Menno, South Dakota
Menno owes its beginnings to the railroad industry. A railroad line was necessary to transport livestock and grain to market. In 1879 the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad began laying tracks through the area. The commerce the railroad brought to the area resulted in the towns of Menno and Freeman being laid out. Its first local census showed 22 people living in Menno, most because of the rail line.
When the railroad officials were hanging up the town names on the depots of Menno and Freeman, they put "Menno" on the depot that was suppose to be the town of Freeman and "Freeman" on the depot that was suppose to be the town of Menno. Menno was to be named Freeman because of the oppression left behind in Russia. Due to this mix up, the City of Menno is named for the predominant Mennonite sect of Freeman.
Most of the early settlers in the Menno area were Germans from Russia. Immigrants from the Kassel and Crimea area of the Black Sea made the Menno area their home. They scratched out a living from the land and lived in sod houses. They went through the emigration process to escape oppression and having their young men forced to serve in the Russian armed forces. When you visit Menno today, you will find that a majority of its citizens are descendants of these early German's from Russia who are proud of their heritage and continue to celebrate it. Three of their biggest cultural celebrations occur in August, September, and October.