Located in south central South Dakota along Highways 18, 183 and 44, Winner is the county seat of Tripp County. With a population of 3,137, the city covers approximately 922.5 acres and is 1,920ft. above sea level. Winner was part of the famous Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and later part of the Dakota Territory, which was established by an act of Congress and a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861. Winner was so named because it was the "winner" in the struggle to establish a town along the railroad right-of-way when the Chicago North Western began moving west from Dallas, SD in 1909.
At first Lamro, which was then the county seat, was believed to have the best chance but the railroad survey missed the established township by only two miles and immediately a new town was organized and was given the name Winner.
Winner is a good place to do business having the best utility rates in the state. Over 300 businesses are active in the Winner community. The Winner School district is rated level 1 by the South Dakota Division of Education with the High School accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and High Schools. Winner is home to a Regional Healthcare Center and two modern assisted living centers. Recent capital improvements in the city include a new main street, a new 4,500ft. concrete runway at the airport, and a new Fire Hall / Ambulance building facility with training room.
A TOWN IS BORN - WINNER
The wind-blown prairie of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, which had been opened to settlement and named Tripp County, gave little promise of developing into the present city of Winner. It was not set as a gem in the midst of fertile farm lands and livestock production, nor could the most vivid imagination conceive of the industrious and enterprising settlers, who would come from all parts of our great country to establish homes here; make the virgin soil blossom as the rose; and the dream of a smiling and self-sustaining land a reality.
The first county-seat of Tripp County was at Lamro, a town platted in July, 1907, by the Lamoureaux Townsite Company, on Dog Ear Creek two and a half miles southwest of the current city of Winner. It was put here in anticipation of the time when the Chicago and North-Western railroad would extend its line west of Dallas. The town grew rapidly and had a court house, post office, school, hotel, and stores. Arthur B. Brown was the first post master, but Atty. C. E. Talbott was the first presidential appointee by Taft in 1910.
When the railroad missed the town, running its survey two miles north, its aggressive citizens saw only one solution to their dilemma. Their solution was to move the town to the new location. Opinion was divide, and while eventually they all did move, the smoldering embers of this feud lived for many years.
The Western Townsite Company at Winner offered special inducements to those willing to move, and gave sites for the Methodist, Episcopal, and Catholic churches; two entire blocks for a city park, and a block where the Middle School Building now stands, and the courthouse block.
A lot sale was held in December of 1909 and many Lamro buildings were moved, but the business at the courthouse and stores in Lamro, still drew much trade there during 1910. A spirited election on November,8, 1910 as to where the permanent county seat should be located. After solicitors had combed every homestead shack for votes, the result was 1553 votes for Winner, 1010 for Colome, and 141 for Lamro.
J. L. Lynn using a steam engine with Jack Ogden and George Best assisting with 72 horses, moved the courthouse from Lamro to Winner, amid deep snows, and set it on the north corner of Third Street at Madison. On January 15, 1911 it burned, destroying all records of the Auditor and Treasure. Some frame buildings were then assembled on the courthouse block across the street to the east, and served the county in a makeshift way This new building was hard to heat and leaked. Later a new $200,000 courthouse was built when John G. Mackaman, O. E. Farnsworth and A. G. Ivers were the county commissioners.
The first post office was a small building on East Second Street, with Don Sinclair as postmaster. He also took care of a few telephones until Miss Olive Pitshford came over from Lamro. She then had the distinction of being the first telephone manager in Winner's first telephone office which was in a building on East Third Street.
The Lamro schoolhouse, was placed on the schoolhouse block. As the town grew other building were rented for school purposes, until the Central school was built. Miss Lottie Hilliard was the first teacher.
A bird's-eye view of Winner's west Main Street in early years, would have shown at the corner of Fourth and Main, south, the Smith and McGreevy Grocery. Beyond it a frame building was half occupied by the Doherty and Talbott law firm, the other half by united States Commissioner, F. M. Ziebach, who issued government deeds to the homesteaders. The next building was the G. P. Love Jewelry store, Mr. Love being also a Justice of the Peace. Opposite the Smith Grocery, north on Main Street was the Kisling Store, later known as the Cross-Road Store.
A newspaper owned by W. E. Bridgman in Lamro was moved to a building on Second Street in Winner. After a succession of owners it was called The Tripp County Journal, the first Winner newspaper. Willis Grieves soon started another paper, The Winner Advocate. This was started in a building north of the Kisling store, and for twenty six years the two editors worked together for the good of the community.
Next came the Shaver Hardware Store, the Toggery Pool hall and Miller's Drug Store. Dr. Miller and Dr. Hooker were the pioneer physicians. Geo. Bailey later bought this store. The Smoke Shop, Anna Hamm's millinery, the Klos Meat market and Winner Hotel completed the block. To Third Street were a few doors to the west, C. O. Hilliard had opened a tin shop. From Third Street north, the buildings were Buckios Sweet Shop, an office building, a bank, and the Wagner Drug store which was operated in Lamro by Wagner and McCann , but moved to Winner. A Variety Store, the Beaulieu Hardware, the Fish Furniture Store, the Roe General Store, Kendall's Restaurant and the Dewell Clothing stores, and a frame building at the corner of Second Street, completed that block. In 1913 a fire burned most of this block, but it was soon rebuilt.
Across the street east of the Z. Smith Grocery on Fourth Street stood the Mitchell Bank, and across to the north, the Ketchmark Store, Cosmo Theatre owned by Clark Lakin, DeBuhr Bakery, Pullman Cafe, Reads Bowling Alley and Pool Hall, Thomas and Sleezer Saloon, J. H. Philips Hotel, Matson Clothing Store and the Security Bank, where George Kares opened the first Insurance Agency. This bank was later taken over by the Farmers State Bank of Witten, of which W. H. Rahn was president.
North across Third Street stood a dwelling house, where the Chas Owen family lived many years. Mr. Owen had a land office and Insurance business. Next came a two story brick built by Nick Milosh, then the Leinhart Photo Studio, Admanson's Meat Market, Antiseptic Barber Shop, and a building where M. K. Nolan sold farm implements. The north side of the structure was occupied by the Keller and Sjoblom Real Estate office. Others in this block were Koch's Saloon, Asquith and Pugh Clothing Store, Red Arrow Garage, and Beck's Spot Cash Store. After the Barnum building was built the Bank of Winner stood at the corner of Second and main Street, while across Second Street north was a frame building moved in from Jordan which was also a bank. The Fauble Furniture Store was also on this block.
E. G. Barnum erected the large brick building at the corner of Main Street as the principal thoroughfare of Winner. He was also the originator and booster for Winner's excellent water system. His idea of piping water seven miles south of Winner from springs, took several years to appear feasible. The housewives of our city who were using water, had Jim Woodward haul the water from Lamro in a tank and deposit it at their back doors in barrels. These women were Barnum's ardent supporters and year later his accomplishment called forth a well deserved tribute, written by the late Dr. L. C. Davis and published in a city directory by the Tripp County Journal.
When J. H. Daily was Mayor of Winner, aided by the Winner Women's Club, and John Conway, the development of our city park began.
THE NEW TOWN "WINNER"
If the railroad misses you hit the railroad has been the policy of the pioneer town builders of the Rosebud country.
Lamro was moved two and a half miles to the Jim Biggins allotment which was purchased by the Western Townsite Company, (Jackson Bros.), and the wisdom of each move is now a matter of history. There is no country where people are more loyal to their town than the Rosebud country.
While Lamro was fighting to keep their town from moving, a group of Winner boosters held a meeting to decide on a name for the new town. It was E.G. Barnum who told the fellows to be careful about naming, because he thought this town would be the winner, therefore it should be a good name.
Claude Maule said it was then decided to name the town Winner, which was the luckiest of all towns in Tripp County.
Next was the fight for the County seat which was a bitter one. Many of the detail are given in the Dennis B. Lyons story. In other words Winner has been accused of staling the records, than moving the court house.
November 4, 1910 - The commissioners listened to the petition of more than twenty representative citizens of Tripp County to place Winner on the ballot a candidate for county seat; the law said they should act, and they acted. From rumor, only the board knew that Lamro and Colome were candidates for like honors but not officially and they were acting in an official capacity. They directed the county auditor in his official duties but he balked. The Colome men invoked the injunction to prevent the board’s action becoming operative.
TEN REASONS WHY WINNER SHOULD BE THE COUNTY SEAT
October 7, 1910-
1-Winner is in the exact geographical center of Tripp County and is on the railroad and is the only town near the center of Tripp County on the railroad.
2-Winner is nearer the center of population of Tripp County than any other railroad.
3-Winner has a greater trade territory than any other town in Tripp County.
4-Winner has the finest water to be found in Tripp County and an abundance of the same.
5-The roads leading into winner are the best roads to be found in Tripp County.
6-The location of the county seat and at Winner will eliminate future contents and save the tax payers thousands of dollars by eliminating needless county seats fights.
7-Winner is owned by her on businessmen whose business locations have cost them more than $100,000 and today has the greatest property valuation of and town in Tripp County.
8-The citizens of Winner have donated an excellent site 300 feet square in the business center of the town for the location of the court house and this will cost the country nothing.
9-Winner will be the distributing point for 50 per cent of the people of Tripp County and will be the distributing point for the largest number of inland towns of any railroad town in the county.
10-The location of the county seat at Winner will eliminate entirely and future questions of county division, thus saving thousands of dollars to the tax payers and elimination useless and silly fights.
WINNER WINS COUNTY SEAT FIGHT
November 11, 1910 – Winner and her citizens are delighted. The result of the county seat contest could not have been more satisfactory. Winner had a just claim to the permanent county seat location and in a hard fought battle presented her claims in a manner which withstood every assault and by an overwhelming vote was rewarded by favorable consideration from the people of Tripp County. The returns show that she has won by 261 majority over her opponents. The majority is decisive and should settle the fight for all times to come.
MOVED TO WINNER
Some of the first businesses to move to Winner were: Lamro State Bank, Kisling Store, Sas and Ketchmark, Smith and McGreevy, Hall and Grieves, S. N. Opdahl and Jay Weaver.
There was much history packed into the first decade of this century, into that little triangle of Gregory and Tripp counties and the field is wide open for an historical novel in which Lamoureaux, the short lived, will furnish a very exciting chapter.
COURT HOUSE IS BEING MOVED
1910- The work of moving the court house from Lamro to Winner was begun. The Register of Deeds and Clerk of Courts have moved the records into the Security Bank, where the offices will be until the Court House is moved. The rest of the officials will move over when the building arrives.
The building was erected by Oliver Lamoureaux during the summer of 1909 and was leased to the county for a term of three years, but after the county seat was located at Winner, the contract was cancelled by the county board in order to allow Mr. Lamoureax to move the building after which it would again be leased to the county.
COURT HOUSE HERE
The court house was moved over from Lamro and placed at the northwest corner of Madison and Third Street. The building is the largest that has been moved from Lamro, and it required two 40-horse power traction engines to move it. The commissioners met and renewed the lease which had been cancelled in order that Mr. Lamoureaux might move the building.
The auditor had advertised for bids for moving the jail and vault, but it is not likely that the vault will be moved, as it is built of concrete and it would be impossibility to move.
COURT HOUSE IS BURNED
Friday January 20, 1911 The court house at this place was destroyed by fire early Sunday morning. The fire was discovered about six o’clock by Geo Nessal, who resides in the east part of town. He immediately gave the alarm and a huge crowd was soon on the ground, but owing to the fact that Winner has no fire protection of any kind they were unable to do anything but watch the large building go up in smoke but with what little water was available, at that early hour in the morning, saved a small building on the next lot west, also belonging to Mr. Lamoureaux.
The records of county auditor, county treasurer and superintendent of schools were totally destroyed. The records of the county attorney were in the building but were all saved. The county commissioners had rented a vault for the use of the auditor and treasurer and up to the present time no reason had been given as to why their records had not been placed in it. McGreevy, the newly elected treasurer, was to have taken charge of the office Monday.
An investigation was held the first day of the week by States Attorney O’Hollaren. Mr. Nessel W. Harris, E. Crook and several others who arrived before the fire had gained much headway, were examined and all were of the opinion that the fire was the work of incendiaries. However, there seemed to be a difference of opinion as to whether the fire was started in the building or under it.
The building was owned by Oliver Lamoureaux and was moved over from Lamro soon after Winner had been chosen as the permanent county seat of Tripp County. It was insured for $2,000, but it will be a big loss to Mr. Lamoureaux as he was receiving over one hundred and fifty dollars per month rental.
Among those who sustained losses of personal property are G. O. Van Meter, who estimates his loss at $500, Judge Callender, who says his loss will reach $50; and R. F. Taylor and Stephen McGreevy, each lost some clothing. The Methodists also lost and organ and some hymn books, which were in the hall on the second floor.
BUILDING BOOM IS STARTED
(Spring 1911)- The prospects at present are that Winner will enjoy quite a building boom during the coming summer.
Work will soon begin on the Butterfield and Barnum building… The Superior Lumber and Coal Company will soon begin the erection of a large lumber shed a half block west of Main Street.
Louis Vlasak is erecting a fine residence… Leroy Nicholson’s house in east Winner is nearing completion… Chas Roe has let the contract for a new house on Prospect Hill.
The Winner Garage Company has recently completed a large addition to their garage… Geo. Roane is also installing a private electric light plant, which will furnish light for the hotel and livery barn.
Will Fulwider will erect an automobile garage as soon as he can secure a suitable location. The Heckman Furniture Company is at work on a foundation for an addition to their store on north Main Street.
Wm Miller has just completed a handsome cottage in the west part of town. B. A. Krieger is
CENSUS WILL GIVE WINNER 900 SOULS
July 2, 1915 The population of Winner according to the census this year will be upwards to 900. J. I. Grimes, who is securing the names of the residents of our city, has at present about 850 names on his books and expects to finish up his work some time next week.
$100,000.00 LOSS BY FIRE
”Biggest Fire Ever Had In Rosebud Country-May 23 1913”
May 30, 1913 Before the blaze had entirely died away last Friday a large force of men and teams were at work clearing away the debris so that work could begin immediately on the erection of a new brick structure which will be modern in every respect equipped with a large steam heating plant and lighted with electricity. A large basement will be…walled up with concrete or cement blocks.P. O. Beaulieu has moved into the building formerly occupied by the firm of Brownlow & Stangland… The Wagner Drug Co. has moved to the building formerly occupied by the Gem Theatre Building…J.H. Dailey has received a shipment of furniture and is moving into the building formerly occupied by Joe Koch…Dewell Clothing Company are repairing their building.
Excerpts from writings by Winnie M. Keller, 1959