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.
- U.S. Circuit Court Criminal Case Files, 1790-1871 (search.ancestry.com)
- South Dakota Court Record Books (amazon.com)
South Dakota Land 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
South Dakota Probate Records
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 FHL has several records of Indian agency probate matters on file on microfilm. Others are available at the National Archives. See Also Guide to U.S. Probate Records Research
- South Dakota Probate Record Books (amazon.com)
South Dakota Tax Records
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).
Also included are the Walworth delinquent tax lists for years prior to 1899. See Also Guide to U.S. Tax Records Research
- South Dakota Tax Record Books (amazon.com)
South Dakota Immigration & Naturalization Records
The South Dakota State Historical Society has final papers, intent declarations, and petitions relating to naturalizations on file. See Also Guide to U.S. Immigration Records Research
- South Dakota Immigration Project (usgwarchives.net)
- South Dakota Immigration Record Books (amazon.com)
South Dakota County & City Government Links
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.