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De Smet, South Dakota facts for kids

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De Smet, South Dakota
Downtown De Smet, September 2010
Downtown De Smet, September 2010
Location in Kingsbury County and the state of South Dakota
Location in Kingsbury County and the state of South Dakota
Country United States
State South Dakota
County Kingsbury
Founded 1880
Incorporated 1883
 • Total 1.16 sq mi (3.00 km2)
 • Land 1.16 sq mi (3.00 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
1,726 ft (526 m)
 • Total 1,089
 • Estimate 
 • Density 908.46/sq mi (350.64/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Code
Area code(s) 605
FIPS code 46-16260
GNIS feature ID 1265178

De Smet is a city in and the county seat of Kingsbury County, South Dakota, United States. The population was 1,089 at the 2010 census.


Located in the area of South Dakota known as East River (east of the Missouri River, which diagonally divides the state), De Smet was platted by European Americans in 1880. It was named for Belgian Father Pierre De Smet, a 19th-century Jesuit missionary who worked with Native Americans in the United States and its territories for most of his life. In the mid 1880s, prairie fires and failures of crops after a three-year period of drought caused many settlers to relocate their farms and homesteads to easier areas. By 1917, De Smet was a cow town, with many trains passing through every day carrying cattle to market.


De Smet is located at 44°23′9″N 97°33′6″W / 44.38583°N 97.55167°W / 44.38583; -97.55167 (44.385871, -97.551703).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.16 square miles (3.00 km2), all of it land.

De Smet has been assigned the ZIP code 57231 and the FIPS place code 16260.


  • De Smet stands at the intersection of the east–west U.S. Route 14 (5th Street) and South Dakota Highway 25 (Poinsett Avenue), which runs north–south.
  • The municipally owned Wilder Field airport is situated some 3 miles (5 km) north of the town.
  • The Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad's freight-only line between Tracy, Minnesota, and Rapid City passes through the town.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 116
1890 541 366.4%
1900 749 38.4%
1910 1,063 41.9%
1920 1,035 −2.6%
1930 1,017 −1.7%
1940 1,016 −0.1%
1950 1,180 16.1%
1960 1,324 12.2%
1970 1,336 0.9%
1980 1,237 −7.4%
1990 1,172 −5.3%
2000 1,164 −0.7%
2010 1,089 −6.4%
2019 (est.) 1,052 −3.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
2018 Estimate

2010 census

At the 2010 census there were 1,089 people, 478 households, and 290 families living in the city. The population density was 938.8 inhabitants per square mile (362.5/km2). There were 552 housing units at an average density of 475.9 per square mile (183.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 98.8% White, 0.1% African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.1% Asian, and 0.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.5%.

Of the 478 households 24.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.3% were married couples living together, 5.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 39.3% were non-families. 35.6% of households were one person and 22.6% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.83.

The median age was 49.6 years. 22% of residents were under the age of 18; 4.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 17.9% were from 25 to 44; 26% were from 45 to 64; and 29.9% were 65 or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.2% male and 52.8% female.


Surveyors house little house on the prairie
Surveyors' House

Since 1971, De Smet has hosted a pageant, held over several weekends in July, to honor Laura Ingalls Wilder. Five of her classic Little House books were based on her experiences in and around the community. The books were popularized anew in the 1970s and early 1980s, from the long-running TV series Little House on the Prairie, which was loosely based on them.

The story of how Charles Ingalls and his wife Caroline arrived in De Smet in 1879 by covered wagon from Walnut Grove, Minnesota, is told by a cast of thirty in an open-air theater near the old Ingalls homestead and the Surveyors' House. Nearby are Silver Lake and the Big Slough, locales mentioned in her books. Reminders of De Smet's pioneer past are evident throughout the town, including the First Congregational Church, where the Ingallses worshipped.

In 1894 Laura and her husband Almanzo Wilder, with their daughter Rose left De Smet to live on a farm in the Ozarks near Mansfield, Missouri. There Laura Ingalls chronicled her South Dakota memories in such works as The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, and These Happy Golden Years. Many residents in De Smet have made a special effort to learn the Ingalls' stories in hopes of assisting inquiring tourists each summer.

Notable people

Laura ingalls wilder house that pa built de smet
"The House That Pa Built", located at 210 3rd Street SW in De Smet
Laura ingalls wilder desmet former site ingalls store
Former site of Ingalls Store, downtown De Smet

De Smet was the childhood home of children's book author Laura Ingalls Wilder and is the birthplace of her daughter, author and activist Rose Wilder Lane. Ingalls Wilder's father, Charles Ingalls, emigrated to De Smet in 1879 with his wife, Caroline, and their children Mary, Laura, Carrie, and Grace. There, after first living in the Surveyor House and a couple of other locations in De Smet, Ingalls built their permanent home that became known via Wilder's writings as "The House That Pa Built". Construction on the house began in 1887 and was completed in 1889. After settling in De Smet, Charles Ingalls owned and operated the Ingalls Store from 1880–1881, a small general-type store that sold various goods for the home. While the store building no longer exists, the location is noted in De Smet's downtown area with a marker on what's currently on the site, a former bank building that now houses Gass Law Firm.

De Smet was also the childhood home of supercentenarian Walter Breuning. Artist-illustrator Harvey Dunn was born in 1884 approximately eight miles from De Smet near Manchester, and painted scenes of frontier life in his later years. Harry George Armstrong, a major general in the United States Air Force, a physician, and an airman, was born in De Smet in 1899.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: De Smet (Dakota del Sur) para niños

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