Sesquicentennial Highlights

Sesquicentennial Highlights
Boom Period

The period known as the "Dakota Boom," 1877-1883, is unique. All history has no other instance to compare with it. With the spring of 1879 came a general feeling of contentment, courage and confidence. Grasshoppers gave no cause of anxiety. The "Boom" period had begun in reality. By this time Clay County had 5,000 inhabitants, and Vermillion, rebuilt in more substantial manner after the fire, had a population of 700. Business was good; wheat, cattle, hogs, hide, wool, butter and eggs were being shipped to eastern markets.

Churches Are Built


The Methodist Episcopal Society built a church costing about $2,000 in Vermillion in 1873. The Congregational Society was organized Sept. 11, 1870 and built an edifice in 1872 at a cost of $1,200 and a parsonage costing $1,000. Organization of the Baptist Society dates from 1871. This organization built their church costing about $2,500.

The Scandinavian Lutheran Society built a church in 1874 costing $1,000.

Clay County Schools

The amount of money spent for school purposes in the first years of settlement was very small. In 1868 the entire appropriation for Clay County schools was $308. The salary of the county superintendent was $50. Nine years later, in the winter of 1877, there were 54 school districts and 48 teachers were employed. Out of a county population of 6,000 there were 1,657 children in school.

In Vermillion there were, in 1878, seven churches and a grade school with over 200 pupils and four teachers. There were seven lawyers, five elevators, four doctors, six dry goods stores, three lumberyards, four farm machinery dealers, five hotels, four saloons and five blacksmiths.

A second newspaper, The Register, was published in Vermillion in 1872 and continued to 1876. A third, The Standard, was started in 1876 and ceased publication in 1879. These newspapers meant a great deal to the early settlers by supplying local and national news.

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