History of Centerville

Downtown Centerville, early 1900's.

Centerville came into existence when a German-born doctor and his wife filed a claim to the southeast corner of seciont 20-96-52, now Centerville Township, in Turner County in what was then Dakota Territory.  The date was June 6, 1871.  Dr. Frederick Smith and his wife put a latern out each night to help wayward travelers find their way and the store and it's vincinty soon came to be called "Martin". 


By 1873, the stage route and US Post ran through the little settlement and Dr. Smith was appointed US Postmaster and the settlement was giving a new name, Centerville, because of its location halfway between Yankton and Sioux Falls on the stage route and halfway between Parker and Vermillion on the US Mail route.  This initial location of Centerville was about 2 miles west of where the city lies today.

Bones wagon carrying buffalo bones off the prairie.

By April 1, 1883, the settlement and post office had moved to Centerville's present day site on the banks of the Vermillion River. Owing to its central location amidst rich farmland, Centerville soon boasted a prosperous business community including a large flour mill, two lumber companies and several shops.  The stage was set for Centerville to play it's part in South Dakota's frontier history.

Busy downtown Centerville, early 1900's

Through the early 1900's, Centerville was regarded as a bustling business community with strong ties to the agriculture industry in the surrounding area.  A prominant feature of the city, the Centerville Milling Company flouring mill, was located on the western edge of town on the Vermillion River.  It first became operation in 1886 and ran for 44 years until it burned to the ground on February 21, 1930.  The former site of the mill is now the present-day Berry Park.  The remains of the old mill's foundation can still be found at the site.


Other industries that thrived during this period were the Centerville Sales Barn, a livestock sales facility, two creameries, a soda bottle works and even a brief sojourn into coal mining!  Broadway Street, running north and south, became the business hub and boasted a large array of retail establishments.

Contact Us:

City of Centerville
741 Main Street

Centerville, SD 57014

Phone: 605-563-2302

Email: cvillecity@hcinet.net

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