The first settlers in Audubon Township, were Christen Anderson, John F. Beaver and Fred Johnson. Beaver and Anderson were both married men and their wives came with them, and they were the first white women to settle in what is now Audubon Township. There was also an infant girl in the Anderson family when they came. Her name is Annie.
Neither the township or section lines had been run in this part of the county, so none of these settlers had any means of knowing what section they were living on for a whole year.
These three settlers came to this township on the 28th of June, 1869.
Chist. Anderson took what is now the west half of the west half of Section 6; John Beaver the east half of the southwest quarter and the west half of the southeast quarter of Section 6; Fred Johnson located on the southeast quarter of Section 7.
On the 6th of September, 1869, Buckley B. Anderson came into the township with his wife and family of eight children, five of whom were fully grown, and settled on what are now Sections 17 and 20. The oldest daughter of the Anderson, who is the wife of Jackson Burdick came with her husband and three children in the same party with the Andersons. Burdick took his land also on Section 17 and 20.
B. D. Anderson opened up a store about the first of November, 1870, at his residence, which was the first store in what is now Audubon Township. Harvey Jones who came with the Anderson's located on the southeast quarter of Section 18. Jones soon afterwards sold his improvements to David Beverage who came sometime in the fall of 1869, and took another claim on Section 34, in Lake Park Township, about a year afterwards.
Dr. David Pyle took a claim which included a part of Sections 16 and 17 and brought his family in the spring of 1870.
M. L. Devereaux was in this township during the winter of 1869 and 1870 but took a homestead on Section 10 of Lake Park the next year. His land is now a part of the celebrated Canfield farm.
The following settlers came to Audubon Township in about the order in which they are named:
Elling Carlson, Section 6, June 20th, 1870; Gunder Carlson, Section 6, June 20th, 1870; Martinus Johnson, Section 9, June 23rd, 1870; Sevald Reep, Section 5, June 24th, 1870; Jens Simonson, Section 16, June 24th, 1870; Andrew Jensen, Section 17 June 24th, 1870; Simon Jensen, Section 16, June 24th, 1870; I. T. Knudson, Section 16, June 25th, 1870; Chris. Olson, Section 18, June 26th, 1870; Ole Peterson, Section 4, June 30th, 1870; Peter A. O. Peterson, Section 4, June 30th, 1870; John O. Johnson, Section 30, June 30th, 1870; Andrew Olson, Section 16, July 4th, 1870; Jacob Anderson, Section 13, July 6th, 1870; Erick P. Skeim, Section 15, July 6th, 1870; Louis Thompson, Section 14, July 6th, 1870; Martha M. Quigne, Section 14, July 6th, 1870; Brede Arneson, Section 14, July 15th, 1870; Ole Larson, Section 23, July, 1870; Gustave Erickson, Section 27, Aug. 28th, 1870; Lars Knudson, Section 34, Aug. 28th, 1870; Joseph R. Marshall, Section 30, Aug. 28th, 1870; William Robinson, Section 30, Aug., 1870; Walter R. Gregory, Section 20, Aug., 1870; Moody Cook, Section I, 1870; A. M. Beaver, Section 6, Sept. 1st, 1870; John Gulbranson, Section 8, Sept. 1st, 1870; Henry]. Larson, Section 10, Oct. 8th, 1870; Paul C. Sletten, Section 24, 1870; Guy Goodrich, Section 24, March, 1871; John Cook, Section 22, April, 1871 ; F. K. Small, Section 16, April, 1871; L. C. McKinstry, Section 12, April 25th, 1871; James G. McGrew, Section 10, May 1st, 1871; Rasmus Boyer, Section 6, May 1st, 1871; Hans H. Glimstad, Section 26, June, 1871; Gilbert Rosten, Section 26, June 15th, 1871; Jacob Faigerlie, Section 26, June 15th, 1871; Halver Grunt, Aug., 1871; Ole Danielson, Section 28; A. S. Danielson, Section 28; William McKinstry, Jr., Section 12, June, 1871; T. Longtine, Section 31, 1871; William P. McKinstry, Sr., Sept. 10, 1871; Sivert Reep, 1871; John Larson, Section 2, 1871; Carl Stave, Section 24, 1871; Ole Boardson, Section 12, 1871; P. P. Wall, Section 12, May 1st, 1871; Willis Smith, Section 2, 1871; Malcolm McDonald. Section 2, 1871; Olof Erickson, Section 28, 1871; Nels N. Elton, Section 21, May 22nd, 1872; Michael Oschner, Sept., 1873.
Elling Carlson, who was one of the first to come into the township in the summer of 1870, selected his claim and returned to his former home, leaving his brother, Gunder Carlson in charge of both claims and remained away until the spring of 1871 when he returned to Section 6 of this township with his family.
Andrew Olson's family did not arrive until the spring of 1871.
Christen Anderson one of the first three settlers of this township was born in Norway, February 19th, 1835, came to America in 1865, and died about the 20th of November, 1906.
John Beaver was about the same age of Chris. Anderson, but came to America several years sooner and was a soldier in our Civil War. He was a member of the first board of county commissioners of Becker County, and was the first clerk of the district court elected by the people.
Mr. Beaver died of consumption May 17th, 1873.
Fred Johnson was born in Norway, and came to the United States when young. He is still living in the township.
Sevald Reep was born in Norway on the 13th day of February, 1835, came to America in 1866. He died May 4th, 1879.
The first child born in Audubon Township was Olaus Reep, son of Sevald Reep, who was born on the 29th day of July, 1870.
The first death in the township was that of Mrs. John F. Beaver, who died about the first of March, 1870.
The first marriage in the township was that of John Mason to Annie L. Larson, who were married at Oak Lake Cut on the 30th day of January, 1872, by James G. McGrew, justice of the peace. Mason was a saloon keeper and afterwards lived for several years at Lake Park.
The first school in the township was taught by Nancy M. Comstock in the fall of 1871 in a log building on the land of Henry Way on Section 20.
On the 30th of September, 1871, the board of county commissioners declared all of Township 139, Range 42, or what is now Audubon Township, established or created into one school district, to be known as School District No. 1. The legal voters of the district proceeded to organize by electing a board of school officers and hired a school teacher who began a term of school that fall, it being the first school taught in Becker County, outside the White Earth Reservation.
It was afterwards discovered that the creation of the school district was illegal, as there had been no petition presented to the board, and the creation of the district was annulled, and Detroit Township made District No. 1.
The township was organized on the 19th day of August, 1871, and the first township election was held at the house of John F. Beaver at that date.
Walter R. Gregory was chosen moderator, and John Cook anti B. B. Anderson judges of election. They were sworn in by David Pyle, a Notary Public.
The following township officers were elected:
W. R. Gregory, chairman of board of supervisors; David Pyle, John Cook, supervisors; Henry J. Larson, town clerk; Buckley B. Anderson, assessor; Guy H. Goodrich, treasurer; Jacob Anderson, F. K. Small, constables; James G. McGrew, Henry Way, justices of the peace.
The township was organized under the name of Windom; in January, 1872, changed to Colfax; in September, 1872, changed to Oak Lake and on January 2d, 1881, changed to Audubon.
The Northern Pacific Railroad Company surveyed its line through the township in the fall of 1870 and towards the close of the year a camp and supply station were established at Oak Lake Cut, the former by Mr. Brackett the contractor and the latter by Fletcher and Bly, who had the contract to supply the grading crews. Hubbard and Raymond also put in a stock of goods in the spring of 1871. A hotel built of logs was also erected that same winter. During 1871 and also to some extent in 1872 while the railroad was being built, considerable business was transacted by different establishments in the different lines of trade, many of them being sheltered in tents.
After stations were established at Detroit and Audubon. business gradually fell away and the place was discontinued soon afterwards.
The townsite of Audubon was surveyed out in the summer of 1872, at which time a railroad station was established and placed in charge of a man by the name of Rothplatz. Henry Larson built a hotel the same summer, the first in the village. The Northern Pacific Railroad Company opened up an office for the sale of their lands in this vicinity late in the year 1872 and placed it in charge of L. S. Cravath.
B. B. Anderson erected a building and laid in a small stock of goods early in the fall of 1872, it being the first store in the village. He was followed later in the fall by E. Newman and O. J. Johnson, who bought his stock of goods and added to it; he in turn sold it to Thomas W. Dunlap and Michael Gillespie and also added to the store building.
Frank Lacross established a general store in June, 1873, and he in turn sold it to Thomas W. Dunlap and Michael Gillespie in 1875.
The Audubon Journal was started in the fall of 1873, by P. P. and O. G. Wall.
The Congregational church was begun in the fall of 1872, and was dedicated in 1873.
The village of Audubon was incorporated by special law, approved Feb. 23d, 1881.
The first set of village officers were:
Michael Gillespie, president; R. B. White, recorder; Benjamin Hemstock, Walter Drew and Mike Oschner, trustees.
The Rev. Mr. Watleson conducted divine service in the house of John Beaver on November 6, 1870. This being the first divine service ever held in the township, preliminary steps were taken to organize a Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church at the time. Rev. B. Hagboe, who came in the summer of 1872 was the first resident preacher, but no church was built until the summer of 1874.
The State Bank of Audubon was organized early in Feb., 1907. The officers are S. A. Netland, president, and A. O. Netland, cashier.
Henry J. Larson, who preempted the principal part of the townsite of Audubon says: I located on the southwest quarter of Section 10 of what is now Audubon Township on the 30th of November, 1870, and sold to the Townsite Company. The survey of the townsite of Audubon was commenced in the first days of May, 1872, and a small house or box office was made ready for a telegraph office about the same time. The present passenger depot was made ready about the 20th of September of that same year.
About the middle of August, 1871, Mr. Thomas H. Canfield came through on a tour of inspection, and with him was quite a party of aristocratic looking people, and they camped where the Audubon depot now stands. The prairies were then covered with flowers and lilies, and there were several ladies in the party who were filled with admiration at the beauty of the surrounding country, and I remember that one lady asked Mr. Canfield if a railroad station could ever be established there that it be called Audubon. Another man took out a memorandum book and noted down this request.
I afterwards learned that the lady was a niece of John J. Audubon, the great American naturalist.
In 1871-72 there was a thriving village at the Old Oak Lake Cut on the northeast quarter of Section 24 of the present township of Audubon.
The village grew up simultaneously with the progress of the work of excavating the long deep cut on the Northern Pacific Railway at that place; it being several hundred feet in length and twenty feet or more in depth, and was the heaviest job of excavating on the Northern Pacific Railway between Duluth and the Missouri River.
Work was begun in this cut about the beginning of the winter of 1870; the exact date I am unable to give. I was there on the 21st of January, 1871, and George M. C. Bracket, the contractor, was there at work with about forty men, engaged in excavating the frozen ground at the east end of the cut. I was there again on the 10th of February and work was in progress at both ends of the cut, and there was quite a sprinkling of tents on the south side.
I was there again on the 20th of April, and the cluster of tents was assuming the appearance of a thriving village. Fletcher and Bly were running a big store, and were the general supply agents of the Northwestern Construction Company, and were doing a rushing business. This is the same "Uncle Loren" Fletcher who has represented the city of Minneapolis in the United States congress for several years past. In this store at that time were Guy Goodrich and Tim Chilton, who were working in the capacity of clerks, dealing out groceries, calico and tobacco to Indians, squaws, graders and tenderfeet alike.
In May, 1871, N. K. Hubbard and J. H. Raymond opened up another store, which did a flourishing business for the next two years, and soon afterwards R. H. Abraham opened up still another, which he moved to Lake Park later on.
By the first of August the south side of the cut had become a lively village of tents, and it was said there were 400 people living there at that date. The structures, however, were not altogether tents, as there had been some logs and considerable lumber used in their construction. There were now two hotels in operation; one owned and operated by James M. Crummy and L. D. Burger and the other by S. M. Thompkins, and that same summer a boot and shoe store was started by a man by the name of Marshall, who afterwards moved his store to Bismarck, and towards the close of the year S. B. Pinney moved his store over from Sherman's, by the lake, which made four general stores running in the little village about the time the rails were laid to the cut.
There was also the usual accompaniment of saloons, gamblers, sports, toughs, confidence men and fast women, such as are usually found congregated together on the outskirts of civilization, wherever there is any unusually large gathering of men without families. One large tent was used for a dance hall, and various other "doings" of a mysterious character were said to be carried on in that tent, as a consequence of which it was shunned by all timid people.
Conspicuous among the gang of outlaws that infested the town were two superfine cut-throats of the first water. The name of one was Shang, a polished expert of the light fingered craft, who claimed to be a native of Dublin, Ireland, and the name of the other was Shumway. After the Northern Pacific Railway was completed to Moorhead in the fall of I87I this pair of land pirates changed their quarters to that village much to the relief of the people of Oak Lake. On the 25th of April, 1872, Shang shot and mortally wounded Shumway, who after he was wounded attempted to shoot Shang, but instead shot and killed an innocent bystander, a barkeeper by the name of Thompson. Clay County had only just been, organized and no county officers had. yet been appointed. The newly appointed county commissioners met immediately and appointed James Blanchard sheriff of Clay County and his first official act was to arrest the murderer Shang. At a preliminary hearing after Shumway's death, Shang was released on a nominal bond and was never prosecuted, it being the general opinion that he had rendered Moorhead a good service in ridding it of Shumway, although Shang was if possible the worst villain of the two.
The first political meeting in Becker County was held about the 25th of October, I871. Governor Austin made a speech at a Republican meeting at Oak Lake Cut, and during the progress of the meeting, a Norwegian by the name of I. T. Knudson, who lived on Section 16, Audubon, was badly injured for life by a blow on the head with a revolver in the hands of an Oak Lake gambler called Blinky Jack. Jack's dog had a fight with a dog belonging to Jacob Anderson and the owners of the dogs had a row over the dogs but were separated. Jack was not satisfied and afterwards started to hunt up Anderson and have it out. He came across Knudson and taking him for Anderson struck him on the head several times with his revolver. He was knocked senseless and thought to be dead for awhile, but was finally restored and is suffering from the hurt until this day.
Jack was tried at the November term of court and sentenced to pay $400 fine or a year in jail. As there was no jail in the county, the sheriff, Charles E. Churchill, could do no better than to take him home with him, but after boarding with him for a couple of weeks Jack skipped out.
In the month of October, 1871, the work in the big cut was finished, and the small army of graders moved on to the West, but the little village continued to thrive. The place was easy of access, as there were good natural roads leading to it from all the principal points of the compass except the east.
It cost Detroit several thousand dollars to construct as good roads as those leading to the cut, which did not cost a dollar.
The officials of the Northern Pacific Railway Company from the start had anticipated the securing of a townsite at this place, and with it the construction of a permanent railway station. A part of this same plan was to locate the Detroit station on the shore of Detroit Lake, near where Mr. West's ice house now stands, and in accordance with the same plan there would be no station between Oak Lake and Lake Park.
In the summer of 1871 the officials of the Northern Pacific Company commenced negotiating with L. D. Burger, who had now become the sole proprietor of the land where the depot grounds were wanted, for the purpose of purchasing the whole or at least a half interest in the proposed townsite; but believing that the company would eventually be obliged to establish a permanent station at that point, Burger became exceedingly independent, and placed an extravagent price on his land. I have heard him say more than once that he had got the railroad company where the hair was short; that they had got to come to his terms, and they had got to pay for it besides.
In the fall of 1871 a temporary station and telegraph office was established at the west end of the Oak Lake Cut, and another at Detroit, down in Tylertown, near the Pelican River, and as the Northern Pacific officials were anxious to establish a permanent station at Detroit as early as possible, and as they were somewhat discouraged in their efforts to secure a satisfactory location at Oak Lake, they decided to locate the Detroit depot one block West of where the depot buildings now stand after the original townsite was laid out by Col. Johnston in the winter of 1871 and '72.
The people at Oak Lake, however, did not lose heart, but still believed that with its favorable location and its present flourishing condition, the village was destined to remain the metropolis of the Park Region.
The railroad officials still kept up negotiations with Burger during the whole of the year 1872, notwithstanding they had located a permanent station at Detroit, less than five miles away, but Burger was as stubborn and exacting as ever. "You have got to come to my terms and you know it" he would say whenever the subject was mentioned.
In the month of July the United States Land Office was opened up at Oak Lake, and the merchants, hotel keepers and saloon keepers still continued to do a thriving business, and these prosperous conditions served to make Burger the more exhorbitant in his bargaining with the railroad company and also tended to keep up the courage of the people generally who were doing business in the village.
Finally the railroad officials became tired of dallying any longer with a scheme that promised no satisfactory outcome, and in the spring of 1873 moved the temporary station from Oak Lake to Audubon, where a townsite had just been laid out by the Lake Superior and Puget Sound Townsite Company. This proved the final undoing of Oak Lake. Everybody moved away but Burger and his family; the land office was moved to Detroit that same year, and for many long years afterwards all that remained of the once prosperous village was the old log hotel and barn, and a big patch of Canada thistles, that were scattering their winged seeds of pestilence through the surrounding country.
Frank Palmer, a native of Vermont, was the telegraph operator at Oak Lake station.
W. J. Morrow, the present popular cashier of the Merchants National Bank of Detroit, came to Oak Lake Cut early in the spring of 1871, and after remaining there a year or two stayed in Audubon for awhile, and in 1876 took a homestead on Section 28, in Hamden Township, where he resided until he was elected clerk of court in 1879, when he removed to Detroit, where he has resided ever since.
Dear Sir:---The Mr. S. B. Pinney that you refer to is unquestionably the Pinney that died here in Minot. He was an early settler down at Oak Lake, as I believe they called it in the early days when Tompkins kept his keg saloon. He certainly resided along the Northern Pacific Railroad between Oak Lake and Fargo, and then after a while, he moved up to Fargo and resided there until about five years ago, when he came up here to Minot. He had two sons and one daughter, ---I believe that is all of the family. To all appearances, he never accumulated any property. He was not the owner of any real estate here, whatever, and very little household effects. He might have property somewhere else that I don't know of. He was a tall man-quite tall and slim. He died about the first of December, 1905.
In October, 1870, I was surveying the town of Hamden far the United States government. In the early part of the evening of the 21st day of that month, while camped in a grave an Section 17, we noticed a fire a few miles south of us. We were a little surprised as it had snowed the night before and the grass was still wet, so we knew it could not be a prairie fire, but we did not know the cause of it until several days afterwards. A Norwegian by the name of Gunder Carlson and one of his boys, were living a little south of the line between Hamden and Audubon. He had already erected a log house and stable, and had about thirty or forty tons of hay stacked near his stable. About dark while sitting in his house, he saw a light outside, and after going out into the dooryard, and while standing by an oak tree near his door with one hand over his eyes to shade them from the glare of the fire, he discovered that his own hay stacks were on fire; and just about that time he was shot by someone hid behind the wood-pile. He, however, had a glimpse of his would-be murderer, and could have recognized him afterwards. As the stable was in great danger of being destroyed, he sent his boy to the rear of the stable and had him crawl through a hole into the stable and turn out the oxen and the cows. He thought the Indian was still guarding the front door of the stable, but he succeeded in getting the cattle out without difficulty. The stable did not burn.
The old man was badly hurt. The gun was loaded with buckshot, and the whole charge took effect in his side and arm. He and the boy succeeded in making their way down to Christen Anderson's, who lived two miles southeast of there. As soon as they were gone, Bachinana, for that was the Indian's name, commenced to sack the house. He took some coffee and sugar and clothing, a gun and a little money.
Things were pretty badly torn up in the house, and he even smashed the glass out of the windows and splintered up the sash with his hatchet. Mr. Carlson's arm was rendered helpless as long as he lived. He had several buckshot taken out of his side and back, but some of them penetrated too far ever to be reached, and they finally caused his death about two years afterwards.
On the 17th of October, 1872, Dennis Stack came near killing Billy Lamb at Oak Lake. I never heard all the details of the quarrel but during the affray Stack gave Lamb an ugly cut across the abdomen with a knife, so that some of his bowels protruded. Lamb made his exit from the building where it occurred and made his way to a haystack where he was found some time afterwards in a serious condition. The cut was sewed up and he lived for twenty years afterwards. He showed me the scar the next February and it was an ugly one. Billy was an inoffensive son of Erin, and a veteran of the Civil War. Stack was also an Irishman, but a bad, quarrelsome man.