Turner county contains 624 square miles, and is drained by the Vermillion river and the smaller streams tributary to it.
It consists principally of prairie land, slightly undulating, which affords good drainage. The soil is of the richest alluvium, with clay subsoil. Good water is easily obtained at a depth of from twelve to fifty feet Artesian wells are obtained by boring to a depth of from 100 to 300 feet Pine groves of timber nave been successfully planted in all parts of the county. Dairying and cattle raising are fast becoming the leading industries among the inhabitants. Hogs, horses and sheep are also found profitable.
Flax, wheat, corn, oats and buckwheat are the principal farm products. Vegetables of all kinds grow to perfection. The average yield of flax is fifteen bushels per acre; wheat, 20; corn, 60; oats, 45 bushels per acre. Unimproved land can be bought at from $4 to $10 per acre, according to location, while improved quarter-sections are from $10 upward, according to the value of improvements and location. Coal is now the principal fuel, and sells at the stations in a retail way at the following prices : Soft coal, $5 to $8 per ton, according to quality; hard coal, $11 per ton. Two railroads cross the county. The Iowa and Dakota division of the Chicago, Milwaukee A St. Paul crosses the county from east to west, and a branch of the same line runs from Marion Junction, in Turner county, to Running Water, on the Missouri river.
The Dakota Central Railroad enters the county near the southeast corner and runs diagonally northwest across the county, crossing the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul at Parker.
There are at present four railroad towns in the county, Parker, Marion, Hurley and Centreville, all flourishing towns, having churches and excellent graded schools. There are four good flouring mills in the county, located at Parker, Marion, Centreville and Finlay. The two first named are steam mills, having a capacity for the manufacture of 100 barrels of flour per day. The last named are water-power mills, located on the Vermillion river. A mill for the manufacture of oat meal, the only mill of the kind in Dakota, has just been completed at Parker. It will manufacture into oat meal 150,000 bushels of oats per year.
There are at present seventy good substantial school houses in the county, and 1,700 pupils attend them. About $35,000 was raised for school purposes during the past year. There are fifteen church buildings in the county, and several religious societies are preparing to build. The county offers rare inducement to men of small means desiring a home where church and schools are already established.;
This fertile county was organized by the Legislative Assembly in 1870. The first election was held in 1869, there being only five votes cast, a cigar-box being used as the "palladium of liberty." The "total" vote of the county for Delegate to Congress, was as follows: Dr. Burleigh, 2 votes; M. K. Armstrong, 2 votes; S. L. Spink, 1 vote. The general surface of the land is undulating, but not abruptly so. The soil generally is a rich black loam, except at Parker, where its elements are gravelly.
The first settlement of Turner County was in 1869, by W. W . Aurner and family, and Vale P. Thielman. Miss Helen S. Bachelder was the first white woman to settle in the county. Lois J. S. Scott, born in May, 1871, was the first white child born in the county. The first marriage was that of William Robinson and Mrs. Hammond, which occurred in the spring of 1871.
The following were the first County Officers: County Commissioners - Vale P. Thielman, W. W. Aurner, Louis Eliot. Register of Deeds; Charles Scott. At this time there were not enough people to fill the offices; so officers were appointed as fast as the settlers came in. Vale P. Thielman at first acted as Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, County Surveyor and Deputy Treasurer, in which capacities he acted until others were appointed. Mr. Thielman states that, even then, with all these duties to perform, he could be absent from his post without occasioning any inconvenience with regard to the machinery of his varied offices.
The first postoffice in the county was established at Swan Lake in 1869, before there was any perceptible settlement. Miss Helen S. Bachelder was the Postmistress, receiving her appointment at Yankton. The first store was established in 1872 at Swan Lake, by T. J. Hill.
The present County Officers are: Commissioners; Thomas Elce, Jr., Christian Epple, Charles Flowers. Sheriff; Daniel Dyer, Jr. Register of Deeds and County Clerk; C. M. Pier. Treasurer ; J. B. Beebe. Clerk of the Court; Vale P. Thielman. Judge of Probate; Joseph Allen. Superintendent of Schools; H. F. Roupp.
The first religious society organized in Turner County was at Swan Lake, where an Episcopal Church was built by the Rev. Dr. Hoyt in 1871.
The various towns in the county are: Parker, situated a little north of
the center of the county, with a population of 300; Marion Junction, in
the northwestern corner of the county, with a populaaion of 200; Swan
Lake, east of the center of the county,
with a population of about 50; Turner, six miles east, Centerville, ten miles east, and Daneville, six miles south, of Swan Lake.
The village of Marion Junction was organized during the month of September, 1881. Marion Junction was platted by the surveyors of the C., M. & St. P. Railroad Co., in 1879, and was named in honor of the daughter of S. S. Merrill, of Milwaukee. Among the first settlers were: John Ryan, H. Fritz. Jacob Frantz, John McNamee, who came in 1879. George L. McKay and C. H. Flowers came shortly afterwards. The town was incorporated in the autumn of 1881.
The Marion Gazette was established by M. A. Fuller in 1879, and existed about a year. The printing material is still in Marion Junction, and it is expected to have the paper revived shortly. The circulation of the Gazette was about three hundred.
The C, M. & St. P. Railroad was built to Marion Junction in 1879, the first train arriving two days after it had reached Parker. A flouring mill is expected to be erected here during the coming year.
The Village is beautifully located, thirty-five miles from the east line of the Territory, and contains about fifty business houses, hotels, warehouses, &c. The surrounding country is being rapidly settled.
The first town officers were: Trustees; Jacob Hieb, Fred. Roeber, Joseph Bingenheimer. Clerk; Th. Schriber. Treasurer ; E. Reiff. Justice of the Peace; James Christian. The location of the village is on the northwest quarter of section 5, town 99, range 54.
The school house was built in 1879, at a cost of $2,000. It has two departments. M. L. Kanable was the first teacher. The present teacher is Miss Felmly.
The Catholic Church of Marion Junction was organized by Rev. Father McCarty, of Mitchell, in 1880. The first services were held at the Central House. In the same year a church building was erected, 30 by 60 feet in dimensions, and costing $800. The Society has about 150 communicants.
The German Lutheran Society have no regular organization, but hold services in the school house. They contemplate building soon. These remarks equally apply to the Presbyterian and United Brethren Societies.
The first store was started by John Ryan; the first hotel, by H. Pool; John McNamee was the first Postmaster.
Anniversary Lodge No. 22, I. O. O. F., was instituted April 22, 1880. Meetings are held in the school house. Charter members: Lawis Sawady, M. L. Kanable, J. M. Roeber, Jacob Frantz, M. A. Fuller, J. C. Loss, and others. The first officers were: M. L. Kenable, N. G.; Fred. Roeber, V. G.; M. A. Fuller,-Secretary; J. M. Roeber, Treasurer. Present officers: L. Sawaday, N. G.; R. C. Tousley, V.G.; Frank Cotton, Secretary; J. M. Roeber. Treasurer. The membership is nearly forty, and the Lodge is in excellent working condition.
President; Jacob Hieb.
Trustees; Fred. Roeber, Joseph Bingenheimer.
Clerk; T. H. Schriber.
Treasurer; E. Reiff.
Marshal; E. Bertlesen.
Justice; James Christian.
Attorney; G. L. McKay.
Boots and Shoes; Christina Beuchler, Henry Roeber, Louis Schafer.
Bank; Marion Loan and Savings Bank, by Reiff and Nagle.
Druggists; Reiff and Nagle.
Drayage; John Murray.
Furniture; Th. Schriber.
General Merchants; John Ryan, John Montgomery, Jacob Hieb and Com-pany Th. Schriber, L. George.
Grain Dealers; Bassett and Huntting, C. H. Flowers and Company.
Hotels; Marion House, Central House, Summit House.
Hardtcare; F. Roeber, Reiff and Nagle.
Harness; -T. C. Winn.
Livery; Mr. Dimmick.
Lumber; C. H. Flowers and Company, J. H. Shanard.
Meat Market; Joseph Bingenheimer.
Physicians; W. W. Nutting, Dr. Sifert.
Saloons; Christina Beuchler, Charley Irving, Gus. Trotnow.
The first settlers in Parker were: George W. Howard, J. M. Simerson, W. W. Robbins, C. G. Pratt, M. T. Howard, L. Gilbert, S. Hayward and Son, H. H. Schafer, and others. The town was platted by Kimball and Sanborn in 1879, and is not yet incorporated. It is located on section 17, town 99. range 53. Just east and south of the village is a slight elevation, rising to the height of about twenty feet. The west branch of the Vermillion River runs about eighty rods west of the village, thus affording excellent drainage. From the bluffs on the river banks the "iron horse" can be seen for a distance of fifteen miles. In all respects Parker is most eligibly located.
The C, M. & St. P. Railroad was completed to Parker in July, 1879.
In 1876, a newspaper was started at Swan Lake by H. B. Chaffee, under
the name of the Swan Lake Era. Its publication was continued about
twenty months. It was subsequently revived by W. H. Gardner, who
conducted it as the Swan Lake Press for a period of seven months, when
it was purchased by C. F. Hackett, and the name again changed to the New
Era. In 1879, Mr. Hackett moved his effects to Parker, where he is now
located, and where the paper is published as the Parker New Era. It is
the official and only newspaper printed in Turner County; is independent
in politics, and is a five-column quarto. Its circulation is about 500.
The contest to decide the question of the location of the County Seat at
Parker, instead of Swan Lake "its present location" is at this
writing, autumn of 1881, being vigorously waged, the matter to be decided
by vote of the citizens at the November election.
Quite a number of substantial business houses and residences are being built in Parker the present season. There is a gravel subsoil, where the town is "located, and the water is abundant and of the purest quality.
The first hotel at Parker was started by Orange Hill, in August, 1879; the first store "hardware" by G. W. Howard in the same year; Gale & Stone's bank in 1880. The first death to occur was that of Mrs. C. Weber, in the spring of the present year.
The postoffice was established in September, 1879, with C. K Hollenback, the present incumbent, as Postmaster.
The school house was completed in December, 1879, at a cost of $2,000..
The schools are graded, and contain two departments. The first teacher
was L. N. Alberty, who was also County Superintendent. The present
teachers are Prof. Mumford and Miss
The first church building was erected by the Presbyterians, in 1833, at a cost of $999. This Society was organized by Rev. J. B. Currens, in the spring of the latter year, the first sermon having been preached by J. B. Currens in October, 1869. The membership is about thirty. The use of the building has been frequently granted to the Methodists, Episcopalians and Baptists. The building was dedicated November 18, 1880, the dedicatory sermon being preached by Rev. J. B. Pomeroy, of Iowa.
The first Sunday School was organized by the Baptist Society in October, 1879, with H. O. Newby as Superintendent.
The Baptist Society was organized in the autumn of 1880, by the resident minister. A building is being erected at a cost of $1,500. The membership is fifty. Services are for the present held, for the most part, in the school house.
The Episcopalians have organized a mission at Parker, with Rev. M. Robinson as the Rector. Services are held in the Presbyterian Church.
The Methodist Episcopal Society was organized in August, 1881. Rev. L. W. Miller is the pastor. A building is being erected, to cost $1,500.
The Seventh Day Advents were organized in the summer of 1880, with W. T. Henton as pastor. Their membership is thirteen, and services are held in the school house.
Parker Lodge No. 2, A. 0. U. W., was instituted in December, 1880, by W. H. Buford. A charter was granted early in 1881. Charter members: William Morton, G. Gilbert, G. W. Stone, Vale P. Thielman, W. S. Branch, C. Weber, J. V. McRaith, A. L. Peterman, J. S. Parson, E. H. Stone, R. E. Buchanan, and others. The membership is twenty-five. Present officers: C. D. Cone, M. W.; William Morton, P. W.; G. Gilbert, Recorder; W. S. Branch, R. The first officers were: -Wm. Morton, M. W.; V. P. Thielman, P. W.; G. Gilbert, R.; J. V. McRaith, F.; W. S. Brauch, R.
The Parker Flouring Mill was built in 1881, by L. Clisby, of Wis. It has five run of stone, and was built at a cost of $12,000. Its capacity is about 100 barrels. This mill has all the modern improvements for making the patent flour. It is a frame structure, stone basement.
Attorneys; C. D. Cone, James A. Hand, Vale P. Thielman. Agricultural Implements.; Robbins & Pratt, S. A. Henton, Orange Still, J. H. Shurtleff.
Bank; Gale & Stone.
Barber.; George Hatch.
Blacksmiths.; Smith & Hudsmith, Claus Weber.
Bottling Works; Wm. H. Heselton.
Druggists.; W. S. Branch & Co., J. E. Kendall.
Furniture.; H. H. Vernon.
Flour and Feed.; H. C. Pfeiffer.
General Merchants.; H. H. Schafer, Gustav Gilbert, E. W. Crocker, Reuben
Grain Dealers; Boseett & Huntting.
Hardware; George W. Howard, M. T. Howard, R. Wales, Robbins & Pratt.
Harness; S. Hayward & Son.
Hotels.; Wentworth House, Still's Hotel.
Insurance.; Vale P. Thielman.
Jeweler.; Milo Eatinger.
Liver.; Win. Sheldon, Fay & Spece.
Lumber.; Robins & Pratt, St. Croix Lumber Company.
Millinery; Mrs. A. Ludden, Mrs. L. Gilbert.
Meat Market.; Shurtleff & Hibbert.
Newspaper.; Parker New Era, C. F. Hackett, Editor and Proprietor.
Physicians; A. L. Peterman, A. B. Sage.
Photographer.; G. L. Spooner.
Real Estate; Vale P. Thielman.
Saloon; Wm. H. Heselton.
Stock Dealers; H. S. Marsh & Co.
Wagon Making; George S. Rathbun.