August Maass of Butte County was one of the leaders in the irrigation movement which transformed southern Butte County from a semi-arid range country to a prosperous farming community.
Born March 21, 1875, in Hamburg, Germany, Maass came with his parents to Yankton, South Dakota in 1878. Two years later, the family moved to Deadwood.
When August was eight years old, his parents homesteaded near where the present Maass ranch now stands. August received a somewhat sketchy education in the rural schools of the neighborhood. He left school when 15 and spent most of the next 20 years astride a cow pony on Butte and Meade County ranges.
While on the ranch near Faith, Mr. Maass was married in 1902 to Lillian Trumner. The Maasses lived 18 years in a log cabin which August built himself.
Mr. Maass keeps 500 head of ewes the year around and yearly buys several registered Hampshire rams. In 1938, he was feeding 1,100 head of lambs, using mostly beet by-products for feed. He grew 25 acres of sugar beets and the remainder of the irrigated land was devoted to feed crops.
When Mr. Maass returned to Butte County from the Faith ranch, the family lived in a small building which is now used as a granary. Later he built a large, modern house, with electric lights, running water and comfortable furniture.
A firm believer in cooperatives, Mr. Maass worked untiringly to build up his community. He was one of the organizers of the Western South Dakota Lamb Feeder’s Association.
He was president of the Patron Oil Company of Fruitdale; was one of the sponsors of the movement for the formation of the State Livestock Committee and later the State Livestock Sanitary Board, and was a member of the Land Classification Committee.
But it is the sugar beet and the 60,000 acres under irrigation in Butte County which stand as the principal monument to August Maass.
He was a director of his local Beet Growers Association and a member of the National Beet Growers’ Association. He has been a member of the Government Irrigation Board since 1928.