Mrs. Margaret Garland
Mrs. Margaret Garland came to Dakota Territory in 1879. She was a widower with three children Sarah Lovenia, Florence and “Cap” Garland from the Little House series, who settled in Lake Preston in the winter of 1879-1880. Later in 1880, she moved to De Smet and eventually had a boarding house built called the Garland House, which stood next to their home on the corner of Joliet Avenue and Second Street. The boarding house was located near Charles Ingalls’ store that the Ingalls lived in during the long winter.
In 1887, Mrs. Garland sold the Garland property to the Syndicate Hotel Company and the all-brick Syndicate Hotel was constructed. The Garland home was purchased along with their boarding house and the rear portion of the hotel construction frame served as the kitchen for the new hotel.
The Syndicate Hotel was first operated by Charles Ely and his family. The hotel changed many owners through the years. It was razed in 1991 and is now an empty lot on the corner.
Oscar Edmund “Cap” Garland
Oscar Edmund “Cap” Garland was born in Avoca, Wisconsin on December 27, 1864. He moved with his mother and two sisters to De Smet, SD. Laura tells of Cap and Almanzo making the trip south of De Smet to retrieve a supply of wheat for the homesteaders during the Long Winter.
Laura never extensively mentioned her schoolmate “Cap” Garland in her Little House series, however, she held an adolescent admiration for him, but had stronger feelings for Almanzo, who was older, an established homesteader and had the finest horses around. Although, Laura fancied Cap she mentioned he was a beau to her close friend, Mary Power. The two couples were all good friends and enjoyed sleigh-riding together.
Cap died while still young in an explosion of a threshing machine engine in 1890.
Florence Garland was born on May 14, 1862 in Wisconsin. She was the first official teacher in De Smet, SD, which opened in November 1880 and taught the Ingalls girls, as Laura described in the Long Winter. Both Laura and Carrie were taught by Florence and she placed Laura in the fifth reader.
Florence’s first teaching position was short-lived since the long winter caused the term to end early. After the long, hard winter, Almanzo’s sister, Eliza Jane Wilder, who had a land claim near De Smet, taught Laura and Carrie in the First School. Remember in Little Town on the Prairie, Laura did not always agree with Miss Wilder. She thought the teacher was unfair when she punished Carrie.
She married Charles Dawley on December 7, 1887 in De Smet. They lived the rest of their lives in the home that they built on Third Street.