Explore Eden, South Dakota

History of Eden

It began in 1895 just after John and Karolina Kotschaver built a small store on the northeast corner of their land located in Eden Township, Marshall County. This is also when they sold lots for the town of Eden Park, now known as Old Eden. Old Eden had a small general store, feed mill, post office, saloon and dance hall. Kotschaver donated 10 acres to build St Joseph's Catholic Church, which suffered financial hardships and a tornado in 1902. It was slowly rebuilt only to be torn down after the town ceased to exist. The interior furnishings became a part of St Joseph's Catholic Church in Lake City and the lumber was sold to Fred Wilgers. 

In 1909, residents renamed the town Eden Park because of its scenic beauty. In 1917, Eden Township was split and the north portion was named Lake Township. The only thing visible of Old Eden or Eden Park is the cemetery. The birthday of the oldest marker is Mikel Opitz, born in 1832 and died in 1915. The first recorded death was George Janisch Sr. in 1905. When the railroad came in 1914, the town of Eden Park no longer existed. The sale of lots for the new town named Eden was held on August 19, 1914 just as the railroad was being built. Eighty acres of land was purchased for the townsite- 40 from Math Unger and 40 from Lewis Sommers. The highest price paid for a lot was $1025.00 and the lowest was $310.00.

The first documented records for Eden are for January 1916. L.V. Warring, P.B. Carlson and Mike Snider were the board of directors with Oscar Hagen as clerk. The first town Marshalls in 1916 were Jess Hanon and Toby Weyer. For street building wages were 50 cents per hour. The town hall was on Lot 14, Block 18 and it also held the telephone office and jail. Some of the telephone operators were Lena Samson, Gladys Ellenbecker and Willie Michlitsch, plus many others. Also in 1916, the first as street lights were installed at a cost of $14.80 per light and for $2200.00 the school was built, Marie Haugen was the teacher. On Block 15 in Eden the first building was the Sommers Pool Hall and dance, then the Post Office and Printing Shop, operated by Johns Bauer, the postmaster and editor of the Eden Times newspaper. The next building was a drug store owned by Harry Sherin and then a merchandise building, Kuntz Barber Shop, and a hardware store owned by George Nelson and Frank Thomas. There was also Eden State Bank, a livery stable, Eden Hotel, Farmers Lumber, Standard Oil and the blacksmiths shop, just to name a few.

1916 was the year the first Model T sold, by Silas Nelson, for $390.00 cash. They had to teach their customers how to drive. Both the town hall and fire hall were built at the same time in 1917 at a cost of $107.00 per hour. The following year in 1918 the Eden Volunteer Fire Department was organized. The fire department held the biggest social event of the year, the Fireman's Ball. Local and long distance telephone calls were made possible in 1923 due to Langford Telephone Company. In 1928, a contract was approved for Otter Tail Power Company to furnish power for the town.

Many of the people who came to this area were later sponsors for those who came later to this area. The sponsors were some of our ancestors from Austria-Hungary, Norway, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark. Sponsors paid the fare for that person who in return worked off their debt.

Welcome from the Eden Mayor and City Council. We hope you enjoy your visit! From left to right Joe Fox, Stuart Samson, Carol Lee Michlitsch and Mayor Mary Dunn.
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