Armstrong County, South Dakota

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Armstrong County is the name shared by two defunct counties that existed in Dakota Territory and South Dakota from 1873 to 1879 and again from 1883 to 1952.

Armstrong County (original)[edit]

Armstrong was first created by the Dakota Territorial Legislature in 1873 in the southeastern part of the state, taking its territory from Charles Mix County and Hutchinson County. The county was short lived and never fully organized. In 1879 it was annexed into Hutchinson County.[1]

Armstrong County (South Dakota)[edit]

In 1883 Dakota Territory created a new county west of the Missouri River and named it Pyatt County.[2] The county was formed from unorganized lands and parts of Cheyenne, Dewey (then named Rusk) and Stanley Counties.[1] The county was never formally organized, and was attached to Stanley County for governmental purposes. In 1895, the county was renamed Armstrong in honor of Moses K. Armstrong, a pioneer in the territory who lobbied for territorial organization and later served in the Territorial Legislature and as a territorial delegate to the United States House of Representatives.[2] The county originally covered much of the southern part of what is now the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. In 1898 part of the county was annexed to Stanley County to the south. The western portion was lost when Ziebach County was created in 1911.[1][2]

In 1940 Armstrong was the only county in the nation without a post office.[3] A decade later it had the distinction of being the only county in the United States without a single civilian federal employee. Spiritual Mobilization, a group opposed to government spending, wrote a song about it:[4]

All Hail to Armstrong, South Dakota,
Land of the Free
You have yet to fill your quota
With a Federal Employee!
No one from Agriculture?
How do you farm?
No one from Justice?
Who keeps you from harm?
No one from Veterans?
By whom are you paid?
No one from Commerce?
How do you trade?
No one from Housing?
Who buildeth your shacks?
No one from Treasury?
Who takes your tax?
No one from Post Office?
Who sells your stamp supply?
No one from Military?
Who keeps your powder dry?
And no one from Security?
How, then, can you be social?
If you have no single bureaucrat
To decide things equivocal?
Even the Department of the Interior
Is from Armstrong’s roster missed.
Tell me, Armstrong County,
How do you exist?
All Hail to Armstrong County,
Where there’s no ‘share the pelf,’
And despite the Welfare Staters,
Each does things for himself!

In World War II parts of the county were used for aerial gunnery practice. During that conflict the county lost one citizen who was killed in action.[5] In the United States Presidential election of 1944, every eligible person in the county (100%) voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt.[6]

In 1952, given its small population and with much of the best landed flooded by the Oahe Dam, the county was abolished and annexed into the southern part of Dewey County.[7]

Demographics[edit]

Armstrong County
Population by year

1900 - 8
1910 - 647
1920 - ?
1930 - 80
1940 - 42
1950 - 52

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Long, John H. (2006). "Dakota Territory, South Dakota, and North Dakota: Individual County Chronologies". Dakota Territory Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. The Newberry Library. 
  2. ^ a b c Federal Writers' Project (1940). South Dakota Place-Names, Part I: State, County, and Town Names. Vermillion, South Dakota: University of South Dakota. OCLC 34885177. 
  3. ^ No Post Office
  4. ^ Hail to Armstrong County
  5. ^ Armstrong County, South Dakota World War II Casualties Army and Air Force
  6. ^ 1944 Presidential Election Statistics
  7. ^ Text of Ziebach Co., SD History: Armstrong County
  • CensusFinder. [1] South Dakota Census Records. (accessed October 16, 2006)]
  • US Bureau of the Census. [2] SOUTH DAKOTA - Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990. (accessed October 16, 2006)]