H. E. Baxter, Hazel, South Dakota, was born and reared on a farm in central Illinois. He came to South Dakota with his parents in 1883 and they located in the northern part of Hamlin County. Watertown was the closest trading post.
The first years of farming produced bumper crops from the new land and there was little need for worry about weeds and plant diseases. Oats would rust a little but the Blue Steam wheat, which was the main crop, came through year after year.
“Mustard was the first weed that caused us alarm,” he recalls. “We kept the farm free of mustard for years by pulling the plants up by hand.”
Under the firm name of Baxter Brothers, H. E. Baxter had ownership in a threshing machine which was pulled around the country with oxen. The grain was fed into the machine by hand and in one season the outfit made a run of more than 80 days.
In 1893 Mr. Baxter was married to Alice Green, a daughter of a pioneer Hamlin County family. They had three sons and three daughters.
In 1930 Mr. Baxter turned over six quarter sections of his land to the children.
Mr. Baxter served nearly 40 years as clerk on the school board. He has also been on the official board of the Methodist Church for more than 50 years. He helped organize the first farmer’s elevator at Grover in 1905 and was on the first board of directors. He has served on the county Farm Bureau board and is a member of the county crop improvement association.
The Baxters have had bad times with the good. In 1924 a disastrous wind storm wrecked most of the farm buildings except the house.
Mr. Baxter has been a sheep man since 1985 with the exception of a few years, and at one time milked 22 cows.
In 1896 he ordered a check row corn planter, one of the first in the state. Mr. Baxter also bought the first manure spreader to be sold out of Watertown. In 1928 Mr. Baxter purchased a combine.
In 1949, on his eighty-first birthday, Mr. Baxter sold his livestock and equipment, but he still lives in the farm home which he and his wife established in 1893.