain business there
until the spring of 1884, when he bought a farm in the northwestern part of Hanson county and again turned his attention to agricultural
pursuits, while living in a sod shack banked with flax straw for a year. In the winter of 1885 he moved to the Pine Ridge Agency, having
been appointed post trader, but after spending a few months there went to Oakdale, Nebraska, where he engaged in buying grain for two years.
His next home was in Sioux City, Iowa, where he secured a position as traveling salesman for a boot and shoe firm, but as this work did not
agree with his health he was compelled to give it up after five or six months time. In the spring of 1888, he went into the stock commission
business at Sioux City, and while engaged in that enterprise he bought land in Ravenna township, Sanborn county. For several years he spent
the summer months upon this farm and would return to Sioux City for the winter, but in 1 896 located permanently upon his farm, which is the
largest in Ravenna township, it comprising twelve thousand acres of land, of which one hundred acres are under cultivation. There is also a
grove of forest trees fifteen acres in extent upon the place.
Until 1897 Mr. Rowley was engaged principally in the raising of grain,
but then branched out into the stock business, and in 1898 wintered one hundred head of cattle, and in 1899 about three hundred. So numerous
are the buildings upon his farm that they have the appearance of a small city, and he has stable-room for twenty-four head of horses,
twenty cows, and bin space for three thousand bushels. In 1898 he raised thirteen thousand two hundred bushels of small grain. He is
manager of the Farwell Creamery, located two miles from his farm; owns and operates three steam threshing machines; and between the 1st of
July and the 1st of December, 1898, he paid out in wages for labor three thousand five hundred dollars. He is a wide-awake, energetic and
progressive business man, and the remarkable success that he has achieved in life is due entirely to his good management and sound
judgment. 'Politically he is a Republican, but takes no active part in public affairs, preferring to give his undivided attention to his
extensive business interests.