Marshall County, South Dakota History and Genealogy

     Using the links on the right you can access all the information we presently have on Mitchell County, South Dakota.  The township records are full of names, location and sometimes where the settlers came from. If you have additional information you would like to contribute to these pages, please use our Submit form.

     Contains an area of 150,932 square miles, and is considerable larger than the six New England States, with the great Empire State, New York included; it lies between 43 degrees and 99 degrees north latitude, and between 96 degrees, 25 minutes and 109 degrees west longitude. The great Missouri River, with its windings included, runs one thousand miles diagonally across the territory and navigable the entire distance. There are numerous lakes scattered throughout the territory, of which Devils Lake in the Turtle Mountain region is the largest. East of the Missouri River the country is a beautiful undulating prairie with the exception of the Coteau Hills. This magnificent agricultural region may properly be divided into two sections: the James or "Jim" River Valley, drained by the "Jim" River flowing south, and the Red River Valley drained by the Red River flowing north. The watershed of the continent dividing these streams extends through nearly the center of Marshall County.
     West of the Missouri River the country gradually becomes more elevated and broken and contains the Great Sioux reservation with an area of 22,000,000 acres of land. The Black Hills region in the southwest has an area of about 4,000 square miles and contains rich mines of gold, silver, tin, mica and coal. Harney's Peak is said to be about 5,000 feet high.

Historical

     About the middle of the seventeenth century French explorers passed through what is now Dakota, and again in the beginning of the present century Lewis and Clark explored this region. In 1809 one of the Astor's parties, conducted by Mr. Hunt on their way across the continent to the mouth of the Columbia River, ascended the Missouri River to the 46 degree parallel, where they procured horses from the Indians and traveled overland. Washington Irving gives a glowing description of this region in his Astoria and in 1835 gives it as his opinion that this magnificent country would ever be the home of Indians and outlaws because so far from civilization.
     Lord Selkirk, a Scotch nobleman of great wealth, purchased an immense tract of land from the Hudson Bay Company in the first decade of the present century. He induced Scotch and Swiss colonists to settle these lands. He died before his colonization proved a success and most of the colonists immigrated to the United States. Pembina, one of the Scotch settlements, settled in 1812, proved to be on Uncle Sam's domain and is now included in Dakota Territory.
     In 1858, a few hardy pioneers had settled along the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers in the vicinity of Sioux Falls and Yankton. In 1861, Dakota was organized, and Wm. Jayne appointed first governor. The Minnesota massacre and Indian troubles in 1862 drove many settlers from their homes and general settlement was retarded by the rebellion and later by grasshoppers and drought. The Northern Pacific Railway commenced in 1870, affording an outlet for the Red River country developed that region with almost unparalleled rapidity and success. The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul, and the Chicago and North Western Railroads, constructed in 1880-1, and considerably extended since then, opened the south half of the territory now containing a population of 263,533.

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Marshall County

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