LAKE COUNTY This county is situated between the Big Sioux and Vermillion valleys, one county removed from the Minnesota line, and bounded on the north by Brookings and Kingsbury counties, on the south by McCook and Minnehaha, on the east by Moody, and on the west by Miner County. The seventh guide meridian of the surveys passes through the center of the county. The county is theoretically an exact square, containing sixteen congressional town, with an area of 576 square miles or 368,640 acres. The topography is described by one writer as being "nothing if not picturesque." The county was named from the fact that it includes a large number of small lakes within its boundaries. The largest of these is Lake Madison in the southeast part of the county, covering an area of about 2,000 acres, and abounding in fine scenery. It is about four miles in length and affords great sport for hunters and fishermen, its waters being stocked with excellent fish, and in the proper seasons swarming with wild fowl. The other principal bodies of water are Brant Lake in Town 105, Range 51, covering a section or more, with much the same characteristics as Lake Madison, and Lake Herman in Town 106, Range 53, about the same size as Brant Lake. Groves of timber are found around the margins of these lakes, and the shores are either beautiful sandy beaches or abruptly rising banks. The principal streams are Battle Creek, which drains the northeastern portions of the county and discharges into the Big Sioux River in Brookings County; Skunk Creek, another branch of the Big Sioux which drains the southeastern portion, and the east fork of the Vermillion River, which drains the western portions and unites with the west fork at Parker in Turner County. The county generally is a rolling or gently undulating prairie, broken by the river and creek valleys, and the basins of the numerous lakes. The soil is a dark-colored sandy loam with the usual substratum of clay, and very productive, every kind of small grain and vegetables doing well. Stock raising is a specialty along the Vermillion River, where there are some large ranches. SCHOOLS.--A fine graded school building, costing $4,000, was erected in 1881. It is a first class building, with modern improvements, and well arranged for school purposes. One of the Territorial Normal schools is located at Madison. The school building is a three- story brick structure, costing about $15,000, and one of the finest in the Territory.
RELIGIOUS.--There are five or six church organizations in Madison, including Presbyterians, Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists and Catholics. The Presbyterian Society was organized at Old Madison, in 1877. The Baptist organization was later. The Congregational Society was organized in 1881. The Methodists had an organization at Old Madison. Most of these denominations have comfortable houses of worship. Other post offices are RUSSELL, on the railroad; WICKLOW and LAKE, on or near Lake Madison; PROSPECT, in the southeast; ORLAND, in the south; GILMAN, NAKOMAS, and TOWLE, in the northwest; BADUS, BATTLE CREEK and PRAIRIE QUEEN in the north. The first school building in the county was erected on the south bank of Lake Madison, and the first school was taught in it by Miss Fannie Baker, in 1873. The first marriage was that of George Runyon and Dollie Jenks, in 1872. The first birth was Herman Luce, a son of W. H. Luce. The first death, a child of Henry Hall. The Dakota & Great Southern Railway passes diagonally through the southwest corner township of this county. ORGANIZATION.--The first board of County Commissioners, appointed by the Governor to organize the county, was composed of H. N. Luce, John T. Hare and a third whose name we have been unable to learn. Their first meeting was held at the house of William Lee, where they met on the 6th of October, 1873, and appointed Wm. J. Baker, Register of Deeds; Wm. Lee, Sheriff; Wm. H. Luce, Treasurer, and John Walker, Surveyor. Old Madison was finally made the county seat in 1875, but when the new town was laid out on the railway in 1880 the county seat was removed there. The present county officers are: Register of Deeds, J. A. Trow; Clerk of the Court, W. F. Smith; Judge of Probate, R. A. Murray; Sheriff, William Lee; Coroner, S. M. Jenks; Treasurer, Alex. McKay; Supt. of Schools, F. R. VanSlyke; Surveyor, John Gregor; Assessor, John A. Johnson. The county has no public buildings as yet, but preparations are being made to provide them.
NEWSPAPERS.--The oldest paper in the county is the Madison "Sentinel," which was established at Old Madison in April, 1879, by J. H. Zane and F. L Fifield. The latter sold to W. H. Smith, in March, 1880. In May following, Smith sold his interest to his partner Zane, and in June of the same year, W. H. & A. M. Jones became interested in the paper. W. H. Jones subsequently became sole proprietor. Mr. L. H. McCargar is editor and publisher. The "Sentinel" is a six-column quarto, got up in handsome style and filled with interesting matter; ranking in every respect with the most prominent papers in south Dakota. The "Leader" was established in June, 1879, at Herman, six miles west of Old Madison, by F. C. Stowe, who removed the office to the new town in November, 1880. In September, 1881, the establishment was sold to E. A. Fuller and J. M. Preston. Fuller & Co. succeeded these gentlemen, with J. M. Preston as editorial manager. J. F. Stahl is the present proprietor. One of the most important institutions of Madison is the Lake County flouring mill of B. D. Sprague. This establishment was erected at a cost of $20,000, in the summer 1881. The mill is fitted up with the roller process machinery, and has a capacity for manufacturing 100 barrels of flour daily. H. A. Snyder was for some time the miller in charge, and the mill has achieved a wide and enviable reputation. SETTLEMENT.--The history of the early settlements in this county is somewhat obscure, and not altogether reliable. According to some authorities the first permanent settlers were William Lee, H. N. Luce, W. H. Luce, Henry Miller, Henry Whipple, John Walker, John Hare and Wm. J. Baker, the first two having located claims in June, 1870. The first dwelling, a log cabin, was built by William Lee in the northeast quarter of Section 27, in Town 106, Range 52. These parties were from Minnesota. In 1875, the population of the county had become considerable, and in 1878 immigration set in briskly and nearly every acre of government land was taken within a year or two. The county is at the present time well settled and very prosperous.
Lake County Historical Society
Lake County Historical Society Membership Board of Directors

History of the Lake County Historical Society and the Smith-Zimmermann Heritage Museum The collection housed in the Smith-Zimmermann Museum began as the Lake County Collection in the early 1950's by the Lake County Historical Society. The Society was founded in 1952 by incorporators George Smith, Cory Christensen, Estelle Runkel, Bret Hart, L. F. Ericsson and Dr. J. A. Muggly. There were 122 charter members. The original copy of the Articles of Incorporation with signatures of all the charter members hangs in the north entry way to the Museum. Once the Society began, the collection of historic artifacts started shortly thereafter. The collection was at first housed on the General Beadle College campus but was soon moved to the basement of the Lake County Courthouse. George Smith was the principal volunteer who presented the collection to the public. The kids of that era thought George was a wonderful storyteller. In 1959 George Smith and charter member, Lillie Zimmermann, together donated $75,000 for a museum building to be constructed on the College campus. The money was donated to the state and the legislature passed Senate Bill 252 allowing construction of the building. The legislature also allocated $25,000 of state funds for the construction of the Museum, and the bill outlined its purpose and its operation and management which would be a cooperative effort between the State and the Society. The building was constructed in 1960, and the collection moved in 1961. Over the objection of Smith and Zimmermann, the building was named in their honor. At the beginning the Museum was a truly cooperative effort between the State and Society. The state owned the building and maintained it, the State and Society operated it, and the Society developed and owned the collection. In 1978 the state hired a full-time curator for the Museum, and in 1982 the Society turned over the collection to the state. In 1996, the state chose to no longer provide the curator nor maintenance nor funding of any kind for the Museum. Its operation, management and the collection was turned over to the Lake County Historical Society which now runs it as a county museum. The collection primarily reflects the ethnic groups who settled Lake County. Many artifacts in the Museum were brought with these early pioneers or purchased by them in the late 1800's and early 1900's. The artifacts include household articles, period clothing and war memorabilia. Memberships and Contributions to the Lake County Historical Society Dues are only $5.00 a year for a family membership! ~ Benefits ~ - Provides funding for the day-to-day operations of the Smith-Zimmermann Museum - Helps build the SZ endowment to ensure the future of the Museum - Enables the Society to provide programs of historical and ethnic interest for the public - Members receive a quarterly newsletter about activities of the Museum and LCHS ~ Member Categories ~ To recognize contributions to the Lake County Historical Society by its members since 1996*, the following levels have been established: Contributors: $ 50 - $ 99 Benefactors: $ 5,000 - $ 9,999 Friends: $ 100 - $ 999 Historians: $ 10,000 - $ 24,999 Patrons: $ 1,000 - $ 4,999 Archivist: $ 25,000 & above All contributions, whatever the amount, are important to both the Society and the Museum and are deeply appreciated. * Since the Endowment Fund and our management of the Museum both began in 1996, we used this seemed a logical starting date.

Board of Directors ~ 2004

President: Lori Norby
Vice President: Barb Iverson
Secretary: Maxine Swanson
Treasurer: Lyle Johnson
Curator: John Hess
Delmer Dooley, Roger Kraft, LeAnn Krueger,
Glennys McCool, Bonnie Olson, Nancy Sabbe,
Jim Swanson, Carol White and Andy Wood

Honorary Members: Martin Gienapp, Fritz Krueger
Elementary Rep: Bonnie NelsonQuester's Rep: Jean Tommeraasen
© Copyright Steven P Stymiest, 2004