search engine by freefind

Bon Homme County, South Dakota: its history and people

In 1996 a group of genealogists organized the USGenWeb Project, which consists of a group of volunteers working together to provide information through websites for genealogical research in every county from every state of the United States. The Project is non-commercial and fully committed to free access for everyone.


Bon Homme county, named for Bon Homme island, was created by the first legislature on April 5, 1862. It was organized by Governor Jayne through the appointment of Byron M. Smith, Laban H. Litchfield, and Henry Hartsough as commissioners. Bon Homme village was made the county seat by the organic act. Being upon the Missouri river, it was explored by the earliest voyageurs. Lewis and Clarke, in 1804, who found the island already named and known by its present appellation. The first settler was Zephyr Renconter, who built a trading station on Bon Homme island in 1828. He and his half Indian offspring continued to live there and in the vicinity for forty years. The modern settlement was made July 10, 1859, upon the opening of the reservation, by John H. Shober and a party from Mantorville, Minnesota. Shober and his party had attempted a settlement the previous year, but their log buildings were destroyed and thrown into the river by a detail of soldiers from Fort Randall, sent down to keep trespassers off the Indian lands. Among the settlers of 1859 were Mrs. Rounds and children, Dr. Wallace, Mr. Gifford and family, Nathan McDaniels and family, Thomas Tate, L. H. Litchfield, William Hammond, and Daniel P. Bradford. In the spring of 1860 these settlers built the first school house in Dakota and established a school of ten pupils under Miss Emma Bradford. The towns of the county are Scotland, Springfield, Tyndall, and Avon. Tyndall is the county seat. Two lines of the Milwaukee Railway cross at Tyndall. A state normal school is located at Springfield, founded in 1898. It is a rich agricultural section. Samuel G. Irish was first territorial treasurer. Laban H. Lichfield, United States marshal, 1863-70. Robert Dollard was attorney general from statehood until 1893. George W. Snow is lieutenant governor. James D. Elliott is United States district attorney. Florenzo G. Hale was regent of education 1893-6. The county contains 569 square miles and had 9,570 people in 1900.

Source: History of South Dakota, Vol. I by Doane Robinson, 1904


SDGenWeb - 2023
“A Proud Part of the USGenWeb”
State Coordinator, Joy Fisher
Assistant State Coordinator, Linda Ziemann

This website was last modified on January 1, 2017, by J. Fisher
Bon Homme County Coordinator ~ Currently available for adoption.
Please contact the Assist. South Dakota Coordinator Linda Ziemann if interested in taking over. Thank you.