Located in Edmunds County in South Dakota, the City & Township of Ipswich are situated at 45° 26’ 42” N 99° 1’ 49” W. The Township of Ipswich is a square block of territory completely surrounding the City and should not be confused with the latter as they are separate units of local government in the USA. In 1873 the territorial legislature of Dakota divided the territory into rectangular units of six by six miles called “townships”. These remained without a name until a settlement had been established. If the settlement chose to be incorporated as a city it could only exercise jurisdiction within the city limits. It would then be removed from the Township jurisdiction which continued to be exercised over the remaining area of the township. To add to the confusion, the office of the Township is in the City of Ipswich, the only settlement, the inhabitants of the township living in isolated farmsteads.
Population:- As at 2020, the population of the City of Ipswich was 859, and that of the Township 53.
How to get there:-
By road: US Highway 12 runs east to west through the city of Ipswich, while State Highway 45 runs north to south. From Sioux Falls take Interstate Highway 90 west, then US Highway 281 north to Aberdeen, then west on US Highway 12. From Bismarck, North Dakota take Interstate Highway 94 east, then US Highway 83 south to intersection with US Highway 12, before heading east.
By Rail: The Milwaukee Railroad runs east to west through Ipswich. No other details of services or schedules available.
There are no international airports in South Dakota. The nearest regional airport is at Aberdeen.Time Zone: Central Standard Time (GMT -6 hrs). Daylight saving time in summer + 1 hr.
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No one really knows what tribes lived in South Dakota before about 1500, other than the ancestors of the present Arikara and Mandan, who migrated up the Missouri valley probably in the 13th century. They were farmers rather than nomadic hunters, so they tended to keep to the more fertile Missouri valley in the central part of present-day North and South Dakota, rather than on the Plains.
In the early 17th century, the Siouan-speaking Omaha, Ponca, and perhaps the Iowa and Oto moved into eastern South Dakota. The name “Sioux” is a French abbreviation from the Chippewan word “Nadowessioux” which means “treacherous snake” or “enemy”. However, the Sioux generally call themselves “Lakota” or “Dakota”, meaning “friends” or “allies”. The Chippewa/Ojibwe, armed with guns by their French allies, gradually forced the Lakota westward out of the forests of Minnesota and onto the Great Plains west of the Mississippi. There the Lakota Sioux acquired horses and adopted a nomadic existence, hunting buffalo on the high plains of the Dakotas. By 1700 they had occupied much of present-day North and South Dakota, east of the Missouri River. The Dakota Sioux do not seem to have gone out onto the plains until a little later, near the end of the 17th century. By 1800 the Sioux peoples occupied virtually the entire territory of North and South Dakota.
The Sioux were a confederacy of several tribes that spoke three different dialects: the Lakota, Western Dakota and Eastern Dakota. The smallest of the three groups were the Western Dakota, comprising two main tribes of the Yankton and Yanktonai, who primarily resided in South Dakota, North Dakota and northwest Iowa, between the other two groups. The location of Ipswich is in the former territory of this group. The Western Dakota linguistic group was formerly known as the “Nakota” on the presumption that this was what they called themselves. This has now been found to be erroneous. Both the Santee and the Yankton/Yanktonai refer to themselves as “Dakota”. The name “Nakota” is exclusively used by the Assiniboine tribe. The tribal names mean “village at the end of the territory” (Yankton) and “little village at the end of the territory” (Yanktonai). By the early 19th century their hunting grounds were on the plains west of the Red River and east of the Missouri River & the Yanktonai had divided into two sub-tribes: the Upper Yanktonai & the Hunkpatina or Lower Yanktonai. It was in the territory of the Lower Yanktonai that Ipswich would later be located, around 38 miles west of the James River. The way of life of the Yankton and Yanktonai was more sedentary than that of the Sioux further to the west. They lived most of the time in permanent villages of earth lodges and they also cultivated crops.
In April 1858 the Yankton Sioux surrendered their territory to the United States and retired to the Yankton Reservation in southeast South Dakota. The Yanktonai tribes did not join in the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862 in neighbouring Minnesota. However, the US Army was looking to punish any Sioux who they believed had participated in the “Uprising”, and this resulted in the Whitestone Hill Massacre in North Dakota in which between 100 & 300 native men, women and children were killed, with 156 more taken captive. Those who did survive fled west across the Missouri River.
On 28 October 1865 separate treaties were made with the United States by the Upper and Lower Yanktonai, ceding their lands to the United States. Some of the bands within the Yanktonai held aloof, but these finally settled in the Treaty of Fort Laramie on 29th April 1868, and the follow-up Treaty of Fort Rice, 2nd July 1868, ordered all of them to move to reservations.
There was one notable chief who held out. That was Drifting Goose (Magabobdu) who refused to sign any treaties relinquishing the homelands of his people. His band numbered some 300 whose permanent camp was on Armadale Island in the James River just southeast of Aberdeen, and whose traditional hunting grounds included the location of Ipswich. But, surviving during harsh winters, with dwindling buffalo resources and constant pressure from the government, became increasingly difficult, and he too had eventually to face the inevitable. In 1878 Drifting Goose and his band finally moved to the Crow Creek Reservation in central South Dakota.
First settled on 2 October 1883 with the coming of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul railway to the area, the name Ipswich is said to have been given by Charles H. Prior, the superintendent of this part of the railway, who “named it after Ipswich, England, his home town.” However, the home town of Charles Prior was Plainfield, Connecticut, and not Ipswich, England. Moreover, Charles Prior left New England when he was an infant and had no connections with any of the Ipswiches. Charles Prior was instrumental in naming Ipswich in his capacity as the town site agent for the railroad, and his name appears on the paperwork. An article in the newspaper Edmunds County Democrat in August 1909 clearly states that “Ipswich was named by Mr Merrill, general manager of the railroad, after the town in Massachusetts”. It is more likely to have been given this name by Charles Prior on the actual suggestion of George W Sanborn, who was at that time the superintendent of the southern part of the railroad in Dakota Territory, and the nephew of Mr Merrill.
The Sanborn family was prominent in the railway business. Sherburn Sanborn Merrill was part of the original syndicate that purchased the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul railway in 1861 and he remained a member of the executive board of the railway until his death in 1884. His nephew, George W Sanborn, was a prominent figure in the railroad construction business in the Dakotas & Iowa. George Sanborn had started on the railroads in 1854 in Wisconsin & held the position of superintendent of the Iowa & Dakota division of the C. M. & St P. Railway from 1874 until 1888. Sanborn County in South Dakota is named after him. His brother, Sherburn Sanborn, was also a superintendent of a railway. All three had towns in the American mid-West named after them.
Although the Sanborn family lived in Bath, New Hampshire, in the 1830s, the family hometown was further east in that state, in Hampton, which is only about 20 miles north of Ipswich, Massachusetts & approximately 55 miles from New Ipswich. The Sanborn ancestors arrived in America in 1632 and lived briefly at Boston and Ipswich, Massachusetts, before finally settling in Hampton in 1638. The name Sanborn is very common in this area of New England.
Ipswich is known as “The Home of the Yellowstone Trail”. In April 1912, Ipswich resident JW ‘Joe’ Parmley gathered together local influential men from the area for a meeting. Their initial aim was to build a good road from Ipswich to Aberdeen, 25 miles away. However, their ambitions soon increased & in a few weeks the intentions expanded to take the route to the famous Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. By October 1912, when the Yellowstone Trail Association was founded, the aim had broadened still further, with the intention being to build a coast to coast transcontinental highway from Massachusetts to Washington State, or ‘a good road from Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound’ as they described it.
At the time, the Federal Government were supporting the growth of the railways, but auto roads, especially long distance ones, were still not much more than dirt tracks in many areas.
The Yellowstone Trail Association didn’t actually build the roads, but set up local chapters in the towns & states that the proposed route would take; lobbying local government, providing instruction & guidance to local people, & promoting tourism. Its headquarters eventually moved to Minneapolis.
Joseph William Lincoln Parmley was born in 1861 in Mifflin, Wisconsin. In 1883, Parmley, along with two other pioneers, established the settlement of Roscoe, around 15 miles west of Ipswich. With the construction of the railroad, Parmley & his family moved to Ipswich, & with the organisation of Edmunds County in 1883, he was appointed superintendent of schools. He passed the South Dakota bar examination in 1887 & was twice elected to the state legislature in 1905 & 1907. He would eventually serve Edmunds County as Register of Deeds, County Clerk & County Judge, as well as running, unsuccessfully, for US Congress as a Republican.
As well as becoming the “Father of the Yellowstone Trail” (see above), Parmley was instrumental in establishing several newspapers in the area: The Edmunds County Weekly News, The Roscoe Herald, & The South Dakota Tribune. He later merged these to become the Ipswich Tribune, which he sold in 1911, & which is still in existence today. He also owned the Edmunds County Abstract Co., which was based at the Parmley Western Land Office in Main Street. Built in 1900, the Land Office is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, & since 2005 has been open as a museum. Exhibits include items from early 20th century businesses.
Parmley also owned farmland to the north of Ipswich, where he kept a large herd of Shetland ponies. His house, which he & his family lived in from 1920 onwards, still stands today along Highway 45. Since 1980 it has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places, & in 1983 it opened as a museum, exhibiting pioneer artifacts & memorabilia that were once housed in the Edmunds County Museum. Both the house & the land office are now maintained by the JW Parmley Historical Home Society. Admission to the museums is free, & they are open three days a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Parmley died in December 1940. He was entered into the South Dakota Highway Hall of Fame in 1972, & the South Dakota Cowboy and Western Heritage Hall of Fame in 1981.
Marcus P Beebe was born in Sandusky, New York in June 1854. He & his family moved to Ipswich in 1884, where he founded & became the first president of the Bank of Ipswich. He died in 1914.
Although there had been a library in Ipswich since 1886, a new building was designed in 1930 by architect Allen E Erickson & opened the following year as the Marcus P Beebe Memorial Library; having been presented to the town by his widow. It is situated on Main Street.
Now sitting in front of the Marcus P Beebe Memorial Library on Main Street, the five ton Medicine Rock, or Prayer rock is a glacial boulder originally discovered near Mobridge, South Dakota, around 68 miles from Ipswich. Believed by the Native Americans to be the work of the ‘Wakan’ or Great Spirit, & a symbol of great power, the rock has human hands etched on it; which they are thought to have placed their own hands on whilst praying.
Built in 1919 to honour the men of Edmunds County who fought in the First World War, the Memorial Arch originally spanned US Highway 12; the only arch in the country erected over a national highway. Due to the volume of modern day traffic, however, it has since been relocated to the side of the road in City Park, at the junction of Highway 12 with 8th Street.
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The Ipswich Pioneer Village is a collection of restored country building’s of historical significance dating back to the pioneer days. Started in 1969 by the Ipswich Flower and Garden Club, the first building acquired was the Powell School, along with some of its contents. Other buildings that have been moved to the present site include the Owen Building, Schwall House, a replica of the Congregational Church, Loyalton Post Office, & the Print Shop, the latter housing a printing press dating from 1865 & originally owned by the Ipswich Tribune newspaper. Tours of the Pioneer Village are available during the summer months by appointment.
Situated eight miles (13 km) southwest of Ipswich on the Missouri Plateau are the Ipswich Grasslands. The plateau stretches along the eastern side of the valley of the Missouri River and is an elevated prairie landscape of glacial origin with low, poorly drained, undulating hills with numerous wetland depressions. It is unsuitable for intensive agriculture.
The Ipswich Grasslands is the name given to 680 acres of some of North America’s most important waterfowl breeding habitat that has been set aside as part of the Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP). In 2003 Congress passed a Farm Bill that introduced the Grasslands Reserve Program to help protect America’s vanishing native prairie and to provide incentives for landowners to protect, restore and enhance grasslands on their property in order to create wildlife friendly areas. The goal is to prevent such land from being converted into cropland or used for urban development. Enrolled land must be in parcels that exceed 40 acres and technical assistance is provided to restore the grasslands.
The tract has an abundance of wildlife ranging from various waterfowl species, upland game birds such as pheasants and sharp-tailed grouse, white-tailed deer, in addition to a wide variety of migrating water birds. The Ipswich Grasslands (see photograph, above) is perpetually protected with US Fish & Wildlife Service easements to ensure productive habitat for years to come.
The land has been acquired by Ducks Unlimited (DU). This is an international nonprofit organisation dedicated to the conservation of wetlands and associated upland habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife. However, this organisation was founded in 1937 in the USA by waterfowl hunters intent on preserving their recreational interests, and remains a pro-hunting organisation. After Ducks Unlimited acquires a property, any needed grassland or wetland restorations are performed and the land is protected in perpetuity with conservation easements. Ducks Unlimited attempts to find suitable conservation buyers to purchase the land once habitat restorations are complete and protection is in place. Anti-hunting groups, therefore, accuse DU of simply aquiring land, making it attractive for the breeding of ducks, then selling the land to the shooting fraternity for the ducks to be shot.
This property was named Ipswich Grasslands in 2003 when Ducks Unlimited began their restoration of the land. Since then there have been annual auctions of tracts that have been improved, and these have come into individual ownership. The new owner has to observe the regulations appertaining to the preservation of the natural wildlife environment, and there are strict limitations on any structures and tracks erected on the land.
Ipswich is the seat of Edmunds County, which lies in the northern part of South Dakota. It is surrounded by the counties of Mcpherson, Brown, Spink, Faulk, Potter & Walworth. Ipswich is one of thirty two civil townships (units of local government) in the county & is approximately 25 miles west of Aberdeen.
Edmunds County’s main industry is agriculture, with cattle & corn being its main focus. However, wheat, beans, flax & sunflowers are also grown commercially here. The terrain is flat farmland with very few hills.
The county was named after New Yorker Newton Edmunds, the second Governor of Dakota Territory, who was appointed by President Lincoln in 1863 and served until 1866. Edmunds County was created in 1873, but the first actual settlement didn't take place until October 1882. The county was officially organised on 26th July 1883 at the township of Edmunds, which became the first county seat. With the establishment of Ipswich on the railroad in 1883, the people of Edmunds moved to the new town, until only one house remained at the county seat. The commissioners met in this house on 1st November 1883, when the county seat was changed from Edmunds to Ipswich.