- A One-of-a-Kind Historic Destination -

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Gregory County west of the 99th parallel opened for homesteading

settlement.  Gregory County's story is such an interesting one, you might

want to spend a minute on it when you finish with the history of Herrick.

In 1904, land west of the 99th parallel was opened for white settlement.  One

of the government towns platted out contained the Post Office of Willette. 

Within a few months, the name had been changed to Herrick, named for

lawyer Samuel Herrick who had offices in Herrick, SD and Washington, DC and specialized in Homestead Law.

  In 1898, Fairfax has claimed the honor of county seat.  Herrick was built with a Court House Square on its plat map and sidewalks for a mile around.  Located in the center of the county, Herrick claimed the geographic right to the office.   In 1916 a bitter struggle for the court house ensued, and Burke won the county seat battle.  Herrick  had to content itself with using Court House Square with a park, ball field and water works instead.

The Great Depression, which lasted through the 1930's in America (but began in South Dakota with bank closings as early as 1922 and didn't release its hold in South Dakota until the early 1950's), had a great impact on Herrick--for good and bad. 

Many of the original buildings remain. 

Within 2 blocks in all directions of

Herrick's central intersection, 23

buildings still stand which were built

between 1904 and 1920. 


In 1856, Fort Randall was established on the Missouri River.  Gregory County was platted in the early 1860's, but subsequent treaties wiped if off the map.  It reappeared on maps nearly 30 years later and the eastern approx 1/3 of  the unofficial Gregory County--land from the Missouri River to the 99th parallel--was opened for settlement in 1892.  Fort Randall closed, and trading posts called Bonesteel and Fairfax were set up that year.  At that time, official county business was taken care of east across the Missouri River in Charles Mix County. 

The railroad, which had followed the Ponca up from Lynch to Spencer and Anoka in Nebraska, climbed the 7% grade to reach the flat land of Fairfax.  From there it angled west and north to Bonesteel.  At this time, there was no firm southern border to Gregory County.  Originally, the line had followed the Keya Paha River to the Niobrara to the Missouri.  Later a line was drawn 7 miles south of the current state line, and later yet the line was marched north to 3 miles south of the current state line.  Nebraska had become a state in 1867 and had stronger political power.  Finally a firm border was set in its current position in 1895.

On August 23, 1898 Gregory County was created.

Following is a list of other towns and the years they were founded: 

1899-St. Elmo; 1902-Day; 1903-Jamison, NE  (located on SD border in what had been 3-mile strip); 1904-Herrick, Burke, Gregory, Wade, Carlock, and “Old Dallas”;1905- Dixon; 1906-Lucas, St. Charles (designated by railroad as Hampton) and Mullen; 1907-"New" Dallas (present town site); 1908-Denver-Paxton. 

Gregory County Timeline of Important Dates
1889-Dakota Territory is divided; new, smaller Reservations are set aside; South Dakota and North Dakota simultaneously become States of the Union.
1889-Arthur C. Mellette, 10th and last territorial governor appointed by president elected by people to take office October 1, 1889 as first Governor of South Dakota.
1890-February 4, the east one-fourth of what would later be Gregory County ceded by Sioux to the United States, opened to homesteading. 
        -December 29 Wounded Knee Massacre in western South Dakota
1892-Fort Randall abandoned.
        -Bonesteel and Fairfax, trading posts established
1893-March 3, Fort Randall made part of public domain by act of United States Congress and thrown open to settlement
1894- First portion of Gregory County border defined two miles west of Bonesteel; Gregory County was, up until then, attached to Charles Mix County for judicial purposes.
1895-Homesteaders and squatters allowed to file in first Gregory County; land surveyed by Chas. Bates, gov’t surveyor from Yankton, South Dakota.
-State line between South Dakota and Nebraska surveyed and established. The southeastern corner of Gregory county extended into Boyd and Keya Paha Counties, Nebraska; the settlers who lived in this so-called ‘three mile strip’ were uncertain as to their state, South Dakota or Nebraska. 
1897-Gregory County boundaries established and defined by the legislature.
1898-Gregory County organized by order of Governor E. Lee.
        -August 23   Fairfax, South Dakota made County Seat and county officials elected
1916-Burke became County seat of the re-organized county. 
1925 -The Rosebud Bridge was opened near Wheeler. It closed in 1953. 
1956-The Fort Randall Dam was dedicated.
1966- Francis Case Bridge on Platte Winner Highway 44 was dedicated. 

Interesting Gregory County History links: