South Dakota Government records cover a broad range of genealogy subject areas that can help you as part of your research, such as land ownership, courts, taxes, and naturalization’s. Given that South Dakota court records cover such a wide selection of topics, they could aid you in many different ways. As an example, they could aid you in finding ancestors’ residences, identify occupations, locate financial information, determine citizenship status, or shed light on relationships between individuals. The whole thing relies upon on the type of court records that the ancestors” names show up in. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia.
South Dakota Courthouse records change extensively from county to county in both level of quality and volume. You will find different kinds of court records that are most likely to possess information related for your genealogical research below.
South Dakota Court Records
All guardianship, estate settlement, and probate matters were originally handled by the county courts in South Dakota. Those courts also handled some criminal and civil matters. Some of the depositions from criminal and civil cases were held by circuit courts, though. So were judgments, case files, juror lists, and naturalization records.
A unified judicial system was not created in South Dakota until November of 1972. At that time, judges became state supreme court judges or circuit court judges. District and county courts were eliminated. The Clerk of the Court in each county was often left with the records from those old court systems. However, some of the records have been moved to the South Dakota State Archives. The criminal dockets for several counties are also located there. Those counties are:
Beadle County (1919-1923), Jones, County (1919-1939), Mellette County (1912-1957), Minnehaha, County (1890-1896, 1923-1973), with Police Dockets (1884-1909). See Also Research In Court Records.
The Bureau of Land Management holds copies of township plats and tract books for South Dakota, along with original patents. The South Dakota State Historical Society has land claim tract books (1864 to 1915) on file, along with the the United States General, Land Office (GLO) files for 1905 to 1920 unapproved homesteads. After land had been granted by the federal government, each county’s Register of Deeds handled later transactions relating to that land. See Also Guide to U.S. Land Records Research
The county where each person resided should have the records relating to that person’s intestate proceedings or will in the office of the County Clerk of the Court. However, the Cultural Heritage Center is home to the State Archives and many of those records have been transferred to that location. They are organized by Unified Judicial System, Circuit Court, and Division of County.
The auditors office at the county seat in each county holds most old tax lists for that county. The South Dakota State Historical Society holds some early tax records on microfilm. That includes the records for “Old Stanley County,” which has since turned into the counties of Stanley, Jackson, and Haakon. Microfilmed tax records can be difficult to read. However, they do contain a lot of useful information, including juror selection information, personal and real property taxes, and docket books. The following tax records can also be found at the archives: Beadle County (1883-1902), Edmunds (1887-1924), Roberts, (1884-1929), Stanley (1891-1930), Union (1870-1901).
South Dakota contains 66 counties. Each county is the local level of government within its borders. The links in the table below link to county and city government offices and is limited to government-maintained websites. If you know of a South Dakota county that has an official government web site but is not linked, or if the link is in error, please contact us so we may edit our database. South Dakota State Government is located in South Dakota State Government is located in Pierre.
State of South Dakota County & City Government Links