Steele County ND History

Steele county was organized in 1883, being formed out of a portion of the counties of Traill and Griggs.   It is one of the smaller counties of the state, containing only 720 square miles, or about 460,000 acres, all of which is practically included in farms, and more than three-fourths of which is under cultivation.

The land is generally level to gently undulating. The Sheyenne river follows closely the western boundary of the county, although it touches the county at one point only, giving excellent drainage thru its small tributary ravines to the western portion of the county, while the eastern portion is drained by the Goose river and its small tributaries and the tributaries of the Elm and Maple rivers, all small streams. There is a fringe of timber along the Goose river which adds much to the attractiveness of that portion of the county thru which it passes. Many groves of fine trees have been planted by the early progressive farmers and add much to the beauty of the landscape and help to make attractive farm homes.

The county is well covered by rural telephone lines and rural free delivery, hardly a farm house being without both of the modern conveniences which from being luxuries have become necessities, relieving farm life from isolation and making it most attractive.

The soil is most excellent and productive, a rich black loam with a deep clay sub-soil that holds the moisture well, making crop failures wholly unknown.

Improved farms are valued at from $40 to $65 per acre, according to the distance from market and the value of improvements.

The population of the county as shown by the 1910 census is 7,616 and is made up largely of Scandinavians, Germans and Americans and is prosperous and well to do.

The Casselton and Devils Lake branch of the Great Northern railway crosses the county from north to south thru the western portion of the county, on which line thru passenger trains from St. Paul to the coast are run. Another branch of the Great Northern railway runs just outside the county, close to the eastern boundary and touching the northeast corner of the county and giving railroad facilities to the eastern portion of the county, bringing all the lands within easy distance of market. The Pargo-Surrey cut-off of the Great Northern railway is now being graded across the southwestern corner of the county and will give added railroad facilities to that portion of the county.

The largest town in the county is Hope, in the south central part, an incorporated city of about 1,000 population, with a first class High School and having electric lights and several miles of cement walks and surrounded by a rich and prosperous farming community. Other towns on the railroad affording excellent markets are Finley, Sharon, Colgate, Blabon and Pickert. The county seat is Sherbrooke, located off the railroad but in the geographical center of the county.

There are numerous churches, not only in the towns, but throughout the farming communities, nearly all denominations being represented.

There are eight banks in the county, four of which are national and four state banks, with deposits aggregating over $1,000,000, notwithstanding the fact that owing to the location of numerous good towns near the boundaries much of the deposits belonging to the residents of the county, is for convenience, carried in banks in the adjoining counties.

The county does not have a dollar of bonded or floating debt and has not had for years, and consequently has a low tax rate, the total levy for state and county purposes averaging about twelve mills.

The farmers are progressive and are giving attention to improved methods of farming. An increased acreage of winter wheat is being raised, and each year shows a larger acreage of corn and clover, and these crops are being recognized as the most profitable that can be raised.

The following statistics for 1909, taken from the biennial report of the commissioner of agriculture and labor will convey some idea of the agricultural standing of the  county: Total number of farms, 825; acres seeded to wheat, 162,178; oats, 38,864; barley, 30,652; flax, 17,408; corn, 2,877; millet, 3,158 tons; brome grass, 808 tons; horses and mules, in 1910, 8,326; cattle, 7,074; sheep, 392; hogs, 4,048.

Source: North Dakota Magazine Published by W.C. Gilbreath 1911


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