Posts from the ‘Townships of Barnes County’ Category



There were three ways land could be secured from the government during the period of settlement in Barnes County.  With only about two thirds of the government land in Barnes County settled upon by 1882, there were many opportunities to obtain a homestead.

  1. Pre-emption. Any citizen over 21 could secure a tract of 160 acres bye pre-emption and have one year in which to make payment for the land.  He paid a filing fee of $2.00 and after living on the land for a period of one year, he was required to pay for the land at the rate of $2.50 per acre if within the railroad limits or $1.25 if beyond the railroad limits (railroad limits being twenty miles on either side of the railroad).  If the land had not been offered for public sale by the government, the homesteader had two and a half years to make final payment.
  2. Homestead.  Any person 21 year of age and who had declared his intention to become an American Citizen could obtain 160 acres of land by filing such an intention, paying a fee of $14.00 and fulfilling the requirement of living and improving the land for a period of five years and then paying a further fee of $4.00 plus about $2.25 for drawing up the papers.
  3. Tree Claim.  Any person who was entitled to pre-empt or homestead land might likewise acquire 160 acres under the timber culture law.    In this case he proceeded just as in taking a homestead and the cost was the same.  Under this method he was required to plow five acres the first year and plant trees the third year.  This operation was to be repeated for three years, each year plowing another five acres and so forth.  At the expiration of eight years, upon proving that there were at least 675 growing trees on each acre of land, he then became entitled to the land by paying a fee of $4.00 plus a $2.25 cost of making out the necessary papers.  Forty, eighty or one hundred acres could be acquired this way but sine the fee was the same regardless of size, it paid to take the larger amount of land.
  4. In the event of the death of the claimant before the homestead was proved up, the heirs could consummate the proceedings.

Small Cook stove Only Heat Source

Small Cook stove Only Heat Source
A small cook stove was the only source of heat for pioneer day’s homes. For fuel, they hauled wood from the “Valley”, they dried buffalo or cow ships, and twisted hay and straw, and as a rule the home was either too hot or too cold. It was the duty of the children to turn the “chips” so that it would dry on both sides, and then pick them up in sacks to be taken to the house and stacked. With fuel so precious, no fire was kept at night, so when the below zero weather came, all the food was frozen solid

Blizzard of ’83 Kept Pioneers Indoors 3 Days

Blizzard of ’83 Kept Pioneers Indoors 3 Days
Next to the prairie fires came the blizzards; they came so fast and without warning. The winter of 1883 stood out in the memory of all the pioneers; three days they were shut in their homes. They ran out of fuel, faces and hands were frozen in trying to get to the fuel piles near the house. When the storm was over, many had lost the few cattle they had. Barns and haystacks were under the drifts, and long poles were needed to locate them. Then to dig down and get hay, feed, and water to the hungry stock. Peter Nelson and two daughters (Svea Township) were frozen to death in January 1884, the storm caught them while they were getting hay for fuel from a stack a half mile from home; they had settled there the year before. In 1896 snow began falling in October and lasted all winter, with storm following storm until all buildings were under snow or nearly so. That year, with the winter of ’87-88, stand out in the memory of the pioneers as the worst they experienced.

Townships of Barnes County

Alta Township

Organized February 3, 1896 under the name of Summit. Its name was changed
to Lanona March 3, 1896 and to Alta July 14, 1896.

Anderson Township

Organized August 3, 1903, as Ruth Township, its name was changed to
Anderson January 23, 1904. It was named for Alfred Anderson, only Swedish
settler in the northwestern part of Barnes County in 1881, and a man who
arrived in Barnes County on his twenty first birth at a time when land was
being homesteaded along the Sheyenne Valley and the NP Railroad.

Ashtabula Township

Organized August 3, 1914. The Post office and town site at the junction of
the Sheyenne River and The Baldhill Creek disappeared, but the Indian name
remained for the prosperous community and township to the present and for the
school, which, separated from the rest of the resort by the formation of Lake
Ashtabula, closed in 1960 when its district was dissolved. The resort grew up
at the site of the new Ashtabula Bridge, two miles north of the flooded old

Baldwin Township

Org. October 3, 1985, it was established originally as Algeo, no date given
for the name change. Named Baldwin for a missionary minister Father Baldwin,
who used to come there to hold services. With no towns within its borders, it
was always a farming area. Since its consolidated school in Section 22 closed
in 1956, students from this area attended school in Pillsbury or Luverne for
their education.

Binghampton Township

Organized January 7, 1888, name for a ghost town and Post Office
established within its boundaries.

Brimer Township

Organized February 2, 1909, this township was name for Andrew R. Brimer,
who come to Barnes county in 1879 from Dundee, Scotland, by way of Montreal as
a member of a construction crew building telegraph lines for the NPRR. He took
out a claim ten miles northwest of Sanborn, sent for his family and built a
four room house with lumber hauled from Sanborn. He then bought horses in St.
Paul to resell to the settlers of the area. Two school districts originated in
the township and four schools are no longer in existence.

Cuba Township

Organized March 4, 1895, as Fairbanks, after a local family, its name was
changed April 1, 1895, to Cuba after the community center. A dispute developed
over the township name because the Fairbanks family wanted it named after them,
but the others of the community did not.

Dazey Township

Organized April 7, 1886, the township was named for the town.

Eckelson Township

Organized June 8, 1909, it was named for the lake of that name.

Edna Township

Organized September 20, 1886, it was established originally as Booth
Township, which was also called Dana Township. Like the community and the
school, it was named for Edna booth, a daughter of Albert Booth, a settler of
1879 who later became prominent in agricultural affairs in the count and also
served as manager of the Nestor farm from 1907 to 1917.

Ellsbury Township

Organized January 30, 1907, the township was named for the rural Post
Office, which was name for George H. Ellsbury, the soldier, artist and manager
of the Tower Properties.

Getchell Township

Organized September 2, 1910, the township was named for Charles Getchill,
one of the earliest settlers in Barnes County, who was living here in 1879 when
the Northern Pacific Times began publication. His son George, later active in
Valley City affairs, lived nearby and had obtained his land at 45 cents per
acre in 1877 by buying government bonds. He sold it in 1880 at $14 per acre.
Getchell Township is supposed to have the best soil and most level lands in the
county. Getchell District No. 6 was organized in 1879, and its first school
building was erected in Section 15. Other schools were built in Section 9 and in
Section 25 of Stewart next to the river. All are closed. The two rural
churches, Zion Lutheran in Section 30, and Getchell Congregational in Section
15, closed because of the proximity to Valley City in the 1930’s.

Green Township

Organized March 3, 1894, the township was named for Judge David Nathaniel
Green, a former judge of probate in coldwater, Michigan. He, his family and a
number of other from Coldwater came to Stewart and Green Townships in 1881 and
took up land. He was married to the sister of A. H. Gray, another homesteader
active in community affairs and later a pioneer lumber man in Valley City. The
township was colorful with its Grays, Greens, Blacks, Lampmans and Knights. The
settlement was early called Gragreen. Judge Green was also a county
commissioner for Barnes County and a representative for the sixth Legislative
assembly. No towns grew up in Green township, the Grays, the Greens, and others
living instead in Valley city, not far away. As in Stewart Township few of the
first settlers remained, their place taken mainly by Scandinavians. The
Gragreen School No. 74 established in 1882, lost territory to Plainview in
Skandia until it was abolished May 18, 1915, when students went to Green
Consolidated. Students of Green Township had also attended Franklin in Hemen
Township and Planinview until Green Consolidated was built February 16, 1914.
Green Consolidated is now closed.

Greenland Township

Organized as Carlson Township, named for Andrew Carlson, Scandinavian
settler who came to Barnes County January 23, 1877. It name was changed to
Greenland, a descriptive name, February 17, 1896. Mainly Norwegians and
Hollanders in the township.

Hemen Township

Organized March 20, 1895, the township was named for Charles Hemen, one of
the early settlers. Enticed by reports of the large amount of prairie land open
for settlement, the first settlers came from Ontario, Canada. May returned to
Canada, but others, unable to get away, stay and built up the county. In 1881,
the first school district was organized, Dist 26 or Flach school, others soon
followed: Hillside #48 on November 14, 1882, Mansifield in 1882, Franklin #91
on March 5, 1895. The next settlers were sturdy Germans, most of who remained.
A few English and Swedes and also some Norwegians were in the eastern part.

Hobart Township

Organized March 1, 1895, and named for the town site, Hobart, it was fist
settled in 1879. Its population was mostly Scandinavian and German. By 1892
three district schools were in the township and a Swedish Church. Tow shipping
points in the township, Hobart and Berea, served as outlets for the shipment of
grain, stock, milk products and sheep. The Nebo Lutheran Church built here in
1890 was moved to Valley City during War War Two so that the cemeteries remain.
Descendents of the Swedish farmers live mainly in the north, and the
descendents of the Germans farm in the south.

Laketown Township

Organized February2, 1906, the township was named for Lake Ensign within
its boundaries. A farming area, it has no towns or railroads. Its three rural
schools in Section 10, Section 27, and Section 33 have been closed, and
students going to Wimbledon and North Central.

Mansfield Township

Organized February 4, 1910, the township was named for Henry Mansfield
Zellars, who, although he soon returned to Sanborn and became a blacksmith, was
the first settler to file on land in the township. George Gordon, who came from
Scotland in 1882 and was the second to take up land in Mansfield Township, had
a tree claim in addition to his preemption claim.

The early settlers built the fist school building in Section 21, near the
center of the township, which had neither railroad nor towns within its

Marsh Township

Organized April 1, 1912, Marsh Township was named for L. D. Marsh, later
Register of Deeds in Barnes County. He came here December 30, 1873, and settled
south of Valley City in Sheyenne Valley. Marsh Township had five schools.

Meadow Lake Township

Organized March 2, 1903, as Clark City Township, it became Meadow Lake July
6, 1903 the name is descriptive. The first settler, John Elliot, a native of
Longford County, Ireland, came here October, 1881, and filed on a homestead and
tree claim. A long slough used as a hay meadow gives the name to the township.
Will Jones, oldest settler, who came to Barnes County in 1880 from Wisconsin
with a group, platted Clark City to entice Easterners to settle. Another group,
all relatives, came from Iowa and settled. Meadow Lake Township has neither
railroads nor towns but does have Indian trails, mounds, tee-pee marks, fire
marks, and Indian grave.

Minnie Lake Township

Organized October 7, 1889, the township was named for Minnie Lake. The
township had neither railroads nor towns but had a church in Section 6, three
rural schools, and has coulees that are glacial outwashes and the Maple coulee.
The Minnie Lake Lutheran Church stuck by lightning and burned down, was rebuilt
on highway section 6. Richard Schuler and Edwin Priest came to the township
from St. Charles, Minnesota in 1880 and took up adjoining quarters. They built
the first school in 1880 and Frank E. Sherman became the first settler in the
township in 1879.

Nelson Township

Organized June 7, 1907, and named for Andrew Nelson, a Norwegian settler
and Civil War Veteran with the Minnesota Volunteers, who came to Barnes County
in May, 1878. He bought land in Section 2;7 on both sides of the Sheyenne and
built a log cabin in 1879. He also had a tree claim in Section 18 in Norma
Township, filed on a homestead formerly occupied by John “The Swede” Gust Lindahl.
In addition, he built a better cabin on the west side of the river and built a
frame house near his first cabin. Most of the other early settlers along the
river were also Scandinavians who came to Barnes County from Minnesota on
February 1, 1882. They met to organize School dist. 32 which already had been
laid out by County Supt. Sager. Mr. Nelson who died in 1884, and his wife, who
died in 1886 are buried on their farm.

Noltimer Township

Organized March 4, 1895 and originally called success, the township soon
had its name changed to honor Louis Noltimer, a prominent settler of 1880 in
the township. He was typical of the sturdy German pioneers of the community,
most of them protestant. Most of the families came from the same place in
Germany and most of them were related. The Irish, also settling in the
township, came to Dakota by the way of Canada. Many of them were Catholic and
also related. Henry Bruns and the Fischers were largely responsible for
reorganization of the school district into Noltimer Consolidated in 1915. The
Salem Methodist church was built in 1896.

Norma Township

Organized March 23, 1889, the township for a short time was called
Christville, origin of name unknown. The inference would seem to be here that
it was name for one of the Scandinavian settlers since Christianson,
Christenson, Christopherson, Christopher and Christ are common names among
them. No date is given for the name change to Norman Township, perhaps as a
derivation of Norsemen. When it was discovered that there was another township
in North Dakota by the same name, the Barnes County Township was changed to the
feminine form, Norma, September 16, 1904. Most of the early settlers were
Norwegians like Ludvig Lee, a settler of 1878. Hans Christopherson’s dugout was
probably the first primitive house inn Norma to be occupied. The first settler
to take a claim was Andrew Nelson in 1878. There were four early schools in the

Oak Hill Township

Formerly called Yucatan Township, it was organized July 6, 1889, as
Oakville Township and its name were changed to Oak Hill Township September 6,
1904, to agree with the name change of the site of Myron Walker’s mill. Some of
the earliest settlements in Barnes County were in this township. Daily,
established in 1879, was also the first school district in the county. Other
towns, now extinct, grew up along the river, flourished, and died. The township
was outstanding for its water powered mills established along the Sheyenne
River, which attracted settlers from long distances to trade. The railroads
infringing on the trade areas marked the decline of the towns and the mills.
Kathryn now remains the only village in the township.

Oriska Township

Organized November 21, 1887, it was named for the village of Oriska and was
settled mostly by people from Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Many were
of German descent. The farms were generally about three or four hundred acres
each. Tower city, originally part of Oriska Township is now listed in Cass

Pierce Township

Organized April 7, 1886, it was name for Frank Henry Pierce, a resident of
the township from Kendallville, Indiana, who filed in Section 18 in 1883. Settlement
had begun in 1881. The Soo Railroad built through the county in 1892, caused
the formation of Wimbledon. The fist school was built in 1894 and later with
two other early schools consolidated into district # 82.

Potter Township

Organized July 8, 1893, the township was named for Charles Potter, and
early settler of 1879. Several lakes, some hills, the main line of the NPRR,
Interstate 94 and National Highway No. 1 and the town of Sanborn make this
township extremely varied. Settled mainly by German Catholics, its location
near the center of the township has made it important to travelers since the
time when there were only Indian trails through the county.

Raritan Township

Organized April 3, 1888, the township was named by Mr. Liddle, B. P.
Stowell, and Wilbur Galbreath for the Raritan River in New Jersey near the
former home of J. P. Liddle. It is in the southwest corner of the county, over
thirty miles from the county seat of Valley City, but accessible to Lucca,
Nome, and Enderlin. The school, the center of the civic life of the community
and located near the center of the township was built in 1915. The original
building was replaced in the 1920’s by a two room modern school to include
student from the three rural schools in the township. The two teachers and ten
grade system became a one teacher and eight grade system as a result of the
depression. Finally, on June 30, 1961, the school was abolished.

Rogers Township

Petition for organization was filed March 22, 1904. The township was named
for the village of Rogers and settled largely by Scandinavians and Germans.

Rosebud Township

Name descriptive of the prairie roses growing throughout the area. The name
was changed to Rosebud September 6, 1904. Standing Rock, just across State Highway
46 in Ransom County, was an important landmark for the Indians as well as
others. As a result, many early trails crossed this township including those of
John C. Fremont in 1839, Sibley in 1863, and travelers between Fort Sisseton
and Devils Lake. In 1856 a Powwow was held at the Place-where-they
ate-many-dogs –Clausen’s Grove. The township was settled by one of the three
groups of Swedish settlers in Barnes County, plus other Scandinavians. A rich
trade area kept Litchville one of the two progressive small towns in the

Sibley Trail Township

Organized November 10, 1908, as Ladbury township, its name was changed to
Sibley, January 19, 1909, and finally to Sibley Trail Township, April 13, 1910
for the the route of General Sibley through the northern part of Barnes county
and particularly for the place where he crossed the Sheyenne River. The four on
room school of the township are closed. The Ladbury Congregational Church and
St. Mary’s Church of Wieland were built in the township.

Skandia Township

Organized January 28, 1891, the township was named for the rural Post
office of Skandia, and was settled mainly by Norwegians and Swedes, many of
whom came in the early 1880’s. Four schools were established in the township.

Spring Creek Township

Organized November 10, 1890, it was named for Spring Creek, which rises in
the North eastern part of the township less than a mile NNW of Hastings. The
rural schools are closed in the township. The Casselton-Marion Branch of the
NPRR goes through the township from the northwest to the southeast and passes
through Hastings and Litchville. State Highway number 1 bisects Spring Creek
north and south one mile from eastern boundary—from State Highway 46, to the
southern border of the township to Skandia on the North.

Springvale Township

Organized December 31, 1894, this township was named by Fred Maxim for the
county from which he and a group of settlers had come in Wisconsin. The name of
the county is descriptive of the springs in it. Bordering Cass County to the
east, this township had neither town, nor railroad, and only one major highway.
State Highway 32, which runs parallel to the west boundary of this township one
mile within it.

Stewart Township

The only township to be formally christened when named in 1881. Officially
organized February 1, 1910, it was named for James Stewart who came to Barnes
County August 4, 1874, chose a homestead for himself and also for his
son-in-law, and returned with his wife August 14 1878, from Jackson, Michigan,
along with a whole colony from central Michigan. In addition to the seventeen
families he induced to come with him, there were also Bohemians and Germans.
The first woman to teach in a frame school in Barnes County was Mrs. Omma Sweet
Sager, wife of the first elected County Superintendent, Edgar A. Sager, from
one of the Michigan families.

Svea Township

Organized April 3, 1899, Svea is a girl’s name in Swedish, corresponding to
“Sven”. Named unofficially long before by its Scandinavian settlers, it had
neither railroads nor towns. Three rural churches were established about 1882.

Thordenskjold Township

Organized August 2, 1886, the township received its name from the
Scandinavian settlers who combine the words, “thorden” meaning “thunder” and
“Skjold” meaning “color” or “shield”. Since the township is immediately north
of Standing Rock, the first settlers who came in 1878 found Indians nearby
frequently. Ole Baarstad, the settler nearest to Standing Rock, often bartered
milk for venison in 1879 and 1880. Lake Robertson was a favorite stopping place
for them and for travelers on the Fort Totten-Fort Ransom Trail. The Sheyenne
Valley between Kathryn and Eastedge, is listed by the State Geographical Board
as one of the places of greatest interest in North Dakota.

Uxbridge Township

Organized July 2, 1886, and named for Uxbridge Post office, its first
settlers were chiefly from Eastern Canada, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and the
Northeastern States. Its first homestead was filed on November 19, 1880 by
Margreth Fried, the first tree claim was file on the same day by Ulrich Fried.
Yards were laid out for a town in Section 4, its blue prints bearing the name
Hilltown, but it never developed because Gibson, later Wimbledon, was
established instead. Two railroads went through the township, the Soo and the
Midland Continental.

Weimer Township

Organized October 8, 1885, it was named for George Weimer, the first
settler, who came to the township before August 1880. A township without
railroads or towns, it borders Cass County and the Red River Valley on the
east. There were three school districts in the township, with one established
in 1881, are all out of existence. The rural church Minnie Lake Lutheran was
built and is closed.