The original name of the county of which the prosperous town of Elk Point is the County seat, was Cole, under which name it, in connection with a number of other counties, was organized at the first session of the Legislative Assembly. For reasons which were deemed good and sufficient, the name of Cole was subsequently dropped, and the county was named Union.
On the morning of July 22d,1859, not a settler cabin was to be seen from the Big Sioux River to Green Point, now known as Burbank, in Clay County. On that day Eli B. Wixon took his claim at Elk Point, and began the erection of a log building, 12x16 feet, one story, with earth for floor and roof. In August following. Mr. Wixon moved into this house and opened to the public a hotel and grocery store. Settlements began to be made about Elk Point, and Mr. W.'s house was well patronized. The following winter, seventy-five Santee Indians camped at Elk Point for the purpose of hunting. With these Indians Mr. Wixon's trade was good. In the spring of 1860, several families located near Elk Point, and the settlement began to prosper.
During this year Mr. Wixon built the Elk Point House upon the townsite, where he continued in the hotel and mercantile business, and also cultivated sixty acres on his claim. In the winter of 1860, Joseph LaBarge lived in the hotel, Mrs. LaBarge being the first white woman resident upon the townsite. The same year, W. W. Adams build the old Adams House.
In the summer of 1861, the townsite was surveyed, and by act
of the Legislative Assembly, it was incorporated April 24th, 1862.
The first officers were: Council: John K. Wood. President;
Myron Sheldon. William W. Adams, Preston M. Hotchkiss. Recorder: E. B. Wixon.
The first school house was built in 1861, and the first school was taught by Hon. N. J. Wallace, afterwards Receiver of the United States Land Office at Vermillion. The first sermon was preached in Elk Point by Rev. C. D. Martin in the winter of 1860; the first lecture was delivered by Hon. J. P. Kidder.
In the autumn of 1862, great excitement was occasioned by the Indian depredations at Sioux Falls, and a military company was organized at Elk Point, Mr. Wixon's hotel being turned into a block house, or barrack. In the spring of 1863, the company was mustered into the service of The United States, under Gen. Sully, as Company B, First Dakota Cavalry.
The first postoffice was established in 1860. with E. B. Wixon as Postmaster, which position he held until 1863, when A. L. Edwards succeeded him as Postmaster. In 1860 the mail was carried once a week by a four-mule team, from Sioux City to Fort Randall.
The first regular store was opened in Elk Point by Fairchild &
Green, in 1865; the next store, in 1866. by J. W. Vandevere. The County Seat of Union County was located, by vote of the people, at Elk Point in 1865. The first term of court was held in the old log school house, Hon. J. P. Kidder presiding. In 1815-6,
a large and well arranged Court House was built by the citizens of Elk Point, and donated to the county. J. A. Wallace, Esq., was the first attorney to locate at Elk Point.
The first birth was a son. to Mr. and Mrs. LaBarge, in the spring
of 1861; the first death, William Wallace Tripp, February 19th, 1863.
The town was located on section 19. town 91, range 49, and section 24, town 91, range 50. It was incorporated as a city January 10th, 1873, its first officers, under this incorporation, being; Mayor H. H. Blair. Councilmen E. B. Wixon, J. M. Talcott. Clerk McKinzey Kane. Treasurer J. W. Hoffman. Justice J. A. Wallace. Marshal A. H. Stringer.
The first regular Baptist Church of Elk Point was organized March 11th, 1871, by Rev. Geo. W. Freeman. General Missionary of the American Baptist Home Missionary Society, with eleven members; and on the following day four were added by baptism. The General Missionary supplied this Church until the following October, when J. H. Young, Esq., of Dixon County, Neb., was called to the charge of the Society, and in January, 1872, was ordained. The following July, he was called to the charge of the Yankton Baptist Church. August 1st, 1872, Rev. T. H. Judson, of Floyd County, Iowa, took charge of the Society for one year.
Rev. J. P. Coffman, of Iowa, was called to succeed this pastorate, and continued his services until December 1st, 1876. During one year, this Society had no regular pastor. In November, 1877, Rev. Geo. W. Freeman was called to the pastorate, and is still acting in that capacity. The Society has reached a membership of more than seventy. Many members have removed farther west and to other sections of the country. The present membership is forty-six. The church edifice was built in the spring of 1873, Rev. Geo. W. Freeman preached the dedicatory sermon, assisted by Rev. T. H. Judson. The cost of the structure and grounds was $1,200.
The United Brethren Society was organized in the latter part of 1870, by J. E. Hott, a missionary, sent from Ohio. A. Potter and John Morris, assisting. Their church edifice is the largest in the town. It was built at a cost of about $3,000, and was not dedicated until October 11th. 1879. The dedicatory sermon was preached by Bishop M. Wright, of Richmond, lnd. Rev. Mr. Hott was succeeded by the following clergymen in the order named: Revs. J. D. Snyder, J. H. McVey, S. J. More. D. T. Hutchinson, D. O. Darling. The present membership is twenty-four. St. Andrews Episcopal Society was established as a mission by Rev. Dr. Hoyt, Dean of Dakota. This mission was continued by the services of Rev. W. W. Fowler, now of the Santee Agency. Rev. W. P. Huntington succeeded and was followed by Elder Himes, the present pastor in charge. A church edifice was built at Elk Point by this Society, in 1868, largely by contributions from New York and Philadelphia, at a cost of about $1,001). Its seating capacity is about one hundred and fifty persons. The Congregationalists also worshiped in this building for a time. During Elder Himes pastorate, he has taken great pride in making improvements, and has now the best furnished church building in the town. The membership is twenty-five, and the attendance at Sabbath School, of which Elder Himes is the Superintendent, is about seventy.
The Congregational Society was organized by Rev. Mr. Shelton, General Missionary for Dakota, in 1872. This organization was placed under the supervision of James Oakey. They used, for a time, the Episcopal Church building, which afterwards became the United Brethren Church. During the pastorate of Mr. Oakey. The Society had a membership of twenty.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church was organized in 1879. The church building was erected in 1880-81, at a cost of about $3,000, which was contributed largely by the Catholics themselves. The building is 72 by 35 feet in dimensions. Rev. John Brogan was the first regular pastor appointed. About forty families are represented in the membership.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1865, by Elder Kane. This Society held its meetings at Brule Creek, but afterwards removed to Elk Point. They have a church building, which was erected at a cost of about $1,000, in 1870. The first services were held in the Court House and in the old school house. The dedicatory sermon was preached by Rev. B. Mitchell in 1870.
After the destruction by fire of the old school house, in the winter of 1872, school was taught in the I . B. Church and in the Talcott building, near John R. Wood's livery stable, until the erection of the present school house. The present structure was erected in the autumn of 1877, and cost about $1,000. It is a graded school, of four departments. The first teachers were: Ed. Cummings, Principal; O. S. Bryan, Grammar; Abbie Laird, Primary. The Board of Education at this time consisted of the following gentlemen: F. W. Smythe, J. A. Wallace, H. H. Blair. Present corps of teachers; Prof. C. A. Kibling, Principal; Miss Maggie Jackson Butcher, D. W. Myers, Mrs. Emma P. Myers. Elk Point Lodge No. 4, 1.0. O. F.: Charter granted December 30th, 1872. Meetings were first held in a hall over Blair's drug store. Charter members: J. A. Wallace, J, Griffin Conley, Alexander Hughes, E. W. Miller, J. G. Hughes, G. W. Roberts. The Lodge now meets in Odd Fellows Hall, over the store-room of C. W. Beggs. The membership is about thirty. First officers elected: E. W. Miller, N. G.; J. G. Conley, V. G.; J. A. Wallace, Secretary; A. Hughes, Treasurer. Present officers: ! H. Budde, N. G.; A. Ronne, V. G.; E. W. Miller, Secretary; A. Stroble, Treasurer.
Hesperian Encampment-No. 3, I. O. O. F.; Charter granted June 18th, 1875. Instituted July 5th, of the same year. Charter members: J. A. Wallace, C. F. Mallahan, W. E. Gantt, A. E. Ronne, E. W. Miller. P. W. McManus, W. E. Caton, Alexander Hughes, W. J. Conley. First officers: W. J. Conley, C. P.; W. E. Caton, H. P.; J. A. Wallace, S. W.; E. W. Miller, J. W.; C. F. Mallahan, Scribe; P. W. McManus, Treasurer. Present officers: A. E. Ronne, C. P.; J. A. Wallace, H. P.; F. M. Budde, S. W.; E. W. Miller, J. W.; S. W. Kent, Scribe; C. F. Mallahan, Treasurer. The Encampment has twelve members.
Elk Point Lodge No. 3, A. F. & A.M.: Charter granted, under the Iowa Jurisdiction. June 7th, 1871, the number of the Lodge then being 288. The Lodge was re-chartered by the Grand Lodge of Dakota, July 21st, 1875, and re-numbered as above. Charter members: H. H. Blair, Elias Hyde, E. H. Webb, J. A. Wallace. E. B. Wixon, Preston Hotchkiss, P. E. Wagnard, C. W. Beggs. Present officers: A. 0. Ringsrud, W. M.; H. J. Muhs, S. W.; W. M. Vinson, J. W.; A. E. Ronne, Secretary. Meetings were first held in Masonic Hall, over Dr. Smith's drug store. The Lodge now meets in the hall over C. W. Beggs' store.
Elk Point Lodge No. 6, I. O. G. T.: Charter granted in August, 1881. Meetings were first held in the Episcopal Church. First officers: E. G. Mathews, W. C; Mi*s Mary Wood, V. C; Hans Murphy, Treasurer; E. C. Ericson, Secretary; Rev. George Ford, P. W. C. The Lodge adjourned temporarily with eighteen embers, until a permanent place of meeting is secured.
The Centennial Cornet Band, consisting of fifteen members, was
organized by Millard Zeigler. J. Coverdale is President, J. H. Bryan,
Secretary, and W. M. Vinson, Treasurer of the organization.
The first newspaper printed in Elk Point was the Elk Point Leader, published by F. O. Wisner, its first issue being of date, March 17th, 1870. The establishment was destroyed by fire in April, 1871. November 24th, 1871, L. B. Redpath started a paper called the Union County Courier, which he ran but two weeks, when he sold it to the Courier Publishing Company, composed of H. H. Blair, J. M. Talcott and C. M. Northup. June 19th, 1872, C. E. Mallahan purchased the paper, of which he has ever since continued to be the efficient editor and proprietor. The paper is an eight column quarto, is the only newspaper published in the county, and is in every respect a publication which reflects credit both upon its editor and the intelligent and prosperous community from which it derives its support.
In October, 1872, the Dakota Southern Railroad was completed to Elk Point. The business establishments of the town are extensive and well conducted, the class of business men, as a rule, being of that character which is calculated to best promote the interests of a progressive community. The population of Elk Point may be set down at from seven hundred to eight hundred.
Mayor M. W. Sheafe.
Councilmen Hans Murphy, Michael Hoffman, J. M. Talcott.
Treasurer J. E. Blair.
Clerk Wash. D. Percival.
Marshal Alson Bovee.
Justice F. W. Smythe.
Attorneys J. A. Wallace. E. W. Miller, Charles H. Walworth, George Stickney.
Agricultural Implements Michael Hoffman, Hans Murphy.
Blacksmithing J. Coverdale, J. H. Bryan.
Barber John Steckman.
Broom Factory A, D. Weed.
Boarding Joseph Steckman, Almon Gore.
Carpenters and Builders Thomas Wilson, Ed. Quick, J. M. Talcott, J. R. Kent, E. E. Morris, Piatt Vail.
Druggists E. C. DeWitt, H. H. Blair.
Flour and Feed S. Crumrine, Henry Fleming.
Furniture Benjamin Briggs.
General Merchandise George Ford, E. Rowe & Son, C. W. eggs, Freeman Bros.
Grocers Flannery & Vassar, M. B. Gorham, F. M. Budde, J. B. Brubacher, John Mounsey, Almon Gore, A. E. Eddy.
Grain Dealers Freeman Bros., C. W. Beggs.
Harness Makers S. W. Kent, F. W. Smythe.
Hardware Michael Hoffman, E. Rowe & Son.
Hotels Merchants House, Elk Point House.
Jewelers A. L. Dawson, G. B. Steckman.
Livery John B. Wood, Uriah Wood, E. L. Pettis.
Lumber Dealer S. B. Stough.
Meat Markets F. Strobel, Warren Fisk, Henry Fleming.
Mill M. W. Sheafe, Proprietor.
Millinery Ella Wagner, Laird & Rich, Mrs. G. W. Havens.
Newspaper Union County Courier, C. F. Mallahan, Editor and Proprietor.
Photographer George B. Steckman.
Physicians J. Griffiin Conley, G. W. Havens, W. J. Conley, Mr. ad Mrs. G. P. Bennett.
Real Estate J. A. Wallace, Walworth & Percival.
Restaurants M. B. Gorham, F. W. Budde, Almon Gore, A. E. Eddy, Joseph Steckman.
Railroad Agent Smith.