In South Dakota there are 66 counties. Most of them are named after politicians, but some take their name from Native American tribes (Brule, Oglala Sioux, Yankton), bodies of water (Fall River, Lake), journalists (Ziebach), animals (Buffalo), an island (Bon Homme), and even a Danish Prince (Haaken).

Given the time frame of when the state was founded there's also a bit of a Civil War influence (Custer, Grant, Meade, Stanley), as hostilities between the North and South ended (1865) less than 25 years before South Dakota was admitted into the Union(1889).

But it was another Civil War general who was so highly regarded he has both a South Dakota county and a Washington DC square named after him.

James B. McPherson, a native of Ohio, graduated from West Point, was the superintending engineer of the military prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, and eventually rose to the rank of general in the U.S. Army.

July 22, 1864, McPherson became the second highest raking officer in the Union Army to be killed in the Civil War when he perished during the Battle of Atlanta. He was 35 years old.

Word of McPherson's bravery spread to emerging Dakota Territory and in 1873, McPherson County was created in the Northern part of the territory. It was organized in 1884 and became official when South Dakota was admitted as the 46th State in the Union, November 2, 1889.

Leola is the county seat.

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While all of that was taking place in the Upper Midwest, McPherson was being remembered in our Nation's Capital. McPherson Square, featuring a statue of the general on horseback, was dedicated October 18, 1876.

The square sits one block northeast of Lafayette Square in Washington DC, less than a half-mile from the White House.


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