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The Dakota chief. : (Gann Valley, Buffalo County, S.D.) 18??-1913
Alternative Titles:
  • Gann Valley chief
Place of publication:
Gann Valley, Buffalo County, S.D.
Geographic coverage:
  • Gann Valley, Buffalo, South Dakota  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
J.V. Drips
Dates of publication:
  • -v. 25, no. 26 (May 27, 1913).
  • English
  • Buffalo County (S.D.)--Newspapers.
  • Gann Valley (S.D.)--Newspapers.
  • South Dakota--Buffalo County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01215826
  • Available on microfilm from: State Archives, South Dakota State Historical Society.
  • Description based on: Vol. 6, no. 1 (Dec. 21, 1893).
sn 99068086
Succeeding Titles:
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The Dakota chief. December 21, 1893 , Image 1


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The Dakota Chief

Buffalo County, South Dakota, was one of the first counties organized in Dakota Territory. It originally covered more than 5,000 square miles, with the Missouri River as the western border, Canada to the north, and the eastern edge along North Dakota and the western border of Minnesota. Once settlement began, smaller counties were created for ease of governmental management.

Present-day Buffalo County is located in central South Dakota, between Chamberlain and Miller. A large portion of the county is comprised of the Crow Creek Reservation. The local Native Americans are primarily descendants of the Arikara Tribe out of North Dakota who are enrolled with the Mandan and Hidatsa there. Ancient tribal villages from 1200-1350 CE have been preserved as national landmarks in areas of Buffalo County.

The town of Gann Valley is the county seat. It was founded in January 1885, when A. L. Spencer donated thirty acres of land and Herst C. Gann donated the courthouse building (the town is named after Gann). It is considered the smallest unincorporated county seat in the United States.

In 1888, Morton Alexander and J. V. Drips started publishing the Dakota Chief in Gann Valley. As South Dakota became a state in 1889, the five-column, eight-page paper came out each Thursday. The issues contained local news columns, projected railroad service updates, small want ads, serialized fiction, patent medicine ads, and legal notices. A subscription cost $1.50 per year.

The Chief carried a column titled "Topics of The Times – A Choice Selection of Interesting Items." It was filled with news tidbits and helpful hints, along with humorous quotes. In addition, the paper included local news items from the nearby settlements of Estherdale, Waterbury, Richards, Vega, and Duncan. Over the next few years, however, all of these town sites virtually disappeared.

The Dakota Chief was a decidedly Republican newspaper; the party ticket was posted in the paper and candidates prominently supported. Advertisements came from the nearby towns of Kimball and Fort Thompson, as well as Mitchell and Yankton, both slightly further away. Since both of the latter larger cities were railroad stops prior to the railroad making its way through Buffalo County, they were important resources for settlement to the area. As time passed, the paper included additional columns titled "The Week in Trade" (market reports), "News of the Day" (South Dakota happenings in condensed form), "Review of the Year" (summary of the year's highlights), and "Temperance Talks" (updates on the temperance movement, locally and across the country).

On June 1, 1897, J. V. Drips sold the Chief to Ellsworth E. Dye and Arthur G. Hill, local real estate agents and abstractors, who began publishing and editing the paper as Dye & Hill. In 1898, they also started the Bank of Buffalo County, which remained in business until 1924.

F. W. Gilley became the Dakota Chief Editor in early April 1907. Dye and Hill continued as owners, but their other business ventures took up too much time for them to edit and publish a newspaper. On May 1, 1907, they sold their interest in the Chief to the Drips brothers, J. H. and V. P. The brothers edited the paper and published it on Thursday each week. The layout moved to six-column by eight pages, with supplement pages appearing frequently. In August 1911, the Drips brothers changed the publication day to Tuesday. By September 1 of that year, the new publisher was noted as L. H. (Lewis) Hanson, who continued publication for many years. During the entire publication timeline, the subscription price remained at $1.50 per year.

Provided by: South Dakota State Historical Society – State Archives