Tom Berry -

Tom Berry

Tom Berry
14th Governor of South Dakota
In office
January 3, 1933 – January 5, 1937
LieutenantHans Ustrud
Robert Peterson
Preceded byWarren Green
Succeeded byLeslie Jensen
Personal details
BornApril 23, 1879
Paddock, Holt County, Nebraska, U.S.
DiedOctober 30, 1951 (aged 72)
Rapid City, South Dakota, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Lorena McLain

Thomas Matthew Berry (April 23, 1879 – October 30, 1951)[1] was the 14th Governor of South Dakota. Berry, a Democrat from Belvidere, South Dakota, served from 1933 to 1937. He is noted for defeating two incumbent Democratic United States senators in the state Democratic primary and then losing the seat to the Republicans in the general election.



Berry was born in Paddock, Holt County, Nebraska, and attended public school in O'Neill, Nebraska. He was married to Lorena McLain and they had four children.[2]


Berry moved to South Dakota in 1897. He homesteaded in Gregory County, moved to Todd County, and finally settled in Mellette County south of Belvidere. He built up a 30,000 acre (120 km²) ranch raising Hereford cattle and saddle horses. Berry served in the House of Representatives of the South Dakota Legislature from 1925 to 1931, and was a member of the Custer State Park Board.

Elected governor twice, in 1932 and 1934,[3] Berry assisted in South Dakota's recovery from the Great Depression. As Governor, he acted as Federal Relief Administrator and helped secure federal aid. He called the legislature into special session to legalize 3.2 percent beer and again to enact unemployment insurance. During his tenure, state property tax was abolished, replaced by gross income tax which was replaced by a state sales tax.[4]

Berry ran for a third term in 1936 but was defeated by Leslie Jensen.[5] In 1938, he defeated interim United States Senator Herbert Hitchcock in the Democratic primary,[6] but lost the general election to Chan Gurney.[7] In 1942 Berry defeated incumbent United States Senator William J. Bulow in the Democratic primary[8] but lost the general election to Harlan J. Bushfield.[9] That defeat ended his political career.

From 1942 to 1947 he served as director of the Farm Credit Administration[10] in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1962, he was inducted into Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.[11]


He retired to Rapid City, South Dakota, where he lived until his death.[12]


  1. ^ "Tom Berry" . The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  2. ^ "Tom Berry" . National Governors Association. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  3. ^ Biographical Directory of the South Dakota Legislature, 1889-1989 (1989), p. 91.
  4. ^ "Tom Berry" . National Governors Association. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  5. ^ South Dakota Manual, 1937, p. 389.
  6. ^ South Dakota Manual, 1939, p. 406.
  7. ^ South Dakota Manual, 1939, p. 413.
  8. ^ South Dakota Manual, 1943, p. 293
  9. ^ South Dakota Manual, 1943, p. 296.
  10. ^ "Tom Berry" . National Governors Association. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  11. ^ "Hall of Great Westerners" . National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  12. ^ Biographical Directory of the South Dakota Legislature, 1889-1989 (1989), p. 91.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
D. A. McCullough
Democratic nominee for Governor of South Dakota
1932, 1934, 1936
Succeeded by
Oscar Fosheim
Preceded by
C. J. Gunderson
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from South Dakota
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
George M. Bradshaw
Preceded by
William J. Bulow
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from South Dakota
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
John A. Engel
Political offices
Preceded by
Warren Green
Governor of South Dakota
Succeeded by
Leslie Jensen

Categories: 1879 births | 1951 deaths | Members of the South Dakota House of Representatives | Governors of South Dakota | South Dakota Democrats | People from Mellette County, South Dakota | People from Holt County, Nebraska | Democratic Party state governors of the United States | People from Rapid City, South Dakota | Ranchers from South Dakota

Information as of: 10.07.2020 06:01:26 CEST

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