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Archive for the ‘Maps’ Category

The Nancy Carlsen Research Papers show her passion for local history, maps, and the Missouri River. The collection is mostly about Clay County cemeteries and the Clay County sites on the National Register of Historic Places. It also includes material about Clay County Preservation Commission, Spirit Mound Trust, Spirit Mound Cemetery Restoration, and River Honoring.

Her papers contain many maps that Nancy created. Enjoy these portions of two of the Clay County SD maps. The first is a shaded relief map emphasizing the Missouri River Valley and the Vermillion River Valley. The second is a color topographic map highlighting Clay County cemeteries.

shaded relief map of Vermillion SD area

map of Vermillion SD showing cemeteries

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Historian Everett Sterling wrote in Vermillion Story (1959) that there was “a 1910 map preserved in the City Building, on which every residence is shown and identified …” Does anyone know where the map is now?

image of a large question mark

Sterling’s Vermillion Story is in the Chilson Collection. Other histories about Vermillion and Clay County SD are listed on the Archives and Special Collections web site.

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If ghost towns do not need to have standing structures, then Clay County has at least one – Lodi. Bloomingdale may turn out to be another one, but further research is needed to determine if Bloomingdale was a town. Both are now private land and used for farming.

map of Lodi, South Dakota
Plat of Lodi from Illustrated historical atlas of Clay County, South Dakota: including a brief history of Clay County, 1901, by E. Frank Peterson.

Peterson’s atlas can be viewed in the Archives and Special Collections or the Digital Library of South Dakota. The atlas has maps of other towns or villages in Clay County.

The county has a few more towns or villages that no longer exist, but they were moved rather than abandoned. Lincoln relocated and became Meckling.

Please contact us if you know of other abandoned towns in Clay County, SD.

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Darrow, A. N., et al. Map of the Missouri River : from Its Mouth to Three Forks, Montana. Missouri River Commission, 1892-1895.

Archives and Special Collections doesn’t have all the maps in this set, but we do have the indexes and maps for South Dakota under call number 1472 M5 1895 U545. This map shows Vermillion, South Dakota and area after the flood of 1881 moved the Missouri River away from the town.

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The mound appears on this 1856 map as Little Spirits Hill.

Warren, Gouverneur Kemble. Reconnoissances in the Dacota Country. Washington: A.O.P. Nicholson, Senate Printer, 1856.  Call number CHILSON COLLECTION F593 .U39 map.

Spirit Mound was described by local Indigenous people to the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804. Twenty years ago in 2001, it was replanted with native grasses and joined the South Dakota state park system as Spirit Mound Historic Prairie. In 2010, a geologic survey determined the mound to be a rock-cored drumlin created by a glacier. Check out the websites for Spirit Mound Trust or the Spirit Mound Historic Prairie for more information.

U.S. Geological Survey. Elk Point, S.D. – Neb. – Iowa. 1:125,000. 1908. Call number RICHARDSON COLLECTION G1201.C5 U5 v.156

Both maps can be viewed in the Archives and Special Collections.

Information about the addition of Spirit Mound Historic Prairie to the South Dakota state park system can be found in the William J. Janklow papers at the Archives and Special Collections.

Geologic survey by Cody Miller, Origin and Erosion of Spirit Mound, http://www.spiritmound.com/PDF/Miller_spirit_mound.pdf (accessed November 8, 2021).

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Eastern part of SD was in Iowa Territory 1838–1846.

Morse, Sidney Edwards. Iowa and Wisconsin : Chiefly from the Map of J.N. Nicollet. S.l.: S.n., 1844. RICHARDSON COLLECTION Map 4150 M83 1844

Eastern part of SD was in Minnesota Territory 1849–1858.

Rogers, Henry D., A. Keith Johnston, and John Murray. Territory of Minnesota. Boston: H.D. Rogers, 1857. RICHARDSON COLLECTION Map 4140 H632 1857

Western part of SD was in Nebraska Territory 1854–1861.

Colton, Joseph Hutchins. Nebraska and Kanzas [sic]. New York: J.H. Colton &, 1855. RICHARDSON COLLECTION Map 4130 C722 1855

SD was entirely in Dakota Territory 1861-1889. The original boundaries of Dakota Territory are shown in the first map below. The final boundaries are shown in the second map below.

Johnson, Alvin Jewett. Johnson’s Nebraska, Dakota, Colorado, & Kansas. New York]: Johnson & Ward, 1862. CHILSON COLLECTION G4130 .J6 1862
Mitchell, Samuel Augustus. Territory of Dakota. Philadelphia: S. Augustus Mitchell, Jr., 1879. CHILSON COLLECTION G4184 .M66 1879

All of these maps can be viewed at the Archives and Special Collections.

Prior to Iowa Territory, the area that would become South Dakota was Native American land, Louisiana Territory, Missouri Territory, Michigan Territory and Wisconsin Territory.

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It was south and west of Yankton, Dakota Territory. This 1872 map can be viewed in the Archives and Special Collections.

Map of Military Department of the Platte, Nebraska. Washington, D.C.: Engineer Dept., U.S. Army (Washington D.C. : N. Peters, Photo-lithographer), 1872.  CHILSON COLLECTION MAP 4190 W728 1872

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Map of the Ceded Part of Dakota Territory: Showing Also Portions of Minnesota, Iowa & Nebraska, Smith, B. M., et al, 1861. Archives and Special Collection has this map in the Chilson Collection with the call number 4130 S64 1861.

The inset map in the upper left corner shows the entire Dakota Territory and its boundaries.

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Standard Atlas of Clay County, South Dakota (1912) by George. A. Ogle & Co. can now be viewed on the Digital Library of South Dakota.

… Ogle’s atlas maps. … emphasize clarity of cadastral delineation, a concern for the graphical accuracy of a civil engineer, a minimal approach to property depiction (boundaries, roads, water courses, hand-inscribed owner’s names – and little else), and professional trim, such as a colour tint for the map area and a page border composed of a chain of miniature globes.


Conzen, Michael P. “The County Landownership Map in America Its Commercial Development and Social Transformation 1814-1939.” Imago Mundi 36 (1984): 9-31. P. 24. Accessed on JSTOR March 17, 2021.

If you are interested in the history of cadastral maps in the United States and atlases and how their styles have changed through time, I recommend the articles and books by Michael Conzen, a geographer at the University of Chicago.

Cadastral maps are helpful to historians, genealogists, and those tracing landowners for legal reasons. Though cadastral maps (particularly Ogel’s atlases) are often reliable, the ultimate source of past and present ownership information is the county courthouse.

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At 33 inches by 25 inches and weighing more than 50 pounds, this lunar atlas is the largest book in the Archives and Special Collection at USD. The moon was photographed through the Observatory of Paris’ telescope in the late 1890s, and the photographs used to produce photogravure plates for the atlas.

Library of Congress sponsors #ArchivesHashtagParty once a month, and March’s topic is #ArchivesYouAreHere. LOC invited groups to share their maps, astrolabes, star charts, tidal maps, compasses, globes, visitor guides, treasure maps, city plans, or even architectural drawings.

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