The History of the W. H Lyon Property Mirrors the Same Period of which the City of Sioux Falls Was Established.

The W.H Lyon County Fairgrounds is land that has been Axtel-Lyon Estate since before the City of Sioux Falls was established as an incorporated City.  First established when William Hugh Lyon first purchased a land claim during the 1880's under the 1841 Preemptive Act which was amended by the Homestead Act of 1862, which was to be used as a plot of land the family intended to build a home on, while farming the land. 

The land itself is governed by Title 43 Public Lands, of which under Section Two reads as follows:  " The Secretary of the Interior or such officer as he may designate shall perform all executive duties appertaining to the surveying and sale of the public lands of the United States, or in anywise respecting such public lands, and, also, such as relate to private claims of land, and the issuing of patents for all grants of land under the authority of the Government." 

The 160 acres of surface area today, making up the W.H Lyon County Fairgrounds is not, and has never falling within the jurisdiction of the State of South Dakota. And understanding on how land patents work, one has to first recognize the fact that the land itself falls within Public Lands of which were purchased by the Federal Government by means of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Just as it did when the Americans won the revolutionary war, and signed the  1777 Northwest Treaty, which gave all lands west of the Appalachian Mountains to the Americans, placed in a public trust, the Louisiana Purchase was a land purchase made by the Americans of which gave all 'rights' to own much of what became the mid-west, of which was placed in a public trust, to be managed by the Federal Government. 

It would become this land, of which was to be partitioned off by the Federal Government beginning in 1841 and again in 1862 with the adoption of the Settlement Acts. And it would these acts of which William and Winona Lyon would have moved westward, from Minnesota to claim their 160 acres of public land during the 1880's. 

According to the Bureau of Land Management, the land itself is part of 8,300,000 million acres of land under the control of the EASTERN MONTANA/DAKS DISTRICT OFFICE (Field Code: 2388), of which  which Sonja Germann has be contracted to oversee the office itself, all of which oversees more than 47,000,000 sub-surface acres of minerals beneath the surface area, and while BLM was established in 1946, its roots go back to the years after America’s independence, when the young nation began acquiring additional lands. At first, these lands were used to encourage homesteading and westward migration, of which the General Land Office was created in 1812 to support this national goal, however,  over time, values and attitudes regarding public lands shifted, and President Harry S. Truman, by means of a government reorganization, merged the GLO and another agency, the U.S. Grazing Service,  thus creating the BLM.

As per the U.S Constitution, and all delegations given to the President, “The President is vested with general authority in the matter of reserving for public uses, and lands so set apart is not subject to disposition under the public land laws during the existence of such reservation.” It is up to the "executive department to sign off and reward all public lands to any American(s) who desire to settle, claim, and take ownership of such land.   

A land patent is a form of letters patent assigning official ownership of a particular tract of land that has gone through various legally-prescribed processes like surveying and documentation, followed by the letter's signing, sealing, and publishing in public records, made by a sovereign entity, it's sole purpose is to transfer ownership from one person (or entity) to another.  Once signed off by the President, it becomes a sovereign territorial organized area of land. 

So, as William and Winona Lyon settled on, purchased, developed, and finalized their claim to the land, they automatically became "the rightful land owners" to the land itself, which within the State of South Dakota goes by the distinct legal code as "TRACT 2 (FAIRGROUNDS) W.H. LYON ADDITION TO THE CITY SIOUX FALLS", and roughly 156.21 acres in size. 

From 1890 to present day, the Axtel-Lyon Heirs still own all legal, lawful claims to the land, the patent, and full control of the land use. Because the land itself is still considered "public domain", and not surrendered to the State of South Dakota, the State itself has no authority, no lawful right to tax the  property, control the property, nor convey the property. Thanks to the land patent, the only person(s) allowed to sell the property are the Axtel-Lyon Family heirs themselves. 

Because of the fact the stipulations made by Ms. Winona Axtel-Lyon was only to transfer the 'land use' to Minnehaha County, instructing the county to simply 'care for' and protect the land itself, the county cannot, and does not have the right to sell the land, meaning, the $65,000,000 million cash offer made by Knife River was all for not. Even if the county accepts the money, then moves the "county fair" to another location, Knife River would still not be able to purchase the land itself, the land would end up back in the hands of the Axtel-Lyon Family, of whom would demand top dollar for the land, IF, they choose to even sell it. 

Not only to make matters worse, based on the federal law that governs the patent itself, the federal government has full control of the mineral rights to the land, and based on the 1841 Preemptive Act, it gets to tax the profits made from the sale of the minerals by no less than twenty percent, as it by the law itself, reserved the right to keep full control of all minerals beneath the ground, so according to the patent, the Axtel-Lyon's family agreed to pay the government the tax, if and when they were to ever mine, and profit from the sale of the minerals themselves. 

All entries made and patents issued under the provisions of this subchapter shall be subject to and contain a reservation to the United States of all the coal and other minerals in the lands so entered and patented, together with the right to prospect for, mine, and remove the same. The coal and other mineral deposits in such lands shall be subject to disposal by the United States in accordance with the provisions of the coal and mineral land laws in force at the time of such disposal...Any person qualified to locate and enter the coal or other mineral deposits, or having the right to mine and remove the same under the laws of the United States, shall have the right at all times to enter upon the lands entered or patented, as provided by this subchapter, for the purpose of prospecting for coal or other mineral therein, provided he shall not injure, damage, or destroy the permanent improvements of the entryman or patentee, and shall be liable to and shall compensate the entryman or patentee for all damages to the crops on such lands by reason of such prospecting  - 43 U.S Code 299

To make matters even worse for Knife River, as per 43 U.S Code 299, they would have to also: 

Any person who has filed a notice of intention to locate a mining claim under paragraph (2) for any lands subject to this subchapter shall provide written notice of such filing, by registered or certified mail with return receipt, to the surface owner (as evidenced by local tax records) of the lands covered by the notice under paragraph (2). The notice shall be provided at least 30 days before entering such lands and shall contain each of the following:

  1. A brief description of the proposed mineral activities;
  2. A map and legal description of the lands to be subject to mineral exploration;
  3. The name, address and phone number of the person managing such activities;
  4. A statement of the dates on which such activities will take place--

Without a written consent by the 'surface owner, Knife River would have to get approval by the Secretary of the Interior, and the only means of convincing the Secretary would mean they would have to obtain a bond, and would have to agree to return the land back to its present condition when they have finished mining the land, based on the terms set forth by the patent or claim. Essentially, the law itself is protecting the "claimants" rights to the land, ensuring that their land will always be preserved, protected, and left as it once was. 

There is absolutely no way that Minnehaha County could possibly even think of selling this land, and even if they did, the family would have the right to sue for damages, in order to protect their land. Knife River clearly has to negociate any such transaction not with the county, but with the family who has the right to govern all such activity on the land, enter into any such land use agreement regarding the land, all of which gives them the right to profit from any such sales of all minerals from the land itself. 

Minnehaha County was not simply gifted the land, in order to hold its county fair on, it was requested of them to preserve, and pay respects to Ms. Winona Axtel-Lyon's wishes, her life accomplishments, as well as to preserving the history of the area itself, which was heavily influenced by agriculture, family tradition, and community spirit.

WHO WAS Ms. Winona Axtel-Lyon? 

She was an early pioneer, who came with her husband, William Hugh Lyon to explore, and stake out a settlement claim in South Dakota between 1886 and 1890. They settled on, and claimed land along the Big Sioux River with the intent on developing the land to be used for family activities, to become a public park, let alone to preserve and protect the tradition of agriculture. 

According to an early Argus Leader newspaper clipping upon her death, Ms. Winona Axtel-Lyon received the History Club's district distinguished service medal, and served as chairman of the conversation department, helped to start the Women's Alliance, and she was the first president of the State Federation of Women's Club, as well as sitting on the local Sioux Falls Park  board, while leading her donate lands of which became McKennan Park, Tower Park, and land along 8th and West Avenue to be set aside to be a public park, which today is best known as Axtell Park Middle School. 

While people such as Richard Pettigrew, Wilmot.W Brookings, and  Samuel Medary get all the accolades for helping to establish and develop the City of Sioux Falls, it was Ms. Winona Axtel-Lyon who took it upon herself to leave a legacy of community spirit to not only the city, but to the State itself as someone who cared very deeply for community parks, agriculture, family activities, yet not to ignore - paving the way for "Women" to become active persons in state and local politics. 

Mrs. Lyon is known for her intense interest in agriculture and the development of the city of Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County, and the State of South Dakota. The passing years seem to increase rather than diminish her civic activities. In 1938 the county needed a fairground. Mrs. Lyon made a gift to the county of a valuable fifty acre tract adjoining Sioux Falls, and the county fair proved successful. In 1942 she made an additional gift of eighty acres, adding to what she had already given. It was adjacent to the Big Sioux River. This fairground is one of the show places of South Dakota. In memory of her late husband, it has been dedicated and is known as the William H. Lyon fairground. As a member for years of the History Club, an affiliate of the General Federation of Woman's Clubs, Mrs. Lyon became convinced that the organization should have a permanent home. She aroused the interest of the members by the gift of a city lot for that purpose in 1939. With this foundation, the ladies went to work and now have a very attractive brick club house, well located and equipped for the convenience of the membership. Mrs. Lyon was the first president of the South Dakota State Federation of Woman's Clubs, a charter and life member of the Minnehaha County Historical Society, and for many years was a member of the executive board of Sioux Falls College. In spite of political changes Mrs. Lyon has been appointed and is an outstanding member of the Sioux Falls Park Board, this is in recognition of her civic mindedness. The beauty and attractiveness of Sioux Falls Parks, due in no small degree to her activities, is always remarked upon by visitors to our city. The real value to the community of a civic minded woman was shown in 1939 by the annual award of the Cosmopolitan Club to Mrs. Lyon of a gold pin, as Sioux Falls' most distinguished citizen. No higher compliment could be paid to anyone.  - tribute from a long time friend of the family

So, as the People of the City of Sioux Falls, the County of Minnehaha, as well for all our political leaders, not only at the state level, but at the county and city levels, 'we' owe it to Ms. Winona Axtel-Lyon to preserve her  memory, by maintaining, caring for, and developing not only the city parks she gave us, but as well as the one and only W.H Lyon Fairgrounds, home of the County Fair every August. 

Of all the obstacles that stand in the way of Knife River's attempt to purchase the current fairground property, the one most common obstacle that they are forgetting about, that one great aspect that we were all left, thanks to Ms. Winona Axtel-Lyon - was "Community Spirit"

Sure, we could eventually give up and sell off the land rights to Knife River, allowing us to profit from the land itself, however, as we did that, we would lose not only a piece of history, but we would be giving up the tradition of enjoying a national past time, the county fair, which has been  held along the banks of the Sioux River for more than 70 years. 

As I began the article - Why must the W.H Lyon Fairgrounds be preserved, and maintained for years to come as the home of the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds? Well, in my best, and most passionate form of expression, I must answer it the only way I know how, as a lifetime resident of the West Sioux Community, a small bed and breakfast community that grew up along the western edge of Sioux Falls from 1950 to present day, part of the same era as Ms. Winona Axtel-Lyon was donating her land for the county fair, the two go hand in hand - West Sioux Community and the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds are simply made for each other, as if by tradition, the two side by side developments were meant to be together. Do we really want Knife River to destroy that tradition? No. 

In one area of the city, we have this quiet, family-like community referred to as "West Sioux'' - a once thriving small community of people who grew up on the outskirts of Sioux Falls. Today, we have the First Premiere Center, the Sioux Falls Arena, Howard Wood Field, Sioux Falls Baseball Field, Elmwood Park, the Sport Bowl, and above all else...we have the Sioux Empire Fair at the W.H Lyon FairGrounds. 

Why should Minnehaha County tell Knife River NO - simple. The current Fairgrounds property itself has become like a family. And like all families, once you become vested in a community, you can never separate them. 

If Knife River wants to build a new quarry, they can do so on the outskirts of the city, but if we allow them to destroy the W.H Lyon Fairgrounds, we may never get the land back as it once was in 1940, and that would be a sad sight to see in the future. And in the living memory of Ms. Winona Axtel-Lyon - we cannot allow that to happen, ever. 

Final, closing thoughts...

In 1916 under President Theodore Roosevelt (supposedly a conservative) -  all remaining PUBLIC LANDS in the 'care of" the Federal Government were placed under the supervision and control of the National Park Forestry Service. This, along with the end of the "settlement acts" whereas land patents applications were being suspended, ALL Public Lands not yet sold to Americans, let alone ceded to the States, were now going to be kept under the control of the Federal Government, let alone be preserved as National Parks, Nature Reserves, Water Conservation, other federal uses, etc. "WE" must be careful as we tread into the future, because the Federal Govt is selling land to the Chinese and other Foreign born persons, corporations, etc. The old 'constitutional offices' have been closed, in exchange, they morphed them into new 'corporate' controlled agencies of the Federal Govt - one must remember, we are dealing with a "Corporate Government" today, not a constitutional government as prior to 1930. "WE" have been ruled under the 1933 Federal Emergency Banking Act, whereas the President has been delegated increased power (something Donald Trump was attempting to repair).  Between 1916 to present day, Presidents via Executive Order have been delegating their authority to "Agencies"  to whom are lobbied and controlled by special interest groups aka "The Corporate Government". People laugh when 'we' speak of this, people attack Trump as he spoke of this 'shadow government' - however, connect the dots, you will see it in plain sight. 

This is why "WE" must protect sovereign lands, territories such as the W.H LYON FAIRGROUNDS - if we were to surrender this, and if KNIFE RIVER were to gain "ownership" the patent right would be transferred from the Lyon Family Heirs, to Knife River, meaning, the "terms" of the federal contract could be reopened up, and under the current "federal administration" that is a scary thought. 

 When you review, and lookover 43 USC 1: Repealed. Pub. L. 89-554, §8(a), Sept. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 632 (house.gov) - this section of law shows many of the executive orders adopted by past presidents of which shows people, and present how the original GLO and Agriculture departments have been transferred to these agencies