Evening Huronite (Huron, South Dakota)
Oct. 20, 1927
Submitted by Karen Seeman
GLADYS PYLE TELLS DUTIES OF WOMAN STATE OFFICIAL
Huronian is First Female Keeper of Great Seal in South Dakota; Work Highly Important
Pierre, S. D., Oct. 20 (AP) - Corporations, laws, state papers, elections and automobiles are characterized by Secretary of State Gladys Pyle as the chief concern of her office. "There are mahy papers which daily pass over my desk," South Dakota's First woman secretary of state said today, "but these consume by far the major portion of the time of the Secretary of State and her assistants."
The office of Secretary o f State is one created by the Constitution rather than by the state's legislature. While the only constitutionally provided duty is that the Secretary of State shall serve as a member of the Pardon Board, the duties prescribed to the office by the legislature have followed in a general way those recognized for many years as belonging, under the common law, to the Secretary of State.
"The custodianship of the Great Seal of the state," Miss Pyle said, is perhaps best known of these duties. "The Great Seal of the State is the tangible evidence of the intangible entity of the state, which identifies its wishes as did the signet ring the widh of ancient kings.
Must Use Seal
"Wherenver the Governor of the state affixes his signature on public instruments, there the law requires the Secretary of State to identify the signature by an impress of the Great Seal. During the 38 years of statehood it is not known how many documents have had their authenticity guaranteed by the imprint of the Great Seal, but two well builts steel seals have been worn out in the process, and in every state in the union and in every county of the state are to be found on the records which bear the imprint of South Daota's Great Seal, required by the constitution of contain a reproduction of a smelting furnace, a range of hills, a farmer and plow, cattle and a field of corn, encircled by the state motto: "Under God the People Rule."
"Supervision over laws and state papers is a tas of no mean proportions. this is particularly evident during the several months following each session of the legislature, since the originals of all bills passed by the legislature are entrusted to the office, and to the Secretary of state is given the task of preparing and publishing the session laws. The accuracy of the session laws is of vital importance to litigants in the courts of the commonwealth. The originals of such papers are preserved and are taen from the office of the secretary only on order of a court and then are carried personally by either the Secretary of State or a qualitifed agent.
"Speaing of State papers," Miss Pyle said, "here is the most valuable historical document South Dakota possesses," and indicated a large red leather book of perhaps 18 by 15 inches and an inch in thickness -- the original of the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, and having affixed thereto the signatures of the seventy-four delegates to teh constitutional convention in 1889.
The volume, some hundred pates, beautifully handwritten by Theron G. Brown, then of Sioux Falls, now of Belle Fourche, has been carefully preserved by the Secretary of State. To it the courts have gone in cases of possible question regarding the typographical accuracy of the printed Constitution.
"The time will come," Miss Pyle predicted, "when the legislature will have a special glass covered case within a fire-proof safe designed for this document, so that it may be examined but not handled. In a number of states, particularly the older ones, such safekeeping has been provided, recognizing the fact that the Constitution is the document by which the people safeguard their liberties against possible infringements and as such should be cherished and revered but also diligently guarded and preserved."
Elections comprise another matter to which the time and attention of the Secretary of State is devoted. Upon this officer depends the accuracy of the roll of candidates nominated or officers elected. Records of political parties, nominations for office, election returns, are sent to the office for filing. From them the Secretary of State must compile the rosters.
A mistae in this function of the office may leave a man's name off a ballot and thereby defeat him for public office. Inaccuracy may so destroy the dependability of credentials that the balance of power in the state proposal meetings could be taen from the rightful counties and given to others, thus defeating the principle of the primary law. Seats in either branch of the legislature could be contested should the roll of members elect be erroneously compiled. Initiative and referendum petitions could be carelessly handled and inaccurately checed or certified, thus tolerating the fraud of a few or defeating the wishes of many. "Supervision of elections," Miss Pyle said, "constitutes a main function of the Secretary of State."
The vault of the Secretary of State contains virtually one thousand document files and thousands of closely typewritten records bound into two hundred red leather tomes. These recount various types of transactions, public or pseudo public, from the earliest days of territorial history to the present. The records are largely given to corporations. The law of South Dakota states, The Secretary of state shall have general supervision of the incorporation of all private corporations, and vests with that officer the authority, when not satisfied regarding the corporation, to deny the apploication for a charter."
More than 35,000 corporations have been chartered since statehood. Many of the older documents are handwritten and difficult to read. Others are in beautiful Spencerian script. Many are of corporations which long ago ceased to function and whose officers are dead; corporations whose red or blue or gold printed stock certificates are dust covered and forgotten in old trunks or blue albums.
"In those old and yellow papers," Miss Pyle said, "apparently so dead and uninteresting, you will find all the romance of the ambitions and business ventures of the people of the state.
"The frenzy of the gold rush days is there: 'Goldfield' and 'Tonapah," Klondike and California. Every spot of gold or rumor of gold has written itself upon the corporation records of this office. the freedom of the open ranges is there, and wealth, hoped for, and made or lost is written in the corporation records of 'Diamond A' or 'Circle R' or dozens of others which appear in the old index.
"The coming of more permanent settlers, the building of towns, is all there. Here are the articles of incorporation of the western Town Lot company and many others which developed the town sites in territorial and early statehood days. Take week, a month, and study that old index," Miss Pyle continued, "and you will be able to nown every business aspiration and activity which has developed this country. from gold and cattle and towns to Texas oil and farmers' cooperativce associations. It is all there."
The entire custodial function of Secretary of State is not in the matter of corporation papers. Thousands of Notary Public applications have been filed and commissions issued, extraditions prepared, pardon papers filed, appointments issued and made of recxord, official reports cared for, etc. As these records are filed in the secretary's office, it is also the source of official copies of documents.
The legislature has guarded against the possibility of secrecy regarding these papers by providing as a duty of the Secretary of State: "To furnish on demand to any person, compmany or corporation having paid the lawful fee therefor, a certified copy or copies of all or any part of any law, record or other instrument ept on file in his office." The recordsw of the office indicate that seldom a day passes without one or more requests for such copies.
"Last, but by no means least the duties of the secretary's office," Miss Pyle said, "is the administration of the Motor Vehicle laws of the state. In this office, since July 1, 1925, when the title law became operative, have been filed ownership records of 220,327 automobiles.
"These records, like the registry of deeds, are in the nature of a public insurance against theft and fraud in automobiles. Of these cars 170,000 have been licensed to use the South Dakota highways during 1927. In the last five years there has been an increase of 50,000 automobiles licensed in the state and records in the Secretary of State's office show no indication of a cessation in the motor trade.
"The motor records in my office," Miss Pyle said, "show an almost unbelievable expansion of this business in south Daota. When James T. Biglow of Flandreau registered the first automobile in South Dakota, a four and on-half horsepower Oldsmobile, equipped with a gas lamp and bell, and paid his dollar fee for a license which would last the life of the car, he probably little dreamed that in less than twenty-fice years more than two and one-half millions of dollars would find their way into the public coffers from motor licenses or that the time would ever come when the legislature would no longer feel it necessary to give protection from the motor vehicle to the domestic animals who show signs of fright.
"The increase in business of the motor department is phenomenal but the increase in other branches of work is also noteworth. The fees collected are more than double the cost of the department to the state and foregin corporation records show constant business development within the state which is attractive to outside corporations."
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