1846 - 1919
Thomas Cliff Marson (T.C. Marson) “is a native of Nottingham, England, and was born January 4, 1834. In 1846 he emigrated with his parents to the United States and settled in Rochester, New York. In 1855 he went to Rochelle, Ill., 1 where he worked at the carpenter's trade, which he had learned in early life. He remained there until he removed to Sioux Falls in August 1876, where he has since resided, engaged in contracting and building. He was a member of the Masonic order before coming to Dakota and is one of the oldest Masons in Sioux Falls. 2 He is a good citizen. 3 ”
T. C. Marson was a prominent contractor in Sioux Falls, SD 4 with his construction office located at 110 Main Street. 5 His company did carpentry work for the Queen Bee Mill near the falls starting in 1879, a project promoted by R. F. Pettigrew. 6 The following year, as a home builder, he built a house at the southeast corner of 11th Street and 1st Avenue for Mr. John Q. Houts, one of the leading businessmen of the city. 7 The home had nine rooms, hot and cold water and was heated by steam. 8 After Mr. Houts passed away in 1892, T.C. Marson’s family moved into the house and lived there until 1906. 9 It was known as the T. C. Marson house and was considered a landmark of the city until it was torn down in 1928. 10 As a general contractor, he was awarded the contract for the original Whittier and Hawthorne Schools in 1882. 11 In 1895 he was awarded the contract for the construction of a bell tower in the 6th ward of Sioux Falls. 12 During the summer of 1899, he was appointed the United States Superintendent of Construction for the Flandreau Indian School. 13 The following summer, In 1900, he was awarded the carpentry contract for the Sioux Falls Children’s Home, an orphanage designed by the Sioux Falls architect W. L. Dow. 14 He was also hired that fall by W. M. Carswell, a businessman from Chicago, as the general contractor for a building that was also designed by W. L. Dow. The project rebuilt the Hyde Jewelry Store that had been destroyed by a fire at the Cataract Hotel on Phillips Avenue earlier that year. 15 In 1901 he was awarded the contract for the erection of a small hospital at the South Dakota School for the Deaf. 16 In 1903, he constructed the gymnasium for the All Saints School, another W. L. Dow design. 17 Four years later and at the age of 71, he was appointed Building Inspector for the city of Sioux Falls, a position he held until he retired in 1916 at the age of 82. 18 T. C. Marson passed away May 7, 1919, at the age of 85. 19 His funeral was attended by his wife Sofia (Mayo), his surviving children and several city officials. 20
As a carpenter, general contractor, home builder and building inspector T. C. Marson had a significant role in construction of some of Sioux Falls most iconic buildings. He contributed to the growth of Sioux Falls from a small pioneer town of 400 people in 1876, to a city with a population of 25,000 in 1919.
T. C. Marson was buried May 9, 1919 in the family lot block 7, lot 14 of the cemetery. He rests with his wife Sophia (Mayo) who passed away in 1925 and Blanche, Gwenney, and Cliffe, three of their children who died young.
Written by Karl Andrew Person, 2019, T. C. Marson’s great-great-grandson.
1 Most likely a typo, should be Rockton Ill. From 1862 to 1871 he is listed as living in Rockton, Ill.
2 Some have misinterpreted this as meaning he was a mason or stone cutter, but all indications were that he was a carpenter, home builder, general contractor and a member of the fraternal organization called the Freemasons sometimes referred to as Masons.
3 Dana Reed Bailey History of Minnehaha County, South Dakota p. 607
4 Argus Leader April 7, 1929
5 Sioux Falls Directory from 1888
6 Dana Reed Bailey History of Minnehaha County, South Dakota p. 583
7 Argus Leader April 7, 1929 (sometimes listed as John P. Houts)
8 Argus Leader October 20, 1887
9 Argus Leader September 17, 1892
10 Argus Leader April 7, 1929
11 History of Minnehaha County by Dana Reed Baily 1899 p. 327
12 Argus Leader November 25, 1895
13 Argus Leader April 10, 1899
14 Improvement Bulletin, Volume 22, June 2, 1900 p.173
15 Argus Leader October 13, 1900
16 South Dakota: Its History and its people by George Washington Kingsbury p. 610. The “F. C. Marson” in the book was a typo.
17 Argus Leader July 29, 1903
18 Argus Leader January 31, 1916
19 Argus Leader May 9, 1919
20 Argus Leader May 8, 1919