South Dakota was the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre, a tragic event in which over 150 unarmed Native American men, women, and children were killed by U.S. troops in 1890. Today, the site is a National Historic Landmark.
Turner County, located in southeastern South Dakota, has a rich history dating back to the early 1800s. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, such as the Dakota Sioux, who utilized the fertile land for hunting and agriculture. European settlement began in the 1860s when pioneers arrived to homestead in the region.

In 1871, Turner County was officially established and named after Dakota Territory legislator John W. Turner. During the late 19th century, the county experienced significant growth and development. The construction of the railroad in the 1880s played a pivotal role in boosting the local economy and attracting new settlers. Towns like Parker, Chancellor, and Centerville were established as agricultural communities to support the growing farming industry.

Agriculture has long been the backbone of Turner County. The fertile soil and favorable climate allowed farmers to cultivate a variety of crops, including corn, wheat, and soybeans. Livestock farming also thrived, with cattle and hog production becoming prominent in the early 20th century. The establishment of agricultural cooperatives and advancements in farming practices further contributed to the county's agricultural success.

Over the years, Turner County has also faced its share of challenges. The Great Depression in the 1930s caused economic hardships for residents, but the community managed to persevere. The county continued to evolve with advancements in technology and infrastructure. Today, Turner County remains a thriving rural community with a strong emphasis on agriculture, while also offering opportunities for tourism, recreation, and small-scale industries.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Turner County, South Dakota.

  • 1881: Turner County is established on January 8th, and named after Colonel John W. Turner, a prominent settler in the area.
  • 1882: Parker becomes the county seat of Turner County on May 8th.
  • 1883: The Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railway arrives in Turner County, bringing improved transportation opportunities.
  • 1884: The first courthouse in Turner County is completed in Parker.
  • 1892: The first public high school in Turner County opens in Parker.
  • 1908: Irene, a town on the western edge of Turner County, is incorporated on November 9th.
  • 1920: The population of Turner County reaches its peak at over 12,000 residents.
  • 1925: Viborg, located in the southeastern part of Turner County, becomes an incorporated town on March 20th.
  • 1930: The Great Depression negatively impacts Turner County, leading to a decline in population and economic activity.
  • 1978: The new Turner County Courthouse is completed in Parker, replacing the original courthouse.