County: Fall River
W. F. (Will) Wyatt, arrived in the Black Hills on foot as a young man of 20 in 1884 and spent his first night lost in the mountains in the vicinity of his present ranch in Fall River County. Born in Stafford, England, October 16, 1864, he left home at 17. He established the nucleus of his 3,600-acre ranch 20 miles south of Hot Springs, and in 50 years of effort, probably did more than any other man in the Southwestern South Dakota to organize cattle ranchers to overcome water shortages and enforce law on the range.
On September 25, 1889, he married Sadie M. Henton, a homesteader and schoolteacher who had come to the Black Hills with her brothers. This partnership continued 52 years until her death in April 1940.
He left the ranch in 1908 but retained the part where the house, built from natural stone, now stands, and in 1918 returned to the ranch. The government was urging the cattlemen to expand their business and Mr. Wyatt invested heavily in high-priced cattle, only to go broke in 1922 when deflation came. He met his obligations, however, before going broke again in 1934 because of drought and grasshoppers. He has never defaulted in one cent of his obligations, and in 1941 was well on the way to recovery.
A herd of Hereford cattle ran on the ranch the year around, and in addition, in partnership with his son-in-law, a 21 dairy was operated.
Mr. Wyatt was, in 1941, one of the three living charter members of the old Western South Dakota Stock Growers association which was organized in 1981. He also helped organize the Fall River-Custer County cattle association in the 1880’s. Mr. Wyatt’s “Y and A T” brand was registered in 1890.
Mr. Wyatt’s greatest interest was in dam building and other range conservation programs. He served as range inspector for the AAA program in the county, from the beginning.
Mr. Wyatt was a member of the County Farm Bureau since its organization and was appointed to the first county Extension board of which he became president. In 1939 the Hot Springs Kiwanis club gave recognition to his years of leadership by electing him to Honorary membership.
Mr. Wyatt died in November 1949.