Moody County, located in the southeastern part of South Dakota, is a hidden gem in the state's history, with a rich and intriguing past. Here are seven interesting facts about Moody County that you may not know.
1. It was named after a governor
Moody County was established in 1873 and named after Gideon C. Moody, the governor of Dakota Territory from 1880 to 1884. He was a Republican politician and served as a territorial delegate to the United States House of Representatives from 1885 to 1889.
2. Wild Bill Hickok lived here
Wild Bill Hickok, one of the legendary figures of the Wild West, lived in Moody County for a brief period in his life. He worked as a freighter and teamster during the gold rush days, and even served as a deputy sheriff in Yankton County nearby.
3. It was a hotbed for prohibition
In the early 20th century, Moody County was a well-known hotbed for anti-alcohol sentiment. In 1909, a group of women known as the "Petticoat Brigade" raided local saloons in Flandreau, the county seat, and destroyed their liquor stocks. This event is considered to be one of the first anti-alcohol actions in the lead up to Prohibition.
4. It was home to an early Native American boarding school
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the federal government established several boarding schools for Native American children, aimed at assimilating them into "white" culture. One of the schools, the Flandreau Indian School, was located in Moody County and opened in 1892. It operated until 1934 and was an important part of the county's history.
5. A famous artist called it home
Oscar Howe, one of the most celebrated Native American artists of the 20th century, was born in Moody County in 1915. He was a member of the Yanktonai Sioux tribe and his work is now held in numerous museums and collections around the world.
6. It had its own "gold rush"
In the late 19th century, the discovery of gold in the nearby Black Hills led to a rush of prospectors and miners to the region. However, Moody County also experienced its own "gold rush" of sorts in the early 1900s. Farmers and landowners discovered a type of soil called "glacial till" that was rich in agate and other semi-precious stones. As a result, many people flocked to the county to try and strike it rich.
7. It was home to a unique village
In the early 20th century, a group of people known as the "Ringers" established their own village in Moody County, called Ringer Colony. The group was led by a man named George Ringer, who believed that the end of the world was imminent and that his followers should prepare for it by living a communal lifestyle. The colony lasted for several years before ultimately disbanding.
Moody County may not be as well-known as some other parts of South Dakota, but it has a fascinating and diverse history that is well worth exploring. From Wild Bill Hickok to the Petticoat Brigade to the glacial till "gold rush," this county has played a unique role in the state's development and deserves to be remembered.
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