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 Ernest Bormann


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Homesteading in the South Dakota Badlands: 1912 "The Last Best West"
by Ernest G Bormann Snr.

In 1912, one of the last frontiers in the United states remained in western South Dakota. As a young lad, just turned 21, Ernest G. Bormann, later a retired banker, homesteaded south of Wall in the edge of the Badlands.

Five of six Bormann brothers, all South Dakotans, filed on and proved up homesteads in the west: Henry, in Roger Mills County, Oklahoma, in 1904; Charles in Haakon County, South Dakota, in 1906; Fred G., in Perkins County, South Dakota, in 1909; Ernest G., in Pennington County, South Dakota, in 1912; and John, also in Pennington County, in 1915.

Ernest has written here of some of his interesting experiences, living for a year and a half by himself, in a tarpaper clad shanty on his claim, in what he calls "The Last, Best West."

He knew Wall when Wall was young. He toured the Badlands - on foot - before there were any roads, and before his claim and a big area south of it became a national monument.

The author of this book lived in South Dakota all of his life, the last forty years in Stickney, where the Bormann brothers transferred a bank in 1933, which they had founded in Beardsley, in 1919. Ernest's first banking experience was gained at Wall, after he had finished homesteading and country school teaching (all in Pennington County). He passed away in February of 1986 at the age of 95, his wife preceding him in 1985. Of their three children, two sons and a daughter, Ernest, Jr., is a professor at the University of Minnesota; Dennis is a professor at the University of Nebraska; Grace (Unruh) lives in Seal Beach, California.