Sesquicentennial Highlights


Clay County had many �firsts� in the settlement of Dakota Territory and one of them was the first flour mill built on the Vermilion River in what was known as Bloomingdale.

This mill was built right after the Civil War and it supplied the needs of early day residents for nearly 30 years.

The Bloomingdale mill was built in 1867 by James McHenry and a man by the name of Turner.  McHenry could possibly qualify as the No. 1 pioneer of Clay County.  He came here in 1856 when he was 18 years of age.  He is credited with building the first frame house in Vermillion in 1859 and operating the first store. 

Power for the mill was furnished by a wooden spillway water wheel.  There were two sets of French burrs and could grind 200 bushels of grain in 24 hours.  There was so much business brought to the mill that a town was built on the hill above the river.  A hotel was built and there was a blacksmith shop, a store and other business concerns. As the town withered on the vine the hotel was used for a number of years as a farm home.

Nicholas Hanson the storekeeper operated the mill in 1872-73.  In 1874 the mill was sold to W. A. Collar and J. P. Wastlund who owned farm land became a partner in the milling business in 1876 and the sole owner the following year.  The mill was run by Mr. Wastlund until 1884 when he remodeled it, equipping it with the first water turbine brought to the Territory.  A complete roller system was installed giving it a capacity of 50 barrels a day.  The mill went through the great flood of 1881 with little damage, though the river backed up and there was six feet of water on the grinding floor.  Wastlund owned and operated the mill until 1896 when it was closed down for good.  (History from the Centennial Notes)

Paul the Parrot was renamed Pauline by her owner when on Father�s Day, June 21, 1959, an egg was found in the cage and another one on June 26 and still another one on June 30th, the only eggs she has laid in her ten year lifetime. The owner of the parrot, Mr. Loyal Larson told Pauline, �You laid your egg, now sit on it�.  Mr. Larson thinks that for the past ten years the bird was either uneducated, uninterested or mighty slow.

The National Bank of South Dakota announces a new higher rate of 3% being paid on Savings Accounts so your savings will grow faster.  The rate becomes effective on July 1, 1959.

The new water tower in Prentis Park will soon be ready for a paint job.  Final touches are now being added to the tank that will hold 500,000 gallons of water.  A pastel green color has been chosen in keeping with the park surroundings.

Ground has been broken this week for the new Grier Motor Company on Cherry Street.

From the Centennial year notes, �The Standard� printed Dec. 14, 1876, recorded the following items:  �The road across the river is in good shape.  Last week a number of teams broke through the ice but no losses were reported�. So the ice must not have been as good as reported.  In 1877, the river, as in many other years, overflowed its banks and a number of residences were surrounded by water.  The portion of the city south of Broadway was submerged and floating ice, wood, boxes, and barrels were the only objects that met the eye.  There were numerous floods in the old town but it took the big one in 1881 to move onto the hill.

Travel on the Missouri by the Steamboats continued to carry the bulk of freight and traffic as far as Ft. Benton, Montana.  In the early days Vermilion got most of its freight via steamboat.  The steamboat landing was a short distance from the Ravine hill.  The Government kept snag boats on the job but even then there were plenty of steamboat wrecks.  The first one on the record was that of the Kate Swinney and that happened August 1, 1855, near the Clay County line south of Burbank.  The boat was loaded with fur.  Before leaving the wreckage, the Captian sold the salvage to some nearby settlers for $300.00.  Another wreck occurred in 1877 when the steamer Carroll burned 50 miles above Fort Randall.  The steamer carried 285 tons of freight and 80 passengers who were bound for Pierre and the Black Hills with their household goods.  The boat was a total loss but the passengers got to shore and saved most of their belongings and were rescued the next day by the Far West and continued on their way.

The following work rules are to be observed in 1872.  (Copied from the Centennial Notes in the Plain Talk in 1959)

1.  Office employees each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys and trim wicks.

2.  Each clerk will bring in a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the days business.

3.  Sharpen your pens carefully.  You may whittle nibs to your individual taste.

4.  Men employees will be given an evening off for courting purposes, or two evenings a week, if they go to church regularly.

5.  After thirteen hours of labor in the office the employee should spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.

6.  Every employee should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years, so that he will not become a burden on society.

7.  Any employee who smokes Spanish cigars, uses liquor in any form, frequents Pool Halls, or gets shaved in a barbershop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intentions, integrity and honesty.

8. The employee who has performed his labors faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of five cents per day in his pay, providing profits from the business permits.

The above rules were posted in 1872 by a carriage manufacturing company in New York.

The Grand Opening of Willson�s Floral will be held September 26, 1959.  A gift rose will be given to the first 250 ladies.  Be sure to register for a free gift certificate.

For lack of space on campus the entire top floor of the Citizens Bank building on Main Street, has been leased for a Creative Arts Laboratory under the direction of the Fine Arts Department.  Oscar Howe, nationally recognized artist, will teach classes in painting and sculpture and use part of the building for his studio. 

College enrollment is down in all schools in the state this year.  There have been less students graduating from high school and tuition prices are higher.

End 1959

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