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Pickstown’s ‘First Families.’

Whether an actual ‘First Family or an early resident, the recollections presented here are representative of the experience and experiences of Pickstown’s early residents. 


The Fisk family moved to the Picktown area at the beginning of the Project. Loy began with the Corps in the early 30’s as a boat operator, holding a Coast Guard certificate good for unlimited tonnage and waters around the world. He later became a surveyor which is what he did at Fort Randall and at times during floods operated a boat. Peg was a active member in the church and community, serving on the school board and as a Red Cross Swim Instructor, she operated the pool in Lake Andes.

Glenn [‘50] at age 18 was tragically killed on June 24th, 1950, when his car struck a culvert en-route to Armour, SD.

Peg & Loy Fisk,          Jean, Glenn,            Loy, & Warren

Jean [‘52] and Glenn attended school in Lake Andes prior to the opening of the James St school in the fall of 1947 and the high school in the fall of 1948. Warren was a graduate of Pickstown High School in 1956.


Prior to Pickstown, the Canfield family served with the Corps of Engineers Omaha District. Clarence Canfield, Ellen Ruth Canfield (always called Nell) and son Francis Canfield, worked on many projects in Texas, Army bases, military hospitals, and WW2 German concentration  camps.


Clarence was a mechanical engineer for the US Corps of Engineers. Nell served with the Red Cross during the war years.  The Corps of Engineers sent the family to the Pickstown Fort Randall Dam project in 1946. The Canfields lived in Wagner, SD until their home was finished on James Street.  A new life began when they were finally going to be in one place for a few years.


& Francis,
Clarence & Ellen (Nell) Canfield

Francis graduated from high school in Pickstown in 1953. Upon completion of the project, Clarence and Nell were sent to the Corps home office in Omaha, Nebraska and Francis joined the United States Navy. Clarence retired from the Corps, and he and Nell moved to Minnesota. Francis went on to school in New York. And by the way, Francis enjoys telling people  "I was a member of the James Gang"...


The Stokes family’s (Bart, Ruth, Ellen, and Don) Pickstown adventure began in the summer of 1946. We spent The war years were spent in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where Bart was a civilian with the Corps of Engineers stationed at Camp Gruber, OK. In early 1946, he was selected to be the Assistant Area Engineer at the Fort Randall Dam project. At the time family housing was not available, so Bart moved into a boarding house in Wagner, SD, while the rest of the family stayed with Ruth’s parents in Missouri.

In August, 1946 Bart purchased a house trailer and the family joined him in Wagner, where Ellen started school. In the early spring of 1947, the James Avenue duplexes were nearing completion … so we moved the trailer to Pickstown, parking it next to our their uncompleted house and living in it until the house was finished. The Stokes family was somewhere between the second and the fourth family to move into Pickstown. Ellen attended the remainder of third grade in Lake Andes.


In the fall of 1947, the two room school on James Avenue opened, with Don in the first grade and Ellen in the fourth grade… attending school there for one tor two years before the new school was opened. The family lived in the James Avenue duplex for about a year, then moved to the “permanent housing” at 527 Missouri Drive, iving there until Bart transferred to the Omaha office of the Corps of Engineers in August, 1951.

Bart passed away at the age of 89 in 1994; Ruth passed away at the age of 101 in 2011. Ellen Stokes Brown lives in Savannah, GA. Don Stokes lives in Kansas City, MO.

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