The History of Hitchcock SD

The town now known as Hitchcock was established in 1881 as Clarksville by the Western Town Lot Co. (The township was organized in 1884) and on Feb 22, 1885 it was incorporated as Altoona (some say after a town in Pennsylvania but most thought it an Indian name). It was renamed Hitchcock on Sept. 6, 1904, after Charles who lived nearby.

In 1881 settlers wishing to  locate at Hitchcock had to drive their household furnishings, farm equipment and families overland from Huron, as this was the nearest railroad station.  The railroad bed was there but the rails were not laid until the following spring.   

James Payne erected the first building in town, a 16 x 32 ft. shack for his family.  Some say the next building erected was a small frame structure built by Thomas Mitchell.  Later he erected a larger building a little west of his first store.  He was one of the first merchants in town.   Other businesses soon followed.

In the summer of ' 81 they began  to carry mail and passengers by stage from Huron to Redfield and the route passed through Hitchcock.  As Leighton Collar was the only one in the vicinity who had a barn  the stage lines had his permission to keep fresh horses there to change their teams,

By the early 1900's there were 6 general stores, a harness shop, 2 banks, a land office, hardware store, Post Office, meat market, lodge hall, pool hall, hotel, barber shop, drug store, restaurants, 2 churches, school, 2 lumber yards, implement dealer,  3 blacksmith shops, 5 elevators, several coal sheds and a creamery.

Hitchcock had the first artesian well in Beadle Co. in 1885.  It had a great deal of power and some claimed it knocked the shingles off the depot roof which was across the road to the south when the water started coming about 2 a.m. Six inch pipes were used in those days.  They say it was eventually piped to the drug store but most people carried their water in pails.  The well was located by the track so steam engines could be filled.

A man by the name of Charles Stower Hitchcock from Chicago went through here and got the idea that a well like that could be used for irrigation.  He bought land south and east of the depot ( the property now owned by Larry Gordon where the old Way Station was located) and put down a well north and east of the big house he built to accommodate the workers and others.  Land was prepared and ditches made for irrigation.  There was a big overflow pond where one could either swim or skate depending on the weather.  People going through on the train saw all this and lots of mail pored in simply addressed to Hitchcock.  Later when the railroad made a new map the town's name was changed to Hitchcock.