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The SDCA story

Our roots go back to 1874 when Dirk Tieszen, Sr. set a young girl’s elbow while on an immigrants ship coming from Russia. Later he set the dislocated shoulder of Heimrick Schmidt of Marion, SD. This is very significant, as we had a practitioner in South Dakota before D.D. Palmer discovered chiropractic in 1895.

Dr. Dirk set fractures and adjusted the spine from 1874 – 1913. He didn’t speak English, didn’t allow pictures of himself and didn’t charge patients. They even stayed with him and ate from his table. Later he had a dish out for twenty-five cent donations. Dr. Dirk had 12 children, including Peter, the founder of the first Tieszen Clinic, and his younger brother (by 23 years), Dirk, Jr., founder of the second Tieszen Clinic, both in Marion. Several historic panels trace the further history of the Tieszen family.

The first graduate chiropractor to practice in South Dakota was Elsworth Dowd. He graduated in 1904 from Palmer Institute and Infirmary in Davenport, Iowa.  Later, in 1906, it became The Palmer School of Chiropractic. He practiced in Waubay, SD. Roy Dowd followed in his father’s footsteps, graduating from Palmer College in 1911 and practiced over 63 years in Waubay and Webster.

In 1921 the first law was passed licensing chiropractors in SD. The doctors instrumental in promoting the law were Drs. Rensvold, A.W. Schwietert, J.W. Platte, Annis, Herbert Smith, Solberg, Tieszens, Severance and others.

The first license was issued to Dr. George Rensvold, a 1914 graduate of Palmer College. He was also appointed to the first Board of Chiropractic Examiners and became an active lobbyist for the chiropractors in the state legislature.  He practiced in Pierre, Brookings and Sioux Falls before moving to MN in 1942.

The SDCA was chartered in November 22, 1921. The three incorporators of the association were A.W. Schwietert, J.W. Platt and Charles Smith.The first convention was held at the Cataract Hotel in Sioux Falls with 36 voting members. Of major significance was a 13-page document with approval of the Principles of Chiropractic Ethics which still governs our conduct 80 years later.

By 1923 records show 103 chiropractors with many females. Eleven doctors gave 5-minute speeches at the banquet, with dancing until midnight. The annual membership fee was $30.00; with only 53 members they reduced the annual fee to $15.00.

In 1924 the first legislative battle was mentioned as the association moved to take steps to amend the Workmen’s Compensation Act to give employees the right to choose the method of healing amongst the licensed healing professions in the state.

In 1925 the legislature amended the chiropractic law to allow anyone who had practiced in the state for 10 years to be grandfathered in. The first three licensed were Dr. Peter Tieszen, Dr. Amon Ortman and Dr. Dirk Tieszen, Jr.

This concludes the brief history of the Firsts in South Dakota’s chiropractic history. Many other doctors should have been included, but there isn’t any written record of others who participated.