Otto G. Meyer was born in Boscobel, Wisconsin, on December 22, 1884. When Otto was nine, the family moved to Monticello, Iowa. He came to West River to homestead in 1909.
“Of the 19 who first homesteaded,” Mr. Meyer recalls, “I was the only one who stuck it out when the dry years of 1910 and 1911 came and, “ he remarks proudly, “I was the only town boy in the bunch.”
The first homestead claim was located 3½ miles northwest of Sorum, South Dakota, in eastern Harding County. Mr. Meyer helped to build a store in Sorum which he later managed. In 1912, he built a house in town and in October of that year, he married Vivian L. Jones of Sorum. The couple raised three boys, Ray, Edward and Ralph. Ralph was killed in a flying accident in 1951.
Mr. Meyer moved to his present ranch, located on Rabbit Creek just one-half mile south of Sorum, in 1915. The farmstead is nestled among 11 acres of trees which he has planted during the past 45 years. Five years ago, he received the Shelter Belt Tree Award—the first such award given to a West River man.
The 3,000-acre spread is located in both Perkins and Harding Counties. The father and son team produces 90 calves each fall, feeds them until April, and markets them as short-feds. In addition, they raise 250 head of commercial hogs annually.
Mr. Meyer has been conscious of conservation practices and new ideas which would help him to better live with the new agriculture of the West. Several years ago, a system of dikes were built to retain water on Rabbit Creek for later spreading over pastures. This year, he got three cuttings from some stands of alfalfa. Also, he uses terraces to catch water runoff from the surrounding foothills. He is active in the beef production testing program conducted by the State College Extension Service.
Mr. Meyer, although a Congregationalist, attends the Lutheran Church in Sorum—the town’s only church. He is a member of the Farm Bureau, Crop Improvement Association, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, and has generally participated in activities which would better his community.