After the West Was Won: Homesteaders and Town-Builders in by Paula M. Nelson

By Paula M. Nelson

Western South Dakota 1900-1917

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Extra info for After the West Was Won: Homesteaders and Town-Builders in Western South Dakota, 1900-1917

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The General Land Office devised a wide range of rules to cover all potential circumstances. For example, if winning applicants did not appear on the day specified to choose their lands and file on them, their places on the list were forfeited. During the fall of 1907, the General Land Office oversaw the opening of a second reservation, the Lower Brule. This opening was much smaller, with only 343 homesteads. The same rules used in 1904 applied to this lottery, although the officials in this case decided to base fees on the actual quality of the land rather than the time of entry.

After getting better acquainted with the friendly travellers on the train and seeing the Page 23 clear prairie skies, he began to mellow. Caught up in the excitement of the registration rush in Dallas, South Dakota, Denison developed a new attitude. The rush began to symbolize for him all that was good, all that was real in America. "Here, after all," Denison decided, "was the United States, the heart of them. Here was everything from Lexington and Bunker Hill to El Caney. . " Denison had become personally involved in the homestead epic; he had been propelled from observer to participant.

A seventy-eight-year-old woman registered at Aberdeen in October 1909, as did a man from Afghanistan. 6 The sheer numbers of people who showed up to register created problems of housing, services, and control that overwhelmed local fa- Page 20 cilities and officials. The 1904 registration in Bonesteel was accompanied by murder and general mayhem. The problems began when Bonesteel grew in a few months from a crossroads store to a tent city of 10,000 souls. Grafters, gamblers, pickpockets, and ne'er-do-wells made the boomtown the center of their operations.

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