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Northcote: The Industrious Center


Renee Giffen


During the expansion to the West, pioneer towns grew upin the Red River Valley. Many of these towns grew to be big industriouscenters. Northcote was kept very busy by the industries it carried. Thiscreated an exciting atmosphere.

Many different kinds of industries were brought to Northcotefrom the East. There were a variety of stores such as a hardware, groceries,and a "regular" store, with both groceries and hardware in it.The first store in Northcote was started by Albert Newcomb. This was a generalstore which sold a variety of goods.

Food was not only found in stores but there were saloonsto provide it, also.

After the roads were improved and paved, mail was carriedfrom from town to town, all over the Red River Valley. A post office wasset up in a general store and Peter Daly was the first postmaster. Mrs.Dunn presently has the post office in her home.

The leading merchant in Northcote was Walter Kelso, a bankerfrom Hallock then, who started a lumber yard, a general and hardware store.The lumber yard employed many men. Since transportation had improved greatly,it was easy to ship the lumber elsewhere.

Farming in the 1800's was one of the main industries whichemployed hundreds of men at Northcote. Fields of grain and other crops grewhigh for many years because of the fertile soil. Because this productionof grain was so great, the town needed elevators to store the grains. Inthe next ten years, from 1920-1930, four elevators were built. The elevatorswere built by different companies such as St. Anthony & Dakota, DanMorrison, Monson Brothers, and Amenia Elevator Company. These elevatorswere either burned or moved away. The elevators were kept real busy forfarmers came in from miles around Northcote to unload their grain.

But not only was grain grown on farms, cattle were alsoraised. Walter Hill employed many men to take care of his cattle which wereworth thousands of dollars. Stock yards were made to ship the stock by trainto other parts of the valley. These cattle were raised to be brought tothe fairs in Hillock to win prizes. Many people came to these fairs to watchthe animal judging.

With all this money being made from farming, there wasa need for a bank. A bank was constructed in 1918 which was named the NorthcoteState Bank. But in 1922, disaster struck the bank for it burned and destroyed$10,000.00 worth of money.

Families grew bigger and bigger and the population increased.The No.4 school of Kittson County for the children was built in October,1880. The grades were from the first to the eighth. Up until 1905, therewas no high school in Northcote. The high school was in the Dunn home. Earlyteachers were Winnie Lapp and Mary Daly. But the school had to close becausethere were not enough students and teachers were hard to find. The studentsare now transported to the Hallock school by bus.

The children were entertained by mainly their own activities.In the summer, Northcote had a real good baseball team, they went swimming,and climbed trees. And in the winter they went skating, sledding, and builtsnowmen.

The only church in Northcote in the past and present dayis the Presbyterian Church. Sunday School was started in Mr. John MacFarlane'shome about 1881. The church originated in 1882. The first to be admittedwere John MacFarlane and Donald Murray. The elders were also John MacFarlaneand Donald Murray. William Pollock was added to this list later. The firstpastor was Reverend Hugh McMillian. In 1883, services were discontinuedin the MacFarlane home and held in the No. 4 school house until it was moved.Worship was then conducted in the church which was built in 1899.

In 1896, a Ladies Aid Society was formed with Mrs. JohnMcKenzie as first president. At one time, a Christian Endeavor Society wasformed for young people. Since many people moved away, interest was lostbut it is not known when it ceased to exist.

The community and the church were at their best at thetime the church was built, since then many of the members or families ofNorthcote have moved away to far places.

The village of Northcote was named after Sir Henry StaffordNorthcote, an English statesman. There was no direct attachment to the villageand the man, but it was believed he was interested in the Hill projectsaround Northcote.

Northcote's big business has quieted down in the past thirtyyears and many people have moved away from this area. But still, Northcotekeeps on as a minute little village because its 17 citizens are stubbornenough not to let the little village die completely.



Kittson County Enterprise; Northcote and Presbyterian Church:January 22, 1971

MacFar1ane, Ernest Interview; January 16, 1971

Murray, Lily Interview; January 16, 1971

w; January 16, 1971

Murray, Lily Interview; January 16, 1971