A Note from Cottonwood Corners

BONESTEEL — The name of the Bonesteel post office was originally Huston which was established June 3, 1890.  The proposed name for the office was “Huston Springs,” but was apparently shortened by the Post Office Department.  The name of the office was changed to Bonesteel on August 1, 1892 and continues to operate today.  The town was named for H. E. Bonesteel, an early homesteader who became a member of a mercantile firm which was well known throughout Dakota Territory.

FAIRFAX — The post office at Fairfax was established June 4, 1892.  It continues to serve the citizens of the area today.  The town was settled after the eastern section of the county was opened for settlement.  Fairfax was named for Fairfax County, Virginia.

STORY — The Story post office was officially open from October 18, 1892 to September 30, 1893.  It was located southwest of Fairfax near the Nebraska border.  The mail went to Fairfax upon closure.

PONCA — The post office at Ponca Station was opened on May 21, 1894 and service was discontinued June 29, 1895.  On the 1909 Gregory County Township Maps, Ponca Station is located five miles directly south of Burke and two miles north of Nebraska.  Mail went to Bonesteel upon closure of Ponca.

STARCHER — Starcher was established November 21, 1894 near the river south of Whetstone Creek.  In 1898 it moved a little farther south near the river.  In 1902 it was moved north almost to Whetstone Creek and west of Whetstone Agency away from the river.  It was named for Edwin Starcher who was elected as the first County Judge for Gregory County.  He was engaged in the practice of law, banking, real estate, and the abstract business.  It was closed in 1908 and the mail went to nearby Bonesteel.  Starcher can now be found on the U. S. Geological Survey Map as “historical.”

BAKER — The Baker post office was in South Dakota from February 2, 1895 to December 20, 1895.  It was moved from Boyd County, Nebraska and then returned back to Nebraska at the end of 1895.  It was located just inside South Dakota and southwest of Fort Randall.  The area along the border between South Dakota and Nebraska in that area was known as Baker Flats.

ECHO — The Echo post office was open from January 30, 1900 to February 14, 1906.  It was located west of Fort Randall near the western edge of Randall Township.  The location of Echo is identified with the notation of “historical” on the U S Geological Survey Map.  The community of Echo was probably established about 1892; however, the origin of the name is a mystery.  Upon closure, the mail was processed at Fort Randall.

SCALP — The Scalp post office was in operation from May 22, 1903 to March 15, 1907.   It was also known as the Scalp Creek post office.  Scalp was named for Scalp Creek and Scalp Butte which are in the immediate area.  It was north of Scalp Creek and some distance west of the river.  Upon closure, the mail went to Fairfax.

ADELLE — The post office at Adelle was open less than twelve months, from April 23, 1904 to April 15, 1905.  It was located just north of the south fork of Whetstone Creek north of Burke.  Upon closure, mail was processed at Bonesteel.  Being at least three townships to the southeast, one could wonder why Bonesteel was selected to process the mail.  Burke and Gregory were much closer.

SAINT ELMO — The Saint Elmo post office was established August 1, 1904.  During the early settlement of the eastern part of Gregory County, a quarter section of land was secured in section thirty-two of the St. Charles Township.  A lot sale was held in Bonesteel; however, before the town was well started it was discovered that the Department of Interior had a problem with land reserved for townsite purposes.  St. Elmo was soon only a memory.  The land that had been reserved for townsite purposes was the south half of section twenty-four in the Herrick Township.  This townsite was named for Samuel Herrick, a prominent attorney from Washington.  When it existed, Saint Elmo was located two miles west of St. Charles.  The office was discontinued September 29, 1906 with the mail to Bonesteel.

BURKE — The Burke post office opened its doors on August 22, 1904 and still continues to serve the community and area today.  Burke was named for Charles Burke who was a state legislator and member of Congress.  When Pierre National Bank (now BankWest) opened its doors on September 2, 1889, Charles Burke was their first customer.  In 1915 he became a bank director and later served as a vice president from 1930 to 1944.

HERRICK — The post office was established on August 26, 1904 as “Willette.”  The name was changed to “Herrick” on October 8, 1904.  The office continues to operate.  Herrick was named for Samuel Herrick who was influential in settlement of the area.

DALLAS — The Dallas post office operated from September 17, 1904 to April 27, 1973.  It was first located north of current site of Dallas.  In 1908 was moved south to the railroad which was being extended into Tripp County.  It was changed to a Community Post Office (CPO) of Gregory on April 28, 1973.  Dallas was founded in 1907 and named by the Jackson brothers for Dallas, Texas.

GREGORY — The post office known as “Gregory” within Gregory County was established September 30, 1904.  The first postmaster was Chalmers E. Moffett.  His successor from 1905 to 1907 was paid $314.83.  The office is still distributing mail in the area daily.  Gregory was named for J. S. Gregory, an early legislator and Indian agent.

Author Clarence Shoemaker, originally published in the Gregory-Times Advocate on January 29, 2020.

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