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W. R. Cleland Biography

This biography appears on pages 73-74 in "History of Dakota Territory" by George W. Kingsbury, Vol. IV (1915) 

W. R. Cleland, engaged in law practice at Vermillion, was born in Clay county in 1882, a son of John M. and Pamelia (Hixson) Cleland. The father was a native of Scotland and when but three years of age was brought by his parents to the new world, the family home being established in Wisconsin The mother, a native of Iowa, was a daughter of Nathan and Sophia (Hunter) Hixson and was but thirteen years of age when brought by her parents to South Dakota. John M. Cleland spent his early days upon the home farm near Whitewater, Wisconsin, and in 1868 came to Dakota territory, settling in Clay county, where he homesteaded and proved up a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, which he continued to develop and cultivate until his death in 1898. In the meantime he had added to his property at intervals until he was the owner of six hundred and forty acres of rich, arable and productive land. On attaining his majority he gave his political allegiance to the republican party, but afterward became a populist. He held a number of county offices and in 1875-1876 represented his district in the 
territorial legislature. His official record was at all times creditable to himself and highly satisfactory to his constituents and his worth made him one of the valued citizens of his community. His widow survives. In their family were nine children, eight of whom are yet living: Herbert N., who makes his home on a farm in Clay county; Elber L., a jeweler at Parker, South Dakota; Mae Cleland Grange, whose husband is a veterinary surgeon of Vermillion; W. R.; Walter L., who is living upon a farm in Clay county; Orvilla M., at home; Latilla Cleland Lowman, a twin of Orvilla and now a resident of Madison, Nebraska; Ethel L, who is one of the primary teachers in the city schools of Mobridge, South Dakota; and Mirtle J., who died in 1906. 

W. R. Cleland acquired his early education in the schools of Clay county and afterward attended the University of South Dakota. In fact, he completed his entire education in the schools of South Dakota. He received the degree of A. B. in 1907 and the degree of LL. B. in 1912, from the State University. Mr. Cleland congratulates himself on having spent his entire school life in South Dakota, where he has located in his chosen profession because he values the friendships gained in his college days as one of his greatest assets. He opened a law office in Vermillion in 1913 and has since engaged in general practice. In early manhood he taught in the country schools for a year and in 1908 he became principal of the West Side graded school in Vermillion. The money thus acquired enabled him to continue his university course and when he had graduated in law he entered upon his chosen life work, in which he is meeting with a substantial measure of success. His devotion to his clients' interests is proverbial, yet he never for a moment forgets that he owes a still higher allegiance to the majesty of the law. 

Mr. Cleland was reared in the Methodist faith, his parents being members of that church. He belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and in his political views is a republican. Upon the party ticket he has been elected to various local offices. For two terms he served as register of deeds of Clay county, entering upon the duties of the position in 1909 and remaining as the incumbent for four years. He served as secretary of the Clay county republican committee for two years, and in 1914 he was appointed to the office of police justice of the city of Vermillion, his decisions being strictly fair and impartial. His entire life has been spent in South Dakota and among his fellow townsmen of Clay county who have been witnesses of his career from early boyhood he is held in the highest esteem, a feet which indicates that his has been a well spent life.



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