Sioux Falls in Minnehaha County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Between 1877 and 1909, Sioux Falls was known as the “Divorce Capital of the Nation.” Lenient residency laws and multiple divorce grounds were available in Dakota Territory and South Dakota. Wealthy men and women from the East were attracted by speedy divorces with short residency requirements of three and later of six months.
A paid receipt from a hotel or boarding house, even if only for hanging garments in a closet or leaving luggage behind, was accepted as evidence of residency. Notice to an unsuspecting spouse was given by publication
in a local newspaper. Hearings were held in closed courtrooms.
Disturbed by the notoriety brought upon Sioux Falls, Bishop William Hobart Hare of the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota described the situation as a “scandalous divorce mill.” He urged the state legislature to increase the residency requirement to one year. A divorce reform law to that effect was upheld by a 1908 referendum.
About 6000 divorces were granted in South Dakota between statehood in 1889 and the effective date of the reform law. Two-thirds of those obtaining decrees promptly left the state.
and Rick and Amy Yarnell
Erected 2009 by Minnehaha County Historical Society, and Rick and Amy Yarnell.
Location. 43° 33.146′ N, 96° 43.725′ W. Marker is in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in Minnehaha County. Marker is on West 5th Street (North Dakota Avenue) west of North Main Avenue, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is located beside the sidewalk, on the south side of West 5th Street. Marker is in this post office area: Sioux Falls SD 57104, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. President Woodrow Wilson (here, next to this marker); Dakota Iron Store (a few steps from this marker); The Coliseum (within shouting distance of this marker); The Hanging of an Innocent Man (within shouting distance of this marker); Jewett Bros. & Jewett Warehouse (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); President William McKinley (about 600 feet away); Richard Franklin Pettigrew (about 600 feet away); Phillips to the Falls (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sioux Falls.
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Credits. This page was last revised on October 8, 2018. This page originally submitted on October 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 30 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 4, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.