|The History of|
70 Years of Pioneer Life in Bennett County South Dakota 1911-1981
Bennett County Historical Society
Transcribed by Roseanna L. Renaud
submitted by Dorothy Rice and Ardeth Kocourek
For the earliest homesteadrs who came to Bennett County after it was opened for settlement in 1911, filing their papers meant a trip to White River (county seat of Mellette County) or to Gregory, South Dakota, over a hundred miles to the east. Homestead records were kept at Gregory until 1923 when they were moved to Pierre. All filings are now on record in the General Services Administration Federal Archives and Records Center in Denver, Colorado.
In Martin, The Bennett County Patent Record Books are now located in the office of the Register of Deeds at the courthouse. In addition to the more formal records, information about Homestead Business is available in a notebook kept carefully by Clair C. Long who was elected Clerk of Courts at the first General Election in Bennett County (held Nov. 6, 1912) and served in that office until 1934. Mr. Long noted the transaction and the law which applied to it.
In a matter of six months or so after their final papers were filed, the applicants received their patents to their homestead lands. Notification came on a postcard. A search of the four Patent Record Books reveals that Bennett County Homesteaders took advantage of several pieces of homestead legislation. It is interesting tonote that the earliest filings were in accordance with the latest legislation.
A review of the Patent Record Books reveals that sometimes people received patents but did not file them for record purposes. Some of those in Bennett County were finally filed, for example, in the settlement of the estate of the person to whom the patent had been issued. Sometimes people would file a claim on land as a homestead and then relinquish the claim because they could not meet the conditions of the law or perhaps because they decided not to stay on the land.
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