How a Swedish-born widow's farm became site for new men's prison in Lincoln County
State acquired land after 101-year-old woman died without heir
When she died in 1990 at the age of 101, Ethilda “Tillie” Haug could not have imagined that the land she and her late husband farmed north of Canton would one day be selected for the site of a state men’s prison.
At the time of her death, Sioux Falls’ population had just creeped above 100,000, and the southern border of the state’s largest city was still well to the north of Harrisburg, which only had a population of about 700 people. Canton, where Tillie Haug and her late husband, Alfred, moved to when they retired from farming in 1946, had 2,830 people, according to Census data.
Meanwhile, construction was under way at the Jameson Annex at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. That facility opened in 1993.
But today, state officials led by Gov. Kristi Noem say South Dakota needs a new men’s prison to supplement the original territorial prison that opened four years before Alfred Haug was born in 1885, and eight years before Tillie Haug was born in Sweden in 1889. Last week, The Dakota Scout broke the story that two portions of land between Canton and Harrisburg had been selected for the new prison. That 320 acres had once been owned by Tillie and Alfred Haug.
Today, it is owned by the South Dakota School and Public Lands. How it ended up in state ownership was itself a legal odyssey. Now, the Department of Corrections has announced that it intends to buy the land for $7.9 million before putting the new prison on it.
That announcement has sparked alarm among nearby residents.
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