Information taken in part from the Rock Township History, Benson County, 1904-1976
Rock Township is unique in that its land area lies almost entirely within the boundaries of the Fort Totten Indian Reservation. Homesteading in Rock Township began in the early 1880s, even though the Indian reservation did not official open to settlers in 1904. James McLaughlin, who had been the chief Indian agent at the local Bureau of Indian Affairs agency on the reservation, reached an agreement with the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe which permitted settlement by non-tribal members. President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed homesteading the area officially open on June 2, 1904.
The opening of the Reservation for homesteading was widely advertised by the news media and anyone wishing to homestead had to register from August 8th to August 20, 1904, at either Devils Lake or Grand Forks. The drawings were held at Devils Lake beginning on August 24, 1904, starting at 9:00 a.m. Fifty names were drawn each day until all names were drawn. The lucky ones drawn first had first chance to file their claims. They then had the option of paying $4.50 per acre cash and living on their claims 14 months and the land was theirs or else pay $1.50 per acre down and 50 cents per acre per year until paid for and they would have to live on their claims in the interim.
A man by the name of Major Gichell was a locator for homesteaders. He had a rig available for hire and would help homesteaders pinpoint their claims on the Township map. Mr. W.B. Nelson rode with him on many such location trips and the measuring system was a red rag tied to the wheel of the buggy counting the revolutions of the wheel. Mr. Bruce Warren drew lot No. 1 and homesteaded 160 acres in Section 28 and 33.
It wasn't until 1910 that the new residents of Township 151-66 decided to organize as a civil township and a petition to that effect was presented to the county commissioners of Benson County on the 21st of February of that year. This petition called for the township to be named Plainview. The commissioners approved the petition on the 3rd day of October 1910 but because another township in the State was already called Plainview, this name was unacceptable. Mr. W.H. Bell meeting with the commissioners that day suggested that the township be named "Rock" for obvious reasons. This name was acceptable and the township was so named. The names of the first township board are not available as the early records were lost.
Fort Totten was just one of a number of posts built to protect the Totten Trail an overland route that extended across the Dakota Territory from southern Minnesota to the goldfields of western Montana.. It got its start in 1867 when solders built a log structure that in no time was enlarged and expanded to include dozens buildings. It is situated on the southeastern shore of Devil's Lake.
In 1890, Fort Totten was decommissioned and the next year, it became the property of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
By 1905 there were so many children that a school had to be built, and Plainview School District Number 31 was established that October. The first school election was held at the John Landin farm and the first school board consisted of John H Milleson, president; W.B. Nelson and Iver P Seby, directors; C.R. Wattles, clerk and Fran DeMarce, treasurer. The first school house was in SE 1/4 of Section 26 and the first teacher was Clara Rud, sister of Alfred Rud.
By 1920 about 35 children attended the Plainview School No. 1 with 2 teachers hired for the one-room school. These teachers were Hilda Dafoe and Olive Judkins. Plainview No. 2 located near Bueslinchs on the County Road and later moved a little further west near the Thor Logan farm and No. 3 called the "Fine" School which was located in the southwest corner of Section 26 were soon added. In the early thirties, Elvira (Me) Stenberg started a hot lunch program at Plainview No. 1. She felt sorry for the children having only cold sandwiches at noon so she asked each family to take a turn at bringing something that she could heat up for their noon meal. She said that it worked out very well and this was long before any Federal help as we knew it in later years.
In 1953 there were not enough students to operate the Plainview School, so students were transported to nearby Sheyenne, with tuition paid for by the Plainview School District. In 1960, the Sheyenne School District and Plainview merged into one school district with shared bus service.
Student's Listed By School and Year
|Year||Plainview #1||Plainview #2||Plainview #3|
|1913||Beulah Jones,Edna Nelson,
Myrtle Thompson, Minda Alfstad,
Mytle Olson, Mable Lundin,
Helen Olson, Emil Nelson,
George Lundin, Gladys Alftad,
Roy Thompson,Herbert Lundin,
Paul Melin, Irving Olson,
Dagney Nelson, Stella Thompson,
|1915||Mable Lundin, Gilma Nyhusmoen,
Myrtle Thompson, Helen Olson,
Edna Nelson, Emil Nelson,
Stella Thompson, Dagney Nelson,
Franklin Olson, Myrtle Olson,
Irving Olson, Paul Melin,
Herbert Lundin, George Lundin,
|1922||Graduation Class of Plainview #1 & 2||Franklin Olson, Otto Erickson,
Leif Erickson, Hazel Nelson,
Myrtle Nielsen, Earl Melin,
Marie Zetter, Signe Nyhusmoen,
|1925||Clarence Zetter, Carlton Olson,
Albin Zetter, Edith Nielsen Haukom,
Harold Olson, Paul Nielson,
Oswald Olson, Sulven Mestdagh,
Oscar Zetter, Tom Bell,
Viola Zetter, Myrtle Nelson,
Leona Beuslinch, Evelyn Bell,
Blenda Zetter, Agnes Wahlstrom,
Helen Bell, Doris Nielsen,
Raymond Beuslinch, Clifford Nelson
|1925-26||Oscar Zetter, Myrtle Nelson,
Viola Zetter, Paul Nielsen,
Helen Bell, Blenda Zetter,
Raymond Beuslinch, Evelyn Bell,
Rose Nielsen, Eunice Homelvig,
Oswald Olson, ??,
Leona Beuslinch, Doris Nielsen,
Harold Olson, Tom Bell
|1927||Lillian Ericksonm Agnes
Edith Frosaker, Ole Loken,
Budwin Thompson, Leigh Rea,
Hans Frosaker, Clara Frosaker,
Gail Thompson, Lisa Anderson,
Donald Rea, Ole Nyhusmoen Jr.
Ruth Frosaker, Ruth Nordlund,
Astrid Anderson, Clarence Erickosn,
Lillian Frosaker, Carl Anderson
|1930||Harold Haldorson, Trygve
Anna Frosaker, Alpha Thompson
|1931||Grace Keller, Gail Thompson,
Ruth Frosaker, Astrid Anderson
|1936||Harold Haldorson, Alton
Stephina Usselman, Carl Frosaker,
Trygve Thompson, Obert Thompson,
Lucille Zemple, Delilah Zemple,
Alpha Thompson, Anna Frosaker,
Helen Frosaker, Solvieg Brenden,
Milddred Frosaker, Erling Anderson
|1937||Carl Froasker, Alton
Norton Simonson, Delilah Zemple,
Obert Thompson, Solvieg Brenden,
Erling Anderson, Joyce Carter,
Vera Simonson, Rosellen Carter,
Helen Forsaker, Mildred Forsaker
|1947||Wayne Wahlstrom, Maxine Kruger,
Darlen Kruger, Dale Wahlstrom,
Thursten Gustafson, Betty Nyhusmoen,
Phyllis LInstrom, Arnold Nyhusmoen,
Wesley Lindstrom, Stanley Kruger
|1948||Janice Nyhusmoen, Betty Nyhusmoen,
Wesley Linstrom,Arnold Nyhusmoen,
Phyllis Linstrom, Stanely Kruger,
Darlene Kruger, Wayne Wahlstrom
Tosten and Marit Alfstad came from Valders, Norway to America in 1883 and settled in McHenry County in North Dakota. They moved to this community in 1896. Their son Knute, born April 7, 1879 in Valders, Norway married Clara Halberg on April 22, 1901 at Fessenden, North Dakota. They had thirteen children. Knute farmed for several years and moved to Sheyenne in the fall of 1925 where he had been employed by the state highway department. He passed away September 21, 1952 following a lingering illness. Carla passed away April 30, 1966. They are buried in the family lot in Eden Cemetery, west of Sheyenne.
Emil J. Anderson
Emil J. Anderson was born in Smaland, Sweden, December 25, 1881. He came to the United Sates in 1902 and to North Dakota in 1904. He homesteaded in what is now Rock Township in 1904. The land he settled on is the East 1/2 of the SE1/4 of Section 18. During the winter months he worked in logging camps in northern Minnesota. In 1910, Emil was one of the signers of the petition to make the township an organized civil township.
Emil married Annie Anderson in 1914. She was born in Sweden, August 19 1886 and came to the United States in 1913 and lived in Rockford, Illinois until moving to North Dakota in 1914. Four children were born to this union: Carl, Lisa, Astrid and Glen. Emil Anderson died October 1 1966 and Annie Anderson on December 16, 1974.
Oscar H. Anderson
Oscar H. Anderson was born in the province of Smaland, Sweden on December 7 1887. In 1906 he decided to seek his fortune and came to America. He worked in the Brandon, Minnesota area for a few months. In the fall of the same year he came to Rock Township where two of his brothers, Emil J. Anderson and Fred Grondahl had homesteaded earlier. In 1909 Oscar homesteaded on 40 acres in Section 15 and about the same time purchased a quarter of school land in Section 16 of Rock Township. In November 1921, Oscar married Hilda Swenson. Hilda was born in Smaland, Sweden on April 10 1900. To this union three children were born: twin daughters, Ingrid and Myrtle born August 1922. Ingrid passed away in October 1922 of unknown causes. A son, Erling was born November 6, 1923. Mrs. Anderson passed away January 30 1925. Daughter Myrtle contracted scarlet fever and passed away in April 1925. Oscar continued farming until his death on March 20 1940.
James H. Bell
Homesteaded in Section 17.
W.H. Bell homestead in Section 23. He came to Rock Township from Missouri. He was one of the petitioners in 1905 to organize Plainview School District. He also helped organize the Equity Elevator of Sheyenne and served as its president for many years.
Pat lived in section 36 and was one of the signers of the petition to organize Rock Township in 1910.
Frank DeMarce lived in Sections 18 and 29 and was a signer of each petition to organize the Plainview School District and Rock Township. He also served as the first treasurer of the school district.
Olaf Martin Erickson
Olaf Martin Erickson was born January 5, 1874 in Drummond, Norway and came to America at the age of 9 with his mother. They homesteaded at Oslo, Minnesota and 56 acres of their farm became the city of Oslo.
Olaf homesteaded 4 1/2 miles NW of Sheyenne, North Dakota in Rock Township in 1905.
On November 4 196 he married Laura Maria Sondrall of Horace, North Dakota, born May 16 1884. They lived all their married life on the farm and were active members of the community. To this union 7 children were born: Otto, Leif, Ernest, Margaret, Lillian (Mrs. Earl Melin), Clarence, Viola (Mrs. Lloyd Jordre). Mr. Erickson passed away in 1952 and Mrs. Erickson died February 16, 1953.
Charles W. Fisher
Charles W. Fisher was born in Wisconsin on May 5 1875. During the Spanish-American War, Mr. Fisher served with Co.G, 13th Minnesota Regiment of Red Wing, Minnesota and fought several engagements in the Philippine Islands.
On June 14 1905 he married Klara Youngdahl of Red Wing, Minnesota. They came to North Dakota and homesteaded on 160 acres in Section 9 of Rock Township. They added forty acres of Indian land in 1920. Their son Merle was born February 8 1908 at the farm.
The Fishers leased the farm and moved to Sheyenne in 1912. They opened a jewelry store and Klara had a millinery shop and later she taught school until 1924. In the fall of 1924 Mr. Fisher sold the contents of the jewelry stor to Henry Flaskrud who had a store on Main Street. The family left Sheyenne and moved to Savanna, Illinois.
Fred Grondahl was born in Smaland, Sweden November 17, 1876. He came to the United States in 1900 and lived in Minnesota before coming to North Dakota in 1904. His brother Emil Anderson also came to Rock Township in 1904 and his brother Oscar came in 1906. He homesteaded in what is now Section 18 of Rock Township in 1904. He worked for sometime in Duluth, Minnesota and also in the Minnesota logging camps. He farmed until his death in 1956.
Tom Haugen was born in Norway. He emigrated to America as a young man. In 1904 he homesteaded in Section 2 of Rock Township and built his home there. In 1910 he was one of the signers of the petition to organize Rock Township.
Through the years, besides farming, Tom as also engaged in construction work. Building of the Antelope Valley Lutheran Church south west of Oberon was one of his big jobs locally. He helped build the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah and also worked in San Francisco on reconstruction of the city after the Great San Francisco earthquake. In his later years Tom sold his farm to Julius C. Nelson and moved into Sheyenne and lived there until his death in the early 1950's.
Peter Homelvig was born September 6 1885 in Twin Valley, Minnesota. He moved to North Dakota and homesteaded in Section 3 of Rock Township in 1906. His sister Hannah also came to Rock in 1906.
Peter married Hilma Ringquist, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Ringquist who farmed in Section 33 and 35 of Rock Township. To this union was born one daughter, Eunice. Eunice married Clinton Allan. Mr. Homelvig passed away September 20, 1959.
Charles Keller and Caroline Raisbeck were married at Newton, Iowa in 1871. They had six childlren: Mary (Mrs. A.J. Hendricks); Maude (Mrs. S.M. Rairdon), Fred, Gilbert (Dude), Robert and George. The family moved to Devils Lake, North Dakota in March 1904 where they stayed with George and Jen Charlesworth (relatives). In 1905 they purchased land north of Sheyenne, North Dakota in Rock Township and built cement block house there. Mrs. Kellor passed away Apri 22, 1919 and Chrles passed away in 1920 at Rochester, Minnesota.
J.H. (Henry) Kennedy
J.H. (Henry) and Helen Kennedy came to Sheyenne October 18, 1904 with their children Alvin age 7 and Idella age age. They lived in Sheyenne until March when they moved into their claim shanty in the NW corner of the SW 1/4 of Section 25 of Rock Township. Henry worked for Farm, Stock and Home and Dakota Farmer and was away from home much of the time. Helen didn't like being alone and Hannah Vick worked for them.
Other children were Dorthy born in 191 and Myrtle in 1916. Mr. Kennedy died a victim of the flu on January 10 1919. Mrs. Kennedy died May 22 1960.
Karl and Klara Kristianson come to the United States from Oslo, Noway about 1904. They came to the Sheyenne area and lived for awhile on what was then called the Clayton Lewis farm northwest of town. They homesteaded in Section 20 of Rock Township and their farm was later known as the John Loken farm.
The Kristiansons were charter members of the First Lutheran Church of Sheyenne. Nine of the fourteen Kristianson children emigrated to America: the boys, Nick, John, Ludwig and Thor, after being in the Sheyenne area for awhile moved on to Canada and settled in the Rennant, Saskatchewan area. Two of the girls: Constance (Mrs. Ole Thorson) and Hannah (Mrs. Adolph Anderson) made their homes in the same area. Valborged married John Loken and lived in Rock Township until her death in 1948, Anna married Syver Odegaard at her parents home on May 19, 1907 and lived in Sheyenne for many years; Christine married Gilbert Olson and lived in Rock Township and Sheyenne for many years. Mrs. Kristianson died May 2 1927 and Mr. Kristianson on December 6 1937.
John M. Landin born in Wexio, Sweden, came to Moorhead, Minnesota at the of 18. Ell M. Bergstrom born in Oslo, Norway came to Moorhead, Minnesota at the age of 20. John and Ella married in Moorhead in December 1901.
Their son George E. was born in September 1902; Mabel E. born July 1904 at Moorhead, Minnesota. They homesteaded in Rock Township in the spring of 1905. Herbert was born in Rock Township in December 1905 and Helen in December 1910. They farmed in Rock Township for many years. John died in August 1943 and Ella in June 1958.
Frank La Vigne
Frank La Vigne was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1832. He was a veteran of the Civil War. After being discharged from the Army, Frank and his wife lived at Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin for many years. They had two daughters: Mary Louise (Mrs. Boehm) who lived at Appleton, Wisconsin and Lillian born 1871, married William B. Nelson at Durand, Illinois in 1889 and they homesteaded in Rock Township in 1904. Mrs. La Vigne passed away in 1905 and in 1907, Frank came to Rock Township and homestead on 40 acres in Section 30. During his last years Frank made his home with his daughter Lillian's family.
John Emil Melin
John Emil Melin was born in Gotenborg, Sweden June 12 1871, the son of Sven and Johanna Caroline Melin.
He emigrated with his parents to America in 1883 and settled on a farm in rural Willmar, Minnesota. Later he was an implement dealer at Willmar.
He came to North Dakota in the spring of 1904 and homesteaded in Section 20 of Rock Township. Emil married Anna Swenson, Daughter of John and Anna Swenson of Spicer, Minnesota on June 12 1904. They moved to Rock township in the springof 1905 and established their home They had two sons, Paul, born January 1 1906 who was the first white child born in Rock Township and Earl Wesley, born August 22 1909. Mr. Melin died March 20 1934 and Mrs. Melin on February 7 1968.
John H. Milleson
John Milleson came from Chicago, Illinois and homesteaded in Section 26 on what was later know as the Boland farm. John was one of the signers of the petition or organize Plainview School District and served as the first school board president.
Eric E. Nelson
Eric Nelson was born in Wisconsin. Before coming to the Sheyenne area he was a bookkeeper for a number of years in Hatton, North Dakota at a store owned by his brother and brother-in-law.
In 1904 he homesteaded in Rock Township in Section 21 (later known as the Andrew Thompson farm). In March 1905 he moved from Hatton a wagon load of provisions, four horses and a carpenter to build his home. The carpenter was Syver Tveito who found so much work to do in the area that he stayed around Sheyenne.
In May, 1905 Eric's wife Hannah and three children arrived by train. Their children's names were: Clara, Edna, Emil and Dagny. in 1915 Eric sold the farm to Andrew Thompson and the Nelsons moved to Sheyeen where they operated a meat market for several years.
Mrs. Nelson died February 29,1920 and is buried at Sheyenne. Mr. Nelson died on January 29 1943 . He is buried near Mayville, Michigan.
Julius C. Nelson
Julius C. Nelson was born at Whalen, Minnesota April 26 1875. In the fall of 1904 he came to North Dakota and filled on a quarter of land in Twin Tree Township. In the spring of 1905 he returned; this time traveling with a team and wagon.. The trip took 16 days.
In December 1909 he was united in marriage to Hannah Homelvig. Hannah was born in Twin Valley, Minnesota. She and her brother of Peter came to North Dakota in 1906 and she homesteaded in Section 2 of Rock Township. This is where the Nelson's made their home.
William B. Nelson
William B. Nelson was born at Durand, Illinois in 1866. In 1889 he married Lillian LaVigne. William and Lillian Nelson lived for a short time at Rockford, Illinois and then at New Ulm and Mankato, Minnesota. The family moved to Rock Township in 1904 where they homesteaded in Section 28. In 1905 Mr. Nelson helped organize the Plainview School District and served as Director on the first school board. He also served many years as Township supervisor. Their son Leo born June 3, 1899 in Rockford, Illinois married Hazel Pederson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Pederson in 1941. They took over his father's farm after Mr. Nelson died in 1944. Lillian Nelson died in 1943.
Mr. & Mrs. P.I. Nilson "Homesteaders" in Rock Township came to Sheyenne and vicinity in 1894-95. They were married in 1897 and lived there for several years. Mr. Nilson was section foreman for the Northern Pacific railroad at Sheyenne for many years. Mrs. Nilson's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Olson were homesteaders about one mile east of Sheyenne coming there in the early 1880's. They all came to the United States from Sweden.
In the fall of 1904 when the Reservation opened up for homesteading, Mr. Nilson filed on a claim and in 1905 built a one-room home on the homestead and moved his family, Pearl, Leonard and Nettie from Sheyenne to the farm. Mr. Nilson still held his job on the railroad for several more years. Ellen, Ida and James were born after moving on the farm. Mrs. Nilson passed away in 1944 and Mr. Nilson in 1958, the homestead was their home when they passed away.
John H. Nordlund
John Nordlund was born in Skonvick, Sweden on July 20, 1883. He migrated to America in the year 1902 at the age of 19 years. He worked in the Sheyenne-Oberon communities for several years. John rented a farm from D. Wood and Danial Wood in the year of 1906. It was in 1908 that he married Ida Marie Nielson. She came over from Horsiborg, Denmark where she was born August 1 1883. They rented the Wood's farm until 1912. They then became homesteaders to their farm as well as the renters of the C.W. Fisher farm. Christ Nielsen was Ida's brother and lived in Section 10 of Rock Township. He was one of the signers to organize the township in 1910. Ida also had a brother Walter Nelson (note different spelling) who lived in Section 10 of Rock Township for many years and who had a John Deere dealership at Oberon, North Dakota.
They had three children, George born November 2nd, 1909; Edna (Mrs. Lars Jensen) born January 15th, 1911; and Ruth (Mrs. Arnold Kelly) born February 24, 1917. John Nordlund passed away January 28, 1951 at the age of 67 year. In the fall of 1951 Ida Nordlund married John Loken. They lived on the Loken's farm until June 1967 when John sold the farm. Ida Nordlund Loken died January 2, 1975 at the age of 91 years.
Ole Nyhusmoen Sr.
Ole Nyhusmoen Sr. was born in Dagali, Norway January 17, 1876. He came to Elbow Lake, Minnesota in 1903 where he taught school. Anna Olson was born September 19, 1876 in Asker, Norway. She arrived in Elbow Lake, Minnesota in 1904 and she and Ole Nyhusmoen were united in marriage there June 11 of the same year. They moved to North Dakota and homesteaded in Section 20 of Rock Township, Benson County.
Mr. Nyhusmoen continued in the teaching profession for several years in the Grandfield and Oberon areas. He also taught Sunday School and was choir master at first Lutheran Church of Sheyenne for a number of years.
To this union five children were born. Gilma (Mrs. Andrew Logan); Signe (Mrs. Oswald Lee); Sigurd; Agnes (Mrs. Fred Swenson) and Ole, Jr. Sigurd and Ole both farmed in Rock Township.
Mr. Nyhusmoen died July 12, 1964 and Mrs. Nyhusmoen on September 4, 1970.
John K. Olson
John K. Olson was born in Skone, Sweden, February 2, 18722. He came to the United State in 1893, first to Scranton, Pa., then to Fergus Falls, Minnesota. In 1900 he married Jennie Mongerud of Fergus Falls. They made their home on a farm at Audol near Fergus Falls. Three children were born in Minnesota; Helen 1903, Myrtle,1904, and Irving 1906.
In the spring of 1906 they moved to Sheyenne and homesteaded in Rock Township. Frankling was born here in 1908, Carlton 1910. Mrs. Olson passed away in 1915. Mr. Olson continued farming and raised the five children-ages 5 to 12 years. He passed away at his home in 1952.
John William Rea born January 5, 1873 and Cora Alice Harkins Rea born November 17, 1874 were married June 27, 1896 in Ober, Indiana. In 1899 the couple and their infant daughter, Charlotte, came to North Dakota on an immigrant train. They settled in the Minnewaukan area for eight years. While in this area another daughter, Glodia Mae was born on August 29, 1899.
In 1907 they moved to Rock Township where they homesteaded until 1928. Four children were born at home during this time. They were: Marjoria Samatha, November 3, 1909; Vineva Katherine, March 27,1912; Donald Jackson, December 31,1914; and Graydon Leigh, February 14, 1917. In 1928 they moved to Sheyenne where they engaged in the restaurant business until 1942. Mr. Rea passed away June 11, 1944 and Mrs. Rea died October 11, 1963.
Hans P. Rud
Hans Rud and his family came from Fergus Falls, Minnesota to Rock Township in 1904. His son Alfred drove a team and wagon loaded with household goods. In the family in addition to Alfred were four sister: Clara, Edna, Mable and Mary. They lived in a dugout on the side of a coulee until their house was finished. Clara was oneof the first school teachers in Rock Township.
Iver P. Seby
Iver Seby homesteaded in Section 35. He helped organize the Plainview School District and was a director on the first school board in 1905. He sold his farm to Peter Dahlstedt in 1910 and moved to Sheyenne where he operated a blacksmith shop.
Robert Boyd Warren was born in Ontario Canada on March 26, 1850. He married Eleanor Frances Brennen at Ontario on December 27 1876. He came to the United States in 1877 where he homesteaded in Forest River, North Dakota. This is where their nine children were born. R.B. came to Sheyenne in 1905 and homesteaded north of Sheyenne. His wife Eleanor died September 24 1910 at the age of 51. On January 15 1912 R.B. married Christy Dean from Madison, South Dakota who had one son, Harris Dean.
C.R. Wattles homesteaded in Section 23. He was one of the signers of the petition to organize Plainview School District and served as the first clerk on the school board in 1905. He later served a deputy U.S. Marshall at Fargo, North Dakota.
Andrew Markusson (Zetterwall) Zetter migrated from Jarvso, Sweden to Finley, North Dakota in 1904. His wife Helga Cecelia Anderson and their two children Marie and Iver came to America to join Andrew in 1907. They homesteaded in Rock Township, Section 12 northeast of Sheyenne and later moved to Twin Tree Township also in Benson County.
Rev. Jerome Hunt, O.S.B.,
Rev. Jerome Hunt,
pastor of the Catholic Indian Mission and religious teacher among the Sioux
Indians for the past twenty three years, deserves a high place in the annals of
North Dakota and the Northwest. He is located at Fort Totten in Benson county,
and his influence is felt throughout all the region tributary to that center.
Father Jerome Hunt was born in Baden, Germany, in December, 1849. He is the youngest of two sons born to Anton and Francesca (Straub) Hunt. He began his studies at the age of eight years, and when eleven years of age entered Freiburg Lyceum. When he was seventeen years old he came to America, whither many of his relatives had preceded him. He entered St. Meinrad's College in Indiana, and completed his course in theology. with the late Bishop Marty. At the age of eighteen years he began teaching in the college, and in 1872 he was ordained, and engaged in local parish work and teaching, his specialty being languages.
In 1877 he began his work among the Sioux Indians at Fort Yates (Standing Rock Agency). From his own resources he built a brick church for the Indians, the first erected for them in North Dakota. He at once established a school for boys, and here in breech-clouts and blankets, with long, black hair, thirty boys gathered to be tutored. Father Hunt at once applied himself to a study of the Sioux language, which he soon mastered, notwithstanding its peculiar difficulties, and in 1897 he placed in his pupils' hands an illustrated history of the Bible in the Sioux language, and this was followed in 1899 by his book of Prayers, Instructions and Hymns. He is thoroughly a master of the various dialects of the language and a close student of the Sioux character. In 1882 he was sent temporarily to Fort Totten, his linguistic abilities being in demand. His success resulted in his taking permanent charge. He at once began teaching in the Industrial School, and his earnings were in part devoted to the building of St. Michael's church, six miles east, and in 1893 to the erection of St. Jerome's church. Up to 1890 he was in charge of the government industrial schools, since which time he has devoted himself wholly to parochial work. He is well known throughout the state, and has traveled much in the Northwest. He is one of the. very few priests that have ever been able to hold services in the Sioux language.
Father Hunt has also done much work in the cause of temperance. In 1884 he organized St. Joseph's Society for temperate male Indians and St. Mary's society for females. In 1894 he conceived the idea of publishing a paper in the Sioux tongue, and at St. Michael's a printing outfit was installed, and a paper is regularly issued, all the work being done by Indians. Contributions to its columns are received from all the agencies. His experiences in western life would fill a volume, and comparatively little is known by any, except the priest and his master, of the dangers resolutely faced and the obstacles patiently removed by the man who goes forth to set a light where darkness was before. An incident is related in connection with Father Hunt's arrival at Fort Yates. On the way they approached a crowd of Indians who seemed much excited. As they neared the group one of the Indians advanced and took from Father Hunt's head his new straw hat and walked away in triumph, while Father Hunt proceeded to Fort Yates and entered with uncovered head.
Source: Compendium of History and Biography of North Dakota, Publ. 1900. Transcribed by B.Z.
Records of many of the Indians who have lived on the Devils Lake Reservation
are among the records of the
Fort Totten Agency records, some of which are available at the
Central Plains Regional Archives of the National Archives and Records
Administration (NARA) in Kansas City.
The 1900 federal census included population schedules for the Devils Lake Indian Reservation. The census includes the non-Indian employees of the Devils Lake Agency, as well as many pages of Indian Population Schedules for the native population of the Reservation. They are recorded as District 263, Devils Lake Indian Reservation, in Benson County, North Dakota.
Listings of the Indians living on the Devils Lake Indian Reservation in 1915 and 1925 are included in the state census of North Dakota. The major portion of the 1915 enumeration is filed under the various districts of Sioux County. However, there are many Indian families and individuals enumerated in other counties, as well. The 1925 census includes listings for the Devils Lake Reservation filed under the subdivision of "Tribe Devils Lake Sioux."
If you wish to submit or correct data for this county, please contact
Benson County Coordinator
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