Redfield South Dakota
A Great Place, Just for You!
Located in east central South Dakota, Redfield serves as the county seat for Spink County.
The quality of life can't be beat here - friendly, hardworking people, an excellent school sytem and employment opportunities, a modern hospital and clinic with a 24-hour, conty-wide ambulance service and emergency room, recreation programs, city pool with a water slide, parks, state park, golfing, Arts Council, service organizations and churches, all of which make Redfield a "Great Place" to live and work!
Redfield is the county seat of the largest wheat producing county in the state. Redfield is located at the junction of U.S. Highways 212 and 281.
A gentleman by the name of Frank Meyers came to this area with a party of Chicago and Northwestern surveyors in 1878. In 1880 Meyers established the first post office, which was located in a box car. At this time, Redfield was known as "Stennett Junction"; "Stennett", named for a man who was an official with the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, and "Junction" in anticipation of the railroads criss-crossing the state.
On February 1, 1881, the town's name was changed from Stennett Junction to Redfield, in honor of Joseph Barlow Redfield. Redfield was one of the oldest and most valued auditors for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Company. Redfield purchased much of the land in this area for investors in Chicago. He is remembered for his "General Grant" appearance.
Redfield's history would be incomplete if the conflict over the Spink County seat were not mentioned. In county elections of 1880 to 1884, the county seat was voted upon to determine the location. Old Ashton was the original county seat, but other candidates were Ashton, Redfield and Frankfort. In December of 1884, Redfield boosters brought the contest to a climax by seizing the records which had been tampered with so that Redfield had a definite advantage. A serious conflict was avoided but the war between Old Ashton and Redfield is still topic for conversation.
Old Ashton continued to be the county seat until 1885, when an act of legislature gave the honor to Ashton. In the fall of 1886, another election was held and Redfield had the honest majority of the votes. With Redfield gaining the county seat in a "respectable" manner, people in remote districts no longer looked upon Redfield as a home for "outlaws and thugs".
This region has a noble history that was first documented by Lewis and Clark in their journals. They recorded annual Indian tribal councils and trade fairs held at the Council Rock site.
The Council Stone site was first occupied by a people who constructed a village of dirt lodges. The James River, called Whitewoods by the Indians, served as a natural boundary as well as a convenient waterway for travel. The Yankton and Yanktonai bands of Sioux later located villages in the vicinity.
One famous leader, Chief Joseph Drifting Goose of the Hunkpati band of Yanktonai, occupied Armadale Island, located a few miles north of Fisher Grove on the James River. His confrontations with early white settlers are legendary.
To settle the Drifting Goose problem, a 69,000 acre reservation was established in this vicinity. Subsequent appeasements allowed Drifting Goose's band to move to Fort Thompson on the Missouri River. The James Valley area was then opened for white settlement.
Also of historical significance is release of Abigail Gardner just north of Redfield. Following an Indian massacre in 1857 near Spirit Lake, Iowa, four women were taken captive by a band of renegade Indians. Of the four women, only two survived. Abigail was held captive for 84 days. She was then purchased by the Yankton Sioux and her freedom was then bought by the government. The cost of her freedom was "two horses, 12 blankets, two kegs of powder, 20 pounds of tobacco and 70 yards of cloth", Abbie wrote in her book.
She was released at a site northeast of Redfield along Turtle Creek.
Redfield's claim as the "Pheasant Capital of the World" dates back to 1908.
The first successful stocking of pheasants in South Dakota took place in June, 1908 when H.P. Packard, J. Schalkle and H.A. Hagmann secured three pairs of pheasants from Grants Pass, Oregon. The birds were kept in crates on the Schalkle farm before they were released. L.J. Howard, who at the time was the Spink County Clerk of Courts, went with the three men to Hagmann's Grove, just north of Redfield, to release the birds. The number of pheasants grew steadily over the years and the state game department purchased 48 pairs of birds with privately subscribed funds and released them near Redfield.
The first one-day open season on cock pheasants occurred in Spink County on October 30, 1919. Each person holding a small game license was permitted to kill two cock pheasants.
Redfield also has excellent deer, waterfowl and fishing opportunities.
Places to See
Other Area Historical Sites
Abigail Gardner Commemorative Marker
Located 2 miles north of Redfield along Hwy. 281
A concrete obelisk that commemorates the release of Abigail Gardner after 84 days of captivity by Indian renegades.
Fisher Grove State Park Web Site
Located 8 miles east of Redfield on Hwy. 212
Fisher Grove is named in honor of Frank I. Fisher, the first permanent settler in Spink County. Fisher made a concentrated effort to establish a settlement at the crossroads known as Belcher's Ford, the Indian's traditonal river crossing on the James River. It became the first crossing for the Watertown to Pierre stage line. Belcher's Ford became a focal point for travelers. Fisher's attempt failed when the railroad bypassed the area. The mail office was then moved to Frankfort, two miles east. The hotel was abandoned and salvaged for wood. The site of the hotel can be reached by a park hiking trail. The site became a state park in 1968.
Located 8 miles east of Redfield on Hwy. 212 at Fisher Grove State Park
Belcher's Ford was named for the pioneer who came in 1879 and offered a ferry across the James River. A ford, a natural slope down the steep east bank, lay beside the Old Indian Crossing. That was a foot crossing with rocks arranged as stepping stones.
A settlement sprang up on the east river bank, south of the ford with hotel accommodations and a sod barn. The first post office in the county was established here on July 2, 1879 and operated unil 1883 when the railroad bypassed Belcer's Ford. The original stones of the Old Indian Crossing were removed in the 1930s and used for a dam by the WPA Development Program.
The site of the hotel, build to house tourists, can be reached by a park hiking trail.
Spink County Veterans Memorial
Located in the Northwest Corner of the Courthouse Lawn, Redfield
The caption reads "All Gave Some, Some Gave All".
Located on the North Side of Redfield at the SDDC Campus
Granite Cottage is so named because it was built of Sioux Falls Granite. It was initially the entire facility of the Northern Hospital for the Insane. Construction costs totaled $63,245 and utilization began February 1, 1902.
The building had a capacity of 48 residents and also housed office space, plumbing and heating plant, root cellar, laundry, engine room and employee's living quarters.
From 1904 to 1918 Granite Cottage was known as the first Admistration Building of the Redfield State Hospital and School A new resident living building had been completed in 1904. Granite Hall received its present name in 1920 when the administrative offices were moved to the present administrative building.
Located 3 miles north of Redfield from the Jct. of Hwy. 212 and 281, then 1.5 miles east
The first school in Spink County was located on a one-acre plot. The schoolhouse was built in the spring of 1880 with lumber hauled from Watertown. The school was then used for nearly 50 years, then replaced with a larger building. The origianl schoolhouse was moved to a site on Hwy 281 and used as a meeting hall until its demolition in 1975.
Located at 628 West 2nd Street, Redfield
What is the OK Tire Store at 628 West 2nd Street in Redfield was known as the Norbeck and Nickolson Artesian Building when it was erected in 1908. The building was built at a cost of $20,000 and it served as the office and supply department for the well drilling operations of Peter Norbeck and Charles Nickolson. The building has also been a foundry and was used as a creamery and cheese factory.