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Henry J. Briscoe

Mr. Henry J. Briscoe
Henry J. Briscoe

Eminent Farmer

County: Potter

Henry J. Briscoe, Gorman, is known chiefly for his experiments in stock raising. He was one of the first men in Sully County to test his cattle for tuberculosis and though he lost 42% of his herd in the first test and 25% in the recheck, he continued to test.

His cattle several times topped the Sioux City, Iowa, market during the 1920’s. Another of Briscoe’s specialties, registered purebred Chester White pigs which were sold in his county and in neighboring counties.

He was born March 7, 1875, near Dwight in Livingston County, Illinois. He had two brothers and four sisters, all of whom later lived in South Dakota.

Briscoe started school in Illinois and attended the irregular school term offered in South Dakota when his family moved west in the spring of 1884. They came first to Blunt but soon homesteaded in Sully County, nine miles northwest of Onida. The family lived there for seven years, then moved nearer to the Potter County line and finally into Potter County.

He started farming for himself when 22-years-old. In 1901 he married Hulda Westphal, daughter of one of the pioneers of the state. The same year he bought 160 acres. The farm later contained 1,120 acres. He also owned 800 acres of land in other counties, making a total of 1,920 acres.

In spite of devoting much attention to his extensive farming operations, Briscoe was active in numerous community and state affairs. He served as a director of the Central Mutual Insurance company, as a state central committeeman for the Democratic party, was a member of the Potter County agricultural extension board and was chairman of the board in 1936 when it was organized. During the first two years the AAA was in operation, he was a member of both the corn-hog and wheat boards, and in 1934 served on the township cattle committee. He was a crop reporter for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a weather observer.

One of the high points of his career cam in May, 1935, when the farmers of Potter County chose him to represent them in Washington, D.C., when farmers from all over the nation gathered in the interests of farm legislation.