Moving from Wisconsin, Simon Nicholas home-steaded in South Dakota in the 1800s with his wife and at least nine children. At a farm near Miller in Hand County (halfway between Huron and Pierre), he raised cattle and small grains. In 1909, well into his sixth decade, Nicholas retired, moved to town and began to plan a sale.
The sale bill listed 22 head of horses, 18 head of cattle, 16 hogs, a registered boar and a selection of farm machinery. Free lunch was offered to 1,000 men. If that many showed, the sale was surely the premier social event of the season in Hand County in 1909.
Unfortunately, Simon's golden years were short-lived. "Great-granddad sold the farm, moved to town and was killed in a wreck with a team and wagon a few years later," notes Roger Nicholas, Simon's great-grandson. "He should have unloaded more of those horses, I guess."
A retired farmer, Roger is haunted by the items listed on the sale bill: The offering of farm equipment and miscellaneous items remains tantalizing. "Wish we collectors could go to this sale," he muses, "but we're 95 years late."
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