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May 4—When towns were young and just finding their way, streets did not necessarily have to follow squares and the compass reading. This photo, taken at some time after 1882 from the courthouse looking southeast, testifies to the fact. An angle here or there led to the fastest way between two points. Three churches sat in this area: The Congregational Church, the Baptist Church and Holy Family Catholic Church. Pictures taken a little later show houses built randomly in the area.

Land for the city of Mitchell (75 acres) was purchased on May 5, 1879, two miles west of Firesteel Village by John Lawler Sr., a wealthy bridge builder and Milwaukee Road stockholder who was friends with Alexander Mitchell, head of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. The total land purchased was over 320 acres of government land, some of it purchased from men who had filed homestead rights nine days after the filing with military script. This land was the start of the new town of Mitchell.

In 1882, H.C. Greene proposed a courthouse for the county. A vote was taken: 264 for, 56 against. The courthoue was built to serve Davison County and that building served until 1937 when the current courthose was built. This detail helped date the photo shown as a note was written on the picture stating the location of the photographer and the direction he was looking. South Dakota gained statehood on Nov. 2, 1889.

— Back in Time is a weekly photo submission that includes history about Mitchell and the region, provided by the Mitchell Area Historical Society.

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