“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near White in Brookings County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Lake Hendricks Norwegian Colony of 1873 / Brookings County

Lake Hendricks Norwegian Colony of 1873 Marker image. Click for full size.
August 15, 2021
1. Lake Hendricks Norwegian Colony of 1873 Marker
Lake Hendricks Norwegian Colony of 1873

The first settlers at Lake Hendricks were 31 Norwegians, arriving July 14, 1873, with 11 covered wagons and 30 cattle. On May 14, 1873 they left Houston County, Minn., and Allamakee and Winneshiek counties, Iowa, following roughly highway 16 to Dell Rapids, where they turned north briefly staying in 18-109-50 (Medary). On Sundays they rested and had religious services. No one brought along a gun.

The colony settled on the north side of Lake Hendricks in sections 6, 8, 10, 18, 20 (and 12 in Minn.), living in dugouts and sod houses for a time. On Oct. 26, 1874 they organized the first permanent congregation in Brookings County, Singsass Lutheran Church. They bought the first bell in the county, 1878. The first school term began in 1879. Prairie Farm post office was opened Jan. 4, 1876 on the S.E. corner of 8-112-47.

In 1875 five settlers plowed a furrow marking the road to Canby, Minn., and five others continued it to Fountain and Medary, now ghost towns. Each spring and fall a week’s trip was taken to the nearest flour mills, at Dell Rapids or at Lynd, Minn.

Brookings County Marker image. Click for full size.
August 15, 2021
2. Brookings County Marker
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31 colonists bore the surnames, Bogen, Bjorgen, Digre, Fjeseth, Hanson, Knutson, Kosberg, Rogness, Trooien, and Winsness. Their descendants by 1958 numbered about 700, of whom over 550 were still living, many in this vicinity.

Brookings County
home of roving Indians until 1862. The exploring party of Nicollet, scientist, and Fremont, "Pathfinder of the West," visited Oakwood Lakes, July 1838, leaving the first reliable record.

The region East of the Big Sioux was ceded by the Santee Sioux in 1851; that to the west by the Yankton Sioux in 1858. A breastwork was made at Oakwood Lakes in 1859 and occupied again in 1862-64. In 1857 Nobles Wagon Road was built through the county, crossing the Big Sioux over an improved ford. A settlement, Medary, existed there, 1857-58, when Sioux forced its abandonment. Permanent settlement was begun nearby in 1869 by 10 Norwegians, with Medary the county seat, 1871-79. Another such colony of 31 settled at Lake Hendricks in July 1873. Population increased rapidly after 1877, numbering 4965 in 1880, and 10,132 in 1890.

Brookings County was created in 1862 and named for Wilmot W. Brookings (1830-1905), prominent pioneer judge and legislator. Until 1873 it included parts of Moody, Lake and Kingsbury Counties. It was organized on July 3rd, 1871 in Martin N. Trygstad's cabin, 4 miles NW of Medary.

Lake Hendricks Norwegian Colony of 1873 Marker, from the east image. Click for full size.
August 15, 2021
3. Lake Hendricks Norwegian Colony of 1873 Marker, from the east
towns began in 1879 when the Northwestern R. R. crossed the county, and others when roads pushed North in 1884. Medary, Oakwood and Fountain became ghost towns and Brookings the county seat. In 1881 State College was established in Brookings, opening its doors in 1884.

Brookings County welcomes you to its 791 square miles of prosperous farms, beautiful lakes and happy homes.
Erected 1956 by 14 descendants of the foregoing pioneers & the Brookings County Commissioners. (Marker Number 253.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Settlements & SettlersWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the South Dakota State Historical Society Markers series list. A significant historical date for this entry is July 14, 1873.
Location. 44° 31.687′ N, 96° 27.335′ W. Marker is near White, South Dakota, in Brookings County. Marker is on 197th Street, 15 miles east of U.S. 29, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: White SD 57276, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 3 other markers are within 16 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Singsaas Lutheran Church (approx. half a mile away); Lake Hendricks State Park / Brookings County (approx. 3˝ miles away); Old City Hall Bell (approx. 15.4 miles away in Minnesota).
Brookings County Marker, from the west image. Click for full size.
August 15, 2021
4. Brookings County Marker, from the west
Credits. This page was last revised on August 21, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 19, 2021. This page has been viewed 139 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 19, 2021. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 20, 2023