County Seat

South Dakota settlers fully realized the importance of having the county seat as near to them as possible. The town chosen as county seat almost automatically became the county’s commercial and civic center. County residents knew they would need to make frequent trips to the county seat so they wanted that trip to be as short as possible. Permanence of a community on the frontier during the 1870s and 1880s was also no guarantee. While not the only way, the construction of a railroad and the designation as a county seat were two of the surest ways to ensure a town’s permanence on the prairie. Because of the importance of this issue, county seat “wars” developed between competing communities. (SD State Historical Society)

County Courthouse Presentation

The South Dakota State Historical Preservation Office has developed a South Dakota Courthouse presentation (PowerPoint and Script) that is designed for organizations like historical groups and schools that want to learn more about the history of the counties and courthouses in South Dakota. bird.png

Topics covered include:

  • The Historical Evolution of SD County Government
  • The Historical Patterns of SD Courthouse Construction
  • The Selection of County Seats – county seat fights
  • The Influence of Railroads
  • Architectural Evolution of SD Courthouse Design

The staff of the South Dakota State Historical Society is available to present the SD Courthouse presentation, pending program and individual workloads and scheduling considerations. 

South Dakota Courthouses



How the Law Touches Our Life

We Want to Hear from You...

Have you worked in a SD courthouse; do you have an interesting story about your local courthouse... please share your experience or comment today.