No more fitting instance of the wonderful energy and indomitable enterprise which has characterized the settlement and growth of the great Sioux Valley, can be pointed out than the almost incredible rapidity with which this town has sprung into being and taken position as one of the best known, most substantially prosperous and properly influential communities of Dakota.
This gratifying condition of things demonstrates in the best way what well directed and united effort is capable of accomplishing when unhampered by individual selfishness or local jealousies. It must be borne in mind that there were two Madisons, the old Madison and the new Madison.
To correctly understand this situation, it will first be necessary to give a brief history of old Madison, now abandoned for its young and thrifty successor.
Old Madison, then, dates an existence from 1875, on the 13th of July in which year, the town was platted, the village and lake being named by William Van Eps, of Sioux Falls, from the similarity of the townsite and adjoining lake to the townsite of the Capital of Wisconsin and the lake on which it is situated. Old Madison was located on the shore of Lake Madison, about four and one-half miles southeast of the present town. Not long after the plat was surveyed, Madison was made a trading post by the erection of a building used as a general merchandising store by Brooks & Styles, of Sibley, Iowa. In the autumn of 1875, the County Seat of Lake County was located at Madison, and a large business growth resulted; but the coming of the iron horse was a death-blow to the old town, and the location of the station at the site of the present town was the signal for general preparations to move.
The new Madison is the present terminus of the Southern Minnesota Division of the C, M. & St. P. R. R., and is beautifully located between Lakes Madison and Herman, being only one and one-quarter miles from the geographical center of Lake County. It would be difficult to imagine a more desirable location, or one more favorable in every way for the advancement of a community's interests. Surrounded by a fine agricultural section, well settled and developed, it is the focus from out of which radiates activity and prosperity on every side. There is an abundance of good water, clear, bracing atmosphere, and exceptionally healthful conditions. The present town was platted July 6th, 1880, by William Van Eps, P. H. Harth, O. E. Batchelder and William Lee, and a general migration from the old town to the new began to take place immediately afterwards. J. W. Davison was the first to open a stock of merchandise in the new town.
The first railroad train reached Madison January 12th, 1881, and the town was incorporated under the provisions of the Territorial Code on the first of May following. Its present population is fully 600, and is rapidly receiving valuable accessions. The streets are one hundred feet in width, with sidewalks ten feet wide, and already much money has been expended in improvements in this direction. All branches of business are well represented, the buildings being of a superior class and everything wearing an appearance of thrift and permanency.
A recent valuable addition to the enterprises of the town is the Lake County Flouring Mill, owned by Mr. B. D. Sprague, the construction of which was begun in May of the present year, and completed in October, at a total cost of about $20,000. They are roller mills and contain all the latest improvements, no trouble or expense having been spared to that end. They will grind about 500 bushels of wheat per day, and their work will not suffer by comparison with any other mills in Dakota. Mr. H. A. Snyder is the head miller.
Madison has two excellent newspapers, the Madison Sentinel and the Lake County Leader. The Sentinel was first started at old Madison in April, 1879, by Joe H. Zane and F. L. Fifield. W. F. Smith succeeded Fifield in March, 1880. In May of the same year Smith disposed of his interest to Zane, and in June W. H. & A. M. Jones became interested in its publication. W. H. Jones became sole editor and proprietor in December, 1880. The Leader was established in June, 1879, at Herman, six miles west of old Madison, by F. C. Stowe, who brought it to new Madison in November, 1880. Its final sale to E. A. Fuller and J. M. Preston was consummated September 3d, of the present year. It is published by Fuller & Co., with J. M. Preston as the editor. Both the Sentinel and the Leader have contributed in no small degree to bring about the present prosperous condition of affairs at Madison.
The hotel and other accommodations are excellent, and the business men wide awake to appreciate and avail themselves of everything conducive to the advancement of the community.
CHURCHES, SCHOOLS AND SOCIETIES.
There are five church organizations at Madison, all with encouraging prospects. The Presbyterian Society was organized at Old Madison, in 1877, and has a handsome edifice. Rev. G. F. Leclere is the pastor. The Baptist Society is of recent organization, and has also an appropriate edifice. The Congregational Society was organized in August of the present year, and holds services in Davison's Hall. The Society will erect a suitable structure as soon as practicable. A Methodist Episcopal organization existed at Old Madison, the members of which expect shortly to organize their Society in the new town. There is also a large Catholic membership in Madison, an edifice for the accommodation of which will shortly be erected.
The educational facilities, present and prospective, are unusually excellent. The contract for the new school building, which is to cost $1,000, calls for its completion November 20th, 1881. Meantime a temporary building has been occupied. A matter for considerable self-gratulation is the success attending the efforts of the citizens for the establishment of a Territorial Normal School at Madison. The Legislative Assembly having at its last session passed an act establishing five Normal Schools in the Territory, conditioned upon the deeding by each locality, where such an institution was desired, of one hundred and sixty acres of land to the Territory for such purpose, within the period of six months, the citizens of Madison promptly bought and paid for by private subscription the requisite one hundred and sixty acres, at a cost of $1,750, and deeded it to the Territory as required by the act. The deed has been accepted by Secretary Hand as Acting Governor during the absence of Governor Ordway, and the appropriations will no doubt come as a matter of course, thus securing to Madison an institution of great benefit to the entire community, as well of the highest credit to the people of the Territory. It will especially be borne in mind in this connection that Madison is the only town in the Territory which complied with the conditions of the above act.
The Lake County Agricultural Association, whose objects are all that the name implies, was organized in the fall of 1879, and held its third annual fair on the 29th and 30th of September, of the present year. Its grounds are about one-half mile east of town, contain sixty acres, and are unsurpassed in adaptability for the purpose for which they are used. There is an excellent half-mile circular track, good buildings and conveniences, a large floral hall being among the erections of the present year. Competition in all departments is unlimited, premiums liberal, and the annual meetings will bear favorable comparison with any of the Middle and Western States. The present officers of the Association are: President, G. P. Borland; Vice-President. P. H. Harth; Secretary, F. C. Stowe; Treasurer, David Mullen; Board of Directors, Jacob Bergstresser, John Fitzgerald, R. B. Mullen, J. M. Preston, Philip Zimmerman. Lake County claims the honor of being the first county to organize an Agricultural Association in Dakota.
The organization of the Lake County Cemetery Association was perfected April 23,1881. Its officers are: President, H. Harth; Vice-President, J. G. Wadsworth; Secretary, J. M. Preston;Treasurer, A. E. Clough; Directors, A. M. McCallister, G. P. Borland, Wm. Lee; Superintendent of Grounds, J. H. Law.
Madison Lodge No. 20, I. O. O. F.- Was instituted April 10,1880, by D. D. G. M. Woodruff, of Dell Rapids, with the following charter members: William Lee, Charles Miller, P. Marquart, John Jacobs, William Luce, C. W. Howard, C. C. Rosnow, J. G. Wadsworth, J. R. Taylor, A. E. Clough. Its first officers were: P. Marquart, N. G.; C. Miller, V.G.; A. E. Clough, Secretary; W. H. Luce, Treas. The following are its present officers: A. E. Clough, N. G.; J. L Taylor, V. G.; H. Gulstein, Secretary; P. Hansen, Treasurer; Representative to the Grand Lodge, Charles Miller. The membership is about fifty, and comprises one of the finest young lodges in the Territory, its number embracing a majority of the substantial business men of the town. The Lodge is financially, prosperous, has money in its treasury, and the membership is rapidly increasing.