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Full text of "The early history of Ransom County, including references to Sargent County, 1835-1885"

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Publisher's Booklet 
No. 20. 

ProTioni iBsnes bearing on N. D. loeal hlsUrj : 

k history of Larinaore to 1910, 186 pages. 

Moraine Township, SS p. 

The Early History of Inkster, 128 p. 

The History 9/ Qid Pembina, 168 p. 



OCT 23 i92Q 


Tms booklet w»* suggested some jean ag* tnm the fact tkal 
mrlf In 1903 the pablisher prepared for II. B. Oe La Bere« 
thtfi editor of the Sheldon Progress, a coaple of articles n? 
dtled ''Some hlarlj Visits of White Men to Kansom CMOtj.*' 
These vere published in the Progress in its issues of April t) 
A&d May 3, 1903. Mr. De La Bere is not now living, but wa« 
« loao that rather ought to have lived longer into the new cca* 
turj. The publisher was not personally acquainted with k\m 
bat may have seen him during some call made by him at tke 
Pioneer office in Larimore, if he was ever here. We do aot 
remember how long it may have been after the publication «f 
the articles mentioned that such a project as including ta oar 
series a booklet on Ransom County was considered, but it wm^ 
a number of years ago. 

The actual printing of this work was hnally brought abo«^ 
in an adventitious manner. The third chapter of a work ef 
tilled "The History of Old fembina," concerned fur com* 
panics and the fur trade, in its nature introductory, and goo4 
in whole or in part for two or three other contemplated bookk 
While the type was standing, pages with adapting changes^ 
were printed in advance for three other contemplated work8| 
and laid away until the Pembina book was finished. In that 
way pages 13—23 of this wcnk were printed in advance of the 
rest. The spiing was not good drying weather for printing 
(nkf so while unfinished sheets were drying, work was being 
iont on some other booK, and hence we were enabled to push 
the present one along considerably. 

Our pamphlets are printed in a house in town and with a 
limited private outfit, on a press improvised from a common 
copy-press. One page only is printed at an impresaioa, four" 
paged sheets being used each folded once. No maanscfipt it 
ased getting up these works. Aside from qaotcd matttz, each 
page is pat ia type as reached witiioat aa^ag a^j cof y« 

1. General Description. 

Location, size and drainage, 5, 6 — Topography and capaei* 
ties, 6, 7 — Railroad faciliries, population, landmarks, 7, 8— • 
Aborigines, 9-— The Sbeyenne, and direrse spellings, 9, lO — 
Bargent County, ii —Township diagram of Ransom Co., IS. 

II. Fur Companies and the Fur Trade. 

Inception of the fur trade, 13 — Early fur trading in Norlli 
America, 13, 14 — The Hudson Bay Company, 15 -The French 
in the Northwest, 18 -The Northwest Company, 20 — Earlf 
posts on Red river, 21, 22— Later organized companies, as,!). 

III. Some Government Expeditions. 

First visitants to Ransom County probably fur traders, 24 — 
Featberstonhaugh visits the Coreau des Prairies, 25 — The ex» 
peditinn of Jean N. Nic- Uet. 26 — At Devils lake and in Ra»* 
som County, 27, 28 -Nicollet's map, 28 — His methods and 
work, 30 --Injustice to Nicollet's memory, 3I--Capt. E. V. 
Sumner, 32— The Oregon trail, 32— Gen. Sibley's march 
through Ransom County, 33, 35— Fort Ransom, 36, 37 — The 
government freighters, 38, 40. 

IV. Civil Organization and Settlement. 

Creation of conntie?. 41— The earliest settlers. 43, 44 — Two 
classes of settlers, 4";— Remarks on the timber settlers, 46, 47 
— Drouth year, 48 — The governrpent survey, 49— How the 
townships were «rb(iividef^, 50. 5"? — Claitr shack days, 54, 57 
— County organization, 58 — The Big slough, 59— Glacial »«• 
floencfS and effects, 60, 61 — Karly days at Lisbon, 62, 65 — 
First church societies, 66 — Ransom County gold excitement, 
67, 70— The first start of Sheldon, 70. 72.— NoTK, 73, 74- 





RANSOM County is situated in the Bootbeftstera 
portion of N«»rth UHkota with one county between 
it and the eastern border of the state and likewise ob« 
eounty between it and the state line oi South Dakota, 
Other counties in the same part of the state which 
bound Kansom County on all lour sides are Barnes aud 
Cass north, Kichlaud east, 8argeut south, and LaMour* 
west. Its lorni is a purHllelograni and consists of 2^ 
government or congressional townnhips in four towua 
north and south and six ranges from east to west as tb» 
range numbers run. This makes the county 24 milw 
wide by S6 in length. It comprises 864 square miles 
or 662,960 acres. 

A notable drainHge feature of Kansom County ia 
formed by the J^lieyenne river, a moderate sized atream 
for its length. It enters the county some four miles 
east or its northwestern corner and flows in a general 
southeast direction to within six miles of the south line 
of the county, its course here being eastward for several 
miles; thence it swings around northward for about te» 
iniles, then turning east by north another ten mile*, U 
^aally passes out ol the coup I y aif |)nllea aoUtb of }t» 


fiortbtastern coroer. These distaDces are those acrosa 
towDsbips bisected by the river and do not takeaccouot 
of its windingH. Its southero extension and radical 
change in the direction of its course, forma what ia 
oalled the bijc bend or bow of the riyer. At four or 
five miles north of this bend, the loup thus formed ia 
uine or ten miles across from side to side. 

Maple river comes into the county for a few milea 
in the nurth part of Liberty Township and than taraa 
out again, being confined to a limited part of that 
township only, within the county limits. Dead Colt 
creek is a i>mall stream in the southern part of the 
county which flows east by north and then northerly, 
reaching the bow of the Hheyenne in the southwest 
part ol Big Bend Township. A stream called Bear 
creek is located in the west part of Kort Kausom Town* 
ship but scon leaves the im.ui ty and flows southwest to 
James river. Nicollet's map published in 1842, names 
it -'Mato Pahah or Grisly Bear Hill R.," and shows its 
Talley as lined with bluffs on either side. Besides the 
streams mentioned, Ransom County contains a few 
snail lakes. 

The surface of the county is generally undulating, 
being overxpreHd by a black, sandy loam underlaid by 
t clay subsoil. The topograpliy and capacities of tha 
county h»ve been described in the following manner: 

"First, that part in the southwestern portion of the 
ecunty conr prising about three townships, which is too 
light to depend upon for grain raising purposes, altho 
in wet seasons crops are grown upon it equal to those of 
other parts of the cointy. The water is very near the, 
surface and when tha land Lb left aadisturbed the grass 

grows more luxuriantly than on ih« high and hard 
prairie laods. Thin land oialces ideal stock farms. 

"Second, the Tallest and low lands along the Sbej* 
•one and Maple rivera. The valleys will average abomt 
two miles in width and extend in a semi-circle throagh 
the county over .Heventy miles in length. This soil ia 
rich and produces an abundance of everything which 
U grown in the state. 

**The third division comptiMing three-fourths of the 
Und of the county, is a level(?) prairie upon which 
single fields can be cultivated fur miles in length, and 
a 4(iil unsurpaHsed for fertility^ and it would be safe to 
say that not one quarter section in twenty would hava 
five acres of untilable land upon it." 

The county grows all kinds of grain and vegetables 
commonly raised in the northern ntates. The average 
siie of the farm^ are stated to be 320 acres. There are 
hundreds of artesian wells in the county, put down 500 
to 800 feet which flow an Hbundance of pure cold water. 
Many natural springs also abound in the county. 

The county is crossed by two lines of railroad, Tha 
Fargo A Southwestern, u brjinch of the Northern Pa- 
cific Kailroad, enters the county less than two miles wesi 
of its norihe>»st corner, runs through parts of Coburn 
Qreene, Liberty, Casey, Tuller (merely the southeast 
corner of this township). Island Fark, Fayetta and 
Koland townships, leaving the county nearly six milee 
north of its southwest corner. A line of the "8oo" 
system crosses the eastern part of the county running 
in a northwest direction. It enters the county fr©» 
Kichland County some six miles north of the southeast 
corner of Kansom County, and bisects 8aadoun, Owego. 


<80uthwesl corner thereof), Shenstone, Greene (sontli 
west corner) and Liberty townships, crossing the Farf^* 
line ill the Utter and leaves the county about 15^ milfg 
west of its northeast corner. Thirteen townships of 
the county are not touched by any railroad line* 

Stations in the county on the Fargo & Southweitern 
line are Goburn, Sheldon, Buttz?ille, Lisbon, Elliotl 
and EngleTale. Lisbon, the largest place in the county, 
is the county-seat, and is finely situated in the Sheyenot 
▼alley, iu Island Park Tuwuabip. Villages on the 800 
Hue are McLeod, Venio, Anselm, VVillard and Ender* 
lin. Atteiupt<i to locate towns in North Dakota away 
from railroad lines do not aaiount to much of anything. 
UurHl mail routes and the telephone syAtem are gentr* 
ally extended over the county. 

The people of Ransom County came largely from Wla- 
cousin, Iowa and Minnesota. CouAiderHbie portions were 
of ScandinaAian, Uerinan and other nationalities. The 
government census for the county, which then included 
Sargent and small parts of LaMoure and Dickey couo- 
ties, for the year 1880 amounted to 637 inhabitanta* 
Ib^1890 the county with itH present boundaries had a 
populntion amounting to 5,863; increased in 1900 to 
6,V19; in 1910, 10,345 inhnbitants aud the state ccnsna 
taken in 1915 gave the population as 11,045. It is es- 
timated that the county could s«ustain 30,000 people. 

Some natural and artificial objects of interest in the 
county are Bears l>en Hillock, Okiedan Butte, Standing 
Rock, remains of Fort KaDoom, and Indian mounds and 
objects of placed bowlders, stone circles and represent- 
ailons of animals. The btittes and streams were named 
on maps at an earlier date than |s ^ompionly supposed. 


Hannom County came within the Qountry that one* 
belonged to the Yankton dioux. The Sioux nation 
comprised several divition* and the larger clans were 
In turn divided into a few subdivisions which was the 
case with the Yaukluns or Yanktonais. The Sioux ori- 
Itlnally dwelt in the lake region of northern MinnesoU, 
from which they were expelled by the Chippewas who 
pressed westward upon them from the country south of 
Lake Superior. This took place sometime before 1760. 
Jonathan Carver found then» located along the Minn** 
iota nver in 1766. From this location their increasing 
bands were gradually lured into the Dakotas, (except 
the northern part ot North Uak»)ta which the Chipp©- 
w&t claimed) by the abundance of buflalo and oihw 
large game anim»ls. 

There dwelt at that early period along the Sheyenn* 
^Iver a different people trom the Sioux, called Shawaya 
or Shahiada, and in n.odefu limes the Cheyenues. They 
had their principal villa^je on the soutb bend of tht 
river, which came to be nanitd after them. This trilia 
the Sioux attacked and drove to the southwest aerosa 
the Missouri river. 

The valley of the Sbeyenuc is about two miles wld« 
and fairly well timbertd. l^OH«ibly it pieseuts the 
pame general appe»«rnnce now as when its course wa» 
first occupied by pioneer settler^i; but without taking 
account of artificial changeH there would be others less 
apparent and of a minor character. In aboriginal 
times aged trees blown over in storms lay where they 
fell and slowly rotted away, unless burned by prairie 
6res entering the valley; in any event large amountiof 
dead wood collected, later to disappear as needed bf 


Ibe flettlers for fuel; likewiHe the fire- scarred trankt of 
dead KtandiDg treen went the »ame way. There were 
places where large qiiantitie* of floatage stuff collected 
in the Talleja as brought down the streams in floodt; 
these collectiunut settlers used or burned away. We do 
Hot know how it may he on the Kheyenite, but in some 
jfttreatn ralleys in the iitate there are traceable old 
ftbandoned channel beds which extend fur some di»- 
ilance and then rejoin the fixed stream bed. They were 
probably caused by the benver's habit of building dans, 
thereby forcing the stream to cut a new channel in the 
Wttom land ot its valley fur Mume distance. 

The 8heyenne has been called a "historic stream." 
probably the name of no other river in the Northwest 
haw been spelled by travelers, explorers and militarjr 
^en, also on maps, in so many different ways. Below 
^s given a collection of varied spellings. The earlier 
ijtuthorities knew the stream only where it flows acrott 
Kichland and Cass cotiutiei*. Capt. Alex. Henry mereljT 
law its timber belt at a distance. 

Shyan, Alex. Henry. 1800; also Feathergtooli'att]j^iC 
3hienne, Prof. Wm. H, Keating. 1823. 
Shayenn OJU, Nicollet's map, 1842. 

Shayenne, Capt. Pope, 1849. 

Chienne, a Smith's schcol geography, 1849. 
ShayODCOJa, a map printed in 1850. 
Cheyenne, Alex. Ramsey, 1851. 
Shayenne, McNally's Geography, 186a. 
Shyenne, Mitchell's Geography, 1866. 

Sheyenne, Cheyenne, Iregveat poderi t^Uii^ 

xiltHmUkt. DKRUHlpTlOV 11 


jiargeDt County is located uezt south of Kansoiq 
County, the South Dakota f.tHte line beini^ it§ south 
line. It hag Kichland Couuty ea«t and Dickey County 
west. Its principal drainage feature J8 Wild Kice rifer 
f^hich courseH in a northeast direction through the east 
half of the county, leaving the same about five miles 
south of it« northeastern corner. In the west part o/ 
the county there is some drainage toward James riTer« 
There are several lakes in Che couuty usually not noUi4 
on our modern mapH. 

The physical characteristicf of the couuty are much 
the same as those that hnve been mentioned for Kanson) 
County. Saigent County in rather better provided with 
railroad lines than the other, the iireat NortherOt the 
Northern Pacific, the Milwaukee, and the Soo systemt 
all being represented in the county. The county wa^ 
created and organised in 1883. Forman is the county 
seat and some other towns are Milnor, Delamere, Har*^ 
lem, Cogswell, Hansom, Rutland, Havana, Brookland, 
8traubville and ftrampton. 

The following is the population of 8argent County at 
different times, according to various census returns; 
In 1885, 8,234; in 1890, 6,076; in 1900. 6,039; in 1906, 
7,414; (the census for 1910 we do not have io b&nd)^ 
|iod the ftate census of 1915 gives 9,634< 









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FBOM ftbuut the ihirteeDih century there arose is^ 
Europe among the higher classes an iDcreasiog de» 
aiand for furs of the finer sort. Aiiirr.als that furnisl^ 
the tco^t valuable iuii» are deiiizeiiH ot either cold ff 
.cold temperate regncs oi the lu/rthern hemisphere. 
The EuropeaD euppl^ of ^ur8 hud maiLly cobi« from 
%he regious arGUod the i:5aitic and Black eea^, but the 
tftkiijfi; of CoiiBtaiitinopie by ii.e Turks in 1463 inter- 
rupted trade of all kiiMJIs< b*iv^eeL Europe and the East. 
Ja tt Urge measure the old trude routes to and froBB 
Ihf Orient ^*«efe perwiaiienily disrupted. In the seveM' 
ieentb century the chief pioiivs that led the Hu^siaBSt* 
^ake possesfeioG of iSiberia was to acquire a country fro» 
which rich storea of valuhble tm» Oiighi be obtaiDed. 
. When voyajfea began to be made to the noilherD 
Atianfic ccasto ol AniericH. but r.iore especially when 
.«euiement8 began to l>e es^tabliKl.'fd on the bays »n<i 
nloDg the tide-water riyerh «f the seaboard plait* during 
ihe first half of the seventeeDth century, the fact bejraw 
to be recognized that the gre^t wildercefcs regions of 
North America niust be h storehouse of valuable hidea^ 
skins and fura owing to the large variety of anioriah^ 
that wf5ie deniaens of the five^ts and swamps of th« 
^continent Hud tviih thf> e^kiitB of ^hicb ihe aboriginai 
inhabitants clothed theDf*lvt'«. The l>utcb who had 
located on MsnhattKU iaiand and along the HudscD 
paid considerable atteution to bartering with the In- 
dians, but the territory from which they drew auppiiea 
was not extensive. lu New England some attention 
svas given by individuals to the coUeactioo axid ^hippiii^ 


pi furs to Knglaiid, but ihe colonists Id general cared 
little for Lbe bufcinetis; nioreuver, their relentless annir 
■hilation ot almost whole tubes etimioated in that seC' 
tiou of the country one of the principal factors of tbo 
(ur trade, it has been said that the Indians meltp^ 
iiw&y from coiituct with the Anglo »ason race like tbd 
irost belore the south wind. 

On the other hand, the geographical position of the 
|<ren,ch on the lower ijt. J.Hwrence, the northerly UW lo which their ^eitlen^ents were made, tbeir eas/ 
access to the Great Lakes hy natural waterways, the 
alHioxl unlimited sc(>^»e ot territory that lay opeo to 
«Lhem to the west ot Can^tda, conibined with a natan^ 
proclivity of establishing and uiaintaiuing friendlj 
leiations with m<jat of the Indian tribes with whomibey 
jcame in contact, gave the^ special advantages iaeecui- 
ing the bulif of the fur trade prior to about the begin- 
ning of the last century. 

In the latter half of the sjevenieeDtb century the 
j^merlcan fur trade had become well eHta'plisbed. Tb« 
J>ench pushed into the new regions of the west with 
persistence and daring energy. It is evident that one 
jof the leading motives of LaSalle in securing the linai 
i)f the Illinois river and building forts in its valley, Jaj 
in the que^t ih^n being made for beaver hkins and buf-r 
falo hides, 'J he fur trade ot the Ej-ench evolved the 
"^'coureurs de« hois" or rangers of the woods, and the 
I'voyageurs," canoe or boatmen. The first were origin- 
ally traderH who made long trips to the Indian country, 
sometimes to be gone a year, but in course of time they 
|;«me to adopt, in a measure, Indian ways of life aad 
fJress. Many of them toojc Indian wi^es ap^ ^^P '*^ 


©fhalfbreeda thus had their beginning. The number 
•of the coureurs dea boi^ wm8 increaeed Romewbat by 
Tagrants who preferred the freedom of the woods to 
the restrrtints of civiliEntion. As a special data they 
Jiecaine useful in ynrious wajs in eunuefitioD with the 
Yur trade. 

The Jesuit and Fr»Dci»<caD miBsiuDaries accompasied 
«r followed in the track of the early expeditions, minis- 
Seriog to the si^ck and the ^tainded and receiving the 
isonfepsions of those who die^d far froDj boni*. They 
also e8t»b]ij»bed misjsions for the IndiaDH, as at ])ctroit, 
>licbiliinacinack (Alackinaw), Careen Bay ^nd LaPointe* 
They were men of honored memory, sopie few of whom 
have left their names attiuched lo counties, towns and 
cities that ciime into beii isr long after their lime. 

During the French legime in Cana/ia the poliey of 
the governori general was that of looking after th« 
operations of the lur traders. To legally engage in the 
business of the fur trade, the tradert- were mppcsed to 
carry a government license), otherwise ihey were HahJe 
to have any wtock of fins they pnight bring down to 
Quebec seized and confiscated. Ibis license tax on 
their business the traders wonld evH<le if they could. 
I.aSalle accused Sieui de Lutb with trafficing with the 
Indians in an unlicensed manner. The sale of spiritu- 
ous liquors to the Indians was strictly prohibited. 


In 1656 the two adventurers, Radisson and GrosseiU 
tiers, brrugbt down to Quebec from the region of th« 
(jireat Lakes a flotilla of canoes manned by Huron 
tudians and laden ivit)i furs. They were ijinUceDse^ 

■ " '■''■■■' ' ^j 

traders and beaide^ lite iiabilitj of having thMr stoek 
■of furs confiscated by ibe Canadian officials, were alse 
liable to h^ puuinhed tor violation of the law. But the 
.occasion fur trade juMt then being a matter of impor- 
tance to the h)kabitani»> of Quebec, the affair was wiak* 
•d Ml by the authuriiieM aiid the lic«D«ed tradera, ku| 
lor that time only. On a t>iuiilar visit to Quebec foiur 
^eax8 later, theee tratiej* bad their large Mtock of pel^- 
\itieH twized by tbe a^utbofitie» and confiscated. 

Thwreafier tfee two advtuiuitrs geem to have bee« 
»e«dy to eircumve.M auiboiilien b} fo»e method of 
^^pe&itjji; trade wiib ti<e 'r j glinb by way of liudsoo Bay, 
the «bore» of which the Knj^ligh claimed. They tried, 
however, to induce ibe uier<;haut« of Qutbec to eend a 
feasel to the bay, havinj? pre^nmably gone in thai tfirecr 
lion iaboiit the year 16t)i(J. Next they went lo Boston and 
> C(brtain Cupt. (iillani i^ said to have made a voyage t* 
-4he bay. The adventurer* then went lo France wher* 
they aie believed to huve gotten letters of introdnctioB 
to persons of note about the court ol Charles Jl ef 
England. One renult of J^l.hlevei <>.on{«renekK wer# 
held w»>> the fcrniiDg ot a <jocyp»ny to traCe in Bodson 
hnf. litis was hbout 16«7. in 1668 the compaDy seal 
iwo ships to the bay one of which with Kadisson aboard 
»»ever reached it. The other commanded l)y the Capi. 
iiillam before mentioned wintered in Jamea bay. A 
trading post whs built near the mouth of Bupert river 
«nd considerable trafficing wan done with the Indiana. 
In 1669 the ship reached England. 
* The company now sought to obtain chartered rightt 
iwbich the king the more readily granted since himself 
* Ajid brother, tbe Otike of York, ^d ta#^ »^km th© 

Tum la'o^onami- bay *comrAJnr If 

^aatorprssa. The compucj? cuuitiiied of th« kjog, duk% 
Prijit* Bupert and tw«l?e other memberi. The cbiri«t 
#M dftted AUy 2, 1670, tiiid dttsignated tb« Mtocialiom 
«s "Tb« QoTernor and ConipaDj of Adventures of Eag^ 
laod 'iradiDK with Hud»ou Bny" but they came to b« 
known at the Hudson B»y Company. The charter Teil- 
ad the compauj in the ownership of all the territory 
irained by riverti which :fi()wed to Hudson bay, tbia 
territory to be called Jiu^trt's Land. Tbt* 8:o?erB»eAi 
f?a» through a governor and^touncil responsible to tbe 
trtiwn for a proper ttdDiinifitrHiiun of sfTaira. 

For a long period the sgenu of ibe ccBipany clnng te 
the shores of the ba^ aud made »o effort to establish trad- 
ing po8t« in the interior of the country. In fifteen yeai^ 
.lifter the charter was f iven them theeompany bad ei^- 
iablihhed only five posts, all on the khores ef the bay. 
Their policy .was to encourage tbc Indians to bring their 
peltries to the posts on ti>© shores of the bay. Other 
«bips weie seht to the bay from time to time, oa« ei 
which had liadissan on board who succet'dfd in reaeh- 
ing his dfBtiretroD A*.vi<«t 1 t-ii g turrfd \)»e\i by the 
ijllosing of the pa^ssge icto the buy by ice. 

Ir 1690, the htuartu ha Ting btc^n e^J^pellfd from E»g- 
Jand, the coiK|)a,ijy a^ked of J'arlionjent a confirmation 
,of their charter. That.bcdy woiuld only eenseat that 
the company's tenure should coniiune setes more years 
after which the charter onigln beaniiiilled. Whtn that 
time had expiitd tie i< n | *»> riic' l< i ssk Icr any re. 
toewal, seeming to dread any thing that would direct 
public attention toward them. However, some one 
.called the attention tf Perliament to the matter at an 
undesirable monopoly. At that ime £fi^gl*nd mi 

TjL^ xna 'JtA>jajtt¥ mwmoa^ <^ ea^ksom county 

^France were nt, war Mud tho members had other things 
j^lodkcttss, »• thaV4h^ Hudson Bay Company matter wa# 
il«d away and forgotten, nini b«:iJC« the company's teo^ 
gure of the territory they claimed remained undisturbed. 
Had it been otherwise the quevtion might have arisei 
ia Farliame&t as to the right of Chtirlaa II to give away 
territory which included lauds wherein no £ngIi«h»»B 
Jud tbeu set foot, the extent of which was unknowD. 

JDurinj; the first two w;arH betweeu England and 
jPraoce in which ;be American colonies were inyolTed^^ 
tome of the Hudspn Bay Company posts were iake^a 
and held by the French of Canada. By the peace of 
^trecht signed in X713 tlteie were restored to the Eos* 
lish. The j^overnor and coMucil.of the company w%n 
j^ihoseu from among theitteiuhers asd rer>ided id LosdoSt. 
At least annually a ship \iHited the bay to bring baek 
4fae cargo of furs that th« po^ts had collected. The 
principal post was located at the mouth of Nelson ilTttr 
mud called York Factory. The person in charge of a 
j)oat was called the chief factor. 


The most conspicuous i^ersonage of the seeondquavter 
©f the eighteenth century who was engaged i» explorik- 
tionand fur trading west of t-be Great Lakes, was Pierre 
Gnultier Vfireniies, otherwise known as Sieur de la Ve- 
rendrye. He wata xon of a mugistrHte of Troie Rivi- 
eres and young in life entered the military service. I«s 
iQueen Anne's war, 1702-1713, he saw some active ser- 
Tice, taking part in a demonstration against New £n^ 
Jand in 1704. Two years later he went to France 
'to pATticipate io tbe frar on Eyropai^B^pl^. hf^^ ^ 

ijfe Verendrye is found actively engaged in biiildinf 
irading posta on Red river and the Assiniboine and in 
#earcbin^ for the "Shiniug Mouutainti," beyond whieli 
^118 suppoxed to lay tbe Pacific Ocean. 

In 1728 Vereudrve re-t-stabiiRhed an abandoned po*l 
At liske Nipigun la 1780 hv wa^ vifiited there by aa 
^Bsiniboine chief Bam»d Ucbngnch, Hildas a result of 
inquirieM ntade by Vercndrye in regard to canoe rootMi 
to tli(? chief's Country, the latter dierf a rough nap of 
th«» IftkfB and Btreanas iDteiTeuing between the head of 
li»ke Superior and tb^ Kt^d Kiver Valley. VerendryiB 
took this map to the itovcinor «t Can«d& ^nditreaslled 
iu the exploratioDw ct)iiduct«*d Inter by Verendrye, kh 
sons and nephew, Jerenaje. A strong incentiye to tbcte 
operations rtut the tnd»'a3rt>r to dlfCOTer some »«rt ef 
\waterw«y that would It-ad to the Pacific Oeeau. 

Verendrye organized a fur company in Montreal and 
at his own expense both Bent and led expeditiona idId 
the Lake of the Woods country and the Red Ritei V»V 
ley. Posti were built at tbe lake mentioned, at RaiD^ 
lake, at lakes Winnipeg and Manitoba, at the moutb of 
♦he Assiniboine, and one near the Bite of Portage U. 
Prairie in 1738. Tbeir trade was mainly with the Crees 
«nd Aasiniboines, This was entering upon andexploir 
ing a region covered by the grant of tbe Hndeon Bay 
Company. Verendrye died in 1749, but tbe French 
continued to occupy the country until the Eoglisb ef»- 
queat of Canada in 1760. The fur trade iu tbe ▼alley 
then languished, passing into tbe bands of indiTidnaU 
jtraders. The ponts that the French built ioutb of th# 
International boundary were the two in tbe border lake 
fegion, Fort de ^ois Blacc (site of ^att Cjifaod S^oxk*l 

and probably one oppof*ite ilie mouth of Pembina rivdf,. 
yhe Huditon Bny Oooapany h&d neglected to push their 
dperntioni^ into the interior and so the French comiBg 
in from CenadH, hi<d \»Ve» advuDtfife of the fact. On 
&c«oi2st of th^ pr(>^>«ncr vi the Frercb in the Red and 
\m the AssiBiboiLe 7»lh vf>, the EngliRh bnilt a trading 
post in 1742 on Aibnny river about 150 nilee above iU 
mouth, in & dozen or jnore yeaia Verendrye accom- 
pliabed AlmoKt Hfl icuch >i^» the ii^reat company had 4on« 
in 70 yeara. 


Paring the period aft*r 1760, owing to the Engllah 
aonijueat of CanadA^ the fur trade aa carried on froB& 
that province, was conducted by individua) tradera^ 
Thefig men competed ^iih one another and M>)d )i«|«or 
to the liidiHRB. Jilatterii in these regpecta grew ]aJL an*! 
a train of abuses w»ib engendered. To remedy mallem 
in 8orae meapure, and to prosecute the for trade hi » 
B)ore systematic manner, severa) inerch«Dt» at Meat' 
real formed an HBROciatJon called the ''Compagne dl». 
Nord Oue»t," or Northwest Fur Company. This Wft«» 
organized in 1788 and four yeara later they absorbed » 
rival compMn> oi fur traders. Ih* principal parlnera 
lived in baronial style at Montreal and Qoebee; lh©j>» 
besides these there w^re junior partners who resided at 
the trading po^ip in tletu; ituntrj an«i looked aftf» 
the busineaa of the company. 

The Northwest Ctompapy, a« it came to be ealled^^ 
followed a different policy than thet ol the Hudson Bay 
Company. They sect their Hgents into the Indian 
jpouDtry and built poau ther?. By the year 1787 $^ 


■; . ' ' '■ ~-— > — — - — " ■ ■ . ■ , 

!h«d b«gur. i(» conduct operttioux is tb« Red River 
VftDe^. Tb«ir pri)4clp»] p( ^l wrw At KaBainistiqaiA, 
.later called Fort WilliaRi, ou Thunder bay of J^k* 
i^uperior. AUer the compaDj bad become well estelK 
linhed in iht' n<>r(bwe>>tf rn country, tbe annual gatktt- 
iug of their oflkers ai>d employees were beld there 
daring each succeeding sutuuip. Fensting, drinking^ 
retelry, ^ith occa»ijBaI brawU, cburacterized the 4f> 
ings of the place /or a number of daya. The coBVon 
amplcyeea often upent their year's earniuga in li<}««r» 
And ia trinkets, gewgaWN and $nery for their IsdiMi 

A traveler called <"ou»t Adiiani visited the eountr; 
in 1791 Rrd represented that n<0Bt of them bad becofl»e 
6€)UDd to service by reason of their indebtedness to the 
($empnuy posts for goods received. Many of tbeee em 
ployeea were halfbreed?, ccmmoBly called Bois Bmk)^ 
(>r "Burnt Woodii" on account of the color of their »ki». 
But the men. whether halfbreeda or whites rather Hke^ 
their connection with the fur trading business, thovgh 
on the whole a rather hard sort of life bewt by mimev- 
pu8 perils. 

An individual trader whose name is not now kimve 
appears tr> havf* been located at }>p)biua in 1780. He 
was a Canadian Frf nchtsn and was fonird there 41^ 
years later by Major long'? party. It should not be 
supposed that he oiaintain^d a continnoes reiidenee al 
Pen^bina since the traders changed about oeeasioBally^ 
Other persons of whom we b}<ve accounts a9 trading in 
the valley prior to 1SC0, appear to have been in the aer- 
vice of tbe Northwest Company. Feter Grant built fr 
post opposite the moutb of pe^nbina river wbflre the ei<9 

^ 72|j( i.4^U7 m-s:roWf ow rahsom countt 

^f St. Vi»(^t»H? now, ju 1794 or 1795. About 1795* 
» trader uninf^i CbnboiiifZ built a poM on the west 8id« 
rf JR*>d river »n<i jpgt south of ih«? pouth of PenabiDa 
river, which h? culled Kort Paubian. Noneof thewpost^ 
about Fembinft w«?rt continuously occopied. Tanner 
AtRteH timt nlxen hf- f^ui] ChAbviUez CMtn^ tber«, no In- 
4i»ns or wLk^-p if^ere rt-widing thfr*. 'J bei» thraa jear^ 
lat^T CHpt. H^nrj found the plA«e d«8«irt«d. 

Fftither up \<*>ii rivei vhc-re were three other tra<Ki»f| 
^OfilH, two oQ the wf-f^r it:)d vrip mi the eMntside. Ooewa* 
OftlUd Koy'? Mi.nbwfft Con pj^iy post, which wai aitke 
mouth of Bi>': f^ttli (Jorei'l) river, inriHintained f»«Bi 17i5^ 
to 1800. I>a7id TboniT»'cu, antronopier uimJ geograplMf 
of the >cjthwei»t (YnipHny, oi, his way to Case }*k*, 
?.tor>{.ed with Roy IkUrcb 22, 1798. The wther we»t tWe 
p<w»t was «t the nnouih t)i Twrtlf river where the viliagc 
vt Turtle Hiver i» located. A trader nawe^ Daniel 
WcKpnzie wa<« in cbarjre of this poBf fro»> 1787 to 17W 
when he left it to go to unotber pont, when it wae ab»9^ 
^oned. The third or eaut side post north of the B^mb 
of Bed Talc river bitd beru culled Fort de Boie Bleno 
(the Whitewood fort), but })robably in the last deeade 
of that century |t wn« known an (jrandfR Fourcliea. Ijp, 
1796 it wan occupied by J. B. Cadotte Jr., and tken ihe 
place WR8 abRudoDed an a tradinir point nuti) Captain 
fleary'a time, 


Three other companies that conducted operatione i^ 
the Red River Valley mey l>e mestiooed. The HndioQ 
Bay pomppny began to trade in the falley about %Ytp 
besinning of the laat oentpry fip4 owin^ (p $om»dlmfnt: 

iOSrX LMtltB efOmTA»11i» 

:.ion» Alez. McKeDzie and others formed in 1801 a new 
fbr trading organixatiuu enllcd the X, Y. GompaBy, 
M} caii^d becbUfie thene letters ce»>e next after the W 
Ml North West Compaoy, meaning too that they BeaBI 
(o follow coBipauv wiih nt^arp eumpetition. Trad* 
lug houseg now hecaine more numerous than befov«t 
hi 1805 this orgaoizatiou wnt merged iuto the Kortlk 
west Company. 

A late formed aasoeiatior. wss called the Coliubift^ 
Fur Company organized by Joseph KeoTiileand othen 
ii) 1822 owinf!; to the uniting of the Northwest and Ha4^ 
eon Bey companies the preyious year. They made mt€ 
of the discharged employees of the Northwest Company 
who numbered about 900. and established their b«a4« 
quarters tit Lake Traverse. 

Another association, organized in 1882 was eaHed the 
American Fur Company. Their headiiuarters was at 
St. Louis from which place steamboats weres^Btnptke 
Missouri river, ttlong which they had trading poatt is 
the Dakotas and Montauo. Joe Bolett« traded for fnrd 
for this company at Pembina. 




WE have no record of the first white meo wko 
iDAy bnve ventured into the BectioH of thecoun- 
trj comprised in Khdboqj and Sargent counties, but 
possibly they were persouB connected with the Colum* 
bi» Fur Company, buntiDg and trapping along. tb* 
Wild Kice and 8beyenne. The company mentiontdi 
maintained a trading post at Lake Traverse which wm 
Dew when Major LongV ezpeditiuu passed that wftyiv 
going to Pembina in July, 1823. This post was aboHl 
75 miles southeast. from the center of Kansum CouiOljU 
Prof. William H. Keating of the University ol Penit* 
syUania was the historian of Long's expedition. Hit 
OD^p repre8ent«< the Hheyenne river as rising about 
where HansoHi County is situated and as flowing nortb* 
east to Red river. The bow of the Bheyenne in Hanson 
County was not yet known. Major Long*» party did 
not cross any of the tributaries ot Ked river in Nurtk 
Dakota since their march, for the most part, was dovi^ 
the Minnesota side of the valley. 


-As long ago as when Jackson was President tfcore 
had been established by the government a body ol 
men called the Bureau of Topographies) Engioeers, 
In part their work was of a geographical natare» vMt» 
ing with military escorts little known portioBt of tbf 
territories, mapping the lakes, streams and land belgbtiy 
also-ascertaining such details as altitudes, latUvdf aiN) 

]oogitude of various points, the width nod depth of thei 
arreftOQ*, H»d oth^r particniHra, their findings being* 
•fubodied in reporta and accompanjing mapa. 

H. W. FeHtber»tonhaugii, an Knglishinan under thfr 
litl#» of U. 8. Ueolf>|fiHt, *'wh8 cummisfiiiiDed by Col. 
J. J. Abert, of the bureau of topograpuieai eDgineera^ 
with itK»<e and apparently aimlesM iDstructiooa to exe* 
cote waoderinga in the weHtern country." In 1835 he 
made a canoe roynge up the Minnesota ri?er and alau 
visited the land heights called the Coteau des Frairiea, 
ut highlands of the prairieH, which have their nortberu 
limit in Sargent oounty. I'rof. Keating gave sonA 
account of these land heighta but hia information Wft» 
derived from ihefur tfrHdert*. He estimated their heigh| 
above Big Mone lake to be not short of 1,001) feel. It 
waM reports of that nature that lured FeatheratonhaugU 
to the then little known region of thene highlands. 

He estimated the Coteau to rise about 450 feet above 
the adjacent prairief, the accent being rather gentle* 
&ot more tLan at the rate of 160 feet per mile. **Tbe 
Coteau itMelf in only another upland prairie, somewhat 
more diversified than that I had left behind, having 
aumerouH small wooded lakes on its surface, wbich 
have a very picturesque npftearance. From the plateau 
here there i» an extensive view uf the prairies below, 
with the lakes. The prairies in every direction ar» 
bounded only by the horizon; a few occaiional treea 
indicate stagnant water. It is two good day's marcb 
from here to the tihyan, and eight further to Pembina.'^ 

From the eztractM from his description we cannot 
state how many men composed his party or whether b6> 
entered Sargent and Ransom counties of not. 



Jean N. Nicollet whs a Frenchnian by biith. He 
was born in the ?illMee of Glumes, France, in 1786. TbiA 
place 18 located in the department (county) of Hautd 
Bavoie, about 25 miieH southeast from Geneva. Nicol- 
let studied astronomy under La Place and in 1817 he 
was app(»inted librarian of the Paris obnerTatory. With 
a trood equipment of the physical knowledge of his time 
he sailed from Brest tor the United Slates in 1831. 
After arriving in this country he entered the service 
wf the Bureau of TopogrnphicHl Engineers. After ex- 
ploring the basin ol the lower Missisr<ippi river and ita 
affluents in the south, he v%as next assigned to the region 
of the upper Mississippi with headquarters at St. Louis, 

The geogrnphical and other work now done in Iowa, 
Minnesota and the Pakotas was more thorough than 
had been done before by the united eflforis of all pre- 
viuus explorers. In thef«e later explorations which 
covered the years from 1836 to 1843, Lieut. John 0. 
Fremont was Nicollet's principal aid and assistant from 
the time of his appointment, July 7, 1838. That year 
the field of work whs in what if n<.w Minnfsota. 

In the Muiinier vi 188^> Nicoilft's party went U|* the 
Missouri river on a steamboat that plyer] the stream if) 
the service of the AuierirsH l*ur Compai'V, and landed 
at Fort Pi«-rre Cboteau with seventeen horses. Having 
been taken across the river, the expedition started for 
James river valley on the 6th of July. They traveled 
in a northeastern direction across the upland between 
the two rivers and reached the "Biviere a Jaques" (aa 
{he James river was then called) at a trading post of the 


^Loierican Fur Company called Oakwoud Settlement 
ui) James river, or Kivittre a JtiqueH »g the lur trader^ 
then called this stream. This trading poet wa^ near 
the south line of Brown County, S. 1>. The line oi 
march waft next up the «vei»t i>ide of James riyer to Bone 
Hill (in LaMoure County), whence, having crossed Ibe 
river, they continued noriheast to the k)he>enne riy«r,^ 
which was reached a tew miiefi below where Valley City 
Jr uow located. This stream whs followed up toward 
lievilH lake. The 25th and 2t»th ot July was spent about 
a group of small lakes south of the upper reach of tb« 
Bheyenne, of which Lake Jessie in one, so named at 
that time in honor «.f Je^iiie (Benton) Fremont. Od 
one of the last days of July the expedition arriyed on 
ihe south shore of I 'evils lake at a butte which NicoUet'a 
map callri Chantre Hill. 

A week or more whs spent around the lake and in ita 
vicinity, mapping its ouiline>*, noting physicnl features, 
pnd making observaiioof. I he lak^ is nnmed on Nicol- 
let's map "Mini Wakan Lake (Devils L.)" and Stumfi 
lake as "Wamdushka" lake. The expediiion camped 
at the south end of the eH^tern arm of IStump lake Aiv* 
gust 6, and from thence the) marched eastward through 
the southern part of Nelson ('ounty xnd into the west- 
ern part of Urand Forks County, which locatio* waa 
reached August 8th. They were now ou the weSterD 
yerge of the Red River Valley, but it wfis not to 'S\eoU 
let's purpose to spend time looking over plains already 
mapped by Prof. Keating. Their courne was therefor^ 
changed southward through Steele and Barnes counties 
and into Ransom County, again reaching the Sheyenpfi 
fiver about wher^ Fort Hansom was Utff located. 


The object of the expedition during this southward 
march was to reach, rxplore aud map the Coteau dea 
Prairies. Tbe^e uplands in Houth Dakota and Minne- 
Aota had been mentioned by tnivelers as the regioD 
froiD which the Indians obtained the red pipfistone, 
but tbnt part o1 the west hitherto bad been ' but little 
▼isited. The party were about the bow of the Sbey- - 
91106 io the middle of August, 1839, and beyond this 
time their stay was short in the area of country now 
liumprined io Hansom County. 

MCoLi^Ki'i!) Map 

'Wie map to whi«h reference has been made, measar-^ 
^d about 2^ by 8 teet and wsn printed on thin paper ^ 
•o as to fold up in a pocket of Nicollet's published - 
feport. It WHS called "The Map of the HydrOgrkphicAl" 
Basic of the Upper Mi^f^isnippi Kiver," snd is dated ^ 
1842. The territory covered embrHces the entire statea 
af Iowa and Minnesota a?d parts of others that adjoin "* 
them. To some extent the map was based on otheea'^ 
preceding it. but HfyerthelesKccmlained whutweretheD 
fftany new geographical features, particularly in what 
is now Minnesota and the eastern parts of >orth |tod^ 
South Dakota, then all Indian country except for 'a JtW- 
ttiilitary posts and fur trading establishments. ' Id laterv 
years Gen. G. K. Warren pronounced Nicollet'i map 
*'oDe«f the greatest contributions ever made to Amer- 
can geography.'^ • .-- 

' The area of a county would comprise bat small spacf^'^ 
on the map were any shown at all, which of cot»r8e la/ 
not the case. There is Wisconsin Territory on the pMi^ 
oT it east of the Mississippi and Minnesota (ft^walajiOt" 
shown on the reduced portion of it at hand) and fjO^ 


Minnesota itself the only i.ame on the map for any 
part ot it is^'Undine Kegioi/' Houth of the bij? hend of 
the Minnesota river, represented as a hilly section of 
the present utate; and in the Dakotas "Yankton CouB- 
try" jind •sjalt Water Kegjoii," the latter around DeTila 
Jake. The area ii(;w comprised in Ransom and Hargeot 
counties is not without some names ot objects on Nicol- 
let's map. For the first time the bo^ or bend of tbo 
Cheyenne appears, the |reiieral course of the streap 
being just about the sanje «» on any modern map, b» 
ing named Shayenn Oju. Keating mentioned it as tht 
Shienne or rihahiada. Nicollet's map even shows tb« 
bluffs along the river, above iiH south bend. 

But the map takes note ot a tew minor features in 
both Ransom and ?^arpellt cohnties. We note just south 
<»f the bow of the Sheyenne "Okiedan Buttes," two 
hill»* near each other. Floninir northeaH into the bend 
«»f the river, the map hai* marked a creek named **J>efld 
Colt ()." which is so called at the present day. A smalll 
lake with an island in it marked "Champaba Wita L/? 
and ''Dead Colt Hillock" completes all «)f the natural 
objects named on \)e map within the aiea of Kanaoin 
(bounty. Nicollet's party appear to have campFd where 
Fort Kaofiom was atter«Mdi* h.tHied. at ^ihichpJacea 
spring ot water i« s«id to fxist. The altitude of tht 
camp is given as 1228, and the river blufls hh 1488 feet 
above sea leveU 

There is less map data for Sargent County. Accord- 
ing to the map under discussion the I'oteau des Prairien 
is figured as a mountainous region. Tlie northern 
limit is placed just south of parallel 46** N., which 
would be in tb© southern part of iiJar^enC CooDty and it 


lettered "Keipaba or Head of the Coteau des Prairies/^ 
Tbe source of Wild Rice river coiiie» within S^argeol 
County and the map names it 'I'silin or Wild Kicc Li.'* 
Keating itpoke of it as the Pi»e. "Faha Toppa or that 
four HilU" and '^Kour Butte or Four Hill" lake, both 
iiear tbe bead ut tbe Coteau, and "Kandiotta h." alto 
come viitbin tbe borders ol i^^argent County.* 

^i. H. Wincbell in bis history of exploratioa ap» 
peuded to the forefront of tbe first volume of the Geo^ 
Wgical and Naturnl History Survey of Minnesota, io 
reviewing ^iicollet's ejspioratioDs in that state, said in 
regbrd to bis methods and work: 

"He aims to locate correctly, by astronomical observatioaS| 
tbe numerous streams ard lakes, and tbe main geographical 
features of the slate, filling in by eye sketching, and by 
pacing, tbe intermediate objects. His methods, allowing for 
the imperfection of bis appliances, and the meagerness of hik 
outfit and supplies, were established on the same principles a» 
the most approved geodetic surveys of tbe present day. 4l 
would, perhaps, have been well if the methods of Nicollet 
could have been adhered to in the surveying and mapping of 
the western territories. Their geography would have been 
less rapidly developed, but it would have been done more 
correctly. Nicollet's map prrbracts a m»)ltitiide of naoaea, 

• ^fter the j»recediii{> jugf hH«1 >>eni priJ)tefi it was ascer 
laiiied tint two ' laiidiii8rJ;!'."nK A. U. La nghliii rails them, both 
on Nicollet's map. are jnst within >he limitK of Ransom County. 
Thefeare "MatHfa or Hears Den Hillock." and "Inyan Bosndata 
or Standing Rook" on opposite sides of the Shey«nne, and both 
marked as bnttes or hillorks Owing to a lack of good ronderii 
niaps we had previonsly fill pposed these points to be located iii 
Pfltnes fonnty. We find no evidence In Mr. La«ghlin'8 Bketcb 
on Ransom County thrtt he knew anything in regard to the Tisp 
ol Nicollet's party, but his article is valuable neyertbeless. 

including many new ones, which he applied ta. lakes andi 

We do not wish to conclude thia eketeh relatiTe W 
Ihe work of a worthy officer of the corps of topograph- 
ical engineers to whom the Dakotas was much indebted 
lor the early deyelopment of a good part of ita geogra- 
phy, without giTing the reader some idea relatire to 
the manner in which the said officer and explorer haa 
been remembered by various Hketcb writers and other 
persons e<«8ayio(; to write concerning the early history 
of this state. The following are specimens: 

"In 1839 Gen. John C. Fremont crossed oTer the country 
from the Missouri to the James and theuce up to Devils lake.'* 
"In 1S36 7 John C Fremont visited th^ region describinf^ 
accurately Devils lake and other important localities." 

"It was afterwards e^^plored by Lieutenant-Colonel Fre- 
mont^ by Captain Pope, and by Lieutenant Warner." 

"Over this trail General Fremont and bis party made their 
journey eastward from Devils lake to Red river, and here ta 
the immediate vicinity of the two lakes they pitched their 
camp for a nigfct." (No date mentioned, but the reference is 
I > Stump lake and a small fresh water lake near wheire Nicol- 
let's party camped August 6^ 1839 ) 

All of the above is hnsed of* course upon Fremont'^ 
later acquired popularity h» an explorer and pathfinder 
in what was then the Far Wfst. The year he was witb 
Nicollet in the Dakotan he was 26 year* of age, gain* 
ing a Tahiable experieace for future arduous services. 
Nicollet died at Washinirton, D.C, September 11.1843, 
while his report was being revised and vHoted. Nicol- 
let (bounty, Minn., and an avec^ie in MinneapoUt wer«i 
flamed after him. 

32 TfTB KAiM.r tfiBfoirr or kmbbou oouutt 

caft. k v. humubr. 

Following? fhe yh'n of Nicollet and Fremont we 
Ai» record ot the c(»minf^ to UaDsoro CuODty of any 
other expeditiouarj force Uf»til the je«r 1845. Od the 
3d of June that year (Japt. E. V. Sumner left Fort 
AtkinsoD, in iiortheasterD Iowa, with a compaDjr of 
troopH and beaded itoithweMterty for the IVlinneaota 
fiver, arriviiif^ at Traverse de;* Sioux on the 22d of 
of the aaine month. lu the country t»outh of the bi|^ 
bend of the river a junction was effected with another 
company under Lieut. Atleo, who had marched north-* 
Ward from Fort Des Moines. From Traverse des Sioux 
the united force next marcited to Lac qui Parle where 
Capt. i^umner had an important conference with the 
Wahpeton sioux. Mig intone lake was reached on the 
5th of July where a council wa^ held with the Sissitont* 
The route from Big J^tone lake to hevilg lake wae by 
way of the noutb bend of the Cheyenne river. The 
expedition reached Deviln lake July 18th where they 
met, presumably on the north shore, a band of about 
180 halfbreeds, who were out on their nt»ual »<ummer 
buffalo hunt. I bis was as far as the troops proceded* 
The ol jecl seems to have been to impress the Indianlft 
with some show of the military power of the govern- 
ment as a prevention of ever>recur)rng troubles. 

In the dt-cades of the forties and fifties there was is 
progress an extensile overland emigration to Oregon, 
besides what may have reached that state by sea. 1b 
1850 Oregoa Territory, which included the present 
state of Washington, had attained a population of 
33,000 people. The emiK'<^"t8 followed diflereot route* 

mf.KTsHT ttxrumtum Si 

^Dm Hocky MoiiDtaffif*. but the wn»t northern of their 
frniV» led through i{»o»oni Gk>anty by wsj of the south 
hend of the Sheyeone nrer. Id tboNe t»fne» the emi- 
;^raDt9 joorDeye»f in caravans with their canvas covered 
WH|:oD», brinjjinetbp n into a circle around their cainpA 
at Diglit. The publisher ha^ newer met with any storiee 
f>i the i>regifn trails, but they probably are »» evidence 
in that ?»tate in coDnection with the published menaoricft 
j^f old wttler9, as i!* the case in this slate, 

OEM, SIBLKY's MM.KilAKY f:XPl!;»)lT10ft.. 

The next expedition of whirb we Ten<i that passed 
Ihroo^h Kansom Comity, enr«»ote to Devils lake and 
Ihe Missouri river, was far from beio^ of a peaceable 
character. Its iirteotioo w»tf* ti/ »lanfgbter, if need b©^ 
ibe rtif>ux htdiaWH and not to of erawe them. Id c«mi-i 
j«equence of the i^ioux injijfwacre of settlers in MinoesotA 
in l»f>2, armies oirder (TJenerals J^uMv and S^ibley wer» 
sent into iXakota Territory the nexfe year to ponishi 
rbem. The Ind'ana were givwo to under«»tand that 
nnlesathey came in and surrendered themselves, they 
would be Mhovvn no mercv. Driven out of Minnesot*, 
bands of fb*>m hnderatbered abrmt IVvif-* lake.. 

(leneral H. H, rliWe.T entered Dnkota at the upper 
end of f?Tg intone lake with an army of 3,400 men, m 
June, 18t53. The valley at that point. t>etween lake* 
Bip Stone and Trarerse, called Brown?* valley, is about 
five miles in lenetb, a mile and more in width and about 
125 feet in depth. It i* an interesting spot to geolo^ 
gfgts because they are aware that this valley was ex^ 
^avated at the close of the Inst glacial epoch by a gla- 
cial river, the outflow oi Ibe ^U«:ffit i/ske Agassis 

34 T»K JTAmtT «1«VOftT OF ftAVfeOlt C^PtnfTT 

which filled the Red KiTer Valley, doubtless eoduriog 
for several eeDtiiries. Sibley's aimy entered Ranson 
County in section 32, Sydna Township on July ixh^ 
and marchiDg northwenterly to the south bend of tb» 
tiheyeniie river, that stream was crossed at a point 
afterwards called Sooville's ford, a place in the stream 
having a bowldery bottoui. It was a time of drouth, 
the thermometer ranging up to lUO, weather condition* 
being almost intolerable. i)u the north side of the 
river, just west of the ford, the army went into camp, 
the cantonment being called Camp Hayes. ThateyeD<* 
ing a flag pole was erected and (Jiiptain Horace Austin,^ 
afterwards a governor of Minnesota, delivered a Fourth 
of July oration. There whs not much timber along 
that stretch of the Sheyeniie river, but the locality wa§r 
referred to as a pleasant spot. Here the army remain^ 
•d for a week. 

At this camp in Scoville Township, a fiupply train of 
about eighty wa^onx from Alexandria, Minn , for which 
the expedition had been waiting, came in on the even- 
ing of the 10th. J. W. Burnham wrote in 1896: "For 
three days we passed over a country from which the 
grasshoppf r»< had eHten nearly every green thing, and 
while our tentx were HtHoding men bad to watch them 
to keep the hoppt^rH from eatir;ig holeH io them. At 
this camp a detachment cnme in from Aberciombie 
with supplies and n^il. Up to this time we had been 
able to catch many fislHu the lakes and streams and 
thereby helped our scarcity of rations, but beyond tbia 
point we found no fish and the discharge of firearm» 
was strictly forbidden, though buffalo, elk aud antelope 
ofren f^ere in sight. We did, however, at the ne^t 
grossing dftheSbey enne catch ii young el^, wbi^h, b9« 


irildered by seeing 80 many strangers, mistook n mu)» 
ieam for some of itn owd kiud »»d thereby was cap* 

Bands of tbe is^ioux were at Derib lake aiid the cbief,^ 
LittJe Crow, seot wi>rd to Gen. dibley to come up SDd 
fi^bt him. Tbe roarcb wa& resumed July lltb, a»d in 
KaesoiD Gtuoty tbis m<»Teir.eot lay witbiu tbe b>up o| 
the 8beyeoDe toward its western side, Ihe nqarcb beiBf 
through pans of Big Bend, Island Fark, Fuller, Spriog- 
«r and Preston townships, lenfiog tbe latter in sectioQ 
6. rSear Lisbon a camp was made on tbe lltb, the first 
after leaving Camp H»yes. l>roqtb and grasshopper 
ravages gave tbe prairies a denolate appearauce, aod^ 
with tbe summer beat, impressed tbe men with the idea 
that tbe country would never make a desirable reak 
dence lor white people. 

The next crowsingof tbe J^beyenne, according to J, W» 
Burnbam, was near AnhtHbula P. O., in Bnrues County, 
about fifteen miles above Valley City. Here tbe trail 
of Capt. Fisk was struck, who had escorted a party of 
emiffrants from Fori Abercronibie to Walla Walli*, 
Wash., in July of tbe previous year, which was shortly 
prior to the liidisn outbreak. At Lake Jessie, Camp 
Atchison whs ei*tHbti»'hed for tbe sick of ^Sibley's army 
and for a supply »tation, wiih a guard composed of 
several com pa oiei». A caravan ol Ked Kiver ballbree4a 
was found in the neighborhoini. Wheu theaimy feacV 
ed DeviM lake it wan found that tbe hioux had gone 
toward the southwest to hunt buflalo in older to avoid 
famine. Little Crow, with some twenty of his warriora, 
went into Minnesota to steal horses wbere ha wa«^iUe< 
\a Wright Cuvuty by two settlers^ 


On the return of i^^ihUj'a comroand from the Missoarl 
river to Camp Atchison, which was reached Angnst 10^ 
ihej 800D set uut for Fori Abervrombie, marching by 
way of the if'isk trail, which took tbeex(>edition throofbi 
the northeastern corner of Uan^ono County (Coburn 
Township) after w,hi<;b a aeeond eroHi»ing of Sheyenne 
siver was madaio tbe northern partol Highland County^ 
Auguat ]9th, and Fort Abercrombie w^» reached on 
the 21,Ht of that month. 

irOlfT MAftbOfif. 

Fort Kao8om was located on the souihweatern side oft 
the loop of the SheyenQe river ai^d upon what is a rai»>^ 
^d bench of the valley on tilae eastern side ot the streavt- 
and about a hurdre^ feet above it. Tbe real bluffs ot 
ihat stretch of tbe river stand higher and back front 
the site of the fort. The site cbo^^n %&h in what the- 
later governnieDt purvey mada to be hection 12, ol 
Town 13^ North, ^ange 5ii West, or in what is now; 
Fort han&om t,owHship. A battalion ot U. i^. Kegulxra 
arrived at LJear,8 JJen Hillock from Fort Wadsworth. 
(this was located 25 miles west of Big t^tonc lake) June 
17, 1867 and proceeded to erect post bnildings so that 
Fort Hansom was fairly established by August. Th* 
buildings generally were log structures, though some>- 
nateriaU were teaiiiCd from as far away as St. Cloud. 
However, officers q,uariei8 were built of squared logs. 
The earthworks enclosed a area of about 300 by 2Q0> 
feet. This was not palinaded around, as was done with 
Fort Abercronibie after the experience of its siege in 
^^62, but two blockhouses were built at corners of the 
enclosure. The post was named in memory of General 
^hos. E. Q. Ransom, an Illinoia officer of the volunt^erg 


who WM killed io the Ci?il war io 1864 during GeneraV 
Sherman's Atlanta campaign. Both Grant and Sher- 
man stated that he was the ablest of the Tolunteer 

Fort Ransom was one of a series of frontier military 
posts in Dakota Territory for the protection of emigrant 
trains on their way to Montana, Idaho, etc. The fort 
being located on high ground, commanded a Jli2« view 
up the iSheyenne valley for about six miles. A spring 
of water was found in a ravine near Bears Den Hillock^ 
Upon this eminence the soldiers mounted two cannon^ 
The construction of military posts in the Oakotas east 
of the Missouri river involved a great deal of subse- 
quent teaming, usually done with oxen, to keep the 
garrisonii supplied, and so long as they were main- 
tained, Consequently wa^on roads were developed in 
different parts of the territory. The Fort Kansom and 
Fort Totten road ran westerly from Fort Abercrombie^ 
crossing the iSheyenne river at a ford twenty miles from 
the last named post. Fort Totteu on the south shore of 
Devils lake, was established in 1867, and the road men> 
tioned continued from Fort Uansom up the Sheyenneto 
where Sibley had crossed the stream, thence northwest- 
erly to the post at the lake. There were also deviationa 
and cut-offs from the main routes. In those times the 
teamsters saw and sometime.'* killed bulfnlo in the loup 
of the Sheyenne and herds also ranged the country at 
that time to the south of its big bend. 

A noted freighter of those times was Donald Steven- 
inn who was born in Scotland in 1833 and came to thi» 
country with his parents in 1842. In 1S56 he 9ettled in 
Minnesota. In December, 1S)67, he deliyered a train 


load of suppiiei* at Fort ltan»oin, and in returning by 
way of the MOUth bend of the Sheyenne, his men and 
teams got caught in a blizzard near Dead Colt creek, 
AOHie twenty miles southeast from the post. The weath- 
er was not very cold at the time the storm came od 
and Stevrnsom himself whs a day or more behind his 
train traveling in a sleigh and bringing along a stupe- 
fied man who, being intoxicated, had fot lost in the 
•torm while on the road with a companion with a dog 
•leigh. The other man was afterwards picked up but 
lost his fingers from being frozen. Some accounts say 
that Stevenson lost his entire outfit but this statement 
does not tally well with his own published narrative. 
He states that there were forty-five wagons in his train, 
which would mean at least ninety oxen, and of these he 
lost twenty-two. He says in this part of his narrative: 

"Next moroing was bright and cold and with sach help as 
I could secure I started out to find my own train. I met my 
foreman two miles from the train. He said none of the meo 
were lost but most of the oxen were buried in the snow, and 
that the men had nothing to eat. I had proTisions with me 
and relieved the men but the train was a sorry sight to see. 
Twenty-two oxen were buried under the snow, most of them 
dead. We shoveled out those still living and got them to the 
hay. One ox had tramped the show under him as it fell anti) 
he had walked over a wagon box, and was eating the boys' 
bedding under the wagon covers. The loss probably would 
oot have happened with an old trainman, but the foreman was 
taken sick and a man without much experience took his place. 
An experienced man would have cut the oxen loose and they 
would have found shelter. 

*'We took two wagon loads of hay and the mess tent and 
went on leaving four of the forty-five wagens and twenty-two 


dead OKcn to thaw out in the spring. Some of the w^gMI 
could not be seen at all and others we could just see the tops 
pf the bows. W<e reached the bend at midnight. Some of 
the boys had not had a square meal for fifty hours. I hayf 
always blamed myself for pot staying with theqn the first night. 
I lost some oxen by the course I took, but sa? ed a b^naatt 

Thp further history qf RanBom County for spme time 
would, perhaps, be that of Fort H^osoqi aud the exper 
rieiices of jroyernmeDt freighters. Thp diHtapce from 
the fort to Fort Abercrombip was 65 miles apd to St. 
Paul 32.0 miles. At that time there was a railroad up 
the Mississippi valley from St. Paul to St. Cloud, 7§ 
miles, so that Red River cart trains and governmeot 
w^gon trains teamed supplies from the railrt^ad term)* 
iius. There were station|i Hlongtbe route and that for 
the part of it in Ran$)om County was located at the fir^t 
croMsing of Sheyenne river, in what is now Owego Town- 
ship, and was kept by David Faribault, a French-Cbii>- 
pewa halfbreed. The station con«isted of a log cabin 
and large log stables and went by the name of Pigeoiji 

The summer senson was considered the best for team- 
ing supplifH. because tht' roads were then apt to be dry, 
the fords more easaJy crossed, and the oien could forage 

• PteTenson'p narratire wa»> jaiblished In the |leford Maga- 
;tlne of Fargo. December. 1895. In mentioning distancei, loca 
tions and some details, the narrative is confused. He plaeed the 
■disaster near Norman, In Cass County. An old freighter,. one hi^ 
men, has stated that the place was near Dead CoU creek, a ball 
mile from Sheyenne river, where Pettlers found yokesi chains and 
hones. In tl^e extract quoted Stevenson does not tendon luring- 
luB away thirty-n\ne of the waitons, besides the two loaded with 
SlViy. Mo8t»e<f them beinp empty,?8ome were preftumftbly attached 
|to ^e rear of others in defMilt of oxen to d»tr bfcen. 



ou ihe grass. The teamsters, often spoken of as "bull 
whackers," were of various nationalities, men who, on 
the whole, rather preferred frontier life to dwelling Id 
towns or workinju on farms Not a few of them bad 
been soldiers during the Civil war, and in fact, in em- 
ploying teamsters iu the government service they were 
given some preference. There were a few haUbreeds 
among them but usually this class drove the Red River 
carts between Fort Garry, Tembina and St. Cloud, 
(iood strong wagons were used with bows for canvas 
coverings, under which the men slept in their blankets 
at night. A saw mill was put in operation at McCau- 
leyville in 3868 which sawed lumber for the military 
posts, the logs being floated down Otter Tail river. 

A military reservation for Fort Kansom, ten miles 
square, was provided for in 1869 and was established by 
executive order January 11, 1870. In July, 1872, the 
post WMs ab;*ndoned, all stores and materials worth 
carrying away being teamed by Don Stevenson's wagon 
train to the site of Jamestown, where a military po8|> 
^as maintained for some time. 


AFTEK a territorial goTernment had been esUb« 
lished for Dakota at Yankton in 1S61, th« first 
legitlative body consisting of thirteen members of ili« 
house and nine of the council, created a number of 
counties in the eastern part of the territory. These coon* 
ties then contained either few white residents or none 
at all. Kven at Pembina, the oldest settlement in the 
territory, there were only a few white residents, and these 
were connected with the fur trade. Usually in North 
Dakota the first influx of settlers found the county lines 
established and the counties named, also the lines of 
the townships run a^d marked by the government sur* 
reytirs. It was aimed to have the congressional town* 
ships in any county laid out and subdivided into sections 
And quHrter-sectKins a little in advance of the needs of 
settlement. It was left to the settlers themselves to 
organise the townships and give them such names as 
they might chance to choose. 

In 1862 the territorial legisUture of l^akota in session 
at Yankton, created four counties on the eastern side of 
what became the stale ot North Dakota. They extend* 
ed farther west than the present Ked Kiver tier of 
counties. From the internatinnai boundary southward 
they were named in the follow lug order: Kitt»on, 6hip> 
pewa, Sterens and Shyenne. Kansom County was bisect^ 
•d in an east and west direction by the line between 
Stevfsns and hhyeniie (so spelle4 st the time) counties, 
which ran centrally through the present coonty, the 


county of Hhyenne extending south to Town 124 ia 
S<»uth DakotH. Tbe^e couuties found a brief ezi8tenc» 
on some maps, but as they wrere never organized thej 
ultimately diMappenred under later legislative enact- 

A. big county called Pembina County was created by 
the territorial lagislature in 1867 which took in a con- 
siderable portion of North Dakota. There were no 
white inhabitants in it except at Pembina, St. Joseph 
(now Wnlhalla) and Fort Ai)ercrombie, In 1873 this 
county was annulled and Pembina, Grand Forks, Cass, 
Richland, Cavalier, Foster, Kansom, LaMoure, Bur- 
bank (now Barnes), StutHmnn and Renville countie» 
more than took its place wnd with boundaries more or 
less different from present lines, these last changes of 
boundaries resulting from the forming of later countiet 
out of those just mentioned. 

Ransom County originally included a range of town- 
ghips (59) on its western nh\e and all of what is now 
Sargent County. Ten years later, by an act of the 
legislature on March 4, 1883, Kansom County was cut 
in half, the southern part bein? erected into Sargent 
County and nnmed after a general manager of the 
Northern Pacific Railroad. 

bOMfi K\KLY 8KrTLKK55. 

A settlement was made at O.vego in 1870 by a colony 
consisting of several families. The colony had been 
organized at Rochester, Minn., and when they arrived 
on the Sheyenne they erected twelve log cabins, thus 
roakin? a good start for a settlement. This was the 
first settlement in Ransom County and it was started 
AS a tovenfite spheme. The site was on what the later 

flOMB SARLT 8<f rLBEt). 43 

l^oFernment aurTey proved to be Section 16, Town 135^ 
Hacge 68, which the eetilers named Owego Township, 
after Owesfo, Tioga County, N. Y., from which place 
aome of these settlers had origiunliy came. Capiaio 
LaKayette Hadley whs at the head of the colony and 
tome other members were Orange Hadley, Uamuel 
Morton, K. Bowdeii, 8. R. Day and Ludwig Thiergart. 
in 1871 the able bodied male members worked on the 
Northern I'acitic Kailruad which was then being con- 
structed across Minnesota. Later some sort of Indian 
»care drove the colony away, and hunting parties of 
indians irom the reservation finding the cabins aba»« 
doned, burned them. 

Two other settlerei of 1870 were Phileden^ Letonneau 
who located in t^ection 20, ai»d J«»hn Knuiaon in See- 
tiou 21, ttcoville Township. 

Several settlers of 1871 who located along Sheyeun© 
river in Owegu and 8heutord townships were WiUiam 
Hutchins, George Hutrbins, Helmuth SchuUz, Herman 
Schultzand F. W. Baguhn. George Hutchins had been 
a freighter and teamed through the county in ^868. 
Ephraim Whitcomb, Peter Bonner, Joseph Marlow aqd 
Fhilo Kendall aUo located in ahenford that year. 

The follof^ing »ketch concerns i»rie of the early wW 
tiers of Itansom Co..nty nud throws light on the life led 
by the other settlers thwt have been naentioned: 

»'It was in the spring of 1873 that John A. McCusker first 
came to Ransom county from Wabasha county, Minnesota. 
He came to Breckenridge by train and from there overland to 
what is now Shenford township. 

**Pele Bonner, his son-in-law Joseph Marlow, and Epkraia 
Whitcomb wcrcalreadj living there, h*vi«gc«"« frepW»b»v 

44 cam sahly bihtoky or kahboii oouhtt 

«ha couotf in 1871. Mr. McCasker «ras mn old friend aad 
ueighbor of these men. He liked the couotrj so well that ho 
weat back to Minnesota, married a sister of Mr. Bonner's wife 
and brought his bride out here to spend the winter of 1873*4, 
taking up Itnd on section 10 of Shenford township. 

"It was, by the way, in 1 872, that the Northern Facitk 
reached Fargo and it was built on to Bismarck in 1873, wbcB 
Colonel Lounsberry started, the Bismarck Tribune, the £nt 
paper in North Dakota. So there wasn't Very much cif ilisa* 
tion in those days. 

**The first winter Mr. McCusker lived with Hadley at Ow* 
ago. He had come several years before, being probably tbt 
very first real settler in the county, and made an ineffcctva) 
attempt to start a colony at Owego. Tl^e following winter 
the McCuskers spent in Minnesota', bat they returned to Shea* 
lord in th« spring of 1875. They farmed in different parts of 
the township, their final and present home being on section 
17, close to the Kratt bridge over the Sheyenne. 

"These first jtettlers hunted and trapped along the river| 
beaver, otter and mink being very plentiful, and httntiof; 
parties of Indians frequently came up from the Sisseton rttcr* 
tation. Perhaps the first crop of wheat in the coonty was 
raised by the father of Heltnuth Schultz in 1875. McCusker 
helped him tramp it out with oxen, which were the only lec»> 
motive and threshing power in those days, and (hey hanled 
the grain to Fargo. 

**Ten years after these men first built their log homes o« 
the river the Southwestern branch came through the cotrnty 
and the earliest pioneer days were over."* 

* From a nketch printed In the Sheldon Progress, Janiiary f, 
190!). M. K. De La Bere wnv then editor, and sent the pnhlisher a 
pony of that InAUe. Arter«flrteen years it fomcs handy to use. We 
ivffih that we had other Eauioa Conaty akeiebes of like Import 

riMtxs snTLs^ oa loo cabih MKir 45 

A f«ct that has failed to be noticed, except rather 
iacideotaily, if at all, bj rari^ua nketch writers reUtiv* 
to early settlements in eastern North Dakota, is that 
the pioneers eonsisted of two rather distinct classes of 
lettlerp. Th^tue two classes did not differ much in ro^ 
fard to the wajks ot lite from which they came in tho 
older commynities; the distinctiou rather lay in lueb 
factors as tima of settlement and consequent conditioma 
fQCOuntered; in the choice of a location; in methods of 
astHblishing abodes, and whether they were squatters 
on UDsuiyejed lands or filers on laud open to settle* 

For a^jsnie the first cUss may be termed "timber 
settlers." They were almost uniformly squatters, e§- 
lablishiog their homes in the shelter of the timber 
along the streams in advance uf the government sorTej 
ot the counties in which they located. These settlera 
inHUgUfrated the log cabin period which generally pre- 
vailed for Home timt? in the counties of eastern North 
Dakota to a greater le8s extent, and for longer orshort-r 
•r periods, as the ca^e might be in different counties. 
The timber settlers were the eai Heat piooeers to estab- 
lish homes in various counties. The earliest settlers of 
Kansom County alreHd> ujenti()ned, belonged to this 
cIhsr of iromigrants into the county. 

The other olaB« of pioneer settlers and original filers 
on the open prairie lands were far more numerous than 
the other. They inrtugur>ited "cUim shack days" by 
building temporary abodes on the prairie of pine lorn* 
ber teamed from the nearest railroad points. Qeoerally 
these settlers did not occupy claims until after the 
survey had established marked corners, though cUio»» 


auU io some caaei built ehucks io the interral between 
(be completion u/ the survey and the declaring of tbt 
Uud open to settlement. The claim shack era for any 
township did not last long, since these structures looB 
gare place to framed houses. 

The motives that induced the timber settlers to locatt 
nlong the wooded strenms to the neglect ot the more 
Valuable prairie lundM l>ing ?acant around them, were 
iiuch as to be near runuing water tor themselves and 
any stock they migitt raise; to obtain in winter the 
•belter nflforded by wooded vnlleys or bodies of timber 
on the higher ground adjacent, with the certainty'ef 
having plenty of fuel close at hand; then there wae 
cheapness in estabiistiing an abode that would last for 
nome years, ihe usual log cabin of the first pioneer 
settlerH. The log bouse, however required some sawD 
Jumber for ground and loft fiaors and roof and this with 
a couple or more of single window sash with panes uf 
glass 8 by 10 inches, had to be teamed from distant 
points, b'or roots, some o( the cabins used poles and 
tbatch of coarse buy, sometimes even turf, until better 
could be provided. 11 a lo^ house was occupied a long 
time, a shingled roof would be provided as soon M 
convenient. A fairly well built log bouse with the 
chinks between the lugs filled with mortar and the wftll» 
whitewashed inside, ntwde a comfortable dwelling. 
The chimney usnally con^inted of several lengths of 
stove pipe running upward throueh loft and roof from 
the cook stove below. The windows were of aingle 
flash set in spaces left in the walls. 

Such stock as these settlers possessed had to be sheU 
tered and so tbe^ co;2Btr,ucted log stables, the cbiekf* 


it might be, filled in with clay mud, and the rooftmade 
df pelei Aod coarse hay, or ol floatage stnff fr(»in placet 
^long the streams. Some of these makeshift lUblei 
were constructed of crotches and poles with the usual 
«oyering. In either case, straw was used when some 
wheat began to be raised, with available machines to 
ihreih it and run the straw directly upon the shelters. 
lu expectancy of life in log houses, men with families 
4id not bring much furniture with them. A cooking 
Itore WHS essential, and other things were brought tbair 
were necessities and nhich h log cabin would hold, in 
pioneer dayw tin-ware whs apt to be more abundant on 
Ihe table and in the cupboard, than crockery. A gar- 
den plot was cultivated as soon as possible. Poring 
the first two or three years the settlers in breaking and 
seaming supplies generally used oxen as they cost less 
to maintain than horses. 

The foregoing remarks relative to the timber settlers 
are general to the timbered streams of eastern North 
Dakota, but to a greater or less extent, will be found to 
apply also to those of this class who located in Ransom 
County. The eastern side of the loup of the Sheyenne 
was of course occupied first, since that stretch of the 
river naturally first attrMCted notice. Moreover, mueb 
ol the western side of loop vas included in the Fori 
jKausom military reservation. A propensity of %ht 
timber settlers should be mentioned. Thongh there 
were exceptions, the most of these men seemed to pre- 
fer to hover on the borders of civilixation, hence after 
a few years, having proved up on their claims, the 
majority of them sold out and drifted farther west, soma 
%Q the new states west of the Rocky Mouauio divida. 

Tb« setUers on the utreHin procured the esUbliih* 
ment of a postoffice at i)wego September 1, 1871, th« 
tnt in the couuty. James 0. Feleh was the first post- 
flbatter. Later the mail was carried to and from Fargo 
irith interveniDg gtatioDs on the route that were alto 
dupplied with mail facilities. The carrier made hit 
trips once a week. In those dayn on 8uch country routea 
4aily papers formed no pnrt ot the contents of a mail 
bag; ini^tead, the settlers took some good city weekly 
published mainly for country circulation (and in their 
make-up worth looking over iu those times) and b#> 
fides among papers and magazines there was ^pt to 
Qome also into the log CHbin homes the weekly local 
paper publit*hed in the countieM from which this or thai 
settler had emigrated. Such publications were ipokOB 
of as "the home paper," 

The year 1872 was a drouth year in Dakota. No rain 
fell from May until November, and the prairie gras* 
burned in summer. There was hardly any agricoltural 
deyelopmeot in North Dakota as yet, but a few of tho 
earliest settlers of KauMom County had ten or fifteen 
acres broken on their claims. All the good Gen. Haien 
jpould see in the country, accoidiiip to hif rottd report 
published the following year, wa8 that the low bottom 
lands of creeks and rivers might furnish some hay useful 
for military posts I Gen. HMzen'<) mistake consisted in 
regarding aspects as seen during an exceptional year to 
be the usual climatic conditions of the country. John 
Kinan, an early hotel keeper at Lisbon and later ftt 
Grand Forks, once wrote: 

**Th«t sammer Geaeral Huen was sept oat by the govera< 
peat to ejcasDtoe iote and report iop ^he resources of thia 


ovctttrf. He reported it a barren waste, fit 00I7 for Indimt 
««d bufialo. There has been a great deal of criticism in later 
fears on General Hazen's ofiicial report bj the press aad 
otherwise. But any man that would travel OTer this couatrj ia 
the sammer of 1873 and make any other report woald be fl4 
of ordinary judgment. This report was sent broadcast all otm 
the United States, and it took years of excessive a«lvcrtisiM| 
<ocoanteract it." 


Thd GovernmeDt suryey of the public lands into 
towuahips, eections and quarter-sections, the latter half 
of a oiile square, is a Diea^ure that liae been ascribed to 
President Jefferson. It wuh presumably first put iuto 
practise in Ohio. The basic point from which the 
parallels and ranges are numbered is the mouth of tke 
Ohio river. Inasmuch as meridian lines converge 
toward each other, standard or correction parallela 
b»Te been established 24 miles apart. On these par- 
allels the corners of the bordering townships jog by 
•ach other some distance. The north and south linet 
of both Hansom and Sargent counties correspond with 
atandard parallels. 

The townships were not laid out and Mubdivid^d into 
sections and quarter-sections at the i^ame time, since 
tba work that had to be done involved separate sarvey^, 
ing contracts. The townships to be laid out under any 
contract were taken in blocks between standard paral- 
lels and stakes mounded around with earth and turf 
were set every half mile around the township bordera. 
Ttro or thite years might elapse before these townships 
|fert subdivided. Work of laying oat towMsbips 

)o prof;r«8« in RaDsom County during the summer an4 
full of 1872; at the same timt> Geo. G. Beardsley, who 
was a uative of Ohio and did considerable contract 
surveying in eastern North Dakota, ran the ninetl^ 
aNtandard parHllel oti the north boundary of the county 
aiiid as far we»>t hh the county then e;Ftended. 

The subdivision of the townships was in progress Ir 
the middle seventiefi, several persons having contraeta 
with the burveyor Ctoueral of the territory, who acted 
fof the government. Finally io 1830 the survey of the 
dounty was completed by subdividing the Fort Ransom 
military reservation which bad been deferred for som* 
iitne, not being needed in the interval for settlement. 

At this point we tthHll endeavor to follow a surveying 
party into a township and note iheir method ol oper*' 
tion in subdividing the ttame. In the first pluce the out* 
fit, coiisiMtingof eight or nine men, left Kaigo in June or 
July (low water time) with two or three canvas covered 
wagons drHwn by oxjen nnd loadjed with camp supplies* 
a cooking ftove, provisions in barrels and boxes, !»• 
eluding ccfiee and dried fruits. The party aimed to 
be well provisioned for the weeks they were to be ooL 
Twoor thiee tenti*, a saddle horse, Hnd pony and can 
were nlf«» taken along. The contract surveyor, who 
•onetiires u»>€d h hor^e Hi;d buf^gy, did not necessarily 
reoain constantly with hie outfit, since, in running tba 
compaHN, this was apt tu be entrusted to an assistant 
•urveyor who had charge of the camp. 

They aimed to go over a township in a week or lees 
if not delayed by rainy days. They had an arranged 
system in surveying townships so as to lost no time by 
any haphaiard worki and each pan hf twoa Or ihrpiii 


iiAd their special irind of tasks to do during actual field 
work. While that waa ia progress oolj the cook and % 
chore man were in the camp. Stakes or small post! 
were nsed to mark corners. They were about four fee^ 
long and were split and hewn out of oak timber along 
the streams. Those for section corners were about three 
izi^het square and those for quarter section cornera 
ftbout 2 by 8 inchefi. The uiHrkiog of them with fig* 
ares and letters near their top to indicate town, raige 
and section, was done with a cutting instrument and 
ttsually in camp evenings for next day's work. The 
camp WMN pitched as near to the center of a township 
48, they could get and be couTenient to water. 

|n running lines in any direction, the assistant sur* 
veyor used an ordinary theodolite, presumably well 
tested. Starting on the township border where there 
Whs already a mound and section post, hitt poleman, 
some twenty rods ahead with ponj and cart and assist* 
ants at hand, adjuRted the pule in line with the sighting 
of the instrument, as directed by the surveyor with 
motions of one arm. Meanwhile the assistants had cut 
from the turf a pointed sod «»onie twenty inches long and 
when the surye^or eignidled 'correct/* the sod was set 
aprigbt cloMe to the pole und braced by a smaller piece 
c»f turf. The men nuw went foiward another stretch, 
while the suiveyor lugged his instrument forward and 
adjusted it so that itt* plummet corretp<»nded with the 
pointed sod. Two chninnien followed measuring off the 
ground. One of the turf men drove the cart and each 
half mile a stake was taken out and its pointed lower 
end was driven a few inches Into the turf with the back 
pi a spade and left a while to be mounded around with 


A pyramidical mound about four feet square at the bas« 
and whenever the men who attended to this work could 
get around t(» it. Presumably the force working the 
flection iinen arranged their movements an much as po»- 
fiible 80 that noon would not find them at a long di»> 
tabce from the camp, and at five o'clock in the afternoon 
(the old faf*hioned almanac time) the force ceased work 
And wended their way tu their tents. 

The section posts were set cornerwise toward each of 
the four quarter sections cornering where they were 
placed so an to bring the nidet* of the posts fairly facing 
the quarter that the figures marked on it indicated. 
Qppostite each corner a hole in the ground about three 
teet long, pointed at the end<(. and eight or ten inches 
deep, indicated a.wectioi) post and furnished the earth 
and turf to build the mound. Those set in OwegoTown- 
ship would have beep marked: T 185 N K 63 W S— 
the dash here standing for some section number that we 
have not specified. Theee surveyor's abbrevi.Htion8, rt-o- 
dered into words would read: "Town 135 North, Rarge 
68 West, Section" s»i and so in regard to actual number. 

The quarter section posts placed on the section lines 
ft the half mile points v^ere merely ntarked X^» »od 
isothiug more. The exchvations in Ruch caees were two 
only, on opp( site sides of the mounds, about five feet 
in length and diamond shaped, the points being in the 
direction that the tifction linei^ run, north and aoutiho* 
east and west. Ihe centers of sections were not mark- 
ed, settlers being left to locate their own eornera at 
thooe points by ranging across the sections. In regard 
to the two kinds of excavations mentioned, any one 
jfaiiiiliar with t|ie facts, on approacbipg one oi % 

rB« 4lOTBiaiMI«T fURTlY 

Aouodi could tell at a glance which aort of corner H 
marked, and bj (he figures on the section poita would 
ascertain what part o/ an unwettled township be waa 
in, facts which men in search of a location often found 
it to be desirable to know. 

If any xqustters were found un the lands being aai^ 
veyed, the assistsnt lurreyor noted down their namta 
and marked the quarters they were liTing upon on ft 
townf^hip plat as occupied, so that such quarter •eetiont 
could bo witheld at the Und ni!ice a reasonable time 
against any haphnsard claimant. In the fall the platt 
»f the townships under contract, were turned Into the 
district land office. They were then sent to the Depart^ 
ment of the Interior, Washington, 1>. C.» for record and 
approral. then, aftrr several months they were returned 
to the Isrd office when the land was declared to be open 
40 Jiettlenient. Some of the timber settlers who had 
occupied cluims long anterior to the survey, had U> 
i»ait seteral years they could file on them.* 

We hste gone into the foregoing details concerning 
the subdivision of townships since such matters are a 
part of the history of enrly cettlement times in the easV 
ern North Dakota counties, and doubt whether much of 
•nything on le lound relntive to the matter in present 
day histories. 

• The dptftllK forrfrnlrjr themib(HtJ»>Ion of townnhip* were 
derfvf<1 fTitr> perccrnl olfe-rvntlon snd conrcMRtlon wllh the 
•srtPtnrt stirvfjiir *\^t\ tie \y^o i^eft rsopee of townshJps la 
Grand Fcrks ^cmniy were stiMlrldf d In the summer and fkll of 
1K80. Tbis was ore of Pesrdoley'i* contracts. Hln as^istaat itated 
thettte methcdK they iii>ed did not Insure absolute aeettraey ia 
fxinfr corneris; tberemJsht vary fiotn being correct, as he ex« 
preesed It, • 'bj a few licUcs of the cbaln." or dosely approsim«t«' 



There was but little immigratiou into North Dskotft 
in the seresties, though matters io this respect beg«ii 
to brighteo up somewhat io the last two or three jt%n 
of that decade. HoweTer, most who came at that time* 
teitled in the eastern border countieu of the stale, OOK 
irere even these counties whollj occupied until along ib 
the earij eiishtiefi. Besides Gen . Hazen's adverse re- 
port there was another potent factor that kept settler* 
away. 'Ihig whs the newspaper de*(criptions of the 
'^grasshopper" (Kceky Mruntain locust) scourge that 
the few settlers encountered during the middle seveo- 
ties Mai.y of thef>e hhd to leave their claims and go 
^fick to th^ communities from whence they had come^ 
t)f eours*! spreading difimHl repurtH concerning the regioa 
^roiEi which tlie; had been driven out. Ho one wished 
to try to establish homes in a flection wh«'re, as they 
supposed, there was some certainty that their cropit 
Would be d«>9tro}ifed before they could be harvested if 
they succeeded in raising any. 

The Northern pHcific KaOroad w.hs bnilt from the 
Red to the >lii.^< «ri river in 1872-3, snd in October, 
1871, a line from IVJiimf apoliM, begun in 1867, reached 
Breckenridge. '1 hese two lines reaching the Red Kiver 
Valley and one of them paft^«ing tar v^est of it, did BOl 
•eem to invite much immigration in the fiieventies. Tbe 
fact that for twenty miles on each Hide of the Nortbera 
Pacific each alternate section belonged to the eoBpiBj 
by reason of a land trftnt, was not calculated toeocour* 
age settlement aloOg tbe rosd, especlslly colonies. H 
)x&» been sftid* that if the compajij had gifen tlie Uiid 

aULim llUACK DATS ffS 

•iray to nettlers thej would baye reaped a benefit 
therebj in the local trnffic that would hare been earlj 
dereloped. The fHilure in 1873 of J. Cooke & Co. who 
bad financed the (Sortbern Pacific, made hard timet all 
o^er the country for the next few yeari^ and beDC« 
people were le^a disposed to change their location. Il 
frill be ^een that owing to the uafnyorable reputatioB 
that th« Red Hiver c juutry hai receired, the majority 
of such emigrants as were seekioK new homes in tboM 
jenrn went elsewhere. 

Art the decade was closincr a change of opinion began 
to take pUc«>. Some of 'he larger stockholders of tbt 
Northern Pncific hai extensive tracts of fine level land 
at^igDed to them out of the rAilro*id Uud grant. In 
default o' immigratioo, they hardly knew what to do 
with it, but it occurred to some to try and turn it into 
whnat farms, and here wan originated the big farm idea. 
fp the heydiy of their tim*^ th.^ big f ims veie more of 
a curse than a benefit to tUe neighbonag railroad yil> 
lages, and on several accounts, but nerertheless profit- 
able to their owners for some yean. But indirectly 
they served the state a good turn by attracting general 
attention to the possibilities of the country. The news- 
papers now began to publish accounts of the largf 
yields of wheat grown on the big fa*""'" '^'hss County 
|tnd about the samf t no it vas aated %hf\ the grat^ 
hopper pest was dying out nnd that tuc Sw.;*er8 in west- 
ern Mintie.'ota hsd dcvisfd n^esns to exterminate thf 
few swarns that were Ifft. Then came tho extenaiTf 
Adrertising of real estate n en by means of circuUri 
•ent broadcast over the eastern states. All this r«8ultO(S 
in the great immigratiun of the early eigbtiet. 


RftDAom Cuunty was io the Far^o Land Office district^ 
The IT. S. Land Office at Fargo was opened August .1, 
1874, having been rooTed to that place from Pemhiaa. 
The fimt final proof made in the county was by Ludiog 
Tbiergart for the northcant quarter of Section 8, Tows 
185, KaogA 58 (Owego Township), said proof bariof 
been made September 80. 1875. The township had 
been subdi?ided in 1872, but there was then no goveiB- 
saent land office nearer than Pembina. Thiergart^ U 
«houid be obserted, belonged to the timber settler data 
«f pioneers, '. 

The late date at which most of the townships In Ihft 
4;ounty were organised niskcH it evident that settlers 
occupied the open prairie lands very gradually, and at 
first in the neighborhood i>f the Kar^o A Southwestern 
Hailroad. Those fimt locatirg on the prairie lands did 
not winb to establish homes very far from a railroad 
line, or one that had been surveyed and was being 
graded. Kxpectlng to team wheat, the nearer thty 
opuld locate to ff^ railroad station and at the same time 
get good land, suited incoming settlers so much Ibe 
better. Undoubtedly the cbarficter of the land in tb« 
different townships in whole or in part, had its influenat 
upon the time, order and extent of their settlement. 
• The prairir lands of the county began to be occupied 
along in the early eighties and this was continued grad- 
ually through that decade, so that claim shack days, so 
far as each township really experienced that phase of 
settlement life, was in part during different years for 
the county as a whole. In the case of some coobIIm of 
the Red Ri? t r tier, coming first In order on the oast, 
%hty were rapidly oirerrHB )>j settlers wheo ll^ji f^mV 


graition morement set in, nut but that there had lo«g 
beeo fettlers od the timbered Mtreams, an \n like manner 
tn Kanfforo County. Where a tovrnship was still Taeant, 
or nearljT so. there eoxued much driving orer it by 
**^tand prospectors" or persons viewiof the land for 
4ie«irHble locationn, s<>inetiroe» by twos with a horse ab# 
open buggy, or it might be several together in a cam- 
Bion fnrm wagon. They Uftually carried a townshipi 
plat and nccasionally conf*ult<'d it at 9ome section mouB^ 
to keep track of where they were on any blank prairie. 
The claim shack was usually built twelve feet square 
or 12 by 14 or 16 feet, with shed roof^ the slant baiof 
iwo feet rioe if twelve wide. 'J'hey were built of pine 
lumber tesroed from the Desre«)t railroad station, it 
might be, fifteen or twenty miles away. Shiplap waa 
ftooch iiRed and if dwelt in for some time they were cov- 
•red with tarred paper to keep out wind and rain. If A 
aian had a family the f>hack could be lengthened eight 
or ten feet. For winter upe turf was sometimes piled 
around them. Small single window sash were nsed for 
light and the rough made door opened to the weather. 
At best the shacks were onlv intended for temporary 
tise, and s HtttMe of like kird was built to shelter tht 
team, a spHn of horses or yoke of oxen. Sometimea 
cabins with pitched roofs were 1 uilt, the latter being 
Covered with tarred paper at firnt and ultimately with 
•hingles, a^ they were intended to last longer than the 
•hacks. In many cases, perhaps, small framed hoose« 
were built on the prairie claims from the firat, bnl in 
Ibia respect much depended upon the settler'a meana. 
One object of importance to each settler waa to get • 
(air amount of breaking dona the first seaaon. 

68 TUB K4EX.r ^tpf^RT fxr RANSOM coiTirrv 


There eould be do orgHoication of the coonty oatil 
(here were residents enou^^h in it to maks it worth the 
while to have a wet of county officers appointed. Th* 
county was late in batiing an organization effected since 
•leTen year** were allowed e1apf*e (mainly the timber 
•ettlement period) before such organisation took place. 
Beginning Febrnary 7, 1877. by an act of the territoriel 
legisUtnfe Random County, wlilch then included Set* 
tent Connty, had been attached to Richland County fer 
Judicial and recording purposes, such as nnortgagety 
deeds, etc. It having beecme known or expected that 
(he Fargo & SouthweRlern KHilro»d would be bulU 
through (he county, it cau»««d sooiething of an influx of 
Sfttiera in 1880 and 1881. 

Joseph L. Colton settled in the Sheyenne valley ii» 
1880 snd although he npy voi at firnt have had visiona 
of making his location the site of a future county teat, 
he ultimately bent hip enf rj^ieB toward that end. At 
all events he xaw in that furt of the vallpy what was a 
favorable locflt ion for a (• wn*.ite. The incoming of 
»>ore fettlf rs thpr. hud been lochtid in the connty l» 
the seventies rendered it fxpfdiert to set about orgaB* 
Iting it ard Colton inKtitutfd tie initial stages to bate 
this measure eflected. He th'efvfore selected Frank 
Probert. Gilbert Hannn t<r6 (^foipe H. Colton for 
county commissioners and Gov. Ordwsy appointed them 
county commissirrers for Bansrm Crunty, March 7, 
tWl, presumably bavirg received recommendations, 
|t was part of the busioeaf pt newly appoiirted conotjr 

tmm BIO aiA>X3<3H 69 

eommisaioners to fix the location of the county Mftt, 
and Coltoo made an agreement with them that thii 
location should be at Lisbon where some settlement was 
beine made, and nowhere else; also that certain of hit 
friends should be remembered when it came to th« 
appointment of the county officers. 

The commissioners met April 4, 1881 and haTiog 
chosen Frank Probert chairman, and disposed of tbe 
county seat matter, they proceeded to chose the countj 
officers or probably confirm some list previously ontb* 
slate. The officers were: Register of deeds and (bounty 
clerk, Joseph L. Colton; Treasurer, John Kinan; Judge 
of probate, .1. P. Knight; Sheriff, Geo» H. Manniogf 
Deputy sheriff, A. H. Moore; Assessor, M. A. Smith; 
Buperintendeiit of schools, Eben W. Knight; Coantj 
surveyor, E. O. Pindall; Coroner, W. \V. Bradley; also 
•ome minor official)^ such as constables and justices of 
the peace. It is said that the register of deeds bad a 
troublous time to obtain from Hichland County su^ 
records a^ belonged to Kansom County. 


Mention was made on a former page that tbe valley 
which lies between lakes Traverse and Big Stone was 
mainly excavated at the close of tbe Glacial period by 
fiord waters derived from a n:eltirg ice sheet in an 
epoch when a geological spring time ensued. There 
are a number of long valleya in the Dakotas in which 
DO streams now run that originated in the same way 
and Ransom County contains the uprer portion of one 
of *hem. In like manner the blufl' lined valley of the 
^he>eDne above its big bend wa» largely excavated by 


ihe fDormuus fiaod that drained the Devils Lake region. 
The Glftcial period was not h unity rs was unce 8uppoB> 
«d, but comprised four or five stagca with warm iDter^ 
glacial epochal, lasting thouBauds of yeara, between 
them. Each elacial period altered considerably the 
coarse of the Bmaller streams by obliterating their 
▼alleys^ wholly or in part. 

The Big Slough is some sixty miles in length and 
•x^tends southwesterly to the James river. It wasprob- 
ably the valley of an interglacial stream not so whollj 
filed up in the last Qlacial epoch (the Wisconsin stage 
of geologists) but that a depreiision was left along whicb 
ft flood might txke its course an the country was being 
relieved of its covering of ice. In this last glacial 
•tage the ice sheet only extended to the southern part 
of South Dakota, and westward it nowhere crossed the 
Missouri river. Its recession northward was attended 
by many pauses, sometimes involving oscillations back 
tod forth, but for no long distances. These halls form- 
ed moraines and bowlder trains, and as they extend 
northwest and southeast they indicate the trend of the 
front of the receding ice sheet, and the halts thus made 
can be mapped out almost as readily as the course of a 
ttream, ss traced by the eftects mentioned. 

The ice shett probably had a thickness of a half mile 
over Ransom Cc unty. Its sonlheaptern part was still 
Ice covered, blocking the drninage there in its natural 
direction, while the section about the big bend of the 
Sbe.venne and northwest from it was being laid open to 
free drainage, and the flood waters from the melting 
ice sheet, during eaph recurring suipmer, had to take 
the direction that the lowest levels first opened led 

fllB WO 8L0in»H. 6^ 

them. This was by way of stich depressions as existed 
aloof^ the course of Big Sluuf^h and Bear creek, the f^U 
leys of which were gradually re-excavated. Whea the 
glacial waters could fiow to the Red Kirer Valley theat 
drainage liueH were abandoned, and when modern cob* 
ditions were ushered in the Big Slough became m dt* 
serted valley, its drainage area not being sutficieol to 
maintain a permanent stream. 

Leaving the subject of phynical origins, we shall Mext 
append part of an article written in 1896, and which 
describes* conditions at the Big Slough when it was • 
noted hunting resort in the early eighties. Huntert 
also extended their trips aion^ir the Sheyenne river iolo 
QriggM County. 

**The geological and geographical changes which are coo* 
itantly taking place in and upon the surface of the earth are 
truly wonderful, and in no place can these changes be noted! 
more readily than here in North Dakota. 

*'The writer was one of a party of hunters who were look> 
iag for ganae near Lone Tree lake recently. When the first 
settlers came to western Ransom county, about fifteen years 
ago, they found a beautiful lake six miles long, a half mile 
wide, and from six to twenty- five feet deep. On the east bank 
of the lake Ihcy found growing a lone Cottonwood tree — the 
only tree for miles — and they Very appropriately named tks 
lake Lone Tree Lake. 

**For many years after, Lone Tree lake or the Big Slotigh^ 
sw)|rm^d with thousands of geese and ducks, pelican aadswao, 
and was visited every spring and fall by hundreds of sports* 
men from all over the northwest, who found excellent shooting 
aronnd the lake. The ducks and many of the geese stayed all 
summer, building their nesu and hatching their yomng in tko 


oatlying marshes. The rashes which grew ap through the 
YAter nade an admirable cover into which a boat comld b# 
paddied and remain oat of si^ht of the wary dacks and feesc. 
««Bttt on accoant of the exceedingly dry period of the past 
eight years the lake cow dries up entirely during the samacr. 
Bot very little game now stops here in their flight, and the 
oocc fine shooting place is now a thing of the past. The ciMt 
observer has noted many other changes. The cradle holes art 
getting shallower. The bufialo bones are all gone, the buffalo 
trails, then so plainly marked, can no longer be seen, aad tlia 
lopt fe^ ha^s grown from a tall, slender sapling to a tree foar. 
leeo inches through."* 


Joseph L. Oolton had already noted the fact that tbt 
aite of LisboD was a possible future towusite. Heseleel* 
•d a claim there as a deatrable location, and with bia 
family and some relatives 8ettli>d upon it in September, 
1878, they building a rude t«>mporary shelter of polea 
corered with brufth, hay and turf, in this shelter Mr* 
ColtoD, his wife and three children, passed the winter 
/oIlowin§r. The land in that part of the county was oot 
as yet o|)en to settlement, and so Colton and other aet^ 
tiers in that pert of the 8heyenne valley could only 
occupy their claion^ as rquatters, like «hat others bail 
done earlier on the eastern side of the loup: While 
awaiting a time when filirgs could be made, MttlafS 
improved their abodes and did some breaking. 

Some other settlers c^me in 1879 by which time tbe^ 
could make their filings at the U. 8. Land Offiee al 
Fargo and Colton made his filing May 18, K80. l^ 

I. ■■ ' '. .... I,.. ■ ■ ■ ■ r 

• From a skatch in the Record Magaalaa, Auf aat. Vi& 


September of that year he fiiii§hed layinjj oat a town 
on bis claim to the extent of four blocks and named 
the place after that of hU home town in the state of 
New York. In the fnll a few pioneer buMineas build* 
ings were erecied upon this town site. John Kina* 
opened the first general store and began trading wiik 
such settlers as had established homes along that part 
of the vHlley. A. H. Moore and Peter Benson opened 
another general store the same fall. That same year 
Marsh & Holt, anticipating that the Fargo A Soutb* 
western Railroad would croas the valley somewhere \m 
that vicinity, purchased 640 acres of land along tko 
river, most of it lyingr on the east side. 

Colton now cherished the idea of making Lisbon the 
county sent whenever the county could be organised. 
County seat projects were already in the air. Aware thai 
he could accomplish little in making Lisbon the county 
seat of Ransom County without some outside influence, 
he went to Fargo and conferred with Major Edwards, 
an influential newspaper nian of those times. Major 
Edwards introduced Colton to Major C. W. Butti, a 
prominent Ihwyer of F«rgo ard a personal friend of 
Gov. Orc^wHy. This led to tie appoirtmenl of county 
commissioners and orpsnitKtion ot the county in 1881, 
Probably Colton had other conferences with Butti. On 
February 6, 1881, a written apieement wab entered into 
by these parties by i^birb Futtz was to have conveyed 
to him sixty acres in platted blocks, provided that tho 
Fargo & Souibwestern Railroad would cross the Shey- 
erre valley at Lisbon and the county seat be located at 
that place. Butt* was to confer with the chief engineer 
of the road and offer to convey to the railroad company 

^4 nil sastr mewrnr ow kAvsoir oouirrr 

A good share of the hlock* out of those assiKned to him 
lo 6a«e the railroad did not come tu Litboa, any further 
}>iattlug of blocks and lots would be useleiis. 

The year 1S81 was one during which considerably 
proi^reM wa» mnde. i^ettiers began locating on tb» 
prairie landt* and toward tbe clo!98 of the year aa many 
*8 a doxen buiidinirH for various business purposes ha4 
been erected, the lumber btring te^amed from the line of 
the Northern Pacific- Id starting new towns, squar* 
front buildings were usually erected with a half story 
above in which the owner lived until he could build % 
residence. Often tbe buildings were placed low to thai 
they could be banked around with earth as winter eaoMk 
on, for at fir«t they were generHJly set upon blocks or 
bowlders. The store room whs ceiled up, and often, »• 
tbe owner's business increased, more space for goodn 
was obtained by adding to the rear end of the buildinf. 
There are but few structures Jett now in the larger 
places in eastern North l)Hk()ta that belonged tu Cbeir 
earlier stage, of growth; fire, demolition and Removal 
has caused the disappenranee of most all of XhpjA, 
Among the build ItigH of 18^1 at Lisbon, was a bo^fol 
and a paper called the Lisbon ^tar wan started tber^ 
that year. 

In comparison wi4b and other states, North . 
Dakota is favored with but ff w water power pritileges. 
This lack is iraiiily owing to the genersl light fall of 
tht streams. Some of the smaller streams in this state 
have sufficient descent within one mile stretebos U» 
ftirnish mill sites, but in the summer season tbeir flow 
of water is apt to be eonslderably diminished. A nill 
f ite WAS earl/ stiliced ob the Sbeytone at LlsfM^Bi tbf 

MAUX,^ i>A)iti AT LIBBOH Q(| 

eausiDg the water to poad bnck about four milMt 
bat within baok^ high enough to prevent oyerflow ol 
bottom lands and consequent formation of marshea, 
A flour mill wtis completed and gotten into operation at 
Lisbon in 1882 and has changed ownership seTcral 
limes since, with alterations and improTements. 

There hnd been a yearly increasing immigration into 
this state since 1878 and in 18S2 a larger number of 
people came than in any previous year. This was larg^. 
|y owing to the advf nif-ii:g oi real estate men who iti 
forth the capabilires of the territory in glowing term*. 
Prospective settlers as far CASt as New York state learn* 
ed that the; could ship b^ usehold goods, farm roacbia* 
ery and horses from their humen to Dakota by railroad 
and not te long on the way, hence the spring of 188S 
brought an unusual influx of settlers, and more located 
in Kan!«om County that year than previously. During 
that seasim about 280 people located in Lisbon. 

Under the impetus of the imuiigration and knowledge 
of the fact that the track of the Fargo A ^outbwtaterq 
Kailroad would probably reach Lisbon that year, iho 
Coiinty seat made considerable progress. More businesfi 
firms established themselves in the place, among thciD 
the Ransom County Rurk, And nnother local papei 
was started called the J itbcn Pepnblican. A stage 
line toward the appr< aching railroad was temporarily 
maintained, for in ea»«tern North Takota their daratioo 
was usually short. In thoxe tim*s in the new towot 
real estate or land offices, as they were ealled, were 
quickly in evidence, and lawyers from the east found 
that there were unfamiliar land laws in vogne iMre that 
they had to acquaint themsalvea with. 


[d forming church societies and Sunday schools in 
ibe Dsw townM then rapidly springing up in Dakota^ 
those engaged in thia work bad to take things as thej 
found them and adapt theniselves to the temporary 
dzisting conditions, which they readily did. The first 
sermons preached in these places were apt to be deli?- 
ered by traveling preachers, or by clergymen Tisiting 
the place irom some already edtablished parish. The 
«frvice» weie undenominHtional in character. Some 
newly completed business building, as yet empty, would 
be donated withchsira or boards for seals, and often eon* 
uiderabie assemblages of people gathered to attend these 
novel services, cince the majority found themselves »t> 
liberty Sundays. Am church societies were gradually 
lormed. the viUnge hall, if one had been provided over 
ftome busiuesM place, was utilized for services and prob- 
ably also for a union Sunday Hchool, or some building 
nuoccupied for business purposes, it might even be one 
that had been intended lor a saloon, would be rented of 
purchased and fitted up for temporary use. In some 
instances first sermons in newly Mtarted towns were 
preached in houses, neighbors being invited in. 

The firsf resilient pasmr stationed at Linbun wes Ihe 
Kev. Kli F. J.».CelI, a Methodist clergyman, who case 
from ^ew York state in April, li^bl. A Uiion societf 
Has gathered who held services in a tent the first siiD* 
ii>er and in the fall of ]^^^2 a building uf rough kikber 
was put up, furnished with forms made of planed pine 
materials for seats. A Piesbyterian society was loraied 
in 1882 with Kev. K. W. Day pastor, who reBaieed 
until 1896. Father Tierney also io 1S82 ergeaited e ^ 
Komao Catholic society and was t^eir fltt|»riesi. TMer 

MLAttiMm ooetm «m>ld bxcitbmkmt 67 

Mriier church buildings that sucoaeded the temporary 
conditlooa of territorial da} », have them9«iye§ about all 
disappeared, baviug with iucreased population, been 
replaced by more comoiodiouR and finer church edificea, 
Miially con»triicteH of briek. 

The ¥&tf^o & Sonrh western Railroad waa conplete4 
lothe Sbeyeiiiie ▼alley, at Lisbon, December 2i2, 1882, 
$he construction train accompanying the track laying 
/orce, arriving first. Trains had begun to run wheo 
lo January following, a severe storm filled a big cut is 
the bluffs east of town wiih witvd driven snow and th« 
funning of trains to Liesbon wan suspended for the real 
of the winter. The road wh^ not opened at that point 
■ntil April 9, 188S, but a iniie<l train meantime ran 
occasionally from Fargo to !r^heldon. 

A city charter was obtained for Lisbon March 19, 
1883. The flection for city officers was held the firal 
Monday in May. The first set of officers chosen at that 
time were: Mayor, G. B. Green; city clerk, K. ?. 
Allen; treasurer, A. C Krello; city justice, E. J. Ryan; 
also six aldermen. Like other North Dakota towns 
located on one lire of rsilrosd only, and which had 
gotten a start in the early eighties. Lisbon does not 
appear to have made arv marked progress during tha 
remainder of that decade. 


Sometimes gold in small particlea has been found 
dispersed through the surface drift or otheV formatiofi 
in limited areas of the non-gold bearing atatea. These 
findings usually haye produced local exoitementa, not 
of ?ery long continuaoce, he9«ttM working •yperieoea 


ultimately demonstrates that it coata two or three times 
as much in labor to obtain one dollar in gold as the 
metal h worth, rendering attempts to mine it altogether 
profitless. Whatever may be nature's methods in form- 
ing gold, it seems to have been accomplished in cob- 
Qection with mountain upheaval. Id this state the 
land heightfl are hills of erosion, heightened in tome 
eases, by the piling upon them of glacial moraines. Ab 
expert mineralogist would likely have given an opinion 
to the efTect that it would have been useless to search 
for gold in paying qiiantitien in Hansom County: bat the 
county experienced that kind of sn excitement in 18St. 
Its origin has thus been described: 

••In the sttmmerof 1882 the Chicago & Northwesicrn Rail- 
road Company made a preliminary survey of their line frooi 
Aberdeen, S. D., north through Ransom county, crossing the 
Sheyenne river in township 135—57 [Springer], and going out 
through the bluffs on the north side they ran the line up tha 
Jack Harris coulee on section 10, and in passing a large ledge 
of rock on the east side the compass cut sufiicient caperi to 
iadtcate the presence of a large amount of mineral. Over the 
top of this let^ge flovs a riv\)let of mineral water. The r»ck 
is formed bv the mineral deposit from the spring, and petrified 
leaves, tw'gs, gra«s and othf r matter hrorght in by the wind. 

••Henry W. Griswold, a young man from Chicago, was with 
the surveying party and noted the action ©f the compass needle^ 
and in the spring of 188^ came back here in company with 
Frank C. Fry and Kdward P. Raker. After a little time spent 
in exploring and investigation, they bought the west half of 
10 of Jackson Harris at ten dollars an acre. The Daketa A 
Great Southern Railroad had surveyed a line throngh the 
coulee, yupnipg north from the river valley, On the farna 
were several bnildings, built of hewn logs aad well plastered 

KAirsoM conmit oolo bxcitxhbht 69 

irith dftj. tt had « small four-light windvw •& the north 
tide. This Mr. Griswold used for an office and assay labora* 
tory. He had a small cupola or furnace lined with fire clay, 
the pipe for' the smoke and gas to escape through passing 
outside throhgh a hole bored through the logs. Mr. GriswoM 
and party spent the daytime in exploring and gathering sam- 
ples of rock, sand and earth, which they puWerized in a m»rUr 
and melted in small assaying pots in the furnace at night."* 

The experimental work bein{; done at the cabin soon 
Attracted attention and neighboring Hcttlers became 
curious about the matter. Then Qriswuld admitted in 
Lisbon that his party had found indicntiona of gold mi 
the coulee. On October 19th, Griswold brought into 
the register or deeds office a patent of the Jack Harris 
homestead, "The next day" says A. H. Laaghlin, *'I 
ftiet the parties, went to the a»say office and eaw Mr. 
Fry crush several fragments of rock, put it into the fire, 
and in every instance there was a small bead of gold 
left in the crucible. It wa'^ enough to give anyone the 
gold fever. The next day the great gold excitement 
broke out. Within a week every incoming train was 
crowded with gold seekerM. I counted 130 men coming 
from one train. The whole Sheyenne vwlley was ex- 
plored and miiiintr claims were staked out on every 
cliff of rock, and all along the creeks and coulees and 
amone the bluffs from the north county line to the 
lower bend of the river." 

The following extract from tlie same writer throws 
light on conditions in the western part of Ransom 
County in 1883, before the larger game animals had 
wholly disappeared before advancing civilitatioii: 

f A. H. Laughlin, attlde is "HUtof y of the Med AXwtt Vallty." 


*'E. C. Lucas and myself started for Standing Rock to 
c;KpIore the north side of the river beyond Griswoid. It wai 
a wet drizzling day. While examining the chalk ledge in 
the Oerding coulee we came within ten feet of two fine deer 
a»leep in a patch of prairie willows. While we were eatiac 
lunch in the Kredneson coulee, north of Fort Ransom, thrtc 
antelope watched us for several minutes from the top of t 
bluS within a distance of thirty rods. They were a fine pict«r^ 
lilhouetted against the sky. Darkness caught us in a lar|t 
bunch of timber impassable from fallen trees, so we had \^ 
drive a considerable distance out on the prairie to get aroms^ 
it. Being pretty well drenched we started home, arriving afttr 
eleven o'clock at night. We gained more wet feet and expt' 
rience than gold." 

''Excitement wh9 inteDse and times lirely foraconpls 
of months. It was a harvest fur huteis and liferymen. 
With the exception of the liriswold and Stoddard parW 
ies, there was not much money waited. £Tery one els* 
awaited developments. No schemes or frauds wert 
attempted. There was plenty of ca^h in si^ht to v«k 
any mine that might have been discovered." 


Sheldon is a village of between three and four ho»» 
dred inhabitants, located in the northeastern part of 
Ransom Count?, on the line of the Fargo A. Southwest^ 
•rn Railroad, 42 miles from Fargo. It is 14 miles Bor* 
to I isbon by the railroad. The altitude of Sheldon it 
l,iD80 feet arcording to the railroad survey. Tht lows 
le surrrunded by a grrd fariring country and ateras, 
banks, the srbrol and churches are well represented in 
the place. The following portion ef a writt*«p aboat 


Sheldon gives a good account of the starting of the liU 

''The history of Sheldon dates from June it, i8Si, whea 
B. D. Wilcox purchased the present low% site from the Farge 
k Southwestern Railroad which was then being built. He 
boaght all of section 17, the section upon which Sheldon new 
stands, for $3,200, but having no nsoney with which to paj 
for it, he sold it three weeks later to E. E.Sheldon for $3,800. 

**Mr Sheldon platted the village and sold ofi a few lott» 
deeded half of the plat to the railroad company for locating 
the town here, and in February. 1SS3, sold what was left to 
Horton & Detler for $8,000. 

**The first train — a construction train laying track — reached 
Sheldon on November 4, 1882, and Lisbon on Decemberltof 
the same year. A mixed train was run off and on through 
the winter, and regular train service was inaugurated April I, 
1883. Although a few store buildings had been erected, it 
was not until the spring of 1^83 that Sheldon really began to< 
•ssame the aspect of a thriving new town. During the spring 
and summer a score or more buildings sprang up on what a 
year before had been the verdant prairie, and hundreds of 
settlers poured in to occupy the land opened up by the neif 

"Adam Goodman was the fifst man to buy grain forshipacat 
over the new road from Sheldon. In the fall of 1881 the 
Northern Pacific Elevator Company built the first elevator ia 
Sheldon and Mr. Goodman was their agent. The elevator 
was situated on the site of the pcesent public park, aad 300,000 
bashels of wheat were marketed during the first fall and winter 
it was in operation. It was no uncommoa sight to see 
twelve or fifteen leads of grain lined «p before the elevater 
by daylight, and Adam was kept basy alasest tweatyfeaf 
hoars a day. 

?^ rum MAHLlf Mlt^^Zt {Mr KAVBOM COUHtT 

"The first general merchandise store opened ta Siteldon wat 
{hat of Karl K, Rudd who began business on Septem\>er 15^ 
18S1, although the store of Goodman & Green was in opera* 
uen several oonths previous a few miles east of town, and was. 
moved in and opened for business in the old building at the 
cast end of Main street a few days after the Rudd store waa 

"The hrst banking institution was opened bj I. C. Gajlord 
on July 9, 1SS3. The bank founded by Mr. Gay lord, after 
passing through several transitory changes, hnallj became; 
\hc First National Bank of Sheldon. 

"On August 18, 1884 the town was incorporated. The Bftf 
toard of trustees consisted of K. E. Rudd, Jas. K. Banks aa^ 
Adam Gordman. C. E. Cole was clerk, Marion Grange treat* 
urer, and S. A. Durgin marshal. Jas. K. Banks was alf«| 
lastice of the peace. 

"The first drug store was established in the early eighties 
by C. E. and L. R. Cole, and in 1885 another drag store wa^ 
opened by P. J. Hoff. 

"Another pioneer institution is the Sheldon opera hoosa 
frhose doorb were thrown open to the public by Manager 
Cbauncey Durgin on July 4, f88$« 

"Sheldon's first newspaper was the Enterprise and was et: 
tablished and the first number issued February 25, iSSfj, 
D. M. Houge being the editor. It cnntinned lor tweaty yearf 
a|i0 was then consolidated with The Progress."— Fr*B aa v-. 
tide iR the Sheldon Progress, Dec. 15, 191 1. 


?Ege lo. On referring to Capt. Henry's spelling for the 
i^heyenne river we have found that this is *'Schian." Feath^ 
.<!r8tonhaugh alone ases the spelling attributed to both. It i% 
aot always safe to rely merely upon memory as to little par* 
ticulars of this kind. This adds another spelling to the list. 

Page 12. The names of the townships of Ransom Coaaty 
are put in type according to size, in the diagram. Hansun and 
Scoville are represented on a large map of the state as being 
half the usual size, hence put in a size of letters smaller th)iB 
the majority. Shen?tone and Roland have the other halves 
of those two townships and being largest, are named in small 
capitals of the largest size of type used in making the diagram. 

Page 27. Near the top of this page occurs a needless repe* 
tition of a reference fo the name the traders gave to Jamet 
river, before mentioned near the bottom of the preceding page. 
Work was m progress on two other books, and several days 
might elapse before resuming any one of them. When page 
47 was resumed the top line was probably already in type and 
standing in a composing-stick and it was not noticed that **Rivf 
Sere a Jaqnes" had previously been mentioned. 

Page 29. The following 's a recapitulation of names on the 
map accompanying Nicollet's report which have sone repre- 
sentatipn within the area of Ransom County: 

Shayenn Oju—Matata or Bears Den Hillock— 
Iryan PoFndata or Stprdirp Pock— Dead Colt C— 
Okiedan Buttes- Dead Colt Hillock-Mato Pahah 
or Grisly Bear Hill R-Champaha Wita L. 

Page 34. Gen. Sibley's •'Camp Hayes" was ]«eated in 
what is now Big Bend township, instead of Scoville. After 
^rpssing at the ford the army turned west soaae diataace. 

74 Tva BAILT BirroKT ow ransom oouittt 

P*^e* 3S* '^^* statement at the bottom of thii paeetkat tht 
chief, Little Crow, was killed in Wright County ihoald read 
Meeker County (Minn ), which is next west of Wngkt. Wa 
had before us a published narrative of Sibley's eipediti«a 
written by J. W. Barnham and repeated an error made by kia. 
To expect that any work on local history should be tatirtly 
free freai at least a few errors, is to expect the impossible. 

Page 67. It was probably the same storm that isolattd 
Lisbon from railroad communication in the winter of lS8a*J, 
that tied up 40 miles of track west of Larimore. In tkt fall 
of i88a the track of the Great Northern was laid from Lari- 
more to Bartlett and a mixed train began running to that f\w^ 
twice a week. Ko snow fences had been built along tidt wf 
the cuts, and about January 15, 1S83, a storm blockaded tht 
new piece of toad until late in March. 

We should acknowledge indebtedness to some writiagi of 
A. H. Laughlin of Lisbon in getting up this pamphlet. Thett 
writings are a sketch relative to Ransom County in the Record 
hCagatine, August, 189S; also a sketch on the history of Raa« 
torn County in 'Histoiy of the Red River Valley," Vol. XL, 
published in I909. 

Ope way in which the timber settlers disposed of the dead 
and fallen timber on their lards, was to convert it into cord 
wood, haul it to the rew railroad towns, and either sell it 
direct to purchasers or trade it at stores for groceries, tha itora 
keepers acting as middle mcjt. Their profit accrued mtAmly 
from the goods traded to the first parties, as they got cash i% 
selling the wood t • customers, the same as with cgga. Tht 
claim shack met caused the tons of buffalo boaet to ditapptar, 
these being shipped to hone mills to be greaad for ftrtilttcn. 

Aftitude of Lisbon, N. P. Rtilroad ttrtty, 1,09! fettt po^ 
mlatioa ia 191$, itate ctarat, 1,553.