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Northwestern Irish Americans
South Dakota Hall of Fame
John Stanage from County Cavan, Ireland
On October 24, 1856, John Stanage
arrived at Fort Pierre with a battalion of Second Infantry from Fort Ridgley.His
wife, Bridget, accompanied him on the journey across the prairie.A short time later he was honorably discharged and went to work in the Quartermaster's Department.A son, John, the first white child born in Dakotas, was born in Fort Pierre on March 20, 1857.
In the summer of 1857, Fort Pierre was abandoned and John Stanage
, with his
family, drove a six-mule team to Fort Randall.He
worked there for the Quartermasters until May or June of 1859.The family then went down the Missouri River in a steamboat to Sioux City.In July of that same year, the family returned to Dakota and came up the James River, where he
established a home in log cabin a mile south of the present town of Mission Hill.He
erected the cabin with the aid of paid Indian labor, which was abundant. Stanage
had taught himself the Sioux Indian language during his
soldier days and this proved of great advantage in his
pioneer work.He homesteaded 160 acres and became the first settler on the James River.He was the first farmer in Dakota to settle his land and to cultivate the soil as his only occupation.His
wife was at that time the only white woman in Dakota, west of the Big Sioux River outside of Ft. Randall. Stanage
established a rope ferry across the James River, which for many years was one of the most used crossings in the area.In 1861, Postmaster General Blair commissioned him Postmaster at James River Crossing and President Lincoln signed the commission. In 1861 John Stanage was elected a member of the House of Representatives of the first Dakota Legislature.He
home in the early morning of March 17, 1862, by horseback to Yankton to take his
seat in the Legislature.He was a member of the Democratic Party. John Stanage was a character member of the Old Settlers Historical Association, which was the first association of this character, and was chartered by the first Legislature in 1862.He
was one of the corporate members of the Missouri and Niobrara Valley Railway Co.
, which was granted a character by the 1st Legislature.He was elected a delegate to the Territorial Convention of the National Union Party in 1866.He
was Sergeant-at-Arms at the 6th session of the Legislative Assembly of Dakota Territory in 1866.He was a charter member of the 1st Territorial Fair Committee, which was known as the Yankton County Agricultural Society and Bureau of Immigration in 1869.In 1872 he was elected Chairman of a convention of Northwestern Irish Americans which met in Vermillion and had delegates from Iowa, Nebraska, and Dakota.