Ralph Winfield Parliman

1832 - 1899

”The name of Parliman has figured prominently in connection with the history of the legal profession in South Dakota for many years and has always been a synonym for professional honor, enterprise and progress. He whose name introduces this review is now successfully practicing in Sioux Falls in partnership with his son and namesake, and the firm is regarded as one of the strongest at the bar of South Dakota. He was born in Newton Falls, Ohio, January 25, 1860, a son of Edwin and Jerusha Isabel (North) Parliman, who became residents of Sioux Falls in the summer of 1877. The paternal grandfather, Dr. William Parliman, was also a native of Ohio and for sixty years practiced medicine in Decorah, Iowa, where he passed away. He came of Holland Dutch ancestry.

Edwin Parliman, the father, was born in Stark county, Ohio, December 12, 1832, and completed his education in Allegheny College at Meadville, Pennsylvania, where he was graduated with the class of 1850, when he was 18 years of age. He was twenty-one years of age when he removed to Decorah, Iowa, where he learned the watchmaker’s trade, and in 1857 he became a resident of Austin, Minnesota, where he continued until his removal to Hastings in the same state. Wishing to turn from commercial to professional pursuits, he took up the study of law and in 1860 was admitted to the bar, entering upon active practice in Hastings, where he remained until 1862. Being unable to longer content himself to remain at home while the preservation of the Union was at stake, he offered his services to the government and was instrumental in raising Company F of the Second Minnesota Calvary in 1862. On the 31st of December, 1863, he was commissioned first lieutenant of his company and on the 15th of May, 1865, was promoted to the rank of captain, with which he served until mustered out on the 2d of December, 1865, when he was brevetted major. His was a most creditable military record, involving active duty against the Indians in the west — a most arduous warfare because of the spirit and military methods of his wily foes.

After the close of the war Edwin Parliman resumed the practice of law in Hastings and for four years he served as county attorney of Dakota county, Minnesota. He remained in active practice in Hastings until 1877, when he came to Sioux Falls, opened an office and prepared a home for his family who followed in March, 1878. There he was appointed county attorney for Minnehaha county by the county board and served for three years. He likewise was made city attorney of Sioux Falls, and was the first incumbent in that office. He continued in the active practice of his profession until 1890, when he was elected county judge of Minnehaha county and remained upon the bench until January 1, 1898, having been elected upon the republican ticket at each election after the creation of South Dakota as a state until 1896, when he was defeated. He then resumed the practice of law in partnership with Harry R. Carleton but later was alone in his profession. When the new bankruptcy law went into effect he was appointed referee in bankruptcy, a position which he held until a short time prior to his death, when the condition of his health forced him to resign and he was succeeded by his son, Ralph W. Parliman, through appointment of Judge Carland of the federal court. On the 1st of March, 1899, he had been joined in a law partnership by his son, Ralph, under the firm style of Parliman and Parliman. He was the first chief of the fire department of Sioux Falls and on the occasion of his death the firemen of the city, as well as the members of the bar, attended his funeral in a body. He passed away June 5, 1899, and his wife died June 3, 1905.

In 1852 Judge Parliman was united in marriage to Miss Jerusha Isabel North and they became parents of four children: Mrs. Emma Donaldson, of Lakeville, Minnesota; R. W. of this review; Mrs. Percy Scofield, of Lakeville, Minnesota; and Mrs. Mate Brickner, of West St. Paul.

Ralph W. Parliman acquired his education in the public schools of Hastings, Minnesota, being graduated with the class of 1877. In that year he went with his parents to Lincoln county, South Dakota, and for five years was upon a farm. In 1884 he entered his father’s law office at Egan, South Dakota, where he continued his studies until June, 1887. At that time he opened a law office in Britton, South Dakota, and the following year was elected district attorney of Marshall county, in which position he served until January 1, 1890. He then removed to Webster, South Dakota, where he continued in active practice until March 1, 1899, when he returned to Sioux Falls and joined his father in a partnership that continued until the latter’s death on the 5th of June of that year. R. W. Parliman afterward practiced alone until October 4, 1905, when he admitted his son Ralph W. Jr., to a partnership that still continues. The offices he has held have largely been in the strict path of his profession. He was district attorney of Marshall county and in June, 1899, was made United States referee in bankruptcy, in which position he served for two years. He was also a member of the school board at Webster, South Dakota, for some years and in 1894 was appointed postmaster of that place by President Cleveland, continuing in the office until July, 1898. His military record is that of quartermaster of Colonel Grigsby’s Cowboy Regiment, the Third United States Volunteer Calvary, with which he served until the command was mustered out at the close of the Spanish-American war. In politics he has always been a republican, earnest and stalwart in support of the party.

At Clarement, South Dakota, on the 16th of March, 1888, Mr. Parliman was united in marriage to Miss Mattie A. Chamberlain and they have become the parents of six children: Ralph W.; Marie L.; James C.; John E.; Beatrice I.; Joseph W.; and Mercedes, who died when one year old. James and John are students in the law department of the University of South Dakota and the oldest son, Ralph Winfield, Jr., is one of the younger representatives of the South Dakota bar.

The Parliman family attend the Congregational church and Mr. Parliman is well known in fraternal and social circles. He belongs to the Masons and also holds membership with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Modern Woodmen of America, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and the Dacotah Club. His interest in all is sincere and abiding and his loyalty to their principles is marked. The greater part of his life has been spent in this state and he has a wide acquaintance, warm friendship being accorded him in recognition of his sterling and professional worth.”

George W. Kingsbury,  History of Dakota Territory, Vol. 4 (Chicago: S. J. Clarke, 1915) pp. 218 – 220.

Members of the Parliman family are buried in Block 2, Lot 14 of the cemetery.