The Sheriff of Union County posed for this picture
in front of the court
house at Elk Point, S.D. with whisky stills collected in raids in a
"clean up" operation. Sheriff at the time is Sheriff
Dahlin. Thanks to Roland Rosenbaum
for the information!
Union County History
Union County, created in 1862, organized in 1862,
was originally named Cole for Austin Cole, a member of the first
Territorial legislature. Two years later, in 1864, the boundaries were
rearranged and the name was changed to Union because of sentiment for
the Union side in the Civil War.
The first county officers (in 1864, then Cole Country)
were: William Frisbie, William Mathers, and John R Wood as County
Commissioners; M,M, Rich, Register of Deeds; A. R. Phillips, Judge of
The first settlement of Union County in the progress of
Civilization may properly be dated from about 1855. At that time
Christopher Malone settled in what is now Big Sioux Township, and
remained there until the time of his death. Adolph Mason had been in
the same township two years prior to this date, but subsequently left
the territory and returned again in 1856, and from that time remained
a permanent resident to the time of his death in about 1899. Antine
Fleurie and Joseph Shay settled in the same township in 1857. Eli B.
Wixson, David Benjamin and Stephen Horton settled in Union County in
1859. Mr. Wixson and Mr. Benjamin located claims at Elk Point, and Mr.
Horton north of Brule Creek.
The early settlements of Union County mostly
concentrated around Elk Point and Sioux Point at the junction of the
Missouri and Big Sioux River. At this last named locality were a
number of French Canadians, some of whom had previously resided at
other places in the United States. Most of them were allied with
the Indians by marriage and raised large
families. Some engaged in stock raising, but the greater number were
hunters and trappers, who built log cabins in some sheltered spot, and
perhaps cultivated a few acres in corn and vegetables.
The first white child born in Union County was
Stanislaus Napoleon LaBerge, who was born to Joseph and Ms. LaBerge,
March 17, 1861, in a covered wagon near Elk Point while on their way
to locate a claim a mile west of Elk Point--later known as the Compton
The first school was taught by N.J. Wallace in 1861 in
a log schoolhouse. It was the first schoolhouse in the county, size
about 14 by 20 feet, covered with a dirt roof.
The first term of court was held in
November, 1865, in a log
schoolhouse at Elk Point by Honorable J. P. Kidder. The first
was erected at Elk Point in 1866, 20 by 30 feet, two stories in
All the lumber was cottonwood.
In 1884 the county officers of Union County were:
Commissioners, H. Knudson, Charles LaBreche, John M Peterson; Register
of Deeds, A. O. Ringstrud; Treasurer, George Stickney; Sheriff James
A. Smith; Assessor, H.O. White; Judge of Probate, T.W. Smith; Clerk of
Courts, E.C. Erickson; Superintendent of Schools, W.H. Fate; Coroner,
J.G. Conley; and Surveyor, William M Vinson.
The first newspaper established at Elk Point was the
Leader, by F.O. Wisner, its first issue bearing the date March 17,
Alcester was founded in 1879 by the Western Town Lot
Company and was incorporated on October 3, 1893. The city was first
called Linia, then Irene. The name was finally changed to Alcester by
an English-born railroad official, in honor of a colonel in the
British Army who was involved in a heroic battle in Egypt about the
time the town was named.
Beresford was known as Paris in 1873, but when the
Northwestern Railroad was built in 1884, the name was changed to honor
Admiral Lord Charles Beresford of England, who was financially
interested in the railroad. The city became incorporated July 12,
Jefferson was named for Thomas Jefferson, third
president of the United State. In the early 1870's the town was known
as Adelescat. The town became incorporated on January 8, 1895.
North Sioux City was originally called Stevens, named
for a W.W. Stevens, This town was platted in 1922. By reason of an
increase in population, the town became a city of second class.
Therefore, on December 18, 1951, the municipality became an
incorporated city and
changed its name to North Sioux City, taking its name from Sioux City,
Iowa and adding the prefix North.
First Homestead in South Dakota
A small graveyard north of Richland in Union County is all that
remains to mark the first homestead filed in South Dakota, and
possibly in the United States.
The entry was made by Mahlon GORE at Vermillion, South Dakota, five
minutes past midnight of January 1, 1863, the date when the Homestead
Act, signed by Abraham Lincoln, became effective.