The Verendrye Museum in Fort Pierre is named for Louis and Chevalier Verendrye, two French brothers who explored the upper reaches of the Missouri River.

1905 Stanley County Jail

Fort Pierre, South Dakota

Stanley County 1905 Jail, Fort Pierre, South Dakota

  • After Fort Pierre won the county seat, in 1890, the county rented office space and then built a small building/hall.
  • In 1907, they decided to build a new brick courthouse (concrete walls are 8” thick) on the corner of First Street and Main Avenue. This was where they had built the Old Jail in 1905 for $400, in its present location.
  • Sheriffs utilizing the Jail: Andrew Feeney 1903-1907 and George S. Huston 1907-1911.
  • In 1911, C. E. Coyne was elected Sheriff and he offered Frank Norman the job as Deputy Sheriff.
  • At that time, the Deputy Sheriff was called a Jailer (paid $55 a month). Frank moved his family into the basement of the courthouse, which was previously the location of the County Agent’s office. Frank’s wife, Jessie provided the meals (she received $.25/meal) for the prisoners. In those days, it was necessary to have someone live near to keep watch over the prisoners. (Source: Prairie Progress in West Central SD and A Bridge Apart)
  • The Jail held a number of rowdy & law-breaking robbers/outlaws like “Notorious horse thief Buff George!” Rumor has it there may have been murderers housed here too!  Many folks say, “If only those walls could talk, we would get a great History lesson!”
  • The Jail is one of the oldest buildings in Fort Pierre, which is located at its original site.
  • Nowadays, tourists, local residents, especially the small children, enjoy visiting the old Jail and snapping a picture being ‘jailed’ behind the barred door.

An unusual circumstance occurred in 1921 as documented from an excerpt in the Pierre Capital Journal, December 17, 1921.

“Many residents had the opportunity to view a full grown mountain lion which is being held in the Fort Pierre Jail as a result of a trip taken by Andy Leonard and Hugh Schultz to Kalispell in the Judith Basin of Montana.  They were there selling buffalo for butchering and managed to return to Fort Pierre with a mountain lion.

The rancher who bought the buffalo told them that for $25 he could guarantee them a mountain lion.  The deal was agreed to and the rancher and his Airdale dogs went to complete the deal, treeing the lion.  A wire loop was thrown about the cat’s neck nearly choking it until it fell out of the tree, then it was secured , crated and taken to the railroad station where is was shipped to Fort Pierre.

If the lion was a ferocious wild one, it became quickly settled and acted as wild as a pet house cat.  Some who have observed it claim it purrs, stretches and plays just like a cat– although it is a wild animal and beautiful!  Andy Leonard intends to send it to the Longfellow Gardens in Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “