George Butterfield Sammons

1834 - 1914

“George Butterfield Sammons was one of the pioneer merchants of Sioux Falls, the third in reality, arriving here in 1873. He passed away at the home of his daughter, Mrs. J. D. Russell, in that city, November 20, 1914. He was born in Utica, New York, on the 24th of April, 1834, a son of Benjamin and Amanda (Butterfield) Sammons, the former of Scotch parentage.

George Butterfield Sammons received his education in the public schools and in a private academy and upon putting aside his textbooks found employment in a hardware store as bookkeeper. His business experience convinced him of the value of a thorough commercial training and he therefore entered a business college and prepared for the work of an expert accountant. He was next connected with a number of firms in Utica, New York. Subsequently he removed to Illinois and later to Nashua, Iowa. He next went to Frankville, Iowa, where he engaged in business, but in 1871 he made his way to Minnehaha county, Dakota, and took up a homestead in the southeastern part of Benton township. He then returned to Iowa and did not locate in this state until 1873. As soon as he proved up on his claim he disposed of it and in 1873 embarked in the dry-goods and grocery business in Sioux Falls. At that time there were only two others in business in the city, these being Charles Howard and William Van Eps. In 1880 he moved his stock to Brandon, where he conducted a general store for a time. At length, however, he returned to Sioux Falls and engaged in the grocery business with Samuel Cochran, which association was continued with mutual pleasure and profit until 1908, when the partnership was dissolved. The firm was widely known and enjoyed a reputation for commercial honor and integrity that was unassailable. They carried a large stock of goods and their customers could always be sure that groceries bought from them were fresh. After disposing of his interest in the business Mr. Sammons was for two years in the county auditor’s office. He was active until failing health caused him to retire and at the time of his death he was residing with his daughter.

In 1856 Mr. Sammons was united in marriage to Miss Ada A. Robinson, a daughter of Elijah and Elizabeth (Jefferson) Robinson. Her paternal ancestors were of Scotch extraction and early settlers of Vermont. The Jefferson family was also of early origin and among those who came to America on the Mayflower was one Jepson, which name was afterward changed to Jefferson. Mrs. Robinson, the mother of Mrs. Sammons, was a poetess of ability and was associated with Susan B. Anthony in her great work. To Mr. and Mrs. Sammons were born two children: William H., who is now residing in Ely, Nevada; and Jenny R., the wife of J. D. Russell, of Sioux Falls, who is connected with the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. They have a daughter, Winifred C. Mrs. Sammons passed away on October 28, 1911, three years before the demise of her husband.

Mr. Sammons was a republican in politics and was the first treasurer of Sioux Falls, holding that office for one year at that time and later for five years, and discharging his duties with conscientiousness and ability. His religious adherence was given the Baptist church. He was one of the charter members of the first Masonic lodge in Sioux Falls and was always enthusiastic in his allegiance to that order, embodying in his life its principle of human brotherhood. He last attended lodge on the occasion of the installation of officers, at which time he was taken ill and brought home, never being able to go out again. He broke down completely but was in no pain, merely the surrender of nature to old age. He was one of the real pioneers of his city and manifested those sturdy virtues that enabled the early settlers to endure the hardships of a new country and to lay broad and deep the foundation for a great commonwealth. He was well known and those who knew him most intimately had for him the highest regard.”

George W. Kingsbury, History of Dakota Territory, Vol. 5 (Chicago: S. J. Clarke, 1915) pp. 186 – 189.

George Butterfield Sammons lived to the age of 79 years and was buried on November 23, 1914, in Block 8, Lot 7 of the Cemetery along with his wife Ada, who preceded him in death in 1911. Also buried in the family Lot are his daughter, Jenny R., and her husband, J. D. Russell along with other members of the Russell family.