From the North End: Gaughen Township

FROM THE NORTH END: AFTER A BIT OF A RESPITE FROM WINTER LAST WEEK with almost spring-like temperatures,  we returned to a taste of winter with enough snow and wind to shut down area schools and activities for a day. According to the weatherman the snow may be gone by week’s end. This corner’s opinion is that moisture is always welcome even when it’s a bit of a nuisance.

I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A BIT INTRIGUED BY THE NAME “GAUGHEN” as there was once a Gaughen township in Gregory County. Gaughen township no longer exists, but is now Scissons Township. Where did the name “Gaughen” come from?

This past week I came across a little handwritten notebook entitled, “Notes from Lucas Trip” which gave details of the Buchanan Sanitarium, the exact location of the Jack Sully home located a bit northeast of the Sanitarium, a bit of history of those souls buried in the Sully Cemetery, and other points of interest in the Lucas area, and a bit on P. J. Gaughen. I believe the “Notes” were written by my grandmother, Stella McMullen, whose folks settled on Mullen Flats in 1904 and liked to take drives to Lucas area. I was fortunate to be able to accompany her on some of these trips and, as a result, learned a bit of history of the area.

According to  “Notes from Lucas Trip” P.J. Gaughen was an Irish immigrant whose family settled in Fort Dodge, Iowa. P.J. came to Dakota Territory with his brother, David. The “P” was the first initial of Pat. Pat opened trading posts in Platte, Castalia (in the Platte/Geddes area) Kimball, and Bonesteel.  He married Jack Sully’s step-daughter, Mary Brinnell. He built a log cabin on his rangeland in Gaughen Township, now Scissons.  He died at age 47 years leaving his widow and five children.  His assistant, Herb McKee, moved to Gregory and had previously set up banks which he operated from Gaughen’s stores. Pat’s brother, David, homesteaded north of Bonesteel and also had a store in his dwelling.

Also in the “Notes” is a description of the Sully Cemetery. In addition to Jack Sully, Joseph LeTourneau (Blackbird) is buried in the small cemetery. Letourneau/Blackbird married Jack Sully’s step-daughter, Estella Kincaid in Castalia. Joseph rode with Jack Sully. He had six children; two were buried in the Sully cemetery-Joseph (nicknamed Johnie) and a stillborn baby, Mary. Mary Drappeau, wife of Narcisse Drappeau was also buried in the Sully cemetery, but was exhumed and removed to the Drappeau cemetery in Charles Mix County.

“Notes from Lucas Trip” also gave details of the “Mullen Mansion” now “The Grayhouse Inn” located in Gregory, in addition to notes about the early townsites of Day, Wade and Mullen  which I’ll deal with in future columns.

Author:  Jack Broome

*Originally published in the Burke Gazette 1-24-18

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