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County Seat Wars


Dakota Territory was plagued by ‘county seat wars’ on this date in 1885. Winning the title of county seat often secured a future for these young cities, as the county’s government, along with necessary services, would be located there. The Jamestown Morning Alert reported that over “50,000 rounds of ammunition [had] already been fired off from the mouths of combatants.” Three wars that were being closely monitored were those in Walworth, Potter, and Roberts Counties. The cities of Bangor and Scranton faced off in Walworth, vying for that county’s seat. In Potter County, the residents of Gettysburg stole the county records from Forest City, hoping to become the new county seat despite losing a local election. And, the Alert reported that opposing parties in Roberts County “have laid aside their guns and are firing postal cards at each other by mail.” All three counties are in present-day South Dakota.

Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job


Jamestown Morning Alert Friday, January 16, 1885: p.1.

Jamestown Morning Alert Saturday, January 17, 1885: p.1.

Jamestown Morning Alert Tuesday, January 27, 1885: p.1.