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Benson County North Dakota Genealogy

Leeds Township, North Dakota
Township 156 North Range 68 West

Leeds School District

 Early Pioneers Atlas of Benson County, 1910 Plat Map Leeds Businesses

History of Leeds Township

Taken from Leeds/York Seventy-five Years Diamond Jubilee 1886-1961 book


The first pioneers who claimed land in this area came in the year 1884. Ole Gronback took up land which later became part of the townsite of Leeds, but he did not establish a permanent home for his family until 1886. Martin Hanson was apparently the first to build a house and establish his home here. He was married in Norway in 1882 and later came to America to establish a home for his wife and daughter who had remained in Norway. He and his brother Anthon chose land near Lake Ibsen. Anthon's first claim was in Lake Ibsen township but in 1886 he "squatted" on land in Leeds township, and made a permanent home here. Thomas Cascaden, a young Canadian, came to Leeds township in 1885, and settled in the northeast corner. Devils Lake was the closest town where these pioneers could go for provisions, often making the trip on foot.


Many new settlers, anticipating the coming of the railroad, came to this locality in 1886 or possibly earlier. Alfred Nord squatted on land which later became part of the Leeds townsite. Mr. and Mrs. John Nelson and family settled just west of Leeds, Neils Urness, Alfred Nord, Frank Engstrom and Mr. and Mrs. Christen Batalden and family chose sites north of the town. Descendants of these pioneers continue to farm the old homesteads. Coming into this locality a few years later were the families of Nels Grimsrud, H.A. Blegen, Severt Gresdahl, and Gilbert Knutson whose descendants are still on the old farms.


As is evident by the names these people were of Norwegian or Swedish ancestry, many coming directly from Norway to this new land of opportunity. By the year 1888 the northeastern corner of the township began to be settled by people of Irish or English ancestry. Mrs. Will Fox, the wife of one of the early pioneers who lived in this locality, wrote some interesting historical data that gives us valuable information of some of the pioneers. She tells about her husband W.S. Fox, C.J. Fox and E.B. Page coming to the community in 188 with a party of twenty-one emigrants from Illinois. They had with them eight carloads of stock and machinery. These three men chose land in Leeds township. Pioneer neighbors were John Conway, Michael James and Edward Grady, and J.M. Fox.


In the north and northwestern portion of the township names of early settlers again suggest their Scandinavian ancestry. Permanent home builders were the families of Ole Rodlende, Knut Myhre, Sven, Sever and Even Medhus, Peter Jorgenson and Gilbert Tostenson.


Early history also includes such names as Gunhus, Nestoss, Jones, Howery, Reap, Reynolds, Lyon, Johnson, Doherty, Opdahl, Anderson, Sanders, Morstad, Levorson, Brager, Born, Goldberg and Rytterager.


Early county records show the Ole Gronback home was designated as a polling place April 6, 1886 with Anton Hanson, Ole Gronback and Martin Thoreson appointed to be judges of election. The first meeting of Leeds civil township was held April 24, 1890 at the school house. The first town clerk was Amos Parsons. The town board consisted of William Willocks, O.R. Nestoss and Charles Fox. Many men have served the township diligently and well in official capacities throughout the years. Mention should be made of Peter Jorgenson, who served as supervisor from the yeas 1904-1940. His son Oscar, has been chairman of the board of supervisors since that time. Serving with him this year, 1961, are Norris Gresdahl, Joseph Blegen, clerk Ernest Elverud and treasurer Selmer Medhus.


The earliest settlers lived in sod houses, dug outs (houses built into a hillside) or crude shanties. When lumber became more available these shelters were replaced by more comfortable houses. In 1892 Rev. and Mrs. H.A. Blegen built a small six room house on their farm in the township, and this house served as a church, parochial school house and boarding house for children from outlying districts. As financial conditions improved new spacious homes and large red barns began to dot the prairie. The greatest building boom seems to have been in the period of 1900 to 1910.


Our history includes these "firsts". The first white child born in Leeds township was Anna Hanson in 1886, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Anton Hanson. She married Einar Vallager. The first fourth generation farmer in the township is Richard Jorgenson, great grandson of Sven Medhus.


Leeds Businesses

Information taken from the Lions Pad, Leeds High School newspaper May 19, 1964


Pat's Fairway- In 1901, Gunner Host became a partner in the Larson and Tollefson general store. This later became the A.L. Johnson Co., with Mr. Host, A.L. Johnson, and Charles Studness as partners. In about 1922, Gunnar Host's sons, Sidney, Archie, and Edgar joined with him in the purchase of grocery and dry goods departments of the A.L. Johnson Co., starting the firm of G. Host and Sons. After the deaths of Mr. Host and his son Edgar, the business became a partnership with Archie and Sidney as owners until the death of Sidney in 1947, when his wife Helga became a partner. Altogether, Gunnar Host and his sons were in business for 58 years. The grocery and dry goods store was sold to Lavern J. Patterson in 1960. Mr. Patterson has changed the store into a complete grocery store.


J.A. Chesnut- Dr. J.A. Chesnut came to Leeds in February, 1915, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to open his dental office which he has operated continuously for forty-eight years. Dr. Chesnut has practiced in various locations in Leeds. They are as follows: above the old post office building, above the Hilman Store, above what was once the Drug Store and above the Paulson Carpenter shop. He has been in his present location since 1944.


Leeds Post Office- The Leeds Post Office was established August 31, 1887. It was located where the "Tastee-Freez" is now located. In February 1894, the post office was moved to where the "John Deere" implement building is presently located. The post office was moved in January, 1898, to the building which is now Johnson's Palace Cafe. In January, 1914, the post office was moved to the building next door to the west of the cafe. The post office was moved in 1922 to the building which originally had been the J.B. Pederson jewelry store and it remained there until May, 1962, which it was moved to the new post office building built on the former location of the Commercial Hotel.


Baglien's Insurance Agency- Baglien's Insurance Agency was once the Leeds State Bank and the office of the former attorney, Adrian Butts. Mr. Baglien formerly had his business in the building which is now the Laundromat, from 1946-1958. He began selling insurance in 1946. Mr. Baglien purchased the Butts building in 1958 after the death of Mr. Butts. He immediately moved his insurance business into the building which is now his residence also.


Miller's Drug Store- The building now housing the Miller Drug was constructed by Al Petsinger in 1946. Prior to this, the old theater had been in that spot, but approximately two years before it had been destroyed by fire. In 1947 Milo Miller traded Mr. Petsinger the building he had built which is now Petsinger's department store for the building which is now the drug store. Mr. Miller is still the owner and operator of this store.


Petsinger's Department Store- Petsinger's store was built by Orris Nordhaugen in the year 1955. Mike Miller bought the building from him at that time for a drug store. Al Petsinger who had built the present drug store, traded with Mike Miller the following year. This building is presently owned and operated by Harold Petsinger.


Larson's Implement- The Larson Implement Company, owned by G.D. (Bud) Larson and C.K. Larson originated April 1, 1946 when they bought the J.C. Donovan building situated where the present North Start station is today. At that  time they dealt with J.I. Case machinery. They also ran a gas station where they sold Tydol and Veedol gasoline. Larson Implement maintained a truck stop and bulk service at this time also. In 1949 an addition, 26' by 50' was built onto the east side of the building. In 1950 Larson Implement purchased the Massey Harris franchise. They ran the Massey Harris and J.I. Case jointly until 1953 when they dropped Case and just handled Massey. In 1958 Larson Implement bought the Kjelmyr Implement building where they are presently located. Here they handled Massey Harris and International Harvester until 1962 when they discontinued International Harvester. In 1959 they sold their former buildings to Lyle Marchus. The Larson Implement Company now franchises Massey Ferguson, Versatile swathers, Farmhand equipment and Graham plows.


Farmers State Bank- The Farmers State Bank of Leeds was established in Leeds in August, 1926, A. W. Engel as its president, E.O. Craig its vice-president, Arne A. Gregor its cashier, and J.B. Kinneberg its assistant cashier. In January, 1944, Arne A. Gregor was elected its President, Chas. Torgerson was elected Vice President, and Benjamin Baglien was elected Cashier. Carlyle P. Austinson held the position as cashier from January, 1946 to July 1950. The present officers of the bank are the following: Arne A. Gregor, president; Gertrude B, Gregor, vice president; and G. Curtis Gregor, cashier. The bank building was completely remodeled in 1956 with new modern equipment and fixtures added.


Lyle's North Star- Lyle's Service is located near the N.P. railroad tracks at the west end of the town. The building and lot were purchased from Larson Implement in October of 1958,. Since then Lyle has sold Mobil gas and products. In 1962 he became the independent North Star dealer. Lyle's Service was partly damaged by a fire in the main garage on February, 1961, but has since been repaired.


Leeds Radiator Sales & Service- In September 1947, John and Clarence McCormack started the first radiator shop in the city of Leeds. The building was once a two stall garage which has been remodeled. In 1951 Clarence bought John out and in 1955, added small engine repairs to the business. The radiator shop is now a Clinton, Lawn Boy, and Briggs and Stratton service shop along with being distributor of McCord and eureka radiator cores.


Martin's Tastee Freeze- The Tastee Freeze, the first drive-in in Leeds, was started in 1957. It was begun as a dual partnership by Nelson Stave and Dwayne Pratt. After two years of business, Pratt sold out to Stave. Nelson Stave ran the business until the spring of 1963. He then leased the Tastee Freeze to Mr. Arthur Martin.


Wigwam- The Wigwam was moved to Leeds in 1961 by Larry Pierson. It was operated in 1962 by Kenny Stuberg and also in 1962 by Mrs. Wilma Anderson. Mrs. Anderson ran it in 1963 and sold it this year to Lila Chalmers, who remodeled it and opened for business in April.


Leeds Equipment Company- The John Deere Equipment Co, at Leeds was first owned and operated by J.V. Donovan. Mr. Donovan owned the John Deere Equipment Co. until 1942. In 1942 Grover Hobson bought the Leeds John Deere Equipment Co. Mr. Hobson also sold G.M.C. trucks, caterpillar tractors, and household goods. The John Deere Equipment Co., was first located where the new Standard station is presently located. Mr. Hobson bought the buildings where the shop is now located six months after his purchase of the Leeds John Deere Equipment Co. In 1951, Paul Leichty bought the John Deere business from Grover Hobson. Paul Leichty also sold Ford cars. In 1961, A.O. Brost, and Rudy Kakela bought the Leeds John Deere Equipment Co., and they presently operate it.


Sid's Radio & TV- This establishment was started in 1950 as a radio shop with John McCormack as the owner. However, after he left it, Sid Nelson purchased the business and started it again in September of 1954. He has been owner of the radio and television business ever since. The radio and television shop had been a number of other businesses before this.


Great Plains Supply Company-In the year 1886 Mather and Feeder organized the first lumber company in Leeds, North Dakota. In 1915 Mather and Feeder sold out to the Imperial Lumber Company which supplied lumber for the Leeds area for the next five or six years. The Imperial Company sold their holdings to the St. Anthony and Dakota Lumber Company which had one of the first chain of lumber yards in this area. In 1942 St. Anthony sold out to the Great Plains Supply Company which now runs the local yard. In 1953 a new building was built and Forest Ankenbauer became the new manager. After a back injury in 1959 Mr. Ankenbauer left to mange the yard in Minnewaukan. The present manager of the Great Plains Supply Company is Leroy Hockhalter.


Fogelson's Grocery-Edward Fogelson came to Leeds in 1913 and built a new brick building for a meat market. His sons, Moni and Harold, were associated with him in the business. After Harold Passed away about 1931, Moni continued the business, adding the grocery department. Later he sold to his sons, Francis and Donald. Francis now operates the business after purchasing Donald's share.


Parker Hotel- The first part of the Parker Hotel was built about 1895 by Mr. Spalding. There were three additions to the hotel. The last addition was made about 1900. In the early 1900's, the hotel was purchased by the Parker family and the main business began. At that time, the hotel rates were $2.00 per night, with breakfast and supper included. After 1918, upon returning from services in World War 1, Al Johnson rented the Parker Hotel and catered to traveling men. There then followed a series of owners. About 1942 Mr. Holman had the hotel;; in 1943, Oscar Larson; 1944, Mr. Whitford; and in 1945, Mr. Bailey. In 1947 the Parker Hotel was purchased by Mr. George Weimer, the present owner. Now the hotel is mainly a home for retired persons.


Minnie's Beauty Shop- Mrs. Minnie Bellerud started her beauty shop in 1950. She bought the building from Melvin Nelson. It had been an apartment house. In 1954 Mrs. Bellerud remodeled the front part and made it into a beauty shop. Last summer Mrs. Bellerud hired Darlene Humble as a beauty operator. Mrs. Bellerud has since done some more remodeling, putting in more hairdryers and another chair for Darlene to work on.

Hett's Repair- The Hett Repair Service was originally owned and occupied by Himle Plumbing. It is now Norman Hett's repair shop. He has been in business for one and one-half years.


Dr. A.B. Lund- Dr. A.B. Lund, Leeds physician, opened his first office at York in July, 1907. In October of that year, Dr. Lund bought the practice of Dr. Arneberg and came to Leeds where he has resided continously with the exception of one year, 1920. Dr. Lund has served the Leeds area for fifty-six years. His office is in the building that was the Security Bank which was built in 1919.


Rae's Standard- The Standard station was built in 1957. The station is owned by Orris G. Nordhaugen. The station was opened by Ed Zerr and was operated by him until the fall of 1963. Peter Braun took over and operated the station until March of 1964 when he took over as the Standard bulk agent. Rae Olson is now the present operator. Dennis Olson is working for Rae Olson in the same station.


Leeds Clinic Building- The Leeds Clinic Building was started in 1949 by the Leeds Civic Club. A non-profit corporation called the Leeds Memorial Health Center was formed. On July 1, 1952, Dr. F.C. White occupied the building. In 1954 Dr. R.J. Miller took Dr. White's place. He was here until August of 1955. The building is now occupied by Walter Morris.


Wally's Cities Service- In August of 1946, the three Jacobson brothers- Russel, Norman, and Howard- began in the City Service at Leeds. The building was leased from the Cities Service Oil Company. In May of 1955 Russel quit the service state business and opened the Blue Moon Motel in Leeds. During the year of 1961, Howard and Norman also quit the station business. Wally Schmidt then leased the station from the Cities Service Oil Company and in 1963 Bye Construction from Fargo built a new station. Wally Schmidt still leases the station.


Brower's Variety- The Variety Store was once a recreation building, a drug store, a Gamble store, and a doctors office. In 1935 Mr. R.J. Brower opened the Variety Store in a building that stood where the Gambles Store now stands, In 1943 Mr. Brower moved his business to the building now occupied.


Tufte's Hardware- Oscar Tufte bought what is now Tufte Hardware in September 1946 from A.L. Johnson. The building remains the same except for heating and plumbing.


Johnson Funeral Home- The Johnson Funeral Home was established in 1946 by J. Alfred Johnson and his son Carlyle. Alfred purchased the mortuary and business from A.L. Johnson. Carlyle Johnson is now the head mortician. His father, Alfred Johnson, is an active member today as the senior partner of the business. He received his first embalmers license in Wisconsin in 1906, prior to coming to Leeds.


Blue Moon Motel- The Blue Moon Motel, owned By Russel Jacobson, was built in 1955 by M. Capp, contractor, from Minneapolis. It has eight sleeping units and eight bathroom units. It also has a two-bedroom living quarters.


Hank's "66"- The office portion of Hank's Philips 66 station was built by Frank Donavan in the 1920's. The building was originally a Standard Oil station operated by Mr. Donavan. When the Standard Oil station closed the building was used as a home for many families. Ed Halgrimson changed the building into a Philips 66 station when he built the garage portion. The Philips 66 Station has since been operated by John Holmes, Tony Burkardsmier, Andrew Mitzel, and Hank Violet.


Ted's Appliance- Ted Rude has been in the electric business since 1958. He was first introduced to the business of electricity because had tuberculosis and to have an easier job than farming. He went to school in Kansas City Missouri for one year. Since then he has run his shop in Leeds and has gone to school in Illinois, taking up electronics.


Palace Cafe- Establishment of the Palace Cafe started under the authority of Henry Johnson in 1906. His son Orris went into business with him in 1928, and operated it with him until Henry's death last September. Except for 3 1/2 years spent in the service, Orris Johnson has been working in the Palace Cafe since 1928.


Marsaa's Gambles- The Gambles Store was built in 1947 by Orris Nordhougen, upon completion it was bought by Al Laulum. It was occupied by Cicil Stevens and it is presently operated by Richard Marsaa. It is owned today by Mrs. Al Laulum.


Nord's Blacksmith- Nord's Blacksmith shop was bought by Gus Nord from Hans Tweaten in 1922. He first had his shop in a little building at the rear of the present building. He bought and remodeled the present building from the railroad in 1936. It had been a warehouse for the railroad. He has general welding and blacksmithing.


Leeds Creamery- The creamery was built in 1944 after being burned by a fire. Harvey Kringen bought the creamery from S.E. Rierson in February 1945 and completed the building by adding a locker plant.


Dr. Cook's Veterinarian Service- Dr. R.B. Cook started his veterinary service in Leeds in June, 1957. His office was in his apartment at Johnson's Funeral Home. In July 1959, he purchased the building which had been Sether's Cafe, where he now has his office.


Paulson's Cabinet Shop- The Paulson Construction company was started in Leeds in 1955 by Claire Paulson. The business office is in the building formerly known as Fogelson's Apartments or the Kirkeide Upholstery Shop.


City Barber Shop- Lyle Boyer established his own barber shop in April, 1920. He retired after 40 years of work in 1960, selling his shop to Leonard Ganje. In March 1963 it was taken over by Jim Dressen with Daniel Goldaddy as his assistant.


Hans' Shoe Shop- The Shoe Shop was first operated by Tom Austin who started it in 1905. It was then taken over by Hans Bjerke in 1953. He is present owner and operater.


Home Cafe- The building which is now the Home Cafe was constructed in approximately 1900. It was owned and operated as a cafe by Charlie Burgess. John Burkardsmeir bought it in 1946, and is still operating it.

North American Creamery- The North American Creamery of Carrington has been operating a buying station and truck route of of Leeds since 1952. All farm produce from their twelve stations is trucked to Carrington where the churning and processing is completed. The Leeds station is owned by the company and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Bud Mikelson.


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