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U.S. Census Bureau History: Sturgis, South Dakota

Samuel D. Strugis
Sturgis, SD, is named for General Samuel D. Sturgis,
first commander of Fort Meade, a neighboring military
post tasked with protecting settlements and travellers
in the region.

The city of Sturgis, SD, was founded in 1878, by merchants establishing businesses just beyond the gates of Fort Meade—a military outpost established to protect Black Hills mining settlements, particularly the area around Deadwood, SD. Originally named "Scooptown" (a reference to the ease with which businesses "scooped" money from soldiers eager to spend their pay), the settlement was renamed to honor Fort Meade's first commander, General Samuel D. Sturgis and his son James Garland Sturgis, who died at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, alongside Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer, June 25, 1876. Sturgis became the county seat of Meade County in 1889. More recently, the city has become internationally famous for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Link to a non-federal Web site, which celebrates its 75th anniversary, August 3–9, 2015.

The annual rally in Sturgis got its start in 1938 when local Indian Motorcycle dealership owner Clarence "Pappy" Hoel and eight other motorcyclists raced one another in front of a small group of spectators on August 14. Except for a brief hiatus during World War II, it attracted a growing number of motorcycle enthusiasts as the rally added races, hill climbs, and concerts. Today, the South Dakota Department of Transportation estimates that 500,000 or more people attend the seven-day event in Sturgis, making it one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world.

Census data and other statistical sources can help you learn more about South Dakota and the nation's love affair with motorcycles. For example:

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Sturgis, SD, hosts the 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Link to a non-federal Web site August 3–9, 2015. During that week, 500,000 people will attend,
making the city more populous than South Dakota's largest city—Sioux Falls!

Photo courtesy of Minot Air Force Base

Decennial census records are confidential for 72 years to protect respondents' privacy.

Records from the 1950 to 2010 Censuses can only be obtained by the person named in the record or their heir after submitting form BC-600 or BC-600sp (Spanish).

Historic census records from 1790 to 1940 are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration, not the U.S. Census Bureau.

Visit the National Archives Web site to access 1940 Census records

Online subscription services are available to access the 1790–1940 census records and many public libraries provide access to these services free of charge.
Contact your local library to inquire if it has subscribed to one of these services.

Did You Know?

Aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss won the Gordon Bennett Cup at the first organized international air meet in Reims, France, August 22–29, 1909. Curtiss flew his biplane at an average speed of 46.77 mph, completing the 12 mile course in 15 minutes, 50.6 seconds.

Glenn Curtiss

Curtiss was famous for breaking records on land as well. He set a motorcycle speed record of 64 mph during a Yonkers, NY, hill climb on May 30, 1903. He broke his own record on January 24, 1907, riding a Curtiss V8 motorcycle 136.27 mph in Ormond Beach, FL. Curtiss's 1907 record was not be beaten until 1930.

The current motorcyle speed record of 376.363 mph was set by Rocky Robinson Link to a non-federal Web site at the Bonneville, UT, salt flats on September 25, 2010.

Tips for Genealogists

Interested in the 1790 to 1940 census records of famous adventurers and aviators? Want to learn how other notable Americans responded when the enumerator visited? Check our Famous and Infamous Census Records page!

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: July 23, 2015