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John T. Belk

Mr. John T. Belk
John T. Belk

Eminent Farmer

County: Codington

John T. Belk, Henry, South Dakota, was born in Ottawa, Illinois, in 1860.  In 1882 he came to South Dakota and homesteaded one quarter-section of land two miles north of Henry.  On this farm he specialized in raising high-grade potatoes.


Mr. Belk first became interested in cooperative work back in the ‘80’s when he was president of the Farmers’ Alliance.  He helped organize a creamery and was a director of the enterprise.

In 1906 and 1907 Mr. Belk was a leader in the organization of the Henry Union telephone company, and a local farmers’ elevator.

He helped organize a state association of farmers’ elevators, was made one of the state directors, and later became secretary and president of the association.  Mr. Belk organized many co-op elevators, livestock shipping, and lumber companies in this state.

He was one of a group to take over the Cooperative Journal publishing company which published the Cooperative Journal, Cooperative Manager, and Farmer’s Elevator Guide.

Mr. Belk was either a director, secretary, or president of the state Cooperative Grain Elevator association, and a director of the national organization.  In 1913 he was one of the group which drafted a cooperative law, the first in South Dakota.

Mr. Belk was a director for South Dakota of the United States Grain Growers, Inc.

During the war Mr. Belk was appointed a member of the state exemption board.  During 1938 Govenor Norbeck appointed him chairman of a committee to investigate warehouses, and the building and operating of state-owned flour mills and pack plants.

In 1893 Mr. Belk was elected to the legislature and introduced the bill for a twine plant at the state prison.  From 1919 to 1923 he was a member of the legislature again and introduced the bill to investigate conditions in the twine plant and was made chairman of the investigation committee.  He later introduced a bill to reimburse farmers for ruined twine.

Mr. Belk was married in 1893 to Jenny Hazlett of Monona, Iowa.  They had four children.