Agency RSS

Cowboy Ed Lemmon is subject of new State Historical Society book


CONTACT:  Jeff Mammenga, Media Coordinator, (605) 773-6000, jeff.mammenga@state.sd.us


Cowboy Ed Lemmon is subject of new State Historical Society book


PIERRE, S.D. — The man who saddle-handled more cattle than any other is the subject of the South Dakota State Historical Society’s latest book.


“Controlled Recklessness: Ed Lemmon and the Open Range” by Nathan Sanderson of Pierre details the life of George Edward (“Ed”) Lemmon, who was integral to the development of the Northern Great Plains and the modern cattle industry.


“Though Lemmon recorded many colorful stories about himself, Sanderson is the first to write a researched biography of him,” says Jay D. Vogt, director of the South Dakota State Historical Society. “This book is an exciting, comprehensive look at Lemmon’s life that will also serve as a great resource on the techniques of handling cattle on the open ranges of the late 1800s.”


Born in 1857 into a hardworking and resilient family, Lemmon was the consummate cattleman. By the age of 34, he had risen through the ranks from cowboy to the position of range manager for one of the largest cattle outfits on the Northern Great Plains. As the unfenced open range disappeared, Lemmon helped to transform the region from a network of dusty cattle trails to one of cattle towns linked by railroads. The town of Lemmon in northwestern South Dakota’s ranching country is named for him.


In “Controlled Recklessness,” Sanderson explores what motivated one of the greatest cowmen on the plains to saddle up time and time again. Using Lemmon’s own vibrant accounts, historical records, and corporate and government documents, Sanderson separates myth from reality. The result is a complete look at Lemmon’s eventful life and his perspective as both a cowboy and a cattleman at the end of the open-range era.


Sanderson is the director of Policy and Operations for the State of South Dakota for Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Before working in state government, Sanderson was a history instructor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and manager of the “Railroads and the Making of Modern America” digital project.


“Controlled Recklessness: Ed Lemmon and the Open Range” will be featured at the South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood on Sept. 25-27. Readers can order it for $29.95, plus shipping and tax, directly from the South Dakota Historical Society Press. Visit www.sdshspress.com or call (605) 773-6009. “Controlled Recklessness” will be available through most bookstores and online retailers by the end of the month.


Editor’s Note: A JPG of the book’s cover is attached. Please contact jennifer.mcintyre@state.sd.us for publicity information or to schedule an interview or event with the author.



The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call (605) 773-3458 or visit www.history.sd.gov for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call (605) 394-1936 for more information.