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Miner County, South Dakota


The Miner County Courthouse is located at 401 North Main Street, Howard, SD 57359; phone: 605.772.4612.

Miner County was named jointly for Captain Nelson Miner and Ephraim Miner of Yankton, both of whom were members of the legislature of 1873 which created the county. [1]

Beginnings [2]

Miner County was created in 1873 shortly after townships had been surveyed, but the county was not organized until 1880 and the present boundaries were established in 1883. The census population of Miner County grew from 363 in 1880 to a high of 8,560 in 1920, which then fell to 3,739 by 1980. In one study that grouped Miner County in with the southern James River Valley region, the regional agricultural landscape was described as having a high percentage of cattle livestock farms, followed by cash crop farms for corn, and then general crop and livestock farms. Most farms had resident operators and used family labor as opposed to hiring out. By the 1950s, the region was increasingly mechanized: 86-96% of farms had automobiles, 73-93% had tractors, 74-88% were located with access to all-weather roads, and 56-75% had electricity.

In 1880-1881, a community of Norwegian settlers grew up in the four northeastern townships of Miner County. Though some came directly from Norway and the Nordfjord region in particular, many had first settled in Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Iowa before moving on to land in Dakota Territory. The winter they arrived, they faced an infamous 1880-1881 blizzard, and in the mid-1890s endured an economic recession. Norwegian immigration to the United States was concentrated in the period from the 1840s to the 1880s, and so Norwegians were among the first migrants to the newly opened Dakota Territory in 1858 and made up a large percentage of settlers during the Second Dakota Boom during 1878-1887. By 1900, Norwegian immigrants made up 12.8 percent of the population of South Dakota. Norwegians settled primarily east of the James River (the easternmost quarter of the state), in part because the railroad network was more developed in the east at the time.

  1. Doane Robinson, History of South Dakota: Volume I, B. F. Bowen & Co., 1904.
  2. Liz Amlie, South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office, em>Nansen Store, Miner County, SD, nomination document, 2013, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

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