Contributed by Sonny Decker, from the 75th "Diamond Jubilee Edition of
the Huronite and Daily Plainsman"
June 28, 1955
The founding of Iroquois came with the great land
boom and the extension of the railroads. With the opening of Dakota
Territory in 1876 for land claims and settlement came the railroads. A
great land boom began in 1877 and continued for six or seven years. The
C&NW was as far west as De Smet by 1879. In the spring of 1880 it
was completed through Iroquois townsite and onto Huron and Pierre. A
south branch from Sioux City to Iroquois was built in 1883. The first
depot was a box car. The first depot agent was a woman, Mrs. John Sweet.
Early settlers were Scandinavian, German and other racial groups and Yankees from the eastern United States as well as other pioneers from states south, east and southeast.
The name Iroquois is an Indian name brought from the East. Iroquois lies in two counties, being both in Kingsbury and Beadle.
William Joseph came to the vicinity in the spring of 1880 together with Art and Lewellyn Page. The three boys took homesteads and tree claims. They brought their team, supplies and provisions overland from Wisconsin. Upon reaching the Sioux River near Volga they found the water so high that they did not try to cross but waited for four days and then made the attempt. The horses swam across but some of the supplies were washed out of the wagon.
Upon their arrival the two Page boys and Joseph constructed a sod house at the intersection where the tree boundaries or corners of their claims met. This was done so that each of the three young men could slee pin a different corner of the sod structure and thus compley with the requirements to reside on their holdings. Mr. Joseph's brother-in-law, Frank Sly, came in 1879 and secured a homestead and later operated a blacksmith shop in Iroquois.
The requisite for "proving up" a land and tree claim was to plant 15 acres of trees. After the sod house was built the three men next broke the sod and planted trees from seedlings which they brought from Wisconsin. Besides trees, some corn, a little other grain, also turnips were the first agricultural efforts. Crops did well in the 1880s.
A hotel the "LaCrescent" was built about 1880. It later burned. The Bank of Iroquois was established in 1880. The oldest place of business was built in 1881 and was first known as Knecht's store. Dr. Hughey and Dr. J. L. Krechie were the two first doctors in Iroquois. Henry Snediger was the first postmaster and James Hughes, a Methodist, the first minister. He built the first church in Iroquois in 1884. It is now located in Osceola, S.D. Later a Congregational minister came and built the church which is now owned by St. Paul Catholic Parish. His name was Rev. A. J. Drake. Mrs. Drake wrote a book entitled "Fanny's Autobiography" and tells the pioneer story as though horse were speaking.
From "Dakota", compiled by O. H. Holt, 1885
transcribed by Karen Seeman
This county lies toward the southeastern part ol the Territory, between the Big Sioux and James rivers, and in the second tier of counties west of the Minnesota State line. It includes twenty-four congressional townships, and covers an area of 552,960 acres.
The county is well watered by Vermillion river and several creeks, nearly all of which take their rise in this county. A prominent feature is the large nnmber of lakes, the most noted of which are Lake Thompson, Lake Preston and Whitewood Lake, near the centre of the county, and Lake Albert in the northeast comer, each covering from five to fifteen square miles of surface. The water surface of the county is probably about forty square miles.
The surface is generally level, with some rolling prairie land, aud the soil is usually a black loam, with a yellowish clay subsoil.
Grasses, small grains and Indian corn are among the most prolific products, and stock raising is an important and profitable industry.
The Dakota Central division of the Chicago & North-Western Railway passes nearly through the centre of the county, east and west, and the Dakota & Great Southern will soon be extended through, north and south, near the centre.
De Smet, the county seat, is situated near the centre of the county, on the Dakota Central Railway. The town was laid out in the spring of 1880, incorporated in the fall of 1883, and now contains about fifty business houses, a $5,000 school house, four church organizations, two newspapers, two banks, and a large flouring mill.
Denver and Iroquois are important and rapidly growing towns on the railroad, the former near the eastern, and the latter at the western border of the county. Both are well supplied with good schools, banks, mercantile houses, and various leading industries.
HISTORY OF Southeastern Dakota, Its Settlement and
Sioux City Iowa: Western Publishing Company, 1881
Transcribed by Karen Seeman
The county of Kingsbury is being rapidly populated. It is rich in
resources, as, indeed, is every other county within the limits of
Southeastern Dakota. Kingsbury County was organized December 13,1879,
its first Commissioners being Henry J. J. Burvie, Benjamin Loker,
Herbert R. Palmer. Its principal settlements are DeSmet, Fairview, Lake
Thompson, Spring Lake, Lake Badger, Pleasant Valley, Nordland and Lake
Preston. At the latter prosperous settlement most favorable evidences of
the promising future of Kingsbury County are to be found. The village of
Lake Preston was started in July of the present year. Mr. T. H. Maguire,
of T. H. Maguire & Co., of Volga, located the town. Lake Preston is
situated ten miles east of DeSmet and twelve miles west of Nordland in
the center of a fine farming country. Nearly all branches of trade are
represented. A steam elevator and a flouring mill are in process of
construction. The population is about 150. There is a good class of
buildings, and the town is destined to be one of the best in that region
of country. Mr. Maguire has started, near Lake Preston, a blooded-stock
farm, having already a fine herd of Jerseys and a number of pure-blooded
trotters, of Harabletonian and Mambrino stock. Mr. Maguire has named his
farm the Milwaukee
Stud Farm. Lake Preston is about seven miles long and one and one half miles wide. DeSmet, the County Seat, is a thriving and rapidly growing town.