Medary Monument rededicated after recent refurbishing

Courtesy photo: Shown at the recent rededication of the Medary Monument are, back row from left: Kathy Tarrell, Roberta Olson, Shirley Deethardt and Bev Wosje; center row: Lori Larson, Charlotte Smidt, Lois Thompson, Kim Goodfellow and Nancy Stewart; and front row: Liz Gorham, Susan Hugghins, Mildred K. Hugghins, Janet Gritzner, Lisa Friedrich, Mary De Leeuw and Tracy Kleinjan.

BROOKINGS – A reprieve has been granted to a deteriorating historic monument’s cement foundation supporting its equally decaying shaft of field stone at the site of Medary. 

Medary was the first town site in Dakota Territory that was located about 7 miles south of Brookings.      

After more that 90 years of harsh Dakota winters, the monument’s concrete was crumbling and probably destined to topple within a few more years. 

But the local Medary Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Brookings County Commission saved the day, both providing research about current property ownership, and as importantly, providing funds to replace the deteriorating concrete base and to fill in the gaps between stones embedded in the monument’s 17-foot shaft

It was on July 18, 1929, that about 400 pioneers from Brookings, Hamlin and Kingsbury counties were present to help dedicate the new and imposing Medary Monument south of Brookings on old Highway 77, which then was just a gravel road. 

Speakers that day were professor Karl Mundt of Madison, who 19 years later, became a U.S. senator; and South Dakota’s 12th governor, William Bulow of Beresford.

Funds for erecting the beautiful monument came from gifts, the suggested amount being $1 for each member of the families of pioneers. Additionally, the DAR recommended that each student in the county donate one penny toward the project. The DAR members also contributed to the cost of building the monument.

Assistance in staging the celebration was provided by the Brookings Commercial Club, which help stage the 1929 program as part of Brookings’ 50th anniversary.

The Wold-Mark Construction Company of Brookings, which was still at work building the SDSU Campanile, also constructed the monument at the Medary site that has withstood the test of time but was falling apart by 2021.  

On July 18, 2021, more than nine decades after the first dedication ceremony, a contingent of DAR chapter members and Larry Jensen, current chairman of the Brookings County Commission, gathered to rededicate the completion of the monument’s refurbishing that is intended to last into the next century. 

Speaker was DAR Chapter Regent Nancy Stewart and historian Janet Gritzner of Brookings, who related the history of the territory’s first townsite since 1857.   

In addition to refurbishing the monument, a bronze plaque describing its purpose was placed at the site, landscaping embellishments were added and monument lighting was installed.