Our Old House

We moved back to South Dakota from Arizona in 1975 and were living at Baltic. I came hunting at my dad’s farm near Lake Poinsett quite often. That is how I discovered this house. One weekend  I had Rose and the three girls go with me to look at, what I considered to be a great fixer-upper house for us. We were planning to move near the Lake anyhow. They took one look at the place and unanimously decided I was in desperate need of a mental evaluation. This old house had not been lived in  for nearly 25 years. It never did have running water in it, electricity was installed in 1947, the heavy outside wires had been stolen for the copper value. The place had become party headquarters for all pubescent youngsters from a wide area.

It was evident from extensive damage it was also a training ground for adolescents getting ready for a reign of destructive mischief and vandalism. I believe there was only one window left in the place that had not been broken. With the windows being gone all those years the rain came in causing most of the plaster to be lying on the floor.  I was starting to have doubts if it truly was a fixer upper.

We bought the place and started driving there every weekend to work on it. The original House was built on a rock foundation that was falling apart because of homemade mortar, it had a crawl space underneath it, just like any old granary or out building, it was an ideal place for skunks to live, also raccoons, some raccoons were also in the upstairs rooms. There were a few barn owls in the Attic. One of the first orders of business was to give eviction notices to all of Nature’s Nocturnal Critters. There were many night creatures looking for a new place to sleep their days away. Like people, several needed more than one eviction notice.

The outhouse had fallen apart, no doubt after being tipped over many times. I found a usable outhouse at the local small town dump and brought it home on my boat trailer, that must have been a sight to behold. The girls we’re having a fit about having to go out behind the old fallen down barn. I thought I’d be a good daddy and get them a porta potty. After the running water was set up and plumbing installed an inside bathroom was the first order of business. There is nothing like pooping in the house on a cold winter night, or day either for that matter.

We cleaned the cistern out and started having water hauled from a nearby town when a pressure pump was set up. It was the first time the house had running water in it, felt like we were living on top of the world. An old pitcher pump had been used to pump water from the cistern. There was a small Root Cellar under the original house, it was about 8 by 8 with rock walls, it was part way beneath the new edition that was built in 1898. It had an outside entrance, and was a good root cellar to store things in, that’s where I put the water pump.

It was a very slow process, a tue labor of love. In time the walls were finished with new sheetrock, floors covered with rugs, windows all installed, mostly used windows from various sales. In later years two solar panels were built. Rural Water came through which was a luxury. There was a well on the place, 218 feet deep, we pulled the well pipe one time and put a new cylinder on it, but it plugged up before very long. Rural water was a blessing for us. We fixed the old house up and called it home for over 40 years. It is still being lived in today. I’m proud of helping rescue an old house from demolition. There are many memories from that place, like the first time after we had electricity hooked up again, we sat outside and watched the yard light come on at sundown, that was cause for celebration.

Lillie Peterson and Carl Knutson with one of his daughters came to visit us in about 1985. We all had a good visit and they loved visiting their old home.


Brookings, winner of the Public Opinion’s 190th “Picture Of The Week” series. Pictured are 117 (we hope we counted correctly) beautiful people taken in 1904, back when suits, ties, hats and long dresses were the rule instead of the exception —

This was the farm home of Peter and Maria Knutson located in Brookings County, nine miles north of Arlington on Highway 81. The family with nine children moved into the home in 1898 and built on the part to the right. The house is still in use today. This picture was taken on Oct. 2, 1904 on the occasion of the 25th wedding anniversary of Peter and Maria and their son Carl’s marriage to Garda Rheinholtson. Bride’s attendants were Louise Knutson and Carrie Rheinholtson. Groomsmen were Palmer Christiansen and George Rheinholston. The Knutson’s entire family of 13 children are on the picture: Carrie, Carl, Louise, Clara, Mayme, Ole, Lewis, Lillie (the only one living), May, Annie, Peter, Jr., Fred and Eddie. The house is still standing east of Highway 81, east of the Badger road, south of Lillie Peterson Colonial Village No. 15 Brookings, SD 57006

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