DIANE KINDT: P.P. Stoltzman arrived here by train

I am always looking for a story that would have taken place about this time of the year but in the past. I found something that I think is interesting and happened on March 7, 1907.

A gentlemen by the name of P.P. Stoltzman arrived in Mobridge on the 11 p.m. train. It was a bitterly cold night and all he could see within walking distance were a few tents and an assortment of shacks. Someone told him about a new rooming house owned by a Mrs. A. E. Flick but she informed him that all the beds were occupied. She said he could stay but had to sleep with I. E. Pierce who was also in the small town to establish a new business that would later be known as one of the finest hotels in the area and right across from the railroad. Stoltzman soon found out Pierce was going to be gone for five days so he had the bed to himself while he was in Minneapolis.

He came to Mobridge with the vision of starting a general store and ended up living with the carpenter until it was finished a month later. The store would have been built in the area of Rick’s Café on the south end of Main Street.

In a 1938 interview at the age of 80 he remembered how Mobridge was growing like a mushroom. After the original lot sales on Oct. 6. 1906, settlers poured into the area and became his best customers. His store was full of customers all day long as he worked by himself and they found whatever they needed. He opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 10 p.m. each day. He sold shoes, dress goods and dozens of other articles. He lived in the store and did his own clerking.

On March 15. 1908, Stoltzman met with eight others to organize the United Congregational Church. Seven days later they listened to Rev. F.W. Long of the Congregational Mission Society deliver their first sermon.

He also had the distinction of being Mayor in 1910. He said “my term as mayor was not particularly exciting. I met with the chief of police every morning and gave him what instructions I had and that’s about all there was to do.”

He sold his store in 1914 and went to Montana for a few years before returning to Mobridge where he lived the rest of his life.

Those who knew him in his later years described him as eccentric because his living quarters were filled with boxes; many still unpacked when he died in 1940. He was one of the first businessmen in Mobridge and did contribute to our beginning.

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