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, 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 Probate.

     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 farm.

     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 courthouse was erected at Elk Point in 1866, 20 by 30 feet, two stories in height. 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, 1870.

     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, 1884.

     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.