Jerauld County is rich in history, with legends echoing through the Wessington Hills, on which it was settled. Although the county was not officially settled until 1883, the hills were an area where trappers and Native Americans gathered to trade for many years prior to the settlement of the area.
The county is named for H.A. Jerauld, a territorial legislator from Canton, SD.
Wessington Springs, the county seat, was first platted in 1882 and was granted a Post Office in 1884. The town had first been called Elmer, but there is no recorded date for the settlement of Elmer. The town has eight places listed on the National Register of Historic Places -- Carnegie Library, Jerauld County Courthouse; the Municipal Field House; Anne Hathaway Cottage and Shakespeare Gardens; United Methodist Church; Gov. Robert Vessey home; 1905 Opera House; and the "Sears and Roebuck" Will House.
Turtle Peak lies atop a 400-foot rise north of Wessington Springs and is named for a Native American mosaic placed to form a large turtle with its head to the rising sun. It is said to be the burying place of Chief Big Turtle.
Today, visitors to Wessington Springs can visit Civil War Hero Cleveland Hall's grave at Prospect Hill Cemetery, attend the town's annual rodeo, or hunt pheasants on the area's 3,000 acres of public hunting ground.
Alpena was founded in 1883 and was named by C.W. Prior for a town in Michigan. Alpena is home of LSI, Inc., maker of Jack's Links Beef Jerky. Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today is a graduate of Alpena High School.
Lane, a small town located on the eastern edge of the county, was founded in 1903 and named for L.W. Lane who was part owner of the town site.
History found at Website of Senator Tim Johnson
Transcribed by Christine Walters