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Think Deadwood Was Wild in the 1870s? Try Yankton.

Edwin S. McCook
Gevik, Brian
/
Courtesy: South Dakota State Archives
Edwin S. McCook, Acting Governor of Dakota Territory, assassinated on Sept. 11, 1873.

This interview posted above is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

Early Deadwood's reputation as a raucous and unlawful place in the 1870s is well known and much deserved, but another of Dakota Territory's first towns was just as wild. When Dakota was opened to white settlement in 1859, businessmen, lawyers, and politicians of every stripe flocked to the brand new town of Yankton seeking once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to grab land, cut deals with the railroads coming west, and above all, write laws and policies for their own benefit.

Crystal Nelson is the executive director of the Yankton County Historical Society and spoke recently with Images of the Past producer Brian Gevik about a political environment that was so toxic, it cost a Territorial Governor his life.

You can see a few pictures of early Yankton and read a transcript of a longer interview with Crystal Nelson at sdpb.org/imagesofthepast