Source: "Early History of North Dakota"
by Clement A. Lounsberry; Liberty Press, 1919; Submitted by K. T.
This county was created January 4, 1873- Originally the county was called Burbank, so named for John A. Burbank, governor of the territory from 1869 to 1874, but by an act of the Legislature, July 14, 1874, the name was changed to Barnes in honor of Alphonso H. Barnes, who was an associate justice of the territory at that time.
The first survey of lands in Barnes County was made by Charles Scott and Richard D. Chancy in 1872. Their work was approved by the surveyor general in January, 1873, and filed in the land office at Pembina in September, 1873. The lands were made subject to preemption and homesteading May 19, 1873.- The first settlers were at Valley City in 1872. County Commissioners Christian Anderson, Otto Becker and A. J. Goodwin, appointed by Governor William A. Howard, organized the county, August 5, 1878. There is no record of their doings. The new board, elected in 1878 were, Christian Anderson, F. P. Wright and Chris Paetow. L. D. Marsh qualified as register of deeds, Joel S. Weiser as county treasurer, D. D. McFadden as sheriff, E. W. Wylie as assessor, Joel S. Weiser as justice of the peace, Otto Becker as superintendent of schools, James Le Due as coroner, B. W. Benson as judge of probate, at the meeting of the board of county commissioners, January 6, 1879. George Worthington and L. D. Marsh were the promoters of county organization and dealers in real estate. Valley City, at first known as Wahpeton, became Worthington and later Valley City. Marsh and Worthington contracted with the railroad company that all of the railroad lands in townships 139 and 140, range 58, should be reserved for them at $3 per acre, payable in the bonds of the company, then worth about nine cents on.the dollar, but the contract carried a provision for improvements and reserved section 21, in town 140, on which it was proposed to build a town. It was agreed, however, that any settler on this reserved land should have the privilege of purchasing a town lot at $5, or an acre outlot for $5, but to persons other than settlers on the Marsh-Worthington contract the price of lots was to be $10, and for acre property $25. Five-acre lots were to be sold at $75, and ten-acre at $100. This contract was for the year 1874, but there was provision for its extension.
D. D. McFadden, the oldest settler in Barnes County, filed the first pre-emption entry in October, 1873, but had previously raised a crop, 150 bushels of potatoes on six acres, also some wheat, specimens of which were sent to the St. Paul fair and received a premium. W. N. Gates made an entry on public land November 25, 1874, on section 24, township 140, range 58.
Other early settlers, with the year of their arrival, were:
F. P. Wright, 1874; Otto Becker, '77; Arne Olson, '77; J. S. Weiser, '77; James Daly, "76; Christian Anderson, '76; Con. Schweinler, Herman Starkey, '78; Andrew Widen, '78; P. P. Persons. '78; Wm. Schultz. '79; Wm. Kerncamp, '79; D. N. Green, '79; K. P. Rasmussen, '79; Wylie Nielson, '79; Hugh McDonald, '79; John Holmes, '80; M. E. Mason, '78; Sim Mason, '79; Louis Humble, '79; A. M. Carlson, '78; George Larsman, '77; A. A. Booth, '79; M. O. Walker, '77; Aaron and Jacob Faust, '80; George Stiles, '79; Thomas Olson, '78; Jens Jenson, '78; Robert Bailie, '8o; Samuel Fletcher, '80; M. B. Hanson, '78; John Lawry, '79; Ben Smith, '79; Ed Fox, '80; George W. Critchfield, '78; P. O. King, '78; O. P. Hjelde, '80; J. F. Walker, '80; Andrew Andeberg, '79; James Rogers, '78; John Marsh, '79; Jacob Baumetz, '78; C L. Etzell, '79; H. H. Randolph, '80; George C. Getchell, '78; John Simons, '79.
Barnes County History
IN 1878 Governor Howard, thenterritorial governor, issued the proclamation which constituted Barnescounty a separate organized subdivision of the territory. ChrisAnderson, Otto Becker and Chris Pado were appointed commissioners forthe purposes of completing the organization, L. D. Marsh beingappointed county clerk and register of deeds, J. S. Weiser treasurerand John Morrison sheriff.
From the first day of itsseparate existence the county has made consistent and steady progress.Its location on the main line of the Northern Pacific which was thenengaged in pushing its first survey across the continent, and itsexcellent agricultural opportunities appealed irresistibly to the earlyhome-seekers who were seeking new locations in the new country beingopened up by the railroad. From a few scattered settlers in the earlyyears its population had grown to 13,159 in 1900, and to 18,066 in1910. The actual settlement of the county may be said to have commencedin 1877, about a year before its formal organization. The total acreagecropped in that year only amounted to 1,000 acres, the harvesttherefrom being easily cared for by the single harvester then in thecounty. Today its grain products run into the millions of bushels; inwheat production it stands fifth among the counties of the state andonly three counties exceed it in number of acres under cultivation,while its average yields of all grains per acre can always be reliedupon to surpass the general state averages by a handsome percentage.
The Northern Pacific railwaytraverses the county from east to west with its main line, and thiscompany has also a branch line running from Sanborn in Barnes county toMcHenry in Foster county. The main line of the "Soo" system also runsthrough the county from southeast to northwest, passing through ValleyCity, the county seat. Another branch of the Northern Pacific traversesthe southern townships of the county from Casselton in Cass county toMarion in La Moure county. There is no part of the county more thannine miles from a railway and most of its territory has competingrailway service within a much shorter distance. As a consequence ofthis desirable condition the population is very evenly distributed andthe agricultural districts present an appearance of civilization andcultivation not possessed by many older counties. Even to the mostremote country districts the county is well supplied with ruraltelephones and free deliveries, and the farmer of Barnes countygenerally is as well provided with the modern adjuncts of civilizationas the average town dweller in many states.
The soil of the county isblack, alluvial loam with a sufficient admixture of sand to provide awarm and responsive seed bed; it has a depth of about two feet and isunderlaid by a subsoil of retentive yellow clay. The topography of thesurface is such as to obviate the necessity of employing artificialmeans for carrying off superfluous water, this condition constituting agreat advantage over the heavier and lower-lying lands of the Red Rivervalley. The average precipitation during the growing season has alwaysbeen ample for the supply of the crops, agricultural conditionsgenerally being ideal for the husbandman.
Besides the usual grainstaples all kinds of fruit can be successfully grown in this latitude.Currants, raspberries, strawberries, plums and crab apples all aregrown in abundance and reach a high quality of excellence when ripe.Enough of the smaller fruits are raised to supply all local needs andof late years the larger varieties of apples have been cultivatedadvantageously and in increasing quantities.
Barnes county is one of themedium-sized counties of the state. It is rectangular in shape and hasa land area of 959,165 acres and a water area of 5,798 acres, and isforty-two miles from north to south and thirty-six miles in width. LakeEckelson is the largest body of water in the county, being about sevenmiles long and of an average width of more than half a mile; it liesabout the center of the county north and south, near its westernborder, and its lower reaches are crossed by the main line of theNorthern Pacific railway.
The population of the countyis well proportioned between urban and agricultural residents, itsnumerous thrifty towns and villages in no way overshadowing the ruraldistricts whence they derive their support. Valley City,the county seat, is the largest city in the county and is an energeticand progressive business center. It has been the county seat ever sincethe organization of the county and has now a population of 4,606 in1910, being a gain from 2,466 in 1900. In population it stands sixthamong the cities of the state. It is located a little to the east ofthe center of the county, and is on the main line of both the NorthernPacific and "Soo" railway systems. It is distant 300 miles from St.Paul and 57 miles from Fargo, the largest city in North Dakota. ValleyCity enjoys an extensive tributary trade and is in the midst of one ofthe richest agricultural regions in the state, inhabited by anintelligent and industrious population of mixed nationality with nativeAmerican predominating. The financial affairs of the city are lookedafter by three banks with total deposits well over two millions, all ofwhich is local money, in itself a faithful indication of the city'sprosperity and independence. The electric light and waterworks systemsare owned by the city and their economical management and low pricecharged the public for these necessities furnish a strong argument infavor of public ownership of these utilities. The telephone system isprivately owned and enjoys a wide patronage. An electric street carline is in operation between the "Soo" depot and the business part ofthe city, and further extensions are contemplated. The state normalschool at Valley City is the largest in the state and represents aninvestment of more than $400,000. The corps of teachers now numbersover fifty and it is expected that fully 1,500 students will availthemselves of the advantages offered in securing a normal educationduring 1911. The work is carried on in seven large buildings andanother is in course of construction. The city schools hold a high rankamong similar institutions in the state. Many handsome buildings are tobe found in the city, among them being a $20,000 Library, donated byAndrew Carnegie and containing over 5,000 volumes. The largest armoryin the state is located here, being the headquarters of Company G., N.D. N. G. and having a seating capacity of 1,400. The beautiful Sheyenneriver runs through the city and the groves of elm, ash, box elder andother shade trees which line its banks greatly enhance the city'sbeauty. Farm lands in the vicinity of Valley City are now valued atfrom $30 to $50 per acre, according to location and extent ofimprovements.
Fingal is a prosperousvillage with a population of some 500. It is situated on the Soorailway, about seventeen miles south-east from Valley City. It is thetrading point for an extensive and wealthy farming region, inhabited bydifferent nationalities, Norwegian predominating. Its fine gradedschool has four departments, and two churches—Lutheran andCongregational— minister to the spiritual needs of the people. Fingalhas also a public hall, public park, two banks, national and state,three large general stores, a drug store, hardware store, meat market,harness shop, blacksmith shops, hotels, livery barns, lumber yards,five grain elevators, and other commercial establishments.
Litchville, on the Marionbranch of the Northern Pacific railway, was organized in 1901, and atonce enjoyed a phenomenal growth. It is now a thrifty town of nearly500 inhabitants, and is continuing to increase rapidly. All kinds ofcommercial lines are represented in its wholesale and retailestablishments and its four elevators ship the largest amount of grainof any town on the Marion branch. It is situated in the center of oneof the richest agricultural districts in the state, which is fastsettling up with a well-to-do class of Germans and Hollanders, who,from the first have been very successful in their farming operations.Among its many fine buildings the Lutheran, Catholic and Hollandchurches are especially worthy of note. The strongest flowing artesianwell in the state is to be found at Litchville, the natural pressurebeing sufficient to throw water over the highest building in the town.
Kathryn is located on the N.P. Casselton branch, about one mile west of the Sheyenne river, and isa thriving town. It has elevators, general merchandise stores, hardwarestores, a furniture store, bank, livery barn, two hotels, a creamery,blacksmith shops and implement houses. The creamery business is in avery flourishing condition, drawing its dairy supplies from a richtributary territory.
Other villages and townsin the county, all enjoying a satisfactory and healthy growth, areEckelson, Sanborn, Alta, Oriska, and Brackett, on the main line of theN. P.; Nome and Lucca on the N. P. Casselton branch; Wimbledon on theSoo and Dazy on the N. P. McHenry branch.
The following agriculturalproducts were raised in Barnes county in 1909 and will convey to thereader some idea of the scale on which farming operations areconducted; wheat, 3,553,910 bushels; oats, 1,845,719 bushels; barley,755,612 bushels; flax, 275,139 bushels; rye, 6,239; potatoes, 126,155bushels; prairie hay, 47,566 tons; there were also 4,976 cows used indairying; 14,061 horses; 90 mules; 13,192 cattle; 1,962 sheep and 7,105hogs. In 1910 555,929 acres were under cultivation.
Source: "North Dakota Magazine";Published by W.C. Gilbreath, 1911
BACK -- HOME
© Genealogy Trails