In January 1872, Thomas Dennistoun left all he knew behind as he ventured from the land of his birth and headed across the ocean to the United States.
Although Redwood County would not be part of his story for more than a decade after his arrival, it would play a major role in his life as a successful crop and livestock farmer.
Dennistoun, who was born in Scotland, Aug. 20, 1839 to Malcolm and Ellen (Dobbie) Dennistoun, was one of six children. Of the six Dennistoun progeny it was only Thomas who called America his home.
The son of a farmer and stone-wall contractor, Dennistoun arrived in New York where he stayed for about four years before heading west to Kansas where he worked as a ranch foreman. One year later he headed north to Minneapolis where he worked on the farm of a Colonel King – a position he held for two years before moving to Wisconsin. It was in 1884 when Dennistoun arrived in Redwood County.
There he bought land.
The land he purchased was a quarter section in Section 27 of Paxton Township, which was known for some time as the “Huddles,” because it was a place where white settlers hid for safety during the U.S. Dakota War.
The original purchase price was $10 per acre.
On that farm, Dennistoun raised Shorthorn cattle, Clyde graded horses and Berkshire and Poland China hogs. During the time the operation was in full swing there were also sheep.
While Dennistoun raised oats and corn, the majority of his land was dedicated to pasture for the livestock.
Dennistoun was actively involved in politics and was a member of the Republican Party. In local politics, he served for more than two decades on the township board and also served as a school board member.
Dennistoun was married Feb. 26, 1865 to Elizabeth (Miller) in Scotland. The couple had eight children, Elizabeth, born in 1865 and who died in 1869, Malcolm, born in 1867, Thomas, who was born in 1870 and died in 1872, Alexander, who was born in 1872, David, who was born in 1874, Margaret, who was born in 1876, Thomas, who was born in 1878 and James, who was born in 1882 and died in 1884.
Dennistoun’s connection to Redwood County came through the Gilfillan family. During his time in the Min-neapolis area, Dennistoun rented land from C.D. Gilfillan and when he first came to Redwood County he helped open the Gilfillan farm.
Dennistoun was 80 years old when he died, and he was remembered for his service to his community and for his vision to create a viable ag operation for himself and future generations of the Dennistoun clan. To all his friends, he was known as Grandpa Dennistoun, which reflected the caring, nurturing side of this area pioneer.