It is always nice to have some perspective of where the town of Tea started. Before all the development of homes and businesses that we know of, Tea has a rich and interesting history. Enjoy!
History Notes from Idena Schriever
The village of Byron was begun after the survey of the railroad line from Yankton to Sioux Falls was completed. With the completion of the railroad, the community decided it needed a post office, so an application was submitted. The postal authorities advised the town fathers that several other communities were also named Byron. They requested the community select 10 short names from which one would be chosen. At a meeting around the pot-bellied stove in Heerens and Peter's General Store, townspeople came up with nine names and could not think of the 10th. Since this was a German based community, the tradition of afternoon tea was a necessity. When someone suggested that they break for tea, the idea to put Tea on the list was agreed upon. The postal authorities advised the town that the name "Tea" had been selected.
The town of Tea was plotted in 1900 and incorporated in 1906.
Peters' and Heeren's Store was built in the 1880's before the railroad went through. The store had groceries, general merchandise, machinery, kerosene, and the like. It was a two-story building with the telephone office on the southeast corner of the second floor. Emma Koch Hoyer was the first phone operator and Fred Meier was the owner.
Later on, Fred Meier sold it to Charlie Kundert of Harrisburg. After the store burned in 1911, the telephone office was located west of the bank, which later burned. The telephone company was then moved to what was known as the Fritz building. From there it was moved two blocks west of the present store building.
William Heeren opened the first lumberyard where the Legion Hall is now located. This lumberyard opened in 1895 and closed in 1909. Ross Lumber Yard started in 1903 with Herman Koch and Adolph Rowether as manager, until 1919 when Dan Weis took over until it burned in 1954. Around this time, Weis started Tea Supply and ran it until 1970 when he retired due to poor health.
Ed Wendt started a blacksmith shop in the late 1880's. Sometime later he built a hardware store in Tea which he sold to John Claus Straatmeyer. Later on, Radlingerestablished another blacksmith shop, which closed in 1929.
In the late 1920's, R.E. Schmidt opened another general store in Tea. Later on, this building housed the Alfred Buus grocery store.
A livery stable was started in Tea by the Pitts brothers which later was run by Dick Highstreet. At one time, Tea had a cheese factory run by Charlie Blanche. Tea also had a hotel, owned and managed by Charlie Hoyer, who also had a meat market in the same building. This was located near where Al Ihnen now lives.
At one time, Tea had three saloons and a pool hall. Some of the early proprietors included Jim Malloy, Dick Halverson, Charlie Steinke, Bill Winker and Fred Klatt.
Ernest Weise, Ben Ackerman and Ben Barnes ran a harness shop in Tea. Louie Hess had a paint shop in Tea, and he also bought cream and poultry. Dick Shriever also bought cream and poultry in Tea for Crescent Creamery for 23 years in the house that sits south of the Cenex now.
Bill Hoffman and Ed Schriever were the first carpenters in Tea. John Camp did a lot of woodwork and carpentry work in Tea also in the early 1900's.
Mr. Mrs. Charley Barnes had one of the first eating-places in Tea. The first caf was started by Ray Larcom and later run by Professor O.J. Smith, Henry Buus, Minnie and Lizzie Walthuis.
Paul Harkness printed the town's only newspaper, The Tea Signal, in 1914 and 1915. There were three elevators in Tea at one time. The Farmer's Elevator was built in the late 1890's by John and Aldrich Groeneveld, and managed by Henry Bruhn. John Wheelhouse managed another elevator. Tea had two doctors at one time: Dr. Cole and Dr. Ziegler, who also owned the drug store.
The first bank in Tea was situated in the same location that is now the O'Toole Bar. It was built about 1900 and was a bank until 1922 when it went broke. The first cashier was Mr. Dewey. The first post office of Tea was in Peters' and Heeren' store. John Heeren was the first postmaster. The first rural route was started in 1903 and the first mail carrier was Henry Heeren.
After his death in 1906, his wife Flora carried mail for the next 30 years. The store burned in 1911 and Mr. Heeren resigned and moved to California. In 1912, Alfred Peters was commissioned postmaster, since he had been acting postmaster before this. The first Great Northern Depotagent for Tea was Rudy Frink. John Everwein and later George Buskohl carried mail from the Tea post office to the depot. Buskohl also served as the community drayman.John and Tony Everwein built a garage in 1920 and later sold it to Carl Musch, who sold it to Fred Jacobs. The building is still standing today and run by Steve Naatjes. Frank Feltis had a barbershop and pool hall in the location where the Tea Steak House now stands.
The first gas station in Tea was built by John Harms Wheelhouse and later sold to John Buus. The first bank was formed in 1903 by Henry Kortmeyer and was discontinued in 1911. In 1923, Dan Weis started another band with six members. The first Summer Tea Town Band was under the direction of Dan Weis, manager of Ross Lumber Company. Weis donated his time and efforts towards building the musical organization to a total of 26 members.
Dan Weis, J.P. Olson and John Buus organizedthe first Boy Scout troop with Philip Hoel as Scoutmaster in about 1936.
Some of the first section foremen on the Great Northern Railroad were Harm Begeman, Ben Dirksen, Otto Saalborn and Hy Schoen.
The Woodman Hall was the scene of all the activities, dances, school plays, church suppers, memorial programs, roller-skating and basketball games. Ed Hoyer, Bessie Lamm Guemmer, Art Guemmer and Ernest Weise furnished the dance music. Later on, Tea had outdoor movies at the end of Main Street.
The Tea Public School originated in 1879 with the building of the first schoolhouse (built 1 1/2 miles west of the present edifice). There was an enrollment of 11 pupils and first teacher was Mr. Mahor. A two-story schoolhouse was built in Tea in 1904 which was used until the present one was built in 1959.
In 1889, it was decided to build a church on the Dietrich Peters farm (1 1/2 miles east and 1 1/2 miles south of Tea). It was dedicated on December 1, 1889 and used until 1897. That church was later torn down and the lumber used to build a parsonage in Tea. A new church was built in Tea in 1897 and used until the new Lutheran church was built in 1963, at which time a new parsonage was also built.
The St. Nicholas Catholic Church was organized in 1904 and built in 1906. Paul Nichols donated the church ground
and the church still stands on the same site. The cost of the original building was $800. No other building has been erected, but an addition that included an entry and bell tower was added in 1955. The structure was at least doubled in size with the sanctuary, sacristy and choir room added. The parish continues to grow and in 1972 another addition was built, adding more seating capacity and a parish hall.
Tea also sponsored Girl Scouts, baseball and softball teams, girls' basketball team, American Legion (Earl Albers was the first Commander and Eleanor Fritz as the first President).
On November 23, 1906, the Board of Trustees of the Town of Tea met for the purpose of organizing. Their first Chairman and Justice of the Peace was William Heeren, first Clerk was J.H. Cruse, first Treasurer was Henry Bruhns, and first Marshal was F. Heeren. During their first meeting, a motion was made that R.C. Halverson Co., C. Steinike Co., and J.H. Malloy each be fined $5.00 for selling intoxicating liquor without a license. An ordinance stated a license was required where non-intoxicating liquor was sold must close at 11:00 PM and must not open until 5:00 AM the next day. The first trustees were paid $0.50 a meeting. The Marshal would collect two percent of the money collected and $1.00 for each dog disposed of.
In March 1908, the President of the Board was E.A. Wendt, A.W. Dula was Clerk, Emil Bellach was Road Overseer, and Marshall Henry Bruhn was Treasurer. Other trustees were J.H. Cruise and C.J. Hoyer. In April 1908, Dula resigned and Hoyer was appointed Clerk. At a later meeting, a motion was made to purchase the Marshal a star which cost $2.08, purchased from Peters' and Heeren's Store. It was arranged to build sidewalks in 1908.
If you were to study early records if Delapre township in the late 1870's and early 1880's, you would recognize such names as Reichelt, Ritter, Messner, Koch, Stratmeyer, Nickel, Muller, Krell, Curley, Hoffman, Peterson, Heerens, Dejtens, Schmidt, Bellachs and Fritz. These names and their ancestors are still found on the township records today. They were the homesteaders, the pioneers of our township, county, and state. Most of the original homesteaders in this township were of German descent. They were farmers by trade and were grateful for the rich, black soil they had found.
Delapre Township is about nine miles from east to west and five miles from north to south. It is situated in the northwest corner of Lincoln County, South Dakota and isbordered on the west by Turner County and on the north edge by Minnehaha County.Prior to the settlement of Delapre Township, theYankton Trail crossed from the southwest to the northeast corner. This trail started at a fort near Yankton and followed prairie, hills and flatlands diagonally to the Sod Fort in Sioux Falls. It was first used to carry supplies from the Missouri River to the settlers in the Sioux Falls area in the late 1850's.
In the 1870's, a stagecoach ran on the trail. Along the Yankton Trail, on the southwest corner of Section 23, were a post office and a village called Antioch. The founder was a gentleman from Antioch, Illinois. The post office operated from 1877 to 1890. Part of the post office building is still standing on the Rueben Reichert farm and is part of his house.
Section Line roads and the railroad eventually replaced the Yankton Trail. On September 17, 1892, Senator R.F. Pettigrew of Sioux Falls, who served as president, organized the Sioux Falls, Yankton and Southwestern Railroad. A short time later, the first passengers arrived at Sioux Falls from Lennox. Finally, on October 19, 1893, the regular passenger and freight service on the line began under the management of the Great Northern Railway. It remained until April 1959, when passenger service was discontinued. The line was abandoned in 1982.
The railroad established the second town in Delapre Township - Byron, later renamed Tea. The railroad brought a depot, several grain elevators, and mail service. Early schools in the township included Schoffelman School in the southwest, Goldenrod School in the northwest, Radar School in the southeast, Dewey School in the north central and Tea School, originally in Section 34, but later moved into Tea. At one time, there was also a school on Section 23.
Early churches in the township included Trinity Lutheran Church, which was originally built in LaValley Township in 1889 but moved to Tea in 1897. St. Nicholas Catholic Church was built in Tea in 1905-06. Around 1918, the Salem Presbyterian Church was built in Section 21. This structure was later moved to Lennox.
Today the population of Delapre Township has doubled with housing developments and acreage's taking over some of the fine farmland. Tea's population has tripled. The large school in Tea serves much of Delapre Township and is part of the Lennox School District. The Harrisburg School District serves families in the eastern part of the township.
Interstate 29 opened in 1958 and has encouraged business growth. At the Tea interchange is the Great Plains Airport, established in 1969 under the name of Sky Haven Airport. It is the busiest private airport in South Dakota. Only the Sioux Falls airport records more daily departures and landings. Nearly 50 businesses have located near the airport and the Tea interchange.
With housing developments growing next to businesses and farms, there have been numerous changes in the past 10 or 20 years. If the immigrants of yesteryear were to return today, with their primarily German, agricultural heritage, they would be more than a little surprised at the monumental changes in every area of Delapre Township.