The James River Valley Chapter NSDAR was approved by the National Society on October 6, 2012.

The James River Valley played a crucial role in the history of Aberdeen, South Dakota, and the surrounding area. It was, historically, a site of great natural beauty. During the peak of the most recent period of glaciation in South Dakota, the ice in the Aberdeen area was at least 1,000 feet thick.

The rich soils in eastern South Dakota are derived from till, which consists of ground up, nutrient-rich rock carried here by glaciers. The southward-flowing James River cuts through the heart of eastern South Dakota, and the fertile valley flanking its banks makes this narrow band of land the most productive agricultural area in the state.

The James River Valley’s beauty and natural resources attracted homesteaders and settlers. In one 1872 article, reporters from the Dakota Herald said of the area, “From Scotland to Milltown, and in the vicinity of both places, so far as our observation entitles us to judge, no fairer country has ever been trod by men.” (“A Trip up the James River Valley,” Dakota Republican 7 November 1872, pg 2)

The valley represents both the peacefulness of our area’s prairies and the buzz of the industry created by the area’s pioneers. It was the site of farms and wild grasses, as well as a mail line, early houses, schoolhouses, and courthouses. It was chosen as the site for a line of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Soon after, railroads became such a part of Aberdeen’s structure that it became known as “The Hub City.” By 1886, nine different rail lines passed through Aberdeen, South Dakota. Along with them came a whole host of new businesses including a new opera house, a grain palace and several grand hotels including the Park Place hotel and the Wisconsin House.

Because the James River Valley was so crucial to our area’s history - and because many of our members come not only from Aberdeen, South Dakota, but many neighboring communities, we chose this name for our chapter.