Written by Edd Goerger
May 24, 1972 -- President Nixon is in Moscow. It is wet and rainy outside. Farmers cannot get their crops in because of it being too wet. So by the help of God I will try to put down on paper some of the happenings in Danton Township during my lifetime as I saw them, or as they were told to me by others or as I understood them. Some will contradict these words, but then so is the Bible contradicted.
Part of the harvested grain was in shocks while in some fields the bundles were still in windrows waiting to be shocked. Now and then a field was yet to be harvested. As we were driving along to me it was a great sight to see these big fields of shocked grain against the setting sun in this golden colored stubble.
Soon we came to a farm on Section 14 southeast quarter, where they were building a large addition to a farm house. Little did I think that nine years later I would be the owner of that farm.
One mile further we came, I believe to the nicest farm in Danton Township, owned by Matt Puetz with a large red barn and a big white house with evergreen trees around it. It also had a large hen house big enough to house 1,000 laying hens. That was big business in 1914! This farm was sold in 1919 to a man from Marshall, MN, who never moved onto it. He paid $125 an acre. About 17 years later this same half section sold for $20 per acre. Today it will bring $350 an acre.
A mile and a half further we arrived at the Peter Puetz farm. There we needed no introductions as they migrated to Danton Township in 1910 from our community in Benton County, MN. There with the Puetz boys, Vincent, Nick, Raymond, Cletus, Leo and daughter, Coreen, we had quite a time. We then drifted into the apple and plum orchard of a hundred trees, all in bearing age. These were planted by a man named Hirum Springer about 1900 or earlier, just a mile north of the famous R. L. Wodarz apple orchard. While we were having our fill in the orchard, my father and Mr. Puetz were talking business. They soon left for a farm a mile and a half south where a Mr. E. M. Purdy needed help with his grain stacking. My father was a good stacker so he hired us. The reason Mr. Purdy didn't go with a thrashing ring was that he could not walk much as his legs gave out.
So the next morning at 6:30 we were at the Purdy farm. His family was already grown up and gone. He had lost his wife the year before, but had a housekeeper by the name of Mrs. Sifford, a very gracious lady. She also became my mom for the rest of the year.
Mr. Purdy's daughter (Mable), Mrs. Ned Webb, also lived in Danton about two miles from him. Another son-in-law, Justin Pruet, lived north of Wyndmere.
My father was to do the stacking while Mr. Purdy pitched the bundles to him. Oren Piers and I were to get the bundles from the field. Mr. Piers later farmed north of Wyndmere.
Mr. Purdy was a great talker, and after two weeks of stacking grain and talking, he talked my father into buying his farm, that portion southwest of the Soo line railroad track in Section 35-132-51 (240 acres).
Not much corn had been raised in Danton Township up until this time, but Mr. Purdy coming from IA believed they could raise good corn if they had an early variety. So when N. W. Dent came along he put 1/3 of this farm into corn. The neighbors commented on that. He said to me, "the neighbors think I am crazy to put in so much corn, so I think I'll sell my farm."
On the morning of August 28, 1914, they agreed on a price and condition. The price $65 an acre and the condition was the corn was to be included. This 65 acres was the largest acreage of corn on one farm at that time. By noon it was very hot and humid. By three o'clock clouds had begun to form in the southwest. It was then that Mr. Purdy warned me that the three year old horse I had hitched was very skittish of wind and noises and that I was to be careful. At four o'clock we could see that the storm was forming so we all started for the yard. By then time we got our teams unhitched the racks started leaving the wagons, trees were uprooted, and small buildings were demolished. A few miles away a wooden thrash machine was blown over. Some bundle racks were found a mile from home. Then a terrible hail storm came and demolished the corn crop my father had bought just that morning. We all got to the house safely and just a little soaked. Mr. Purdy became very nervous about that time wondering what was going to happen to his bargain. No papers were made out and no witnesses. Only word of mouth, so about 7:30 that evening Mr. Purdy decided they should walk to the neighbors to get witnesses (as he could not ride a horse). They took off their shoes and socks and walked the three mile round trip.
So now J. B. Goerger had his roots well established in Danton Township. He migrated to Danton about March 4, 1915, with his family of six sons and four daughters. So like the Beckers, the Nulphs and the Springers he needed elbow room. His children were Catherine (Mrs. C. M. Puetz, Wyndmere), Edd (Wild Rose Stock Farm), Benjamin (farmer, Madison, MN), Alma (Mrs. Thomas Weirer, Oregon), Magdeline (Mrs. Joe Gilles, Wahpeton), Rupert (home farm, Section 35), Herbert (farmer and certified seed grower and State approved cleaning plant, Mantador, ND), Nicholas (State Labor Commission, Fargo, ND), Lawrence (killed in an automobile accident) and Tresa (Mrs. Clibert Winje, Washington State).
According to Richland County Commissioners meeting of December 13, 1873, Richland County had three commissioner districts in Dakota Territory. In 1883 a 6X12 mile area called Garfield consisted of two townships, Danton and Barney. On April 28, 1893, Danton Township was organized and officially named Danton, although the homesteaders called it Danton perhaps ten years before. School houses were built in the late eighties. Now for a bit of history as it was told to me by the Becker brothers. They had legal papers and church notes with dates. I will only use the dates from their documents.
Alex Springer is believed to be the first farmer settler in Danton Township, southeast 1/4, Section 27, Dakota Territory, and was also the first postmaster of Moselle sometime in the 1892's a flourishing inland town. This quarter is where the famous R. L. Wodarz apple orchard is today.
Mr. Alex Springer had some crop in 1879. Earliest date on the abstract is 1879. That summer a Carl Becker, a single man, and John Zimmerman, a married man, came from Mazeepa, MN, train to Breckenridge, MN. They hired a livery rig and came westward by south across the prairie where they saw the Alex Springer farm. They got acquainted and examined the soil, being of a medium texture and free of stones. They decided that was good enough for them, so they staked their claims. Dates (Deed August 28, 1881 - Abstract May 8, 1882). So they staked their claims in 1879. Carl Becker the southwest of Section 26 and John Zimmerman the southeast of Section 26. That summer they stayed with the Springer family and rented his horses to haul lumber for a house on the Becker quarter and a sod barn on the Zimmerman quarter. That fall they went back to Mazeepa, MN. Carl Becker was married February 4, 1880. In the spring of 1880 the men took three immigrant cars to Breckenridge, MN and arrived on March 30, in a bad snowstorm. They were stalled in Wahpeton, ND with friends for three days. Then they started for Danton Township. The milk cows came two weeks later. The Zimmerman and Becker women and children came awhile later as the men had to build a home for the Zimmermans. They opened up some land for crop that spring and thrashed it by flail. On February 24, 1881, John Becker was the first white man child born in Danton Township. The Carl Beckers had seven boys and four girls born to them. They lived on the same place until 1966 when they retired to Wyndmere, ND.
Charles Becker died April 2, 1899, the same year East Wyndmere came into being.
Carl Becker also owned the northeast 80 of Section 26 and the northwest 1/4 of Section 26, which was sold to Matt Reiland, a blacksmith in the roundhouse in Breckenridge. When he saw that good soil he decided to go farming so he bought the northeast 1/4 of Section 26 for the total sum of $625 in 1885. Today that will bring $52,000. The Reilands also owned the south 1/2 of Section 23 where they lived for many years, even the next generations.
In 1881 a man named Peter Ehr homesteaded Section 2 and deeded ten acres of land to the St. Boniface Society, the southwest corner of the southeast 1/4 of Section 2, 132-51 for a Catholic Church to be built. This was two years before the railroad came and ten years before Barney, ND had its first house and store by a Mr. Henkel. A grove of trees was planted by the early Catholic settlers and later according to Wayne Gabriel was used for school picnics. The trees were taken out in 1968. This place was called Warren in 1881. On February 23, 1882, a postoffice was established. The name was changed to Oberweis by Peter Ehr, the postmaster who was the first postmaster in Danton Township. Oberweis was the name of this birthplace in Saxony, North Germany. This postoffice was discontinued on September 22, 1884. A year after the railroad came and then mail was sent to Wahpeton.
There was no record when the church was built, but it was moved 1/2 mile east of now Barney, ND in 1884 or 1885. The Becker boys claim their parents attended church services while the church was in Danton Township and also when it stood 1/2 mile east of Barney. The name of the church was St. Bernard. Hence shortened to Barney. According to dates on tombstones, Charles Becker had a child buried in St. Bernard's in 1885 by the name of Mary, an infant. Also a boy named Charls born 1888, died 1896. A child named Maggie born in 1886, died 1897 and was buried in Mooreton, ND, because the St. Bernard church was discontinued between 1986 and 1897 and was moved to the Biegel farm. About that time the Mantador, ND, St. Peter and St. Paul were moved to Mantador. Before that they had a small church on the Miller farm. This building was used as a drugstore in Mantador and is still there. So when the graveyard was started in Mantador, Beckers moved their children from St. Bernard's and Mooreton to Mantador and have their burial ground there today.
Barney, ND got its name from St. Bernard's and was established in 1900. It was eventually built up. Eight years after the railroad came to meet a need for convenient shipping point on the Northern Pacific. From then to this day the outgoing tonnage of grain from Barney was greater than any other station on the Northern Pacific branch between Fergus Falls, MN and Oakes, ND.
Danton Township also had two churches at Moselle until East Wyndmere was started. The Methodist Episcopal was moved in the early 1900's to Wyndmere. The other one Clara Jung tells about in 1910 or 1912. People from the Colfax, ND area came to Moselle for church services occasionally and stayed with her folks overnight. This one was moved as late as 1915. The Moselle stockyards were used until in the early 1920's. The first grain buyer in Moselle was Mr. Giesen. Schuler's bought grain until 1953. One room schools were started in late 80's or early 90's and operated until 1960.
Daniel Nulph came with his six boys awhile after the Charles Beckers and Zimmerman families. According to Mrs. Marvin Haertling, a granddaughter of Daniel whom the township was named after, they lived around Wisconsin Dells and then at Madelia, MN. They migrated to Danton bringing their livestock with them and settling on the east and north side of the Wild Rice River. They wanted river bottom land for pasture and flat prairie for farming. They lived in sod houses and dugouts the first years, trapping and hunting for furs in the winter.
Walter Nulph homesteaded in Section 28, Daniel, the father, in northwest of Section 34 and Charles in southwest of Section 34, plus a tree claim in southeast of Section 34. Grant homesteaded in northeast of Section 30. George lived at Velva, ND. Esera lived in the West End Township.
I do not know too much about Walt, John or Esera, but Charley Nulph had two children that survived. Harry, his son and Beatrice, a daughter. I got well acquainted with Harry as we lived in Section 35, about a mile from Harry. About 1922 he organized a three piece orchestra. Harry played violin, Mrs. Harry the piano and I played banjo. We had many rehearsals at their house. Grandma Nulph, as I will call her, (or Aunt Orci) better known in her younger days, was there quite often. While we were rehearsing Grandma was in the kitchen fixing something good to eat. Then during lunch when her chance came to have the floor it was usually of the pioneer days and the story of her sod house. This story was always interesting and she took pride in telling about it and repeated it many times. Seems to me she lived in a sod house for four years. She said is was cool in summer and warm in winter. Only one thing wrong with it was when it rained for too long a time the roof started to drip and that made things very unpleasant. One instance she told about many times was after a few days of rainy weather, a group of men were working at their place and were staying for dinner. She a large kettle of stew on for them. She put this on the table and told the men to come and get it. As the men came in and sat around the table to partake of the meal, a clump of the ceiling gave way and fell into the stew and diluted it to the extent that the kettle got too full. About that time she said her Scotch Irish temper hit the top and that spoiled the day. But the next morning at daybreak a four horse team was on its way to Wahpeton to get lumber for her new frame house. Her story always ended with the same words - but those were the happiest days of my life and when things went bad for the day I would look over to the place where the flat prairie ends and the river bottom starts. That is where our two oldest children are buried and somehow I could bear it again. This cemetery I will talk about later.
Charles Nulph was a very successful man. Everything he did made him money. They tell about the pasture full of registered cattle he had and the good horses. When he retired in 1913 he moved to Hankinson. There he built two stucco houses. Stucco houses were something new at that time. They are both in use to this day. One house was for him and one for Harry, as he went to work on the railroad and Charles became president of the bank there. He passed away about 1918 and is buried in the Nulph cemetery on his own homestead. He has the biggest marker there. Grandma (Orci) Nulph was also buried there and the last one buried there, about 1934. Nulph cemetery (it was called) and was registered by that name in 1897 but had been used for eighteen years before that.
This first burial was the Charley Nulph child and as people in the area passed away there was no place to bury them so Mr. Nulph allowed them to bury them there. It was later registered. When the church came to Moselle, he told them they could use the cemetery and so many pioneers were buried there. Then when Wyndmere became a town on the new site and churches were built, a cemetery called Elk Creek was started. The church from Moselle was moved and most of the people from the vicinity went to Wyndmere and also many graves were moved to Elk Creek, but many still remain. One that always attracted attention was Captain Wilcox (his title of Captain came from the riverboat captain). He was the originator of the Bonanza farm later called Cleveland farm. John Stiger is buried here. In the spring of 1918 he was drafted for the army in World War I. He was well known by our family as he lived in the next township. He did not want to go to war because he did not want to kill anyone. It bothered him so much that the night before he was to go he went out and shot himself.
This cemetery was used until 1934. Twenty-five years later it became over grown with Lilac, Honeysuckle and Wolf Berry brush. Much vandalism was done to the monuments, so by 1960 the township people began talking about the shape the pioneer cemetery was in. In 1964 under the leadership of Allan (Tex) Goerger and Mrs. Marvin Heartling they got the neighbors together on Sunday afternoons for the summer and took out all the brush and trees and repaired the monuments. The township furnished a new fence and some money for grass seed and spray, and it looks respectable now. There is a big Evergreen tree in the center.
It is not easy to get there as you have to go through a cow pasture and up a steep hill about 40 rods. There you are on the flat prairie overlooking the Wild Rice River bottom, a beautiful sight. Some people buried there are: Cornelius Springer 1830-1911; May Springer 1832-1906; Charles Nulph, founder of the cemetery, 1847-1918; Orci Nulph; Walter Nulph 1853-1916; John Melensky 1849-1919; John Stiger 1889-1918; Captain J. B. Wilcox 1829-1885; Daniel Nulph 1825-1910; Barbara Nulph 1825-1906; Joseph Herbert Smyth 1886-1908; Ernest Springer 1867-1909; Alex Springer 1848-1911; Emma Springer 1847-1897; J. D. Springer 1871-1892, and many others ...especially children.
The Springers played a very important part in settling Danton Township. They were great pioneers. Some were here before the township had its present name. They homestead mostly in the south central part of the township, which was the best of the land.
The first was Alex Springer who bought railroad land on southeast 27-132-51 in 1879. He had some crop that year. Alonzo Springer came to Dakota Territory in 1882 and to Danton in 1885. He homesteaded the southwest of Section 22.
They all came about the year 1883 to 1890. Cornelius Springer homesteaded northwest of Section 27. Herbert (Herb) on the southwest of Section 27, Martin on the northeast of Section 22, John on northwest of Section 24, Hirum on northeast of Section 27 and Grant Springer homesteaded in Liberty Grove Township, Section 2. William lived north of Wyndmere. J. D. Springer was killed at the age of 21 and did not stake a homestead.
According to Lynn Springer and Margaret Matthews, there were three brothers, Cornelius, Alex and John.
Cornelius had seven sons - Hirum, Martin, Alonzo, William, Grant, Herbert and J. D., and one daughter Ella (Mrs. Pat Landis).
Alex was postmaster in Moselle in 1892. Alex Springer had two sons, Ernie and George and he had two daughters, Rose (Mrs. Herbert Helmer) and Anna (Mrs. George Strong).
John Springer had one son, Myron, and three daughters, Florence (Mrs. Drinkall), Marietta (Mrs. Johnson) and Ida.
As you can see, the Springers were very popular in the early days and mighty fine people. There was always a gentle feud between the Nulphs and Springers though there never was any shoot-outs. The Springers out numbered the Nulphs, but the Nulphs outweighed the Springers. The Springers were religious people while the Nulphs were not so particular. Today there are two Springer families living in Danton Township. The rest pioneered further.
Grain was thrashed by flail until about 1882 or 1883 when Hirum Springer had a separator powered by horse power. A few years later they had a portable steam engine that was moved around by horses, and a 36 inch separator. About 1900 he got a big Minneapolis steam engine and 44-56 inch separator. About 1910 he got a large gas tractor called Big 4 that he used for thrashing, road grading and plowing. Kuchera, John and Frank also did some thrashing in Danton in the early days. In 1910 John and Jake Becker bought a Case steam engine and Case separator and thrashed in the neighborhood until 1950.
The Adams Bonanza farm with headquarters in Mooreton Township had two sections in Danton. Section 16 was enclosed with a seven foot high fence to keep the wolves out and the sheep in. Also Section 36 and Section 1 across the line in Liberty Grove Township were enclosed with the same type fence. This was also used for hay land a few years. After the sheep pasture was discontinued they broke up the land about 1913 and farmed a few years by Adams. Ed Sanden bought Section 16. Section 36 became known as the Bellin Farm. Mr. Bellin was foreman at the Adams ranch for some years. The other Bonanza, a Captain Wilcox, started in 1878 according to the abstract. He bought this from the NP railroad on contract for deed, crop share payment and promise to breakout so many acres per year so that the railroad would have wheat to haul. Nine years later the Soo railroad came through the middle of their land. Mr. Wilcox ran into financial difficulty and the Cleveland Land Company came to the rescue. A Mr. Hilleard became foreman, established a postoffice February 19, 1891, then called Fletcher for Fletcher, Ohio. The name of the postoffice was changed to Moselle on January 26, 1892, by Alex Springer. It was named for a river of that name in Alsace Lorraine, France. The postoffice was discontinued November 16, 1906. Mr. Hilleard operated the postoffice in connection with the company store for his people and settlers. This was an inland town until the Soo Line railroad came in 1888 and the town was moved to new Wyndmere in the early 1900's. It was a flourishing town. People came for miles to trade. The Farmers Elevator was built in 1914.
On this farm the first Artesian well was drilled, and flowed for many years until 1968. A large house, a large barn and grainery were erected quite early.
Cleveland soon sold the land to settlers or rented it to them. The home north 1/2 section was sold to a Mr. Marine, while the south 1/2 was sold to Henry Jung who farmed for 25 years and retired for 25 years in Wyndmere.
The buildings were on the Marine half. A barn 38X100 foot was cut in two, and half moved to the Henry Jung farm across the road by a team of horses and winch. That was the end of the Bonanza's in Danton Township, but today we have just as big an acreage operated by one or two men -- so is it the end?
Some of the prairie was broken out by walking braker plow by oxen, but most of it by horses. Soon a two-bottom plow was used, and then the steam engine with 8 to 12 bottoms was used. A little later the big gas tractors finished most of the breaking. The last half of Section 31 was broken up as late as 1940. On this day very little prairie exists in Danton Township, if any, except the graveyard and river sides and railroad right-of-way.
From 1880 to 1910 the smaller farms used very limited machinery. Their machinery was a gang plow, a wood harrow with iron teeth, a grain seeder or drill, single disc or shoe with wooden box and wheels, a mower and dump rake. A grain binder was perhaps the most important. They also had a wagon or two, a spring buggy or a road cart for fast transportation, a sled, wheelbarrow, or some sort of push cart, a saddle, a few pitchforks, shovels and a rake and you were in business.
After 1910 changes took place slowly. In 1916 the first triple horse plow came in. Press drills were getting more popular, two-row corn planters, single row corn cultivators and corn binders were popular by 1910 to 1915. In 1915 and 1916 the two to three plow gas or kerosene burning tractors appeared with steel wheels. By 1933 rubber tires came into use on tractors. Not to be forgotten were the steel wheels you could buy for your Model T Ford touring car and put a gang or two-bottom plow behind and take the family out for a ride at the same time, if you didn't mind the dust at two to three miles per hour.
Most of the horse drawn machinery was used behind those first tractors. Since the 1930's most of the tilling machinery has been designed for tractors.
Combines came as early as 1918, but they weren't used much until in the 1930's. By 1940 they were very popular. In the early 1920's much experimenting was done in grain bundle handling, such as shocker attachments for the binders. A contraption to hang back of the binder received the bundles, 12 to 14, and set them up on end with a twine around them. This was a complete flop. Then shock loader to load the bundles on the wagon was tried. This consisted of a pickup cylinder and elevator and was used for several years. Also, they tried buckers in front of tractors to buck the grain bundles to the machine in the field. None of these ideas were too successful or used very long. When farmers learned to lay a swath on top of the stubble with a swather so the grain dried to 13% moisture, the combine found its place and is still with us today. Of course, our varieties of grain have much to do with drying out, too. The straw is stronger and the hulls open up sooner, and therefore, dry out faster. Much improvement has been made in varieties since the early days. As I mentioned, stronger straw, more rust and wilt resistance, better root and earlier maturing, and better yields; much of this is due to the State Crop Improvement Association.
Danton Township has had a member on the State Crop Improvement Association for most of its history. Mr. E.N. Pennington, who lived in Danton Township, served in the teens soon after it was organized. Then Mr. R.L. Wodarz served in the 1920's to the early 1930's. Then it was revised somewhat, and A.H. Berg of Wyndmere served for six years; Edd Goerger from 1951 to 1956; and Herb Goerger from 1956 to 1961. So Danton Township had much to do in guiding the association. It was during this period that so many good varieties were released. Also, during this time, in the late 1940's, the State Seed Farm came into being through the State Crop Improvement. Richland County Crop Improvement also had a big hand in it, as it was under Mr. A.H. Berg's chairmanship that the seed farm came into being.
In 1945 Richland County Crop Improvement was organized by County Agent Al Strong, and it did much to improve the quality of commercial grain and seed stock. The first directors were Albert Berseth of Christine, Ben Gorder of Galchutt, A.H. Berg of Wyndmere, Theodore Erickson of Kindred, Edd Goerger of Barney, Herb Goerger of Mantador, Robert Deede of Wahpeton, and Harley Swanson of Fairmount. Edd Goerger of Danton Township served as chairman for eleven years. Then it went to his younger brother, Herb, who served for a total of 25 years, most of the time as chairman. This organization is still going and has given the sugarbeet growers a start.
Commercial fertilizers were introduced by J.B. Goerger in Danton in experimental stages in 1926 and 1927. In 1928 the first carload was shipped into Barney by James Little and was used very sparingly, mostly in strip plots. Alfalfa was the most helped by it. The analysis was 0-45-0 from Anaconda, MT. Use of it slacked up during the drought period from 1933 to 1937. After that its use was very slow until 1948, when it became a must.
Sweet clover was introduced by R.L. Wodarz about 1916. This was considered a weed by many and cursed by others until we found its value as a green manure crop and also a seed crop.
Soybeans were introduced by Rienhard Bellin about 1937, but there was no place to market them. Pinto beans were introduced in 1965 by Gormley Bean Company, and a processing plant was built in Wyndmere the next year.
Sugarbeets made their appearance on the southeast quarter of Section 23 in 1967 by a man named John Lingen. Wild hemp appeared about 1917, but it did not make a good fiber and was soon abandoned. Sunflowers, mustard and grass seed for commercial use comes and goes from 1960 on.
W.P.A. (Works Progress Association) graveled township roads in 1934. This gravel was loaded and unloaded by hand on wagons and trucks.
The first government shelter belt and farmstead tree planting came in 1936, with W.P.A. labor and planting done by hand. My first shelter belt was planted in 1938. R.E.A. (Rural Electric Association) came in the fall of 1938, and telephone came about 1912.
The Farm Bureau was started in the 1918 by County Agent George Wold, but it did not get going until 1942.
Farmers Union got started in the 1920's, and lately the N.F.O. in 1960. The Farm Bureau is the most active organization in Danton.
A.H. Berg (Bud), a certified foundation seed grower, farms on Section 10. He has the first and only state certified foundation seed cleaning plant in our township, built in 1960. He does cleaning for neighbors and commercial seed dealers. He is also the propagator on Nordak Wheat that is recognized by the North Dakota State Seed Department and North Dakota Experiment Station, released in 1971 in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.
Hospitality has been hard to beat in Danton Township from 1879 to this day.
One instance was when J.B. Goerger immigrated from Benton County, MN to our new home in Danton. On March 2nd the family left by passenger train for Wyndmere. They arrived that same day and stayed at the Peter Puetz farm. The two immigrant cars with Mr. C.M. Puetz and myself in charge, arrived March 4th - four hours late, about two o'clock in the afternoon in a snowstorm. There were the Nulph's, Springer's, Becker's, Puetz's, Vosberg's, Henry Jung, Math Reiland and others who arrived at Wyndmere at 10 AM, as that was when the train was to be in. It was a balmy, warm morning, not a bit of wind. By 10 AM my mother was taken to the farm 1 ˝ miles from the Puetz farm, where they stayed, thinking the cookstove and beds would be there soon after twelve noon. But the train was late, and also it had to make the run into Great Bend while the immigrant cars stayed on the main track.
About 10 AM the snow started falling, softly and gently. By noon four to six inches had fallen. Some of the farmers that had tow rigs went home to get a sled, while others waited with wagons. At 2 PM the train arrived, and within one hour everything was unloaded. The cookstove and household things were dispatched by Math Puetz's fast team and arrived at the farm in one hour, the seven miles. More neighbors were there to help set up the stove and beds, so we had a place to sleep that stormy night.
I was in charge of the milk cows with a Springer boy and a Puetz boy. We were warned to move fast, as the wind could come any time. A mile from the Peter Puetz farm the wind started very gently. We put the cattle on the run. At the next farm a neighbor headed the cattle into his yard and barned them for the night. "This is it" he said, "You don't go any further." About this time my father came to the place. The people Wanted him to stay, but he had to go because mother was alone at the farm, and this was her first day there. So, he made a run for it and made it safe. His only guide was the top of the telephone poles.
Two days later the storm abated, and we had fourteen-foot drifts. One right across the driveway and again many of the neighbors came to help. Some of the wagons arrived ten days later, with machinery, while things not so necessary came right away. The cattle arrived two days later.
During the storm my mother was ready to go back to MN at any cost. Every day some neighbor ladies would come over and tell her that the flowers would soon bloom, and she said she could never thank these people enough for what they did for us. So, to this day the people of Danton Township have not changed in regards to hospitality.
In Danton Township in the year 1919, on March 18th, County Agent George P. Wolf helped organize the Wyndmere Shipping Association. The 52nd Annual Meeting was called by Allan Goerger, Vice Chairman, at 6:20 PM, 1972. This was held at Anderson's Café, Room B. Average business the last four years was over $200,000 per year and is still going. The first officers were W.O. Strong, President; A.E. Manstrom, Secretary; A.G. Thompson, S. P. Stucky and J.P. Jensen, Directors.
Al Manstrom served this organization for many years. Shipping was done first by railroad cars and later when West Fargo came into being in the 1930's, he managed and trucked to Fargo, where most of the business is going today. In the 1920's they shipped one to ten cars a week of hogs and cattle. There were lots of hogs in Danton at that time. Mr. A.G. Trimner, who lived on Section 18, did a lot of livestock buying, perhaps more than the association, as he shipped out of all towns around Wyndmere.
Hogs were in great number in Danton. Every farm had some hogs, five to fifteen milk cows, one hundred to five hundred hens, and everyone had a dog.
From 1925 to 1930 Danton had its most farmsteads. The 1930 census showed 72 farmsteads or homes. In 1972 we have 48 homes, or a loss of 33% in 42 years. The livestock industry has also had a drastic change since 1935. The laying hens were the first to go. Very few farms have chickens today. Milk cows were the next. At first every farm had milk cows, or at least as fast as they could acquire them. Today eight to ten farms have milk cows. Hogs are the most numerous, as more farms have hogs than cows.
The cattle feeding has changed quite a bit, as every farm had a few steers on feed in the old days. Today there are four or five feeders left, but more cattle are fed out. We have a few feed lots or 300 to 700 head capacity. One lot has a 1,000-head capacity.
R.L. Wodarz, the famous apple man, came to Danton Township about 1911. He taught school in what was called the Gabriel School, or Danton No. 1, then standing ˝ mile south of Highway 13 on the northeast of Section 14. The one-room school served until 1960 and is now used as a town hall. About 1914 Mr. Wodarz bought the farm of Alex Springer, the first farm to have sod broken for crop.
He also taught school with his farming from 1914 to 1918. The school was located on northeast corner of the northeast quarter of Section 34, Danton No. 2.
His apple orchard now had grown to ten acres. When his son, Jerard, became old enough to take on the farm work, he spent time in the orchard. He developed several new varieties of apples. He was trying to develop a hardier variety. One was the Red Harelson. We have had Harelson apples for some time, but not a red one. Also, one variety was named Danton after the township, and also a Richland. These are all hardy varieties and good keepers. He grafted many apple trees to hardy rootstock, giving them names of their neighbors and friends. He also sold some and showed them at many fairs and shows. And, I believe he always had the biggest and best display. It was said of him that he hated to pick an apple from the tree. He would sooner stand and admire the beauty of it. His work was written up in some national magazine. He served as chairman of the North Dakota Horticulture Society.
Mr. Wodarz also served on the Danton School Board for 20 years and was township assessor for 40 years. He married Alice Pierce in 1915 and was the father of twin boys and two girls. One boy passed away in infancy, and Jerard is farming the home place today. Patricia resides in the state of Washington, and Adelaide works in Johnson's Store in Wyndmere. R.L. Wodarz passed away in 1972. The township had great admiration for him.
Thorsin Lewis Evensen walked on Danton Soil even before the first settler did. He was the father of Mrs. Harry Nulph. While we were doing some rehearsing with our little orchestra, I had many visits with him. Se stayed with the Nulphs one summer, about 1925. This is the story he told me. He was a man about 70 then.
Being Norwegian born, he came to this country as a young man. He worked in the roundhouse in Breckenridge, MN. One morning he started walking west and a little south, just to look the country over. At sunset he arrived on the end of the flat prairie and the Wild Rive River, on what is now the southwest of Section 34. He had a drink from the river. Then he sat down to rest and admire the country. When a muskrat started swimming in front of him, remembering it was time to eat, he decided to try his luck with a long stick. He succeeded and had an emergency meal of fresh meat. By now I was curious and wanted to know where he bedded down for the night. He said, "In a clump of willows." This gave him protection from wild animals and wind. This was the same quarter that Charles Nulph later homesteaded. Their children later married.
Next morning he decided to follow the river eastward and explore more country. At noon he arrived at what is now Liberty Grove. Where a small creek ran through some wooded area he decided this would be a good homestead. So later he staked his claim in Liberty Grove, Section 15.
A great tree man he was. Some of the black walnuts are forty feet high and twenty-four inches in diameter. These are in the city of Hankinson.
A story is told about him by his daughter. He wanted to be a railroad engineer, so he went to the roundhouse and told them he wanted to run a railroad engine. There was one all steamed up and ready to go. Someone told him, "There she is!" So, he climbed in the cab, pushed some levers - the engine moved fast, jumped the track, and went on through the wall of the building. He got the engine stopped and that was the end of his engineer career. He was the finest and gentlest of men.
Max Sargent homesteaded the east half of Section 28. Miron Sargent was a carpenter and built many building in the township. He lived on the northwest of Section 28. The Vosberg's and Rasmussen's came in about 1900.
Nick Link homestead on southwest of 14 and broke up his sod with oxen. Later Mathies Puetz lived there. He built up a nice farm. Julius Heberman lives there today.
George Selner, who homesteaded on the southeast of Section 14, later sold to Peter Becker, father of Lawrence Becker. In 1923 Edd Goerger became owner and this then became known as the Wild Rose Stock Farm. The reason for the name was that when we took this place over, wild roses were a pest, even though they are the most beautiful of all flowers on earth. At least I think so. They were taking away the nourishment from the crops. In early November the stubble would be red with seedpods. After two or three years of good, deep plowing, they disappeared. Now you only find them along the roadside. They bloom in the late June and early July and have the sweetest scent. Maybe that is why it is the state flower.
Maybe now I should introduce my family. Edd Goerger and Adelaide Haberman married May 31, 1932, and have lived on the Wild Rose Stock Farm ever since. We had seven children. David, who farms on Section 15; Phyllis, now Mrs. Richard Klosterman, who farms on Section 9; Allan, a farmer on Wild Rose Stock Farm; Monica, Mrs. Robert Travis, who lives in St. Paul, MN; Pamela, Mrs. David Seamatter, whose husband is a chemist student at Grand Forks; John, who died at age 17 from gun shot; and Idette, who died at age two and one-half.
William Thiel lived on the southeast of Section 6 as early as 1898.
Jake Zimmerman, in 1890, lived on the southwest of Section 12. A story is told about him in the old days. He had a frame house that was on the wrong place, so the neighbors helped him put it on wagons to move it. When the day came that they had agreed on, the neighbors came with their teams. When they arrived, Jake stepped out on the porch and announced, "No house moving today. I am the proud father of a baby girl born last night."
Bohners lived on Section 24. Many farms changed hands after 1900. H.H. Bailey came in early 1900 and was township officer for many years. Matt Haas, on old-timer, lived on southeast of Section 11 until the late 1930's. Adolph Haberman lives there now.
John Kuchera lived on Section 7 and was township treasurer for 26 years. Then his son, George, had the job for 20 years and is still at it. W.A. Thoburn, on old-timer, was treasurer before that. Henry Jones was also a township officer for a long time. Also, he was assessor, making the trip by road cart and horse. He lived on the northwest of Section 4.
Weston and Frank Gabriel had a big Autman Taylor tractor that did much sod breaking after 1902. Also, they threshed for many years. When they were finished threshing with their rig here, they shipped the outfit north for several years and did much threshing there.
Peter Moulsoff did a lot of threshing with his steam rig around Moselle and later around Barney with a gas tractor. He was one of the last threshers.
The Snyder Sheep Company of Montana, in the 1920's shipped many carloads of lambs into the township to be fattened on contract at 9 cents for a pound of gain. This was a good venture for the farmers. Also, in 1936 and 1937 MacIntyre and Ross from Canada had cattle here on contract at 8 cents per pound of gain.
Highway 13 was blacktopped in 1940. Danton has always had good township roads, but to this day there is no blacktop in Danton Township, except Highway 13.
Social life in Danton in the early days consisted of basket socials, ice cream parties and house parties, where all the family could climb on the wagon, because most of the time the buggy was too small. They played games; like, in-an-out-the-window, miller boy, and so on, until all were hoarse from singing. Then, they had lunch and all went home, everyone feeling happy. Later on some of the people took to dancing, and that is when our little band came in handy. Most of the time only violin and banjo played, unless there was a piano in the house. Then we had a full orchestra. These house parties are much talked about, even today. The generation gap had not been invented at that time. We played in most of the houses in our neighborhood, and later in every dance hall in this area. When the hard times and depression were over, nicer homes with rugs and carpeting came. The pioneer parties went out.
Edd Goerger was born 9 January 1898 and died 28 December 1998.
Copied and verified by Dick Lekang