History of Parkston

Prior to 1880, besides the sod shanty of Peter Swartz, very few families were living in the area, but in the spring, immigrants began to arrive. The immigrants built houses, broke land and planted crops.

The summer of 1880 produced little as far as a crop, and the winter of 1880-81 was a hard one. The snow was so deep that many settlers either went on a hand sled to Milltown, which had a flourmill, or stayed at home and ground corn with a coffee mill. The next season brought more settlers, and soon the town of Dakota City sprang up.

In 1885, F.D. Simmons wrote, “Dakota City, though not yet two years old, has several substantial business firms and there is room for more.” In March of 1886, the Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad was making plans to build a line from Scotland, SD, to Mitchell, SD. F.D. Simmons has expected the railroad to go past Dakota City; however, by April the surveyors of the railroad had apparently bypassed the little city.

In its April 30, 1886, issue, the Dakota City Advance editor F.D. Simmons wrote, “it is reliably reported that the new town (of Parkston) will be laid out in about three weeks and lots will be for sale in six weeks. Then look out for a rush.”

From the Dakota City Advance, June 4, 1886: “On Monday morning (May 31) the Advance office was put in readiness for removal to the new town site. Early in the day, L. B. LeGrant and his force of workmen reported on hand ready for duty by noon had the building raised and supported on wagons. After dinner six horse-drawn teams were hitched to the wagons, and soon the Advance office was being moved toward the coming city. After about two hours time, the building was placed on the new town site; and so the Advance office was the first complete building in the new town.”

The first store to be moved from Dakota City to Parkston was the (A.F.) Gimm and (Frank) Weidman’s store.

By June 25, Dakota City was mostly all moved to Parkston. The new town boasted six or eight general stores, three or hour hardwares, four machine dealers, two or three lumber companies, two restaurants, a barber shop, a meat market, saloons, a bank, livery stables, painters, carpenters, and masons by the dozens, the prospect of a steam mill and an artesian well. During its first month of existence, the town of Parkston averaged one building per day put up.

By November 1886, the town’s population was reported to be one hundred.

(Excerpt taken from Pictorial History of Parkston compiled by the Parkston Area Historical Society.)


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