With his name affixed to a downtown park in Rapid City, James Halley is remembered for his generosity in donating the land to the community. But according to a City of Rapid City document dated November 14, 1939 the former Rapid City mayor and businessman may simply have let the City take the land in exchange the back taxes he owned on the property.
The 1939 document shows that the land for Halley Park had been purchased by the city from several private citizens, including James Halley. However, Halley had given a quit-claim deed to the city for his portion of the park, likely due to the unpaid taxes on his portion of the land from 1890 to 1916. In the end, the city had purchased the land for Halley Park for nearly $3,200 and no portion of the park had been donated.
The document further states that Mr. Halley had likely been eager to sell the plot of land to be “clear of the ownership and obligation of the small block as it would have been of no value for practical purposes at that time.”
To read more about the history of Halley Park, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s digital archive.