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Why Is Crooks South Dakota Named Crooks?

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I was born and raised in Minnesota, but I’ve lived in South Dakota for the large majority of my life, so for all intents and purposes, I am a proud South Dakotan.

I’ve had the good fortune of living all over this state over the past four decades plus, from the south central (Winner) to the northeast (Aberdeen) to the east central (Brookings/Volga) to the Black Hills (Rapid City) and now here in beautiful Sioux Falls.

But essentially, I am still a small town boy, just like I was as a kid living a mile outside a town of a couple hundred or so people. One of the things I love is history, whether American history or local/regional history. And South Dakota is filled with it!

Each area, each county, each town has a unique history. And often, a unique name! So the other day I was talking to a friend here at the radio ranch about South Dakota town names and one that came up was Crooks. One of the best communities in Minnehaha County, I’ve been to Crooks many times. And when talking to my buddy, we decided that Crooks was probably named Crooks because it was the home of so many Wild West Crooks! It most likely was the hide-out for everyone from Billy the Kid to Jesse James, there were probably crazy shootout’s on main street, bullet’s flying, dust swirling, I mean the really crazy stuff. The town probably became legendary for being filled with the most wanted outlaw’s in town, and that, of course, is why it was aptly named ‘Crooks’.

Well….that’s not exactly how ‘Crooks’ became ‘Crooks’, I went to the Crooks, South Dakota website and found the following:

In 1873, David O. Crooks with his parents, John Nelson Crooks and Caroline (Chesley) Crooks, his sister Harriet Elizabeth, and brothers Henry and Will, came to Dakota Territory and settled on the site of the present town of Crooks, South Dakota.

DO Crooks, then a lad of 19, secured a pre-emption and timber claim in the SW 1/4 of Sec. 2, Benton Twp., Range 50 in Minnehaha County.  (Palmira Park Addition is  located in the SW 1/4 of Section 2 today.)

The family were among the pioneers, moving here by ox team.  They built a sod house and stable for their first shelters.  For the next three years, a large number of emigrants moved in and settled near by and work was exchanged among the neighbors.  Thus the farming community of Crooks was begun.

The first Post Office was secured in 1876, and Ole Nelson who lived about a mile southwest was the first post master.  The office was called NEW HOPE after the town in Wisconsin where Mr. Nelson had formerly lived.

The first school meeting was held on the 29th of February, 1876 in District # 41. Prairie fires raged and the grasshoppers destroyed everything that was growing.

There’s a lot more on the beginning of Crooks, S.D.  Just click here and do yourself a favor, visit beautiful Crooks, South Dakota! And don’t worry, Crooks isn’t filled with ‘Crooks’, it’s filled with the friendliest people in the state of South dakota.

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