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J. H. Wallace 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 1086-1087

J. H. WALLACE has been prominently identified with the business interests of Faulkton since the establishment of the town and to-day is at the head of a large and prosperous business as a dealer in groceries, hardware and machinery. Systematic and methodical, his sagacity, keen discrimination and sound judgment have made him one of the most successful business men of the place, and by his energy, perseverance and good business ability he has been enabled to acquire a comfortable competence. 

Mr. Wallace was born in St. Lawrence, New York, September, 1845, and is a son of H. C. Wallace, who still resides upon the farm in that state, which has been his home for fifty-five years. Our subject's grandfather, Thomas W. Wallace, who belonged to the same family as Sir William Wallace, one of the most prominent men of Scottish history, removed from Scotland to the north of Ireland, where the father of our subject was born. About 1838 the latter came to the New World, but afterward returned to his native land, where he was united in marriage to Miss Mary Ann Hasson, who was also born there, a daughter of John Hasson, of Irish descent. In 1844, immediately after his marriage, Mr. Wallace brought his bride to America and took up his residence on the farm at St. Lawrence, Jefferson county, New York, where he now resides. To them were born eleven children, of whom J. H. is the oldest. 

Upon the old homestead in the Empire state our subject grew to manhood, aiding in the work of the farm during the summer months and attending the country schools through the winter season. At the age of twenty-two he went upon the great lakes as a sailor and remained upon the water for ten years, first as first and second mate and later as master of a vessel. In one storm on Lake Erie, October 10, 1880, the "Valentine," a three-mast schooner, on which he was then sailing, foundered about forty miles from Cleveland and went down. At one o'clock A. M. the crew left the vessel in a lifeboat, and after drifting about until five o'clock the next evening finally touched land six miles below Fairport, Ohio.

At the age of twenty-eight, Mr. Wallace married Miss Viola E. Graves, who was born and reared at Madison, Ohio, and was educated in the common schools and a seminary which has since been turned into a home for widows and nurses of the Civil war. On the paternal side she is of English descent and the family can be traced back for eight hundred years. Her father, Carlton Graves, was an owner of vessels, and for many years sailed the lakes as master of both sailing vessels and steamers. His father's family consisted of fourteen children, seven sons and seven daughters, of whom four sons became sailors and lake captains. Our subject and his wife have one child, Blanche Estelle, now twelve years of age. 

After his marriage, Mr. Wallace purchased a farm near Madison, Ohio, though he occasionally made trips upon the lakes, and on one of these trips he met the disaster mentioned above his time was principally devoted to agricultural pursuits. He had an excellent farm with a stream running through it, and improved with fine buildings and ten acres of fruit. Selling his place in the spring of 1883, he came to Faulkton, South Dakota, and took up a pre-emption in Faulk county. Previous to his proving up a man jumped his claim as a homestead and it went into litigation where it remained for four years, Mr. Wallace being beaten in all the courts. After this the homestead man left the claim and after one year's absence Mr. Wallace filed it as a homestead and seven years later proved up his homestead having had possession for fifteen years prior to proving up. He also entered a tree claim, and still owns this half-section of land; which he now rents. 

The same year of his arrival here he embarked in the hardware machinery business in Faulkton, opening his store in a little building, 20x40 feet. To meet the growing demands of his trade he has had to seek more commodious quarters and now occupies a building 75 x 150 feet, well stocked with staple and fancy groceries and all kinds of hardware and farm machinery. During early days the nearest railroad station was Athol, Spink county, a distance of thirty miles, and as at that time he also kept lumber, coal, flour and feed, he often had three or four teams upon the road hauling supplies and one in constant use. In 1887 he also conducted a store at Millard, Faulk county, but his stock was destroyed by fire on the 4th of July, that year, at a loss of two thousand dollars. In the spring of 1886 he lost a house, granary and five hundred bushels of wheat in the same way, this loss amounting to between five hundred and one thousand dollars. Notwithstanding these reverses he has steadily prospered in business since coming to this state and is today one of the most substantial citizens of Faulkton. He is a straightforward, energetic and capable business man and carries forward to successful completion whatever he undertakes. 

In his political views Mr. Wallace is a Democrat, and has served as a delegate to the conventions of his party. He has been prominently identified with everything calculated to advance the interests of his town and county, and the first fourth of July celebration in Faulkton was held in his uncompleted store room, which was the fourth building erected in the place. He was appointed postmaster under President Arthur's administration and filled that office from 1885 until 1888. In 1884 he was one of the first county commissioners elected in Faulk county and served in that position for one term. Religiously he is a member of the Congregational church, and socially affiliates with the Masonic order. Mr. Wallace has his own peculiar business methods in all his business transactions; for thirty-seven years he has been his own banker, never having given a check, handling all his own money, keeping his own books and paying all his liabilities in cash, and in the past sixteen years has taken in and paid out over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. 

He has never been sued or sued any one, never was in court but once as a witness; and never used tea, coffee, tobacco or liquor.