Reliance Main Street looking south
The Milwaukee Land Company purchased land from C.C. and Anna Herron for a town site in 1905 and the town was named Herron, but changed to Reliance when it was decided that the name Herron sounded too much like Huron. To the southwest stood a town site named Dirkstown and all of the buildings from there were moved into Reliance once it was learned the railroad would not be going through Dirkstown. Town sites were set up by the railroad company at about 10-mile intervals. Businesses, of the day, were set up immediately, probably the land office being the first. That and the first bank and the newspaper to advertise the land transactions. The lots sold for $200 for corner lots, $150 for inside business lots, $150 for residential corner lots and $100 for inside residential lots. Peter B. Dirks and a Mr. Montgomery, of the Farmers and Merchants State Bank from Dirkstown, purchased the first corner lot. Dirks' Trust and Title Company also opened a hardware and general store. Lafferty and Schoessler also had general stores. The school was built in 1921; high school was discontinued in
1972 and the school was finally closed in 1996. All children now go to Kennebec and Lyman High School in Presho. The community has had three churches: Catholic, Methodist and Lutheran, almost since its beginning. The first residence built in Reliance was the two and one half story home most of us remember as the Andy and Florence (Dirks) Anderson home until 1972. This home has been purchased by Wade and Chyree Hamiel and now sits on their land north of Reliance. In 1910 the west side of Reliance's Main Street was almost completely wiped out by fire. Businesses were rebuilt and along with the railroad came two lumberyards, a creamery, livery, blacksmith, taverns, hotels, restaurants, meat market, two banks, etc. Reliance reached its population peak in the 1920s when it was at 317 and according to the census, continued to decline until it was at 183 in 1945. The construction of Big Bend Dam at Fort Thompson in the 1960s caused the population in Reliance, Chamberlain and Oacoma to increase. In 1960, Reliance had 72 homes housing 201 people. Today (1999) Reliance is feeling a small growth as the communities of Chamberlain, Oacoma and Lower Brule fill up and the overflow moves to Reliance, and also to Pukwana in Brule County. Many Reliance natives can still remember the parades and Indian dances by the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and the Fourth of July celebrations at the Fred Fletcher home with horseshoe, baseball, fishing, swimming, picnics, fireworks and homemade ice cream made with ice that had been harvested in the winter and stored in ice houses. In the late 1940s, early 1950s, Albert Stallman harvested ice and sold it from his ice house west of the Stallman Cafe on Reliance's west side of Main Street. Stallmans bought the two-story hotel/cafe from George Husman. Also behind the cafe stood the Water tower as seen in the photo, winter 1921-'22 ... Many of us will also remember the gas station in the far SE corner of town owned and operated by Jobe and Violet Marsden. A gymnasium was built in 1949 with all volunteer help. Fundraisers were held to help pay for the building. The American Legion purchased the building in 1973 and it continues to be used today for community functions and high school reunions. We all remember the amateur shows, dances, carnivals, roller-skating with the Neugebauers, the proms, etc.
Reliance basketball game provides thrills galore ...
Reprinted from the Chamberlain Register Feb. 1950 A basketball game which might well be called "the game of the decade", was staged at the Reliance auditorium Friday night to standing room only. The two competing teams were the "Pensioners" (nothing over seventy-one), and the "Imported Amazons (no one over thirty). The Amazons were none other than Fritz Draphal, Lloyd Husman, Clete Lester, Paul Burke and Roger J. Yates, dressed in garb second only to Hollywood's Lana Turner and California's fruit crop. The Pensioners had a larger roster of talent claiming Roy Fletcher, John Hodgin, Abner Vehle, George Kentch, Babe Cullen, France Cullen, Hank Sattler, Pete Erickson and Clyde Norton. Clyde, who since has acquired the name of "Speed", put on quite a show for the crowd. He kept them in a constant state of hysteria with his brilliant display of basket shooting. The referees were also local talent, billed as George "Ling" Husman and Fritz, "Man Mountain" Hoffer. To say that they did they duties would, well, be too modest for they made decisions which were so popular with the crowd, they nearly rolled in the aisles (if there had been any) with laughter. The cheerleading was taken care of by such reliable hands as Esther Black, Violet Marsden and Lena Huntsman, ably assisted by Ray Stallman, Ray Kistler and Clyde Hickey. Clyde got into the act quite often and proved very popular with the feminine fans. After a furious battle of wits and brawn, the game ended in a 21-21 deadlock. It ended to be renewed at a future date. It was a true example of the cooperation between all participants, who were such good sports and the public, who so faithfully attended. It created a general era of good feeling between the people of the community. It was the main topic of conversation for many days afterward All proceeds were given to the March of Dimes