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South Dakota

Thirty-ninth state, admitted to the Union on November 2, 1889

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South Dakota, the thirty-ninth state, admitted to the Union on November 2, 1889, is officially bounded as follows: “Beginning at the point of intersection of the western boundary of Minnesota with the northern boundary of Iowa and running thence northerly along the western boundary of Minnesota to its intersection with the 7th standard parallel, thence west on the line of the 7th standard parallel produced due west to the intersection with the 27th meridian of longitude west of Washington (Approx. 104 W. Greenwich) thence south on the 27th meridian of longitude to its intersection with the northern boundary line of Nebraska, thence easterly along said northern boundary line of Nebraska to its inter-section with the western boundary line of Iowa, thence north along the western boundary line of the State of Iowa to the northwest corner of said State of Iowa, thence east along the northern boundary line of Iowa to the place of beginning.”

The state contains 76,850 square miles. Generally the surface is undulating prairie lands, except in the southwestern portion which is occupied by the Black Hills. The general altitude is about fifteen hundred feet above sea level. The lowest point, Bigstone Lake on the eastern boundary, is 962 feet, and Harney‘s Peak in the Black Hills rises to 7216 feet. The Missouri River divides the state into nearly equal portions having quite distinct soil characteristics; the portion east of the river being glacial clay, and the portion west being in part covered with tenacious clay formed by the disintegration of Fort Pierre Shales, and the remainder with Laramie loam eroded from the western mountains. The population numbers 583,888 (1910) and is chiefly of American origin. The chief foreign elements are German and Scandinavian. There are about 18,000 Sioux Indians residing upon lands in severalty in the state.

RESOURCES.—Agriculture is the chief resource and the main products for 1910 were:

Corn 54,050,000 bushels—$21,620,000

Wheat 46,720,000″—41,581,000

Oats 35,075,000″—10,522,000

Barley 18,655,000″—10,633,000

Rye 595,000″—363,000

Flaxseed 3,300,000″—7,557,000

Potatoes 2,420,000″—2,057,000

Hay 2,750,000 tons—19,000,000

The Black Hills region is rich in minerals and gold mining is an important industry. There are extensive lime and cement works in the state and considerable stone quarries. The mineral product of 1909 was as follows: gold, $6,447,093; mica, $1,000,000; lime, cement and other minerals, and stone, $2,552,917. In 1910 the value of gold produced fell to $5,187,070. Manufacturing is but little developed. Flour milling and the manufacture of butter in creameries are the leading industries. The last figures are for 1905 when the total product of manufactories was $13,085,333, of which $2,182,653 was produced by creameries and $6,519,354 by flour mills. A considerable wholesaling is done from Aberdeen, Sioux Falls, Watertown, and other points. Agricultural products in 1909 shipped to markets outside the state returned $123,706,000. South Dakota is well provided with railroad communication for intra state and interstate transportation, the total mileage (1910) being 3953 miles.

EDUCATION.—The public education system is correlated from the common schools through the high schools to the state university. For the maintenance of public education in the state, Congress granted a total of 3,531,174 acres of land. About one-eighth of this has been sold for the sum of $7,725,637, which returns an annual revenue of interest and rentals of a half million dollars. The school fund is most carefully guarded by the constitution and laws. It is believed the ultimate school fund will maintain public education without taxation. The total expenditure for public school purposes (1909) was $3,152,000.09. There were 169,706 persons of school age (between 6 and 21 years), of whom 121,165 attended school in 1909. There were then 4358 schoolhouses and 5555 teachers. The state university, located at Vermilion, was first opened and endowed by the territory in 1882. It has colleges of letters, arts and sciences, law, medicine, engineering, and music, each presided over by a dean under the general direction of the president. There are 48 members of the faculty and 445 students. The State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, located at Brookings, is supported jointly by the State and Federal governments. It was opened in the autumn of 1884. There were forty-three members of the faculty and 525 students (1909).

The State maintains four normal schools, located respectively at Madison, Spearfish, Springfield, and Aberdeen; the latter institution has industrial features. The State likewise maintains a school for the deaf at Sioux Falls, for the blind at Gary, and for the feeble-minded at Redfield; the training school for incorrigible boys and girls is at Plankinton. The schools for the deaf, blind, feeble-minded, and incorrigibles are under the supervision of the State Board of Charities, but the university and other schools of higher education are under the State Regents of Education. Several religious denominations maintain colleges in the state; the Baptists at Sioux Falls, the Catholics at Chamberlain, the Congregationalists at Yankton and Redfield, the Scandinavian Lutherans at Canton and German Lutherans at Eureka, the Mennonites at Freeman, the Methodist Episcopals at Mitchell, and the Presbyterians at Huron. The Episcopalians maintain a seminary for young ladies at Sioux Falls, and the Free Methodists have a seminary at Wessington Springs. The Catholic Church has academies at Aberdeen, Bridgewater, Bristol, Dell Rapids, Elkton, Epiphany, Farmer, Turton, Hoven, Howard, Jefferson, Kranzburg, Marion, Milbank, Mitchell, Parkston, Salem, Sioux Falls, Sturgis, Tabor, Vermilion, Webster, ‘Woonsocket, Watertown, Yankton, and Zell. The Scandinavian Lutherans have a normal school at Sioux Falls. Columbus College, the Catholic institution at Chamberlain, was founded in 1909, when Bishop O’Gorman purchased from the Federal Government the plant of the Government Indian School, but very shortly after the establishment of the college the main building was burned. A reorganization was effected in time to reopen with the regular college year for 1910-11.

HISTORY.—Civil—The first settlers within the present boundaries of South Dakota were French fur traders, who established a fur post on Cedar Island in the Missouri River thirty miles below the present capital in 1796. The next year a second post was established at a point near the present Greenwood post office in Charles Mix County. These posts were discontinued after several years, but in 1817 Joseph La Frambois established Ft. Teton on the present site of Ft. Pierre and the settlement at that place has been continuous since. The first agricultural settlement was made at Sioux Falls in 1857. Owing to the hostility of the Indians, settlement was slow until the discovery of gold in the Black Hills` in 1874, and until that time was confined to narrow strips along the Missouri and the Lower Big Sioux. About 1877 began a great influx of homesteaders, and within five years most of the land east of the Missouri had been settled upon, and all of the chief towns date from that period. The Constitution of South Dakota was made by a convention authorized by the territorial Legislature, which met in Sioux Falls in September, 1885. This Constitution was revised to meet certain requirements of the Enabling Act of 1889 and adopted by the people on October 1, 1889.

Ecclesiastical.—The first Catholics to come into South Dakota were probably the men of Charles Pierre Le Sueur, who visited the Sioux Valley in 1800. The Verendrye brothers were here in 1745 on an exploration trip and were accompanied by a priest. In June, 1842, Father Ravoux of St. Paul made a trip to the Missouri River to baptize the families of French Catholics living at Fort Pierre. In 1845 Father Ravoux visited Vermilion for the same purpose. In 1848 Father DeSmet came among the Indians of the Dakota country and labored with them until his death, about 1866. Father DeSmet was assisted in his work among the Dakotas by Fathers Christian and Adrian Hoecken. The first permanent mission plant in South Dakota was made at Jefferson in 1867. A considerable number of French Catholic families had settled in that neighborhood, and Bishop Grace sent Father Pierre Boucher among them as Apostolic missionary, and he organized and built St. Peter’s Church at Jefferson, the first Catholic church building in the state. From that time there had been a steady growth in Catholic population, distributed among the Germans, Irish, and French, with a few Italians and other South Europe immigrants. The original Vicariate Apostolic of Dakota was established with the Episcopal seat at Yankton, but upon the division of the territory and the admission of South Dakota in 1889, the Diocese of Sioux Falls was established to embrace the entire state. Rt. Rev. Martin Marty was the first bishop and he was succeeded, after an interval during which the diocese was administered by Rt. Rev. Henry Wensing, by Rt. Rev. Thomas O’Gorman, the present incumbent. In 1902 the diocese was divided, and that portion of the state west of the Missouri River became the Diocese of Lead with Rt. Rev. John Stariha as bishop; in 1909 Bishop Stariha resigned and was succeeded by Bishop Busch. There are in the two dioceses, 150 priests, 208 churches, 13 chapels, 71 stations, 28 parochial schools, with 3530 pupils, and a Catholic population of about 68,000. While Catholics have been largely represented in the Legislature and county offices, not many, in proportion to their numerical strength have held state office. Peter C. Shannon was chief justice of the territory (1873-81); John E. Kelley represented the state in Congress (1896-98); Beotius H. Sullivan was surveyor general (1889-93); Patrick F. Wickham, internal revenue collector (1893); and John A. Bowler, warden of the penitentiary (1897-1901).

The latest religious census of South Dakota, taken in 1906, is as follows: DENOMINATION





German Evangelical

Latter Day Saints

Protestant Episcopal

Salvation Army

Swedish Evangelical


United Brethren MATTERS AFFECTING RELIGION.—The Constitution guarantees complete freedom of worship. A chapter of the penal code defines crimes against religion and conscience, especially making blasphemy, profane swearing, and desecration of the Sabbath, misdemeanors. No religious holidays are observed by law as such, except Thanksgiving Day. Christmas is a holiday. Every session of the Legislature is opened with prayer. One of the chaplains in sessions of 1907 and 1909 was a Catholic priest. Church societies may incorporate under a simple and inexpensive statutory provision. All property used for religious and educational purposes is exempt from taxation; clergymen are exempt from jury and military duty and poll taxes; marriages may be celebrated by any regular minister of the Gospel, or before justices of the peace and the judges of the courts; a rigid marriage license law is enforced; and consanguineous marriages are forbidden; all marriages are finally recorded in the State Vital Statistics Division at Pierre. Divorces are allowed for adultery, extreme cruelty, willful desertion, willful neglect, habitual intemperance, or conviction of felony. The plaintiff must have been in good faith a resident of the state one year and of the county three months before bringing action for divorce. Free education is offered every person and elementary education is compulsory; training in parochial schools may be substituted for compulsory training in public schools. The Bible may be read in the public schools but all sectarian teaching is forbidden. All state-supported charitable institutions, prisons, and reformatories are under the control of the State Board of Charities and Corrections. These institutions are the Hospital for the Insane at Yankton, the School for Feeble-minded at Redfield, the School for the Deaf, Sioux Falls, the School for the Blind at Gary, the Training School for Incorrigibles at Plankinton, the penitentiary at Sioux ‘Falls, and sanatorium for tuberculosis patients at Custer. The Catholic Church maintains fine hospitals at Aberdeen, Cascade Springs, Deadwood, Pierre, Mitchell, Sioux Falls, Webster, and Yankton. The Scandinavian Lutherans maintain an orphanage at Beresford, and the State Children’s Home at Sioux Falls is maintained as a public benevolence. The last-named is not a church institution, though Bishop O’Gorman of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls is a member of its board of control.

The sale of liquor is strictly regulated by law; a high license system prevails; $1000 per year is the minimum license fee. Every person of sound mind may dispose of all his property by will, but a corporation cannot make a will; there is no provision of law regulating or affecting charitable bequests. Cemetery corporations or individuals may provide cemeteries; burial upon a cemetery lot renders the title thereto inalienable; no corpse may be buried within the state without a permit from a justice of the peace.


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