Wide open.

That's what South Dakota was in those days...or rather, would would become South Dakota. It would take a hardy bunch to settle this land, and so a hardy bunch came and did just that.

It all started, at least in a sense, with three towns. Well, not towns, really, but settlements. There was a settlement called Sioux Falls.  There was another settlement called Flandreau. And that third settlement, back there in the old days, those long ago days of the 1850's?

Medary.

Now, while we're all familiar with those first two, and they're doing fine thank you...what about Medary?

Medary was the first town in what would become Brookings County.  In fact, the first signs of human activity date back to 1500 B.C., but we're not going back that far. Nope. We're going back to 1857 when Medary was 'founded' by a land company out of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Named for an engineer who came along to get the community settled, there were skirmishes with Native Americans and what might be called the usual 'ups and downs' of getting a town up and running in the 1800's. But ultimately some Norwegian settlers got things, well...settled down and Medary was back, and by 1871 Brookings County was organized.

Life was good. Medary had the first schools in the new Brookings County, and in fact was the first County Seat. Such was life in Medary, South Dakota in the 1870's. What could go wrong?

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Well, the incoming railroad company might decide to, uh, bypass Medary. So some of the towns movers and shakers decided they'd better build a town along those railroad tracks because, well, that was where the business was....or at least, would be.

So they did. And that town? Well, they decided to call it Brookings.

Other towns sprung up along the railroad tracks, towns with names like Volga and Aurora...towns that survive and thrive to this day.

And Medary? Well, of course the businesses moved as well and the town became essentially abandoned. Some would call that progress and others would call that sad.

A monument was built on the 'old site' of Medary to commemorate the towns existence.

So when someone asks you to name the first three settlements in what became the state of South Dakota, you can tell them:

1) Sioux Falls

2) Flandreau

And don't forget number 3) Medary.

Wikipedia Contributed To This Article

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