In 1873, David O. Crooks with his parents, John Nelson Crooks and Caroline (Chesley) Crooks, his sister Harriet Elizabeth, and brothers Henry and Will, came to Dakota Territory and settled on the site of the present town of Crooks, South Dakota.
DO Crooks, then a lad of 19, secured a pre-emption and timber claim in the SW 1/4 of Sec. 2, Benton Twp., Range 50 in Minnehaha County. (Palmira Park Addition is located in the SW 1/4 of Section 2 today.)
The family were among the pioneers, moving here by ox team. They built a sod house and stable for their first shelters. For the next three years, a large number of emigrants moved in and settled near by and work was exchanged among the neighbors. Thus the farming community of Crooks was begun.
The first Post Office was secured in 1876, and Ole Nelson who lived about a mile southwest was the first post master. The office was called NEW HOPE after the town in Wisconsin where Mr. Nelson had formerly lived.
The first school meeting was held on the 29th of February, 1876 in District # 41. Prairie fires raged and the grasshoppers destroyed everything that was growing.
On May 11, 1876, large numbers of maple trees were planted by John N. and his son DO Crooks.
The first annual school meeting was held in DIstrict #44 on March 3, 1877, and on April 20, the first school was held in District #42. Lydia Evans was the teacher.
This same year, DO Crooks and father set out 6000 cottonwood cuttings brought from the Dan Lifto farm four miles south; and on June 14, DO Crooks signed $15.00 for the bridge across the SIoux River at Davenports. The grasshoppers again appeared and destroyed the crops.
On October 8, 1877, Ole Nelson resigned as Postmaster and John Nelson Crooks signed a $1000.00 bond for Lorenzo Aldrich who was appointed to suceed Mr. Nelson. This same day, Mr. Aldrich who was a good shot brought down five geese with one shot. On November 21, 1877, DO Crooks assisted in looking over the mail for the first time.
A meeting was held at the Ole Nelson house on January 19, 1878 to see about having the town surveyed; and on May 6th school openend in District #44, in WA Crooks' sod house, half a mile north. Miss Lillie Darrow was the teacher.
March 9, 1978. The Scandinavian Church by the SIoux RIver was blown down. In August the hoppers again cleaned up the crops and gardens.
On October 18, 1878, John Nelson Crooks proved up on his homestead. His house was the first frame house to be built in the town. The lumber for the upright part was brought from Sibley, Iowa by ox team and the trip took three or four days.
In December, 1878, a well was dug and stoned up and bucket and rope were used to haul water from it. This well was located a short distance south of Mr. Crooks' home.
The location of the Post Office was changed on April 24, 1878 to the home of WA Crooks.
On January 17, 1880, a meeting was held in the new school house to organize a vigilante committee as the James and Younger brothers who had robbed the bank at Northfield, Minnesota were known to be in the vicinity.
Prairie fires raged in April and much damage was done. John Magnuson who lived a mile northeast lost his stable, grain, pigs, sheep and turkeys. Peter Byg was burned to death. He was the first person to be buried in the Benton Lutheran Churchyard. A Mr. Baker was badly burned at the same time.
School began again in District #44 on May 17, and Miss Metta Barnes was the teacher. On June 5th, WA Crooks finished the building of his new house and a picnic and dance was held in the evening to celebrate the event.
The town suffered a real loss on September 24, 1881, in the death of John Nelson Crooks when he suffered a heart attack while at work in the hay field. He is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetary in SIoux Falls. His wife, Caroline Matilda (Chesley) (Foster) Crooks survived him many years, and died in Crooks April 25, 1905.
DO Crooks now took care of both his father's farm and his own, and lived with his mother. On March 24, 1887 he married Miss Nettie Smallwood, a school-teacher in the County. She had come to visit her uncle, John Tyler, and stayed on to teach school for three years before becoming the wife of DO Crooks.
In the fall of 1889, DO Crooks moved to his own farm where he had during the summer months built a five room house. This was the year that Dakota Territory was divided and admitted to the Union as North and South Dakota.
Much interest was taken about this time in music and concerts were often given by the bands which had been formed in Baltic, Lyons, Renner and Crooks.
Casper Barwin moved his family to Crooks from Chicago in 1879 and his son, Ed Barwin, started a general store one block north of DO Crooks' store, and Ole Brende was the clerk.
In June 1904, The New Hope Creamery was built where the Johnson store now stands.(Critters Bar??) A thriving business was done here. Frank H. Floyd was the moving spirit in the enterprise and GA Crooks, the son of WA Crooks, was put in as manager.
This building was burned to the ground on August 22, 1895. The cause was supposed to be from spontaneous combustion. This was rebuilt in January 1897 by Mr. Floyd and the farmers, and was located a block northeast of the old site. It did not begin to do business until January of the next year when it operated about two years.
A barber shop and pool hall was started September 13, 1905 by RWE (Ralph Waldo Emerson) Clift. DO Crooks bought the schoolhouse in District #41, and moved the building by ox team to the ground where the first creamery was located. Here he started a general store and though crowded did a good business for several years. The produce was hauled by team to Sioux Falls and the groceries and other goods were brought back-taking a whole day to make the trip.
After two or three years, DO Crooks built the two story store building and his first clerk was ole Brende. The Post Office and telephone switchboard were moved to this building and the Hall over it was large enough to accommodate all the people at this time and was used for meetings as well as for skating and dancing.
In 1904, the town site was platted and the South Dakota Central Railroad tracks were extended through the place. A town well was drilled by Fred Aldrich, the well driller of the community. This water was piped all over town by D.O.Crooks and his son Roy at an expense of about $3000 and was a gift to the town. This inexhaustible supply of pure water may well be regarded as a living monumnent to the memory of the founder of the town.
Mr. FLoyd, manager of the creamery, evetually took his departure from the state, and it became necessary to re-organize the company, and on the 24th of September, 1909 articles were filed by DO Crooks, TE Sater and FMO Peterson for the incorporation of the New Hope Co-operative Creamery Company with a capital stock of $5000.00.
This creamery was well equipped for business and received an average of 18,000 pounds of milk in a month. At the National Creamery Buttermakers Meeting, held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on January 11, 1899, this creamery was awarded a premium. The butter from the New Hope Creamery was shipped to New York where it received "gilt edged prices." GA Crooks was buttermaker. Later, JE Wicker and Pete Meyer were also managers.
About 1904, soon after the railroad was built, the town of Crooks enjoyed a building boom. Lots were sold and a number of houses were built. The blacksmith shop was moved north two blocks near the store owned by Ed Barwin.
DO Crooks built the Hotel Building and a dwelling house on the north side of town which he gave to his son, AR Crooks, on this twenty-first birthday. This house A.R. rented for a few years and finally sold it and built on lots further south.
After the town site was platted in 1904, the place was named CROOKS in honor of the family. DO Crooks had the following responsibilities:
Depot and Express Agent, Stockholder in the Farmers' Lumber and Elevator Company, President of the Crooks State Bank, Owner of the water-works and lighting plant, Member of the Township Board for six years, Postmaster for twelve years, retiring in 1913, School treasurer of his district for sixteen years.