Hand County, South Dakota

Hand County

Hand county was created Jan. 8, 1873, and organized in 1882.  It was named after George H. Hand.  It consists of townships 109-116 north, of ranges 66-70 west 5th P. M.  The County Seat is Miller.  The first settler was Henry Kile, on Turtle Creek, in 1880.  Hand county has a total area of 912,640 acres. 


Alden Township 114 N. Range 69 W

Alpha Township 113 N. Range 68 W

Bates Township 109 N. Range 66W

Burdette Township 114 N. Range 66 W

Campbell Township 114 N. Range 70 W

Carlton Township 115 N. Range 67 W

Cedar Township 110 N. Range 70 W

Como Township 109 N. Range 70 W

Fairview Township 115 N. Range 69 W

Florence Township 114 N. Range 68 W

Gilbert Township 113 N. Range 66 W

Glendale Township 110 N. Range 69 W

Grand Township 112 N. Range 66 W

Greenleaf Township 113 N. Range 69 W

Harrison Township 116 N. Range 70 W

Hiland Township 110 N. Range 67 W
Hiland township was named for Charles Hiland, who lived on the south shore of Cottonwood Lake.

Holden Township 114 N. Range 67 W

Howell Township 115 N. Range 68 W

Hulbert Township 111 N. Range 66 W

Linn Township 116 N. Range 67 W

Logan Township 111 N. Range 68 W

Midland Township 112 N. Range 69 W

Miller Township 112 N. Range 68 W

Mondamin Township 109 N. Range 69 W
Mondamin township was originally proposed to be named "Greeves" township, as it was the Greeves family who were the first to settle that area; but one of the Greeves women objected, suggesting "Mondamin" instead.

Ohio Township 110 N. Range 68 W
Ohio township was named by a group that came from Ohio.

Ontario Township 115 N. Range 70 W

Park Township 116 N. Range 68 W

Pearl Township 111 N. Range 67 W

Plato Township 116 N. Range 66 W

Pleasant Valley Township 109 N. Range 68 W

Ree Heights Township 112 N. Range 70 W

Riverside Township 113 N. Range 70 W

Rockdale Township 111 N. Range 69 W

Rose Hill Township 110 N. Range 66 W

St. Lawrence Township 112 N. Range 67 W

Spring Township 116 N. Range 69 W

Spring Hill Township 111 N. Range 70 W

Spring Lake Township 109 N. Range 67 W

Wheaton Township 115 N. Range 66 W

York Township 113 N. Range 67 W


Ames was a post office, located southward from Miller, along the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. 

Bailey was a post office located in southwestern Hand county, along the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. 

Bates was a post office about 20 miles south of Wessington, in southeastern Hand County, along the Chicago and Northwestern railroad.

Bramhall was a small community located 5 miles west of Ree Heights.  It came into being in September of 1882.  At one time they had a newspaper, The Bramhall News.  But when it was realized that there was not a sufficient water source, the town quickly died out. 

Burdette was a small community about 20 miles northeast of Miller and 17 miles west of Tulare, started by James O. Dean about 1883.  A church was organized there about 1885, but due to the shortage of ministers, the church was eventually combined with the Carlton church.  When the railroad did not include Burdette, the town died out.


Located in Cedar township, the town had a doctor, dentist and blacksmith in the late 1800's, before disappearing.

Danforth is located in southern Hand County, 32 miles southwest of Wessington. 

The town of Dean was platted in June of 1884 in Spring Lake township, and was originally to be named "Spring Lake".   The town at one time had a newspaper, the Spring Lake Star, but eventually all that was left was a post office.

Helmick was a small town in Wheaton township, about 10 miles south of Rockham, which at one time had over 100 citizens, and a post office, among other businesses.

Houdek was a post office in northwestern Hand County, 16 miles southwest of Orient.

The community of Howell was platted in June of 1883 in northern Hand county, 16 miles north of Miller, developing quickly into a town boasting a general store, drugstore, school, cobbler shops, blacksmith shops, a grocery store, saloons, a hotel and a livery barn, as well as a doctor, attorney, a post office, and a land office.  There was a mail route from Miller to Howell, run three times per week.  There was also a route from Howell to a post office named "Helmick" in Wheaton township, also run three times per week.  Howell was located north of Miller, near the Faulk county line.  It was expected that the Milwaukee railroad would be built southward from Orient, but when that didn't happen, the town died out in less than ten years.

The community of Jamesville was platted on land owned by Frederick S. and Maria Winslow, on March 31, 1884, on the southeast quarter of section 33, Ontario township, north west of Miller.  Street names were to be Milwaukee Ave., Lake St., Chicago Ave., and Main St., but the town was not successful.


Millerdale is the location of the Hutterite colony, 9 miles south and 2 miles west of Miller.  The Hutterites came from Milltown, and bought the land from Ed Miller.


Ree Heights
Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Love owned the original site of Ree Heights.  It is located 10 miles west of Miller, along the Chicago and Northwestern railroad line.  "The Review", established in 1911, was the local newspaper, edited in 1925 by E. J. Hey.  The population in 1925 was 312.


  St. Lawrence
St. Lawrence is about 35 miles west of Huron, about 1 mile east of Miller.  It was named after the county and river in New York.  The local newspaper was the "Hand County News", established in 1907, and edited in 1925 by J. L. Flint.

Spring Lake
The town was platted on June 24, 1884 by Oliver H. Pruner.  On March 2, 1885, he sold the first two lots to the Union Church of Spring Lake, O. F. Smith, Trustee.  Two years later, 3 more lots were sold to the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Two other buildings were erected, one of which was a blacksmith shop.  The Spring Lake Civic Townships Clerk's record of March 20, 1886, shows Michael Mills and Charles Minnick were appointed constables.  Other names mentioned were W. Williams, E. H. Williams, Joseph Douthett, George E. Cazaly, W. Hyde, Louis Otto, 
J. L. Holmes, L. Porter, S. W. Blaine, David Erwin, S. S. Keeler, Archie Burns, Amos Winegar, R. A. Sherman, W. Crecelius, L. A. Wiliams, Arthur Pugh, P. J. Babcock, Frank Phinney.  Some of the street names from the plat were Main, Ash, Maple, Green, West, Carroll and Spring Lake Avenue.

Tennis was a post office in northern Hand county.

Near the site of Vayland, about 8 miles east of St. Lawrence,  in 1883, a post office was granted, known as Silex.  The town never developed, however, and the post office was discontinued in 1891.    Later, another town was started here, but since there was already a point along the railroad named Silex, it was suggested that the town be called "McVay" in honor of the prominent McVay family, but the family requested that the town be given another name.  "Vayland" was the result.  In the early 1900s, and town had a restaurant, hotel, bank, blacksmith, post office, general stores, barber, lumbershop, livery barn, train depot, and several elevators.

Information on communities taken from "They Pioneered for Us",  "Bring On The Pioneers!", and "Doane Robinson's Encyclopedia of South Dakota" 


Hand County -Genealogy Trails



All data on this website is Copyright 2008 by Genealogy Trails
with full rights reserved for original submitters.