Miner County, South Dakota



Country Main Streets

1885 Historical Article


Miner County, SD
Composed and printed in hand-set type by South Dakota Writers' League., 1939
Transcribed by K. Torp, © 2006

IN THE LATE nineties a post office was established seven miles west of Roswell on the Milwaukee railroad and named Miner Center. Shortly afterward a creamery was built a mile east of the post office and the latter was moved to the creamery site. Chris Winters erected a general store, and among the most popular items of his stock of merchandise were the so-called "Fedora" hats. This name pleased the settlers so much that on their petition the name of the post office was changed from "Miner Center" to "Fedora." Another story is that the name was given by an early postmaster for the wife of a mail clerk who made the run through the town. In 1939 the population of the town was 225 and today it has a large auditorium, an up-to-date consolidated school, and a four-year accredited high school.

In September 1883, George B. Woodworth surveyed and platted a town site along the Milwaukee railroad about five miles west of Vilas, in the western part of Miner County. The new town was named Roswell, in honor of Roswell Miller, at that time president of the Millwaukee Road. Although many German families located south of Roswell and a Danish settlement lay to the southeast, the first inhabitants of the town were for the most part native born Americans. In June 1936, a tornado destroyed several buildings in Roswell and these have not been rebuilt. In 1939 Roswell had a population of 143. Vilas, named for a postmaster general, was first surveyed for the Western Town Lot Company on August 29, 1883. An addition to the town site was surveyed in December of the same year, and a second addition five years later; since then the town limits have been unchanged. The little village of 108 inhabitants has the distinction of being the only town in the county with two railroads; it is at the junction of the Milwaukee and the North Western roads. On account of this strategic location, it once had high hopes of becoming the county seat. But Howard was already too well established, and Vilas has naturally suffered by its proximity to the larger town. Its importance today is chiefly as a shipping center. It lies in the artesian belt and the country surrounding it is very fertile. Vilas is within one mile of the geographical center of the county.

The town of St. Marys, on the North Western railway in the north central portion of Miner County, was surveyed and platted October 6, 1886, by A. K. Gault for the Western Town Lot Company. Dr. L. Gotheif was the first inhabitant. After the World War the name of the town was changed to Argonne," in memory of the battle in which American troops took such an important part. Argonne today has a population of 65 persons. Its importance is chiefly that of a shipping center. A consolidated school was erected in 1920 and was destroyed by fire in 1933, but was rebuilt the same year. In 1926 several buildings were wrecked by a tornado.

There are two inland trade centers in the county, both northeast of Howard and but a few miles apart. These are Nanson and Burton. In the early years of settlement each of these had a post office but, they have since been discontinued. Each place, however, still has a store and filling station.


from "Dakota", 1885, compiled by O. H. Holt


Miner county lies in Central Southeastern Dakota, and in the third tier of counties west of the Minnesota State line. Its area includes 576 square miles.

The principal streams are Red Stone and Marsh creeks, and the west fork of the Vermillion river, the last named taking its rise in the northeastern part. A few small lakes and several marshes are scattered over various portions of the county.

The surface is generally a level prairie with slight undulations, and ths soil a rich loam, well adapted for all purposes of agriculture.

Two lines of railway traverse the county - the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, and a branch of the Dakota Central. The Dakota & Great Southern is also projected through the county.

Howard is the county seat and principal town. It is located east of the central part, on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway. It has a court house, school house, flouring mill, four church organizations and two newspapers.


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