Beresford History

History of Beresford, South Dakota as found at freepages.



Following the end of the Civil War, thousands of people settled in Dakota Territory during the years 1871 and 1872. If certain requirements were met, the government gave title to land to these people. These settlers faced many hardships; and, those who remained went on to transform the land into farms.

In 1872, the family of Eli Ricard was the first to settle on a homestead in section five of Prairie Township of what is now Union County. This land became the original location of what is now the town of Beresford. As early as 1873, this small town known as Paris, Dakota Territory. Mr. Ricard operated the Paris Post Office from the frame house he built on his homestead.

In the fall of 1882, it became known that the Iroquois-Hawarden line of the Central division of the Chicago and North Western had built its grade to a point near the Big Sioux River and would be extending it through in the spring of 1883. It was also announced that a town would be established in the area at that time. Mr. Ricard was reported to have offered the rail road company 80 acres if they would build the railroad across the area where Paris was located. Subsequently, the railroad was built along Elie Ricard’s claim. The surveyor laid out the plat of the town with the assistance of Patrick H. Farley, who helped carry the chain. Beresford was named after Lord Beresford by English capitalists interested in the railroad. The town was not formally incorporated until July 12, 1884.

In the spring of 1883, farmers pushed in to establish a number of businesses in Beresford. The first structure in the pioneer town was the saloon built and operated by D. C. Choquette. This structure was later destroyed by a fire. The second structure was a drug store built by G. S. Joscelyn on the west side of Third Street. This structure was later moved and used as a work shop; and, it was still standing as recently as 1934. The J. W. Reedy residence was believed to have been the first home built in Beresford. When J. N. Wass came to Beresford, he counted a total of seventeen structures.

There were a number of other pioneers in Beresford. J. R. Carleton established the “Beresford News” in 1883 and was the town’s first newspaper editor. Charley Sundling was the first mail carrier. David Stephen was Beresford’s first postmaster and first merchant. Eli Ricard was the first furniture dealer who also had a stock of coffins. W. J. Byrnes of Canton operated the first hotel. Beresford’s first doctor was Dr. R. A. Hill. George Bruehler was the town’s first harness maker. Lars Rasmussen operated the Beresford’s first meat market. Jerry and J. L. Reedy operated the first hardware store. Walt Palmer and Mr. Churchill had Beresford’s first livery stable. J. E. Sinclair was the first grain buyer. J. H. Queal and F. M. Slagle established Beresford’s first lumber yards. Thomas Kane Miller was the first shoe cobbler and barber. C. R. Nylen worked for J. C. Jocelyn as Beresford’s first pharmacist. Thomas Malloy was the first section boss. C. A. Potter was Beresford’s first banker as well as founder of the town’s first electric light plant, which failed due to a lack of funds. Morris and Tina Ryan owned and operated the city’s first telephone exchange.


  • “An Historical Review of the Early Days In the Settlement Which We Now Know As Beresford.” Beresford Republic 9 Aug. 1934: 1-2.
  • Centennial Book Committee, ed. Beresford 1884-1984. Beresford, SD: Beresford Republic and Lennox Independent, 1983.
  • Peterson, Mrs. C. O. Beresford’s 75th Diamond Jubilee. Bersford, SD: Beresford Republic, 1959.
  • “Third Street Beresford, in an Early Day, 1884.” Beresford Republic. 26 Jan. 1922: 1.