"Preserving the Past...Serving the Future"


Chronology of South Dakota History

List of Former Governors Prominent South Dakotans

1743--The LaVerendrye Brothers, exploring for France, become the first white men to leave proof of their
 presence in South Dakota. They bury a lead plate on a hill on the west bank of the Missouri River near
 present day Fort Pierre to claim the area for France.

1760--The Sioux Indians, having been pushed out of Minnesota by the Chippewa, first reach the Missouri River.
On their way to the Missouri, the Sioux drove the Omaha Indians from the Big Sioux and James River valleys.
Sioux arrival at the Missouri ignites a long war with the Arikara for control of the Missouri Valley in central
South Dakota.

1794--The Sioux war with the Arikara comes to an end about 1794, with the Sioux driving the Arikara
out of central South Dakota.

1803--The United States makes the Louisiana Purchase from France. The area that will become South Dakota is part of the Purchase.

LouisPurc.JPG (31723 bytes)

1804-1806--The Lewis & Clark Expedition traveled from St. Louis to the Pacific. The expedition passes through South Dakota twice. While camped near the mouth of the Bad River in 1804, the expedition raises the United States flag on 25 September 1804. This is the first time the U.S. flag was flown in South Dakota.


lew&clar.JPG (53108 bytes)


William Clark and
Meriwether Lewis

s-l&c-trl.JPG (29712 bytes)
routes of Lewis and Clark expedition

1817--Joseph LaFramboise starts a fur trading post at the site of present day Fort Pierre. This marks the
beginning of the oldest continuous white settlement in South Dakota.

1823--Arikara Indians attack a fur trading party led by a General Ashley. Twelve of the fur traders were killed
and eleven wounded.This fight is one of the first fights between Indians and whites in South Dakota.

News of the attack on the Ashley party resulted in the launching of a punitive expedition against the Arikaras.
The expedition was under the command of Col. Henry Leavenworth. The troops consisted of six companies
of the 6th U.S. Infantry and several groups of fur traders. A group of Sioux accompanied the troops.
The expedition resulted in the capture of several villages and the death of a number of Arikara. This expedition
 was the first military campaign in South Dakota.

1825--Treaties are signed with a number of Indian tribes in South Dakota.

1831--The Yellowstone becomes the first steamboat to travel on the Missouri River in South Dakota.

s-yellwstone.JPG (42379 bytes) Yellowstone,
painting by
Charles Bodmer

Acting for the American Fur Company, Pierre Chouteau, Jr., builds Fort Pierre Choteau as a replacement for
LaFramboise's old post.

s-Ftpierre.JPG (43878 bytes)UP

Fort Pierre,
painting by
Charles Bodmer

1838-1839--Nicollet and Fremont conduct several exploration expeditions through South Dakota.

1855-1857--The U.S. Army buys Fort Pierre in 1855 and uses it as a military post. The poor
 site and the establishment of Fort Randall in 1856 causes the Army to abandon Fort Pierre in 1857.
Although the Army leaves, people continue to live at the fort site.

1855-57--Lt. G. K. Warren conducts a series of explorations and surveys in Dakota and Nebraska.
These expeditions result in some of the first maps of western South Dakota. The 1856 expedition
was a reconnaissance of the Missouri River intended to determine feasible sites for military posts.  

1857--The white influx into South Dakota receives a boost with the establishment of a settlement
 at the site of present day Sioux Falls.

1858--The Yankton Sioux sign a treaty which cedes much of eastern South Dakota to the United
States and opens the land for settlement. White settlers continue to enter South Dakota. A provisional
 government is established, but it is not recognized by Washington.

s-yanktn trty.JPG (66513 bytes)

Three major participants in the Yankton Treaty: Smutty Bear who opposed it; Charles Picotte who was the interpreter and profited from it; and Strike-the-Ree, Yankton chief who was resigned to white settlement saying that, "The white men are coming like maggots. It is useless to resist them....Many of our brave warriors would be killed, our women and children left in sorrow, and still we would not stop them".

1859-1860--White settlers continue to come to South Dakota. Another attempt at establishing a
territorial government is made. This attempt also fails to obtain Washington's recognition.

1860-61--J.B.S. Todd, an early promoter of Dakota Territory and brother-in-law of Abraham Lincoln,
goes to Washington, D.C. to lobby for territortial statis for Dakota. 
(J.B.S. Todd - Dakota Profile)

1861--Dakota Territory is formally established. The legislation creating the new territory is signed by President James Buchanan. The new territory includes the present states of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and most of Wyoming. William Jayne of Illinois is appointed as the first territorial governor.




yankcap.JPG (131881 bytes)




First capitol of Dakota Territory, Yankton

1862-1865--The War of the Outbreak occurs. The war started in Minnesota with the Santee uprising
of 1862 and spread into Dakota. Several towns, including Sioux Falls, were evacuated until the end of
hostilities. The war resulted in several forts being built in Dakota. Dakota's contribution to the war
against the Indians consisted of two troops of volunteer cavalry and a number of militia units.

1865--The Edmunds Commission, headed by Governor Newton Edmunds, negotiated a series of treaties
with the Indians in Dakota. These treaties brought about a temporary end to hostilities.

1868--A treaty is signed with the Sioux ending the Red Cloud War of 1866-1868. Among the provisions of the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1868 is a clause that continues the Great Sioux Reservation. The area contained in this reservation included the Black Hills.  (Dakota Profile - Spotted Tail) laramtry.JPG (65377 bytes)Peace Commission at Ft. Laramie, Wyoming, 1868 Shown from right of center pole are Gen. Harney, Gen. Sherman, Gen. Sanborn, General Augar, Gen. Terry, Gen. Henderson and Asa White, commission secretary.
s-dak so rr.JPG (39123 bytes)1872--The Dakota Southern Railroad becomes the first railroad to operate in South Dakota, running from Vermillion to Sioux City, Iowa. The road was completed to Yankton in 1873.

The Judge Brookings, first locomotive in Dakota Terr. on the Dakota Southern RR. on Oct 1st, 1872

1874--Rumors of gold and the need for military posts onar-custr.JPG (88308 bytes)
the Great Sioux Reservation in the Black Hills area result in the Black Hills Expedition of Lt. Col. George A. Custer. In addition to troops, Custer's expedition included a large corps of scientists and several miners. Gold is discovered in the vicinity of present day Custer and the Black Hills gold rush begins.


Custer with grizzly bear in the Black Hills, 1874,
William H. Illingworth Collection, SDSHS

1876--Whites continue to enter the area of the Great Sioux Reservation. Many of the intruders go
to the Black Hills to look for gold. The failure of the Army to keep whites out of the Hills angers the
Sioux and war begins. The most notable event of the war is the defeat of Custer and the 7th Cavalry
 at the Little Big Horn in June.

Stories of gold in the Hills brought the rush of 1876. Thousands of miners converged on Deadwood Gulch and nearby areas. Many people who came to the Hills were not able to find a paying claim and ended up mining the miners by providing supplies, entertainment and other services. Stories about gambling and violence during the Gold Rush may have been exaggerated, but it did bring some colorful characters to the area. Famous gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok was shot to death playing poker in Deadwood's Saloon #10. Calamity Jane, who claimed that she and Wild Bill were lovers, is buried next to him in Mount Moriah Cemetery, also in Deadwood. ar-ddwd2.JPG (90885 bytes)


1877--A treaty ends the Black Hills war. The United States Government assumes control of the Black Hills.

Native Americans are ordered to return to their reservations and agencies. (Dakota Profile - Spotted Tail)

1878-1887--This is the period of the Great Dakota Boom. Settlers pour into Dakota. The railroads provide a
 major incentive to settlement. Agriculture and industry both prosper.

1880--The Chicago & North Western Railroad becomes the first railroad to reach the Missouri River when its
tracks reach the new town of Pierre late in the year. Although building west at the same time as the North
Western, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad will not officially reach the Missouri at
Chamberlain until early 1881.

1883--By 1883, Dakota Territory had been reduced to what is now the States of South and
North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana having been organized as separate territories. The
northern part of the territory had grown in population to the point that the center of population
was no longer in the Yankton area. This population shift led to the major event of 1883, the removal
of the territorial capitol from Yankton to Bismarck. The move caused much bitterness among the
people of southern Dakota. The capitol removal resulted in the first attempt to get southern Dakota
admitted to the Union as a separate state. Washington refused to recognize the new state.


1885--The discontent created by the capitol removal in 1883 sparked a second attempt to
create a State of Dakota out of the southern half of the territory. Voters in southern Dakota
approved a state constitution and elected a full slate of state officers. The legislature and
state officials convened in Huron and organized the new state government. Senators
were also chosen for the new state. Once again, Washington refused to grant statehood.

1886-1887--Droughts bring the prosperity of the Great Dakota Boom to an end.

1888--A major blizzard strikes the eastern part of southern Dakota. The blizzard
hits in January. Over 35 people die as a result of the storm.

1889--White settlers continue to look with longing at the vast lands of the Great Sioux
Reservation. After the failure of an effort in 1888 to get a land cession agreement, the
Crook Commission of 1889 secures the signing of an agreement with the Sioux that
opens new land for white settlement. The Sioux agree to move onto reservations with
 specified boundaries.

State SealThe statehood movement finally bore fruit. On February 22, President Cleveland signed the Omnibus Bill creating the States of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington. Dakota Territory formally ceased to exist on 2 November when President Harrison signed the documents formally admitting North and South Dakota to the Union as the 39th and 40th states. Harrison purposely shuffled the documents as he signed them so that no one would know which state was admitted first. Pierre is chosen as the temporary capitol of South Dakota.

1889-1897--Drought in the late 1880s and a depressed national economy in the early
and mid 1890s led to this period being called the Great Dakota Bust. The flow of settlers
dropped off greatly. Some settlers left South Dakota to return to their previous homes.
The state's economy slowed down, but recovered as the nation came out of the
depression in the late 1890s.


1890--Pierre is chosen as the permanent capital of South Dakota. A number of
challenges to Pierre's status come in succeeding years.

The land cession agreement of 1889, the cut in beef rations, and crop failures brought
the Sioux to the brink of starvation and hopelessness. It added to the resentment
toward the white man and their promises. They were no longer free to roam the plains.
The great buffalo herds were gone, and food was inadequate. In the summer of that year,
 hope comes to them in the form of  the "Ghost Dance," so called because they believed
that this magical dance would bring back the dead and the buffalo as well as eliminate
the whites. Non-Indians living near the reservation became frightened and demanded
protection, leading to the Wounded Knee Massacre.

In the fall of 1890, the army moved west to force the Indians to stop performing the
Ghost Dance. In one of the first skirmishes, Sitting Bull was killed while being arrested
by tribal police. On the Cheyenne near Belle Fouche,members of  Big Foot's camp hear
of Sitting Bull's death, panic and flee south to the Badlands. When they reached the
Badlands, they are captured by soldiers and taken to a small village called Wounded Knee.
On the morning of Dec. 29, 1890, the soldiers gathered the Indians and prepared to search
them for weapons. Someone fired a shot, and then soldiers began shooting the Indians.
Several hundred Indians, men, women and children, died that day, most of them unarmed.

The Wounded Knee Massacre is sometimes cited as the final conquest of the Sioux.

hotckissguns.gif (172275 bytes)Hotchkiss batteries which participated in the massacre at Wounded Knee


1895--In his opening address to the legislature on January 8, newly reelected
Governor Charles H. Sheldon praised outgoing  treasurer Walter William Taylor
for his efficiency, faithfulness, and the energy and zeal which he displayed in
the management of the office of the treasury. The next day, January 9, governor
Sheldon asked that his words of praise for Taylor be stricken from the official journal.
It had just been discovered that Taylor, a former Redfield banker, had fled to South
America and the state's treasury was short $367,000.
(see Volume 15 Number 2 of South Dakota History for more on Taylor's embezzlement of the state's treasury.)

1896--Andrew E. Lee, a Populist, is elected as the third Governor of South Dakota.
Lee was the first non-Republican governor. Only five other men who were not
Republicans have served as governor, four being elected and one succeeding to the
office upon a resignation.

1898--The Spanish-American War is fought. The Ist South Dakota Infantry is called
into federal service and is sent to the Philippines. The regiment misses the fighting
against the Spanish, but does see combat during the early months of the Philippine
Insurrection in 1899. Besides the infantry regiment, South Dakota contributed five
troops to the 3rd U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, commanded by Col. Melvin Grigsby of
Sioux Falls. The 3rd Cavalry spent the entire war in training camps in the United States.

1900--The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad reached the Missouri River at Evarts
in northern South Dakota. Evarts quickly became a major shipping point for cattle
from western South Dakota.

1904--Land on the Rosebud Reservation is opened for white settlement. The land office
for the opening was at Bonesteel. Chaotic conditions at Bonesteel prior to the opening
and the threat of trouble on the opening day caused Lt. Gov. Snow to mobilize National
Guard troops from Sioux Falls to protect the land office and keep order during the opening.
The actual opening proved to be uneventful.

1904--Pierre's position as capitol of the state was challenged by Mitchell. Some
people in the eastern part of the state felt that the location should be closer to the
bulk of the state's population. A bitter election campaign pitted eastern interests
against those of western South Dakota. The campaign has been characterized as
an extended holiday for the entire state. Both the Chicago & North Western Railroad,
which served Pierre, and the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, which served Mitchell,
transported large numbers of visitors to both cities at greatly reduced rates or on
free passes. The inability of eastern South Dakota to act as a united body resulted
in a wide margin of victory for Pierre. As an outgrowth of this capital fight, the 1905
legislature initiated the process that led to construction of a permanent capitol building in Pierre.

1906-1907--Both the Chicago & North Western and the Milwaukee Road build west from
the Missouri River to Rapid City. The North Western beat the Milwaukee to Rapid City by
several months. Development of western South Dakota was greatly aided by the establishment
of two direct rail links with eastern South Dakota and eastern markets.


1906--The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad begins construction of its Pacific Coast Extension.
The Extension, when completed in 1909, gave the Milwaukee a line to the Pacific coast and put South
Dakota on a transcontinental rail line. The town of Evarts was abandoned when the Milwaukee decided
to cross the Missouri at the new town of Mobridge.

mobridge derck pstcrd.JPG (38553 bytes)Construction work on the Missouri River bridge at Mobridge.

1908--The cornerstone of the new capitol building is laid.

The first steps are taken to open large parts of the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Indian
Reservations to white settlement. The land is formally opened in 1909.

1910--The new Capitol building in Pierre was opened for use. Designed by the same architects who designed the Montana capitol, the new capitol ended the possibility of new fights over the site of the state Capitol. Although growth in the size of state government required an addition to the Capitol building in the 1930s and the construction of several separate office buildings, the building opened in 1910 has continued to serve as the Capitol to the present day. captitol.JPG (265914 bytes)

1916--The 4th South Dakota Infantry was one of many National Guard regiments mobilized for
service on the Mexican border. The regiment was stationed near San Benito, Texas. The South
Dakotans saw no action and returned home in March 1917. One battalion of the regiment was
back in Federal service several months later guarding bridges against possible German sabotage.

1916--Peter Norbeck was elected as the ninth governor of South Dakota. Norbeck was the
first governor actually born in South Dakota. His election continued the tradition of Republican
domination of state politics. After two terms as governor, Norbeck went on to serve in the United
States Senate. He died in office during his third term.


1917-1918--The United States was involved in World War I. South Dakota's major contribution to the war was the 147th Field Artillery Regiment. The 147th was created out of half of the 4th South Dakota Infantry and two batteries of Oregon National Guard Artillery. The 147th saw heavy action as it provided artillery support for ten different American and French divisions. The regiment received numerous decorations and citations from both France and the United States. After the war's end, the 147th was retained as part of the South Dakota National Guard. Ctww1.JPG (105562 bytes)
1927--Gutzon Borglum begins work on the Mount Rushmore monument. The monument contains the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Borglum's work had its origin in the desire of State Historian Doane Robinson to have a monument to American history created in the Black Hills. Although never completed, the Rushmore monument is still a major tourist attraction. ar-rushm.JPG (83157 bytes)
1928--Gov. Bulow pardons Poker Alice, 78, after she is convicted on a bootlegging charge. Gov. Bulow was said to be reluctant to send a white-haired old lady to prison. Poker Alice was a gambler/madam from Stugis whose enterprises catered to the soldiers at Ft. Meade. s-poker al.JPG (48271 bytes)
1930s--South Dakota is hit hard by the Depression. Drought and dust created severe problems for agriculture. The Civilian Conservation Corps and the WPA provided many jobs. The CCC was instrumental in providing much forest conservation work in the Black Hills. Ctdepres.JPG (53757 bytes)
1939 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt creates Badlands National Park.


badlands3.JPG (24960 bytes)

1940--In November, the 147th Field Artillery Regiment of the South Dakota National Guard is called
into Federal service. The regiment is assigned to Fort Ord, California.

1941--The 147th Field Artillery performs well at Fort Ord, prompting troops of the regular army 7th
Infantry Division to talk about having the 147th assigned as the divisional artillery. In November, the
147th is ordered to overseas duty in the Philippines. The regiment was in Hawaii at the end of November.
The regiment's convoy was a week west of Hawaii when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The
attack on Pearl Harbor caused the 147th's convoy to be rerouted to Australia. For a time during the
end of 1941 and the early months of 1942, the 147th was the only major Allied unit
stationed in the Darwin area.

Gutzon Borglum, 74, dies on March 6 after having worked on Mt. Rushmore since 1927. His son, Lincoln Borglum, finishes the Shrine of Democracy on October 31.

s-borglum.JPG (66735 bytes)

1941-1945--The United States was involved in World War II. South Dakotans were involved in
the fighting in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific. The most notable contribution by a South Dakota
unit was made by the 147th Field Artillery during its service in the Pacific. The 147th was
reorganized in 1943 into the 147th and 260th Field Artillery Battalions. The 147th was the last field
artillery regiment to be reorganized by the Army. The 147th Battalion built a solid record of
combat service in New Guinea and the Philippines as part of the 158th Regimental Combat Team.
The 260th Battalion spent the rest of the war driving trucks. These two battalions were the only
units of the South Dakota National Guard to maintain a specific South Dakota identity during the war.

The battleship U.S.S. South Dakota was launched in 1941. Entering active service in 1942, the
South Dakota
became one of the most decorated American ships of the war. She saw
extensive duty in the Pacific war as well as spending a short tour of duty in the Atlantic.
The South Dakota was the flagship of Admiral Chester Nimitz at the time of the Japanese
surrender. Often referred to as "Battleship X," the South Dakota was decommissioned
in 1947 and scrapped in 1962. A memorial to the South Dakota was created in Sioux Falls
after the ship was scrapped.

1944--The Pick-Sloan Plan for development of the Missouri River was passed by Congress.
This plan resulted in the construction of four dams on the Missouri River in South Dakota.
The dams are Fort Randall, begun in 1946; Oahe, begun in 1948; Gavins Point, begun in 1952;
and Big Bend, begun in 1959. All four dams were completed by the late 1960s.


1947--In response to Indian requests for a monument similar to Mount
Rushmore to honor Indian heroes, Korczak Ziolkowski began work on
Crazy Horse Mountain in the Black Hills. The work was to be a statue
in the round of the Oglala Sioux leader Crazy Horse. Though it was
still not finished at Ziolkowski's death in 1982, the Crazy Horse site
is a major tourist attraction.

1948--Blizzard hits northeastern South Dakota. The National Guard
 is called out to assist in clearing roads.

1949--Blizzard hits South Dakota early in January. Air drops of hay
are required in much of central and western South Dakota. The
CNW line from Pierre to Rapid City was blocked for several  weeks.

1950-1952--The United States participated in the Korean War.
Several South Dakota National Guard units were called into federal
service, but none of them saw combat. The 196th Regimental
Combat Team upheld South Dakota's outstanding National Guard
tradition by outperforming units of the regular army, both in
training in Colorado and on active duty in Alaska.

1952--A major flood on the Missouri River proves the wisdom of the Pick-Sloan Act. Flood damage is severe in Pierre, with much of the town inundated. The flood causes damage all through South Dakota and in downstream states. The severity of the flood provided additional justification for construction of the Oahe Dam.


cb_1952b.JPG (88429 bytes)




Flood on main street, Pierre. 1952

1962--The electric generating station at the Oahe Dam is completed. Oahe is the largest of the six Missouri River Pick-Sloan dams, with a generating capacity of 700,000 kilowatts. With completion of the Big Bend Dam and generating station several years later, the Missouri River dams achieved a generating capacity of over 2,000,000 kilowatts of electricity. Ctdam.JPG (37624 bytes)
1966 - The Pathfinder Atomic Power Plant built by Northern States Power Company near Sioux Falls begins producing electricity. It was considered the world's first all-nuclear power plant.  After only one year's operation, however, it was converted to a conventional power plant because of technical problems. Ctpathf.JPG (61296 bytes)

Late 1960s--All four of the Pick-Sloan dams in South Dakota are completed.
Along with the Fort Peck Dam in Montana and the Garrison Dam in North Dakota,
the South Dakota dams have contributed to electric power production, recreation,
flood control, navigation, irrigation, public water supplies, and fish and wildlife development.

1973--South Dakota was rocked by Wounded Knee II and the Custer Court House Riots.
 Wounded Knee II was the occupation of the town of Wounded Knee by members and
supporters of the American Indian Movement. The Custer Courthouse Riots occurred
during the trial of several Sioux in Custer. These two events appear to be a highwater
mark for A.I.M. One result of the activity by A.I.M. has been an increase in demands
by the Sioux for the return of the Black Hills to Sioux control.

1974--As a result of the shortage of doctors in South Dakota, the legislature
created a medical school for the University of South Dakota.


1978--Richard Kneip became the first man to resign as governor when he
resigned the office in July 1978 to become U.S. Ambassador to Singapore.
Kneip was the fifth non-Republican governor and only the fourth Democrat to be governor.

Harvey Wollman, Richard Kneip's lieutenant governor, became the first man
to serve as governor without being elected to the office. Wollman became
governor upon Kneip's resignation. Kneip's resignation came seven weeks
after Wollman was defeated in the Democratic primary for governor.
Wollman served as governor for just over five months until the inauguration of
William Janklow in January 1979.

1980--The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad abandons several
thousand miles of track and withdraws from the Pacific Coast. The abandonment
affected more than half of South Dakota's total railroad mileage. The lack of rail
service caused by the abandonment created severe problems for South Dakota
agriculture. The Milwaukee was persuaded to keep the mainline through northern
South Dakota open to Miles City, Montana, so that coal shipments could continue
to a power plant at Big Stone City, South Dakota, on the Minnesota border.

1981--Governor William Janklow calls a special session of the state legislature
to deal with problems caused by the Milwaukee abandonment. The result of the
special session was the purchase of much of the abandoned Milwaukee track in
South Dakota. This purchase was used to form the base for an essential core rail
system in the state. Much of the purchased track was leased to the Burlington
Northern Railroad for operation.

1982--The Milwaukee pulls out of South Dakota completely when it abandons
all track west of Ortonville, Minnesota, in March. The importance of the mainline
to agriculture and the Big Stone power plant resulted in the State purchasing the
line from Ortonville to Miles City, Montana. Burlington Northern Railroad assumed
operation of the line under a lease-purchase agreement. With the purchase of the
Milwaukee mainline, South Dakota owned railroad track in Montana, North Dakota,
South Dakota, and Iowa.

1986--The Chicago & NorthWestern Railroad ended its long association with
central South Dakota and the city of Pierre when the NorthWestern sold its line
from Rapid City, South Dakota, to Winona, Minnesota to the L. B. Foster Company
of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The sale came about because of intense opposition to
abandonment of the line between Huron and Rapid City. The NorthWestern had tried
to abandon the part of the line between Pierre and Rapid City in 1983, but the ICC
blocked the abandonment. The sale stopped another abandonment attempt. The
Rapid City-Winona line is now being operated by the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern
Railroad. The NorthWestern retained a spur line into Sioux Falls and a line from Chadron,
Nebraska through Rapid City to Colony, Wyoming. With the Milwaukee already gone from
South Dakota, the sale of the Rapid City-Winona line removed all but a small portion of the
two railroads which were instrumental in the settlement and growth of South Dakota.

George S. Mickelson was elected as the 28th governor of South Dakota.
Mickelson was the son of George T. Mickelson, who was governor from 1947-1951.
He was the first son of a governor to become governor. Mickelson defeated Democrat
Lars Herseth in the contest for governor. Herseth is also the son of a former governor.


1987--South Dakota began operation of a state sponsored lottery. The lottery began
 after voters approved a ballot measure in 1986 calling for establishment of a lottery.

A fire in December destroyed a block of the historic downtown area of Deadwood.
This fire was the latest in a series of disasters that have plagued Deadwood throughout its history.

1988--South Dakota suffers from severe drought conditions. The drought had its
beginnings in the fall and winter of 1987, when rain and snow amounts were far
below normal. Farmers and ranchers in many parts of the state were faced with partial or
total crop failures and severe lack of feed for cattle.

Lightning caused a large forest fire in the Black Hills in July. Helped along by existing
drought conditions, the fire destroyed approximately 16,000 acres in the vicinity of
Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore. The fire burned for over a week before
it was contained.

South Dakota voters approve a constitutional amendment that will allow limited
gambling in the city of Deadwood. Before gambling could go into effect, the
legislature would have to pass appropriate regulations and the voters of
Deadwood would have to approve gambling in a special vote.

1989--Deadwood voters approved the gambling measure and a state board
established to oversee the games and establish the regulations.

The state legislature voted to expand the state lottery by adding video
game machines to the scratch-and-match games already in operation.

Only certain games and low limit wagers were to be allowed on the machines.

Former Governors

Dakota Territory
William Jayne  1861-186
Newton Edmunds 1863-1866
Andrew J. Faulk 1866-1869
John A. Burbank 1869-1874
John L. Pennington  1874-1878
William A. Howard  1878~1880*
Nehemiah G. Ordway 1880-1884
Gilbert A. Pierce 1884-1887
Louis K. Church 1887-1889
Arthur C. Mellette  1889
State of South Dakota
Arthur C. Mellette, R 1889-1893
Charles H. Sheldon, R 1893-1897
Andrew E. Lee, P 1897-1901
Charles N. Herreid, R 1901-1905
Samuel H. Elrod, R 1905-1907
Coe I. Crawford, R 1907-1909
Robert S. Vessey, R 1909-1913
Frank M. Byrne, R 1913-1917
Peter Norbeck, R 1917-1921
William H. McMaster, R 1921-1925
Carl Gunderson, R 1925-1927
William J. Bulow, D   1927-1931
Warren E. Green, R  1931-1933
Tom Berry, D 1933-1937
Leslie Jensen, R 1937-1939
Harlan J. Bushfield, R 1939-1943
Merrell Q. Sharpe, R   1943-1947
George T. Mickelson, R 1947-1951
Sigurd Anderson, R 1951-1955
Joseph J. Foss, R 1955-1959
Ralph E. Herseth, D   1959-1961
Archie M. Gubbrud, R 1961-1965
Nils A.Boe, R 1965-1969
Frank L. Farrar, R 1969-1971
Richard F.Kneip, D 1971~1978**
Harvey Wollman, D    1978
William J. Janklow, R 1979-1987
George S. Mickelson, R     1987~1993***
Walter Dale Miller, R  1993-1995
William J. Janklow, R 1995-2003
* William A. Howard died April 10, 1880.
** Richard F. Kneip resigned July 24, 1978, to become Ambassador to Singapore.
*** George S. Mickelson died in a plane crash April 19, 1993
R - Republican  D - Democrat   P - Populist

South Dakota State Historical Society, 900 Governors Dr., Pierre SD  57501-2217  phone 605-773-3458 fax 605-773-6041

SDSHS Home Tourism & State Development South Dakota Home Disclaimer Privacy Policy Contact Us

This page last updated August 22, 2007