My paternal grandfather filed this application in 1910, and one hundred years later, the land is still being farmed by his great grandson. Subsequent deeds confirm it is a Century Farm.
John Franklin and Annie Stearns
date unknown - possibly taken on their wedding
John Franklin Stearns, the patriarch of the South Dakota Stearns legacy, arrived in Provo from Brewster, Minn., in May 1910 with one goal in mind: to stake his claim on federal land and start a homestead. Known by his middle name, Frank was 40 years old.
Frank Stearns' wife, Annie, arrived by train seven months later (December 1910) with their five young children: Theodore, 7; Sadie, 6; Edward, 5; Arthur, 3; and Charles, 1. The seven of them squeezed into a 16-by-24-foot, two-room tar-paper shack with no insulation, plumbing or electricity.
While the children were still young, Frank contracted typhoid fever, causing him to run deliriously through fields full of cactus in the middle of the night. After finding Frank 20 miles from home and thinking he was insane, the sheriff threw him in jail. A doctor later diagnosed Frank with typhoid, and he was taken to a hospital in Hot Springs, SD. Annie ran the ranch while Frank recovered.
In 1927, Frank died from a bleeding ulcer at the age of 57. Annie outlived her husband by 23 years, dying in 1950 at the age of 82.
While Annie was still alive, her son, Ed Stearns, and his wife, Ida, took over the ranch in about 1933. Their son, Dewane and his wife Flora worked the land after them, and today it is owned and operated by Dewane's son, Jerry and his wife Melissa. All 160 acres of his original homestead are still ranched by the Stearns family 100 years later, and the dilapidated, original homestead house stands on the hill behind the modern home, built by Jerry and Melissa Stearns, Frank's great grandson. (taken from August 29, 2010 Rapid City Journal)
John Franklin Stearns