See previous posts here.
During the process of proving up the pre-emption, my great-great grandfather had to ask two of his friends/neighbors to act as witnesses for him and sign an affidavit under oath regarding his residency and cultivation of his land. The first witness for Zenophile was Ephraim Gregoire. I located Mr. Gregoire on the territorial census records for 1885, on the page before Zeno. They likely had neighboring farms.
I had to change the layout a little when transcribing it – for readability. This is otherwise a verbatim transcription of the document.
PRE-EMPTION PROOF —TESTIMONY OF WITNESS.
Ephraim Gregoire being called as a witness in support of the Pre-emption claim of Zenophile Lanctot, to the Northwest 1/4 Sec. 13, Twp. 99, Rng 67th testifies as follows:
Ques. 1. What is your postoffice address?
Ans. Bloomington Charles Mix Co., Dak.
Ques. 2. How long have you known claimant, and what is his age?
Ans. Since making his D.S. entry. 25 years.
Ques 3. Is claimant married or single?
2d. Of whom does this family (if any) consist?
3d. Is he a native or naturalized citizen?
2d. Wife and two children;
3d. Has declared his intention to become a citizen.
Ques 4. Are you familiar with the character of the land?
2d. Are there any indications of coal minerals or salines thereon? (If so state plainly the nature).
3d. Is it more valuable for agricultural than mining purposes?
4th. Do you reside in its vicinity?
5th. Is it within the limits of an incorporated or selected town site, or used in any way for purposes of trade or business? (Answer to the point and in detail).
Ans. 1st. Yes;
Ques. 5. Is claimant the owner of 320 acres in this or any other State or Territory?
2d. Did he leave or abandon a residence on his own land in this Territory to reside on the land herein described?
3d. Has he ever filed for or entered other land under the pre-emption law?
4th. Has he mortgaged or agreed to sell the land herein described?
Ans. 1st. No;
Ques. 6. When did claimant first settle on his claim?
2d. What was his first act of settlement?
3d. What improvement has he on land?
4th. What is the value of such improvements?
5th. When did he commence his residence thereon?
6th. Has his residence been continuous?
7th. What use has he made of the land?
8th. How much has he broken and cultivated? (Answer to the point and in detail).
Ans. 1st. August 1st, 1884.
2d. Built house and broke prairie.
3d. House 12×14, stable 12×16, 65 acres breaking, well;
5th. Aug 1, 1884.
7th. Farm and home;
8th. 65 acres
Ques. 7. Are you in any way interested in the claim, or by blood or marriage related to claimant?
Ans. No, and am in no way related.
and the reason of this testimony being sworn to before the clerk of the court of Charles Mix county is on account of the great distance from my residence to the local land office at Yankton, D.T.
I hereby certify that the witness is a person of respectability, that the foregoing testimony was read to him before being subscribed, and was sworn to before me, this 22nd day of August 1885, as provided by the amendatory act of Congress, approved June 9th 1880.
[see note fourth page]
Clerk of the Probate Court, Charles Mix County, Dakota Territory, within and for the Judicial District of said Territory.
There is quite a bit of information to gather from this document (keeping in mind that this is all secondary information). First, that at the time of this affidavit, Zenophile was married and had two children. Second, that he has declared his intent to become a citizen (which we already knew, but if this was the only page we had, that information would certainly be helpful).
I was also surprised to learn that his house was only 12×14, and that he and his wife and two children lived in there. Together. All of them. I have 1400 square feet for my daughter and myself, and sometimes it feels like we’re constantly on top of each other. I can’t imagine what would happen if we were limited to only using the living room! I wish I knew if that was a little one-story house, or if there was a loft or a second floor or a basement or something. I guess I’ll have to do some reading to see what the typical prairie house looked like in the Dakota Territory.
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