Brookings County History - South Dakota
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Brookings County South Dakota

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Brookings County History

This county history has been generously submitted by its author, George Norby.


The History of Brookings County began with the Act which authorized its first boundaries approved on April 5th 1862.

At this time it included the north half of Lake and Moody Counties and the tier of Townships on the Eastern edge of Kingsbury County.

In 1873 it was reduced to its present boundaries.

There was an attempt to settle in the County in May or June of 1857, but the settlers were driven out by Indians in the summer of 1858.

This undertaking was under the Dakota Land Company of St. Paul, Minnesota. They selected the name of Medary after Governor Medary of Minnesota and intended to make it the Capital of the New Territory.

Eleven years later in 1869 the first permanent settlement was started on the east bank of the Sioux River four miles northwest of the first settlement.

Brookings County

An Act to organize the County of Brookings.

Be it enacted by the Legislature Assembly of the Territory of Dakota;

Sec. 1 - That Martin N. Trygstad, L. M. Hewlett and Elias Thompson be and are hereby appointed County Commissioners of Brookings County, and the said County Commissioners and shall have full power and authority to appoint all of the offices to complete the organization of said county.

Sec. 2 - That Wm. H. Packard be and he is hereby appointed Register of Deeds of said County of Brookings. The County seat of Brookings County, be and the same is hereby located at Medary.

Sec. 3 - This act shall take effect and be in force from and after it's passage and approval.

Approved, January 13, 1871.
Geo. A. Batchelder
Secretary & Acting Governor
Territory of Dakota

June 20, A.D. 1871

Notice is hereby given that the first meeting of the County Commissioners of Brookings County, Dakota Territory will be held at the home of Martin N. Trygstad at Medary the County Seat of Brookings County on Monday, July 3rd, 1871.

1 - For the choice of one of their members as chairman and to decide whose term of office shall expire in order first,

2 - For the choice of such officers as are necessary to fully complete the organization of said Brookings County by and with the authority as to do given the Commissioners by the Legislature of the Territory of Dakota in its organization act in selection to said Brookings County,

3 - To provide suitable County seals to such officials as need then also books for Records and Clerk officials and such other stationary as in need by the different officers,

4 - To divide the County into percents and districts for elections and other purposes,

5 - To take masurers to lay out a County road from Medary or from any other point that in their judgment would be for the best interest of the County to run through Flandreau to the line of Minnehaha County and petition the County Commissioners of Minnehaha County to continue said road to Sioux Falls,

6 - To further transact such other business as may legally come before the board of County Commissioners of said Brookings County.

Dated June 20 A. D. 1871 Wm. H. Packard
County Clerk of Brookings County, D.T.

In the spring of 1876 the town of Fountain was settled and the settlers were hoping that the railroad that was moving west would go through their town; although the Dakota Central Railroad located and built the line five miles south of Fountain and north of Medary.

October 6, 1879

Board met as per statute, on the 6th day of October A. D., 1879, board was called to order by the Chairman, present, full board and clerk.


On motion the following resolution was adopted unanimously:

Resolution, That the Dakota Central Railway Company, now constructing its railway in a westerly direction across Brookings County in consideration of the public benefit of said railway be and is hereby granted Right of Way for it's said railway to occupy and pass over all public roads and highways over which it is located in Brookings County in the Territory of Dakota, said railway company to put in and maintain such highways crossings as now and or hereafter may be required by law.


James Hauxhurst  Wm. H. Skinner
County Clerk Chairman of Board

Brookings was surveyed and platted on the 3rd and 4th of October 1879 and became the County Seat after an election on November 4, 1879.

Brookings won out over Aurora and Volga.

Proceedings of the County Commissioners Special Session,
November 18, 1879.

Board met as per notice calling a Special Session on this 18th day of November, A.D. 1879.

Board called to order by the chairman, present as Commissioner, Wm. H. Skinner Chairman and Martin N. Trygstad also Clerk of Board. Board

proceeded to examine the County Treasurers account and passed the former with settlement of the same. Wm. H. Skinner presented to the board his resignation as Chairman of said board the same being accepted. On motion Martin N. Trygstad was duly chosen chairman of said board. The clerk presented to the board an abstract of the votes cast at the election held November 4th, 1879, as made by the canvassing board of said election. The same was examined and the required number of votes for the change of the County seat were cast. Therefore be it resolved that the notice of removal of the County seat from Medary to Brookings as indicated by the voters of said County be posted in each election precinct in the County in compliance with sections 6 and 7 of chapter 21 of the revised Code of Dakota Territory.

On motion the County seat is now hereby declared to be at Brookings, D. T.

On motion the board adjourned to Brookings, at the Store of Wm. H. Roddle. The Roddle Store was located at which is now 313 Main Avenue.

Board met as per adjournment with the same members and clerk present. The clerk presented the tax books for the year 1879. The same were found satisfactory. The board then affixed their signatures and attached the seal of the County thereto the same for collection. Wm. H. Skinner presented his official bond as Clerk of the District Court, which was approved.

Resolved, That the several officers required by statute to hold their offices at (Brookings) the County seat and are hereby required to remove their offices to Brookings, the present County Seat.

On motion board adjourned without day.


James Hauxhurst Martin N. Trygstad
County Clerk  Chairman of Board

As near as possible the Towns in Brookings County were settled as follows:

Medary - 1857 & 1869
Oakwood - 1873
Lake Hendricks - 1873
Fountain - 1878
Renshaw - 1878
Elkton - 1879
Aurora - 1879
Brookings - 1879
Volga - 1879
Bruce - 1883
Bushnell - 1884
White - 1884
Sinai - 1907
Como-Ahnberg - 1907
McKain - 1909
Sunnyview - 1950

October 1999
Compiled by George Norby
109 7th St.
Brookings, SD  57006
[email protected]

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