"Ralph P. Devan, was the son of William Rowley DeVan, brother of Erastus A. DeVan, nephew of Erastus Nathanial DeVan, and cousin of Edwin DeVan and Ransom D. Billings.
Ralph P, Erastus A., Edwin, and Ransom all served in the Civil War.
Ralph P. was wounded in the Battle of Cedar Mountain, more commonly referred to as Slaughter Mountain, ironically named after the owner of the property. The battle resulted in more than 2900 Union casualties. Ralph P. was one of the lucky ones. He lost part of his leg but survived the battle.
This letter was written by Ralph P. Devan to his sister Temperance Devan who was living in Cleveland, Ohio. Ralph wrote the letter two weeks after the battle, while he was recovering in the Wolfe Street General Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. A transcript of the letter follows.
Notice that Ralph P. signed his name (Devan) with a lower case 'v'.
The Wolfe Street Hospital was a residence used as a temporary hospital.
Letter and photo courtesy of Ms Mary Jean Houde, Great-granddaughter of Ralph P. Devan.
The following articles about the R. P. DeVan family are from various newspapers and books about South Dakota history.
All of these articles and images were contributed by Donna (DeVan) Duncan
From Bruce, South Dakota History Book published in 1983: This particular article is talking about a new school house for Oakwood: The Downing Brothers donated the land... ...tax levied at five mills was placed on all property for school purposes. A school house 20 feet square inside and 10 feet high was agreed upon.... ...The next term was to begin Dec. 18, 1878 and end march 21, 1879. Mrs. E.W. Smith was hired as teacher at $20 per month. Students that term were Walter and Harry Beardsley, Charlie Pay, Abbie and George Ross, Willie Brown, Anderbert De Van, Vinnie Archer, Arthur Kramer and Milo Miller.
...The DeVan family lived where the McMahans did. They were later stricken with a serious attack of typhoid fever, from which three of their children died. Since there was no cemetary, the children were buried in a corner of the farm....
Brookings County Press, Jan 11, 1883: Oakwood News - January 2, 1883 Mr. and Mrs. R.P. DeVan will celebrate their twentieth anniversary of their married life in a China Wedding on the eve of 13 day of January 1883. Friends will be invited and a good time is expected.
Brookings County Press, December 1, 1892: R.P. DeVan of Oakwood was in the city the 1st of the week and informed the Press reporter that he had just completed a large barn on his farm. We observed the foundation of Mr. DeVan's barn last summer and if the upper part is as good, he certainly has a very commodious and substantial structure.
From the book Pioneering in the Upper Sioux Valley by Donald D. Parker In January 1877 the commissioners met and adjourned to meet in James Natesta's store in Medary. In April they met in C.H. Stearns' home. On Feb. 27, they paid R.P. Devan $1 for making a ballot box for precinct #4. On April 17-18 Iver A. Foswick was appointed county superintendent of schools.
Brookings County Press, Feb 4, 1886: Card of Thanks We the undersigned wish to return thanks to the kind friends of Bruce and vicinity for their needful assistance and help through the sickness and death of our little girl. Their kindness will ever be remembered by us. Mr. and Mrs. R. P. Devan
Brookings Register, Jan 16, 1895: H. E. Gudehues writes from Yankton that Mrs. R. P. Devan, a former resident of this city, and who was an inmate of the insane asylum, was found frozen to death about a mile from the city last Saturday night. The unfortunate lady had been growing stronger in mind and was given a good many priviliges and had a room with other curable inmates. During the night she broke through a window and escaped. The thermometer registered 20 degrees below zero that night and when found she was clothed only in her night dress, a thin shawl and a pair of shoes. She had traveled about two miles from the asylum.
Brookings County Press, July 11, 1895: The first birth was in July 1876, May Beardsley, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Beardsley. The first death was also in 1876, Albert E. De Van, son of Mr. and Mrs. R. P. De Van. The first marriage in the town was in 1876, Gus Johnson and a Miss Johnson, the ceremony was performed by Rev. Walter Ross.
Brookings County Press, July 11, 1895: The Press is gratified to be able to state that R. P. De Van, who has been dangerously ill in this city for several weeks, is again able to be out among his friends. He visited with several of his friends around town Monday, and Tuesday went out to his home in Oakwood. We hope that his recovery may prove permanent.
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