Custer - Civic Life & History
In the summer of 1874 traces of gold were discovered in French Creek, near the site of present day Custer, by miners attached to the U.S. Army Black Hills Expedition. A flood of illegal gold miners entered the Black Hills after the announcement of the gold discovery. Among the first settlers were 20 members of the Gordon Party. The settlers built a stockade and spent the winter in the Hills. The Army evicted the illegal settlers in April, 1875, but before they left, the group staked out the town of Custer, a one square mile district laid out by Thomas Hooper with a picket rope and pocket compass. Within months of their eviction by the Army, the settlers had stolen their way back into the Hills. As news of the gold discovery circulated, Custer grew quickly to 10,000 residents . After gold was discovered in May, 1876 in Deadwood Gulch fifty miles to the north, miners moved north and almost overnight Custer became a ghost town. For more information on the community's history, click here.
Arts & Culture
Museums, Libraries & Archives
The Custer County Library is located on Crook Street ½ block west of U.S. Highway 16 in Custer. The conveniently located library offers books, movies, sound recordings and reference materials. In addition, the library has computers for use by the public, including one exclusively for genealogical research, and regularly displays works by local artists and photographers. Services through the South Dakota State Library, such as South Dakota Titles to Go, which enables patrons to download e-books and audiobooks, are also available.
The Custer County 1881 Courthouse Museum in downtown Custer provides both a dynamic snapshot of life in the region, especially during pioneer days, and a host of activities to invite community members and visitors into a living relationship with history. Exhibits in the historic structure contain items of historical value arranged thematically. Among the themes developed are the Gen. George Custer expedition, mining, forestry and family life. The annual country fair, summer concerts and youth activities allow people to share the kinds of experiences their ancestors would have enjoyed.
Historical Photos and Documents Online
A number of historic photographs of Custer County are available from the Prints and Photographs Department, Library of Congress including Depression-era works by Arthur Rothstein and an 1890 image of Custer City by John Grabill. To see Grabil's photograph of Custer City in 1890, click here.
Custer City Cemetery
Custer City's website provides a layout with information on individuals buried in the Custer City Cemetery.