James M. Wahl

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James M. Wahl (Given name: Jens Magnus Wahl) (January 7, 1846 - February 9, 1939) was a Norwegian American settler and the first legislator of Lincoln County, South Dakota serving in the Dakota Territorial Legislature.[1] He named the city of Canton, South Dakota.[2]

Wahl was born on Storvahl, in Nærøy parish, in Nærøy municipality, Norway. He was a resident of the United States for 73 years. He emigrated to La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1867 from Nord-Trøndelag County, Norway. He attended West Salem Seminary in La Crosse, Wisconsin and upon completion moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He served as a guide to immigrants coming to Lincoln County, South Dakota from Norway for many years. He later moved to the Sioux Valley arriving on April 23, 1868 in Canton, South Dakota. He filed for a homestead on the very piece of property on which the county courthouse stands today.

Among many contributions to the community, Wahl assisted with the organization of Bethlehem Lutheran church, organized bringing the Augustana College from Beloit, Iowa, to Canton, and writing a 277 page record of local settlement.[3]


  1. ^ South Dakota Historical Listing Legislator Detail James M. Wahl
  2. ^ Norwegian-American guide 2006-07
  3. ^ James M. Wahl: Earliest Co. Pioneer Dies (Sioux Valley News, Sioux Falls South Dakota) February 9, 1939