By Paula M. Nelson
Western South Dakota 1900-1917
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Additional info for After the West Was Won: Homesteaders and Town-Builders in Western South Dakota, 1900-1917
Fanny Malone, Lyman County homesteader The Lakota's relationship to the plains environment was a model of simplicity and reliability, depending almost entirely on the hunting of buffalo, which roamed the plains in seemingly unlimited numbers and which had few predators other than humans. The miner's frontier was also a simple, temporary economy, relying for success upon the existence of valuable ores and proven mining techniques. The rancher's frontier, too, depended on natural resources, requiring only what the plains produced in greatest abundance: grass.
In 1905, Butte County, a huge civil division later split into three large counties, contained only 3,975 people. In 1910, Perkins County, one of the new divisions fashioned from Butte and served by the Milwaukee Road, had 11,348 residents. Lyman County, which benefited from the railroad and from the Lower Brule opening, had only 2,632 people in 1900. 11 Settlers came to the west river country of South Dakota at the turn of the century because it was the frontier. Like their ancestors, they were tantalized by the prospect of building a new world for themselves.
4 They did not submit without a hard Page xv fight. The struggle these settlers waged to realize their dreams matched or exceeded the heroic epics of earlier times on other frontiers. The people who settled western South Dakota pursued a different kind of frontier experience from those who had followed the frontier dream before them. These latter-day pioneers were both blessed and cursed with twentieth-century baggage. By 1900 the West had become a myth, an adventure yarn that appealed to people who wanted to partake of a legend but not necessarily to make a home in it.
After the West Was Won: Homesteaders and Town-Builders in Western South Dakota, 1900-1917 by Paula M. Nelson