Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sioux Falls in Minnehaha County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Divorce Capital

 
 
Divorce Capital Marker (<i>side one</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 21, 2016
1. Divorce Capital Marker (side one)
Inscription.  
(side one)
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

(side two)
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
Divorce Capital Marker (<i>side two</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 21, 2016
2. Divorce Capital Marker (side two)
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law. Two-thirds of those obtaining decrees promptly left the state.

Dedicated in 2009 by the Minnehaha County Historical Society
and Rick and Amy Yarnell

 
Erected 2009 by Minnehaha County Historical Society, and Rick and Amy Yarnell.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionLaw EnforcementNotable Events.
 
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. Marker is located beside the sidewalk, on the south side of West 5th Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Sioux Falls SD 57104, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
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); The Minnehaha County Courthouse (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); John Deere (about 300 feet away); Jewett Bros. & Jewett Warehouse (about 500 feet away); The Law Exchange Block (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sioux Falls.
 
Divorce Capital Marker (<i>tall view; looking east toward North Main Avenue</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 21, 2016
3. Divorce Capital Marker (tall view; looking east toward North Main Avenue)
Divorce Capital Marker (<i>wide view west along 5th street toward Minnehaha County Courthouse</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 21, 2016
4. Divorce Capital Marker (wide view west along 5th street toward Minnehaha County Courthouse)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 8, 2018. It was originally submitted on October 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 350 times since then and 77 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.

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Jul. 1, 2022