History of Marion
Laid out in 1879 by Jon D. Lawler, Marion was first named Turner Junction. In 1881 the village was renamed Marion Junction in honor of Marion Merrill, a daughter of S.S. Merrill, who was a railroad official. The Junction portion of the name was due to the building of the branch line to Running Water, with the junction to the main line located at Marion. The Junction portion of the name was officially dropped in 1938 by an act of the legislature. The town was incorporated in the autumn of 1881. At that time, the population was at approximately two hundred.
In the early days, the town had two parts – Yankee Town and Russian Town. Yankee Town was planned by the railroad, with the business district on Main Street, south of the depot. Russian Town, where German was spoken, started when Hieb’s Store opened on Broadway Avenue. Yankee Town existed for ten to fifteen years, becoming a “ghost” town when all the businesses were moved to Broadway Avenue, the location of the present business district. The Yankee Town area is today a residential area.
Early settlers in Marion were English speaking, some being from England, Scotland and Ireland. The area surrounding Marion had many German speaking Mennonites. Jacob Hieb, an early merchant who could speak German, used this to his advantage and established the largest General Merchandise store in Marion. This store was in business for 54 years when it burned in November 1942. Now found in the former Hieb’s Store location are three local businesses - Bowlway Lanes, Al’s Studio and Frye Trucking.
As education was important to the early settlers, they established a one-room school in 1879. This school has developed into the K – 12 Marion Public School. In 1983, the Marion High School band was selected to be the first South Dakota band to march in the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C. They came home from Washington with the first place trophy.
The first church established was St. Mary’s Catholic Church in 1880. This parish suffered a great tragedy on April 10, 1949 when the church exploded just prior to Palm Sunday Mass. The building was destroyed, six people died and many more were injured. The church was rebuilt in 1952. In addition to St. Mary’s, other churches in Marion today are Emmanuel United Presbyterian, established in 1889; Bethel Christian Reformed, established in 1893; First Church of God, established in 1896 and Bethesda Lutheran, established in 1912.
The name of Tieszen and the word Chiropractic go hand in hand with Marion. Derk Tieszen, Sr. set bones and gave treatments at his farm home west of Marion almost from the time of his settling there in 1874. Descendents of Derk Tieszen, Sr. established clinics in Marion in 1926 and 1928. Today, two clinics are served by three Doctors of Chiropractic.
Another service associated with the Tieszen name is the Tieszen Memorial Home. In May of 1947, William P. Tieszen began Tieszen Memorial in what was then the St. Mary’s Catholic School. Today, the 64-bed skilled nursing facility, certified in Medicare and Medicaid, is the largest employer in Marion. In 1987, the nursing home added a 12 unit apartment complex, consisting of 1 and 2-bedroom units, to the corporation. In 1991 and again in 1995, the nursing home added a 6-plex apartment unit, bringing the total to 24 apartments. A twin home and a 4-plex unit were constructed in 1996 and 1997, respectively, offering housing opportunities for people that do not qualify for subsidized housing. An assisted living center, offering 7 single and 7 double units, was added to the facility in 2000.
Marion is on the state rail line and, as a result, large quantities of grain are shipped from the Marion grain elevator. On November 2, 1985 the Farmers Cooperative Elevator was partially destroyed by an explosion and fire. Three men were killed and four more were injured in this tragedy. In 1986 the elevator was rebuilt and is again serving the area farmers under the operating name of FreMar Farmers Cooperative.
Offering the best quality of life, ample business opportunity and a community that serves and supports each other, Marion truly is – past, present and future – the right place to call home.
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