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This is a picture of the Hoven's train depot.

This is Hoven's Main Street in 1915.

Hoven's History

The real story of Hoven begins not with the railroad as so many others do, but with the people who came and the dreams they brought with them.  It begins with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the establishment of the Dakota Territory in 1861, and most importantly with the Homestead Act of 1862. 

About 1876, a new tide of immigration into the Dakotas began, as would-be farmers and ranchers from the East Coast and from northern Europe found their way into the rich grasslands of the high plains. 

Down to earth prairie influence led our pioneering ancestors down untrodden paths, as they surged ahead with dreams, ideas and ambitions.  They were lured by the promise of free land, and they settled where the landing seemed good and all had an equal opportunity to succeed. 

Early in 1883, migrating from Adams, Minn., to Ashton, SD by rail and onward in covered wagons, traveled the Arbachs, John and John Peter, and Peter Schneider, in quest of a home.  Journeying onward they observed what appeared to be a lake in the distance and viewed it with gladness as they considered it a feasible place for watering their horses.  Plodding westward about 10 miles farther, they discovered Swan Lake and there pitched their tents.  The trio settled a short distance east of Swan Lake and soon proved up the land. 

Within a short time, more of the covered wagons came trudging along until the autumn of 1883.  Peter J. Hoven, was located on the land which is now part of the town of Hoven.  Shacks and houses began to dot the treeless prairie, and although people were mostly poor in those early days, they were rich in hope and happiness. 

On Nov. 2, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison signed a measure making states of both North and South Dakota. 

So,  Hoven was fast becoming an enterprising prairie town as the state of South Dakota came into existence.  Hoven grew.  The railroad came, and with it came more pioneers looking for a place to settle.  Businesses grew and multiplied.  By 1915, Hoven had two general stores, a drug store, a bank, two hardware stores, a restaurant, hotel, newspaper, barber shop, pool room, harness shop, jewelry store and two saloons. 

A dentist and physician were located here, as were a cream station, blacksmith shop, town hall, two real estate companies, a dray line, livery barn, meat market, lumber yard, farm equipment shop and five grain elevators. 

It was stated that Hoven had room for many families, people who were looking for a place where they could locate, make money, live happily and have abundant opportunity to educate their children. 

By this time the long standing brick St. Bernard’s School had already been built, as had the basement of the church.  Work was progressing on a brick home for the parish priest, Father Anthony Helmbrecht.  In 1921, the “Cathedral of the Prairies” was completed. 

By 1930 the little town of Hoven was already home to nearly 400, but in a few years things began to take on a somber note.  The 1930’s marked an era of hot dry summers, dust blizzards, little rain, grasshoppers and not much to eat for the livestock except thistles. 

Finally, with the advent of the ‘40s, the tide turned and prosperity seemed possible.  Farmers and ranchers thanked the Lord, and things began to look up again for Hoven and all the surrounding towns.  With the invention of more modern machinery, farmers developed new tillage methods that protected valuable topsoil. 

A high school was built, as was a hospital, and sewer and water were put in.  Building was again on the increase. 

We have grown and prospered through the years because of faith in God, determination, hard work, and people who have always pitched in when something needed doing. 

It is good to reminisce about the past, but it is also good to look to the future with hope and promise of even better days ahead.  We hope to maintain the same fortitude that built St. Anthony’s Cathedral of the Prairies which stands in near magnificence as a majestic giant over the main street of Hoven. 

As communities in the Hoven area approach centennial and quasquicentennial celebrations, residents of the area cannot help but feel a kinship with the pioneers who first came to north central South Dakota and laid the foundation for the livelihood we continue to pursue.

In keeping with this pioneer spirit and remembrance of the past and to celebrate the future, the community of Hoven is celebrating its Quasquicentennial Celebration on July 4, 5and 6, 2008.  We welcome everyone to Hoven at any time, and especially to our 125th birthday celebration in 2008.

                     What’s a little known fact about Hoven?

Hoven lies in the heart of what is called the Blue Blanket Valley.  Msgr. Anthony Helmbrecht was once asked how the Blue Blanket Valley came by its name.  His reply was, “It originates from Indian legend, and it’s logical, for when the sun’s rays slant just right they cast a beautiful blue blanket over the entire area.”

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