Seventy years ago, thousands of people in the East were casting eyes, full of hope, on the vacant lands west of the headwaters at the Mississippi River. In the early migrations over the Appalachian Mountains, the adventurers had stopped at the edge of the prairie lands. They gazed out over them, even ventured a few days journey into them. What use were they, untamable miles from a woodlot? From water transport?
The railroad developed and revolutionized men's thoughts. Seams of coal were discovered on these prairies. Steam transport pushed further and further west from swampy Chicago. Glowing reports of the possibilities of prairie land began to trickle back and the greatest migration of law-abiding people that the world has ever seen did not stop but continued to roll westward. That might be all right for Iowa and Minnesota, said the doubting sons of doubting fathers, but the Dakotas were the Ultima Thule, the impossible! That land of marauding Sioux! All right possibly for buckskin clad men hunting buffalo. The government was forced to keep regiment after regiment of soldiers there to hold a semblance of order and often the semblance even was lacking. A land of short fierce summers and long fierce winters, where in the majority of months a shrieking wind, loaded with a powdery snow made a horrid cacophony with howling coyotes; where it rained only enough in the spring, to force a little greenery for the grasshoppers to devour, if the hot south wind had not already wilted it in its June growth. Surveyors of the Northern Pacific Railroad said, "It is a territory which would never grow enough to pay returns on running trains through the country. A land all the more repulsive because, in the late fall and early spring, it was the most enticing in the world."
In the face of such a reputation, how did McIntosh County come to be settled in the eighties? It is situated well up on the slope of the high plateau, called the Missouri Coteau, down the midst of which "The Old Muddy", the Missouri River, snakes its long way to the sea. It is only a few miles west of the Standing Rock Reservation, where Sitting Bull was being held in supervision. This was the leader who had, a few short years before outmaneuvered General Custer and slaughtered his entire force. Report has it that he was still "unreconstructed" and plotting a new uprising.
There were many things happening to break down belief in these exaggerations and downright untruths. Thousands were pouring out into the lands of the Red River Valley, sending back reports of its wonderful black soil, the "best in the world", calling it the world's bread basket. When the Northern Pacific "scandal" was cleared up, the railroad land company found themselves in possession of many thousands of acres which must be disposed of to settlers if the road was to have any patrons. About this time Dame Nature smiled on the land and it, as ever responded lushly to her caressing. Big business came in and established "bonanza" farms of thousands of acres. All the railroads that were pushing feeder lines into this territory joined to plaster the whole country with beautiful lithographs showing twenty or thirty new-fangled binders in strings, harvesting golden ripe wheat and the accompanying reading matter proclaimed that there was plenty of such land left for those who would take advantage of the opportunity.
Many of the Americans were, of course, not bona fide settlers. They were told they could take a claim, and later a pre-emption and a tree claim and for a while were able to do so. Many shortly afterwards disposed of the land so acquired and worked themselves into the business for which they had been trained.
The great influx to McIntosh County came in 1885, although some had come the year before. It is said that over a thousand were located in the county in the second year. Mainly they disembarked at Ellendale or Eureka, then busy little outfitting towns. While they were busy unloading their freight, buying what extra they could of implements and organizing a train, it might be that they met up with one "Cash" Hammond who did a general trucking business for a while from Ellendale to the county seat Hoskins, then a meager collection of little buildings on the south shore of a lake by the same name. When the wagons were loaded with household goods, a couple of glazed window sash, a door frame for the prospective sod shacks, the women and children, if any, were loaded on top, the breaker plow slung under the axle and the oxen were goaded into action. It was a long slow plod but it must have been exciting, at that, even for those who had already come five or six thousand miles for they were coming to establish a home.
After passing the flats, west of Ellendale, and entering the hills, they were told they were about to debouch on the even-then-abandoned FORT YATES TRAIL, which they were to hold until near the end of the journey when their road branched from it near the head of the main street of Ashley, of whose future existence no one even dreamed.
We now wish to digress and let our thoughts take us back to the "FORT YATES TRAIL."
The old Fort Yates Trail is about to be forgotten. It should not be, but it will be unless steps are taken to make use of the memories of the elders still alive, who still vividly remember its exact location. A committee has had Mr. George W. Lilly mark its exact location around Ashley, but markers should be placed on each farmstead it traversed across the breadth of the county. We will trace the trail across the county as given us by Mr. Lilly. Entering the county at the southeast corner of Sec. 1, Twp. 129, Range 67, it runs westward through sections 2, 3 and 4 of the same township and range, then in a northwesterly direction into section 33, Twp. 130, Range 67, thence westward through sections 32 and 31; thence west in township 130, range 68, through sections 36 35, 34, 33, 32 and 31; thence into Township 130, Range 69 through sections 36, 35, 34, 33, 32, 29, 30 and 19; thence in township 130, range 70, through sections 24, 13, 12, 11, 2, 3 and 4; thence into township 131, range 70, and through sections 33, 32 and 31; thence into township 131, range 71, and through sections 36, 35, 34, and 33; thence into township 130, range 71, through sections 4, 5, 6, thence into township 130, range 72, through sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, into township 130, range 73, through sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and passing westward out of the county through section 6, township 130, range 73.
Looking east on Main Street, Ashley, N. Dak. Teams in the foreground were the property of John D. Heyd.
Looking east On Main street, Ashley, N. Dak. Court House can be seen in the background to the left.
From the earliest prairie days that white man knows this trail had meandered from old Fort Sisseton at Big Stone Lake in Minnesota, with offshoots to the various forts off the line. It was well rutted long before Fargo was even a tent city. After a lot of ups and downs and back-breaking detours, it, at last came to the Missouri River opposite Fort Yates, one of and the supplies needed for outfitting north and south river voyagers and the east and west adventurers by land.
Returning again to our emigrant train from Ellendale, it might be they drew up their wagons in the usual crude circle when they stopped on the road, say at Coldwater. For although this could hardly be called a hostile land in 1885, there was still a well-sustained Indian scare, which lasted for several years. Sitting Bull and his followers had been eased out of Canada, whence they had fled after the Custer massacre, and was now returned to Standing Rock Reservation, he was still rumored to be making, "bad medicine." A rumor sprang up and gained credence amongst the Indians of the coming of a Messiah who was to lead them in the successful driving of all the whites from the plains. This rumor was to keep the settlers in the county on the qui vive for several years and to be the source of at least one great scare that was to send the settlers scurrying across the prairie, shouting "The Indians are Coming." It caused many to rush to Eureka, Ellendale and even as far as Aberdeen and it was not until 1900, when the authorities were forced to arrest Sitting Bull that the settlers enjoyed peace of mind regarding Indians.
On the afternoon of the second or third day out from Ellendale, our imaginary train might creak along the trail, turning off the Fort Yates road to pass along the homesteads of John B. Akey and Mary Paton, upon which the future Ashley was to be built, three miles further, they would come to the town of Hoskins, perched on its little elevation above the lake or they may have gone on further west to Beaver Creek.
These men were followed in rapid succession by J. H. Wishek, C. C. Hammond, Geo. H. Fay, Clare Johnson, Chas. Bayse, S. A. Bowes, G. O. Gulack, Col. Stone, J. A. T. Bjornson, Chas. Smith, Alanson Richards, R. A. Larimer, J. W. Kenagy, and many others who were to be intimately associated in the building up of this abortive village, its successor Ashley and the surrounding country. In the spring of 1885, there were over twenty-five families in and around Hoskins. The rapid influx of the German-Russians was in the offing and there was plenty of business. It took a great deal of activity to locate a thousand foreign born settlers in the few months of the spring and summer. Wishek, Lilly, and Morell organized a land office and a little later in the year established the McIntosh County Bank, a private institution, and engaged "Cash" Hammond as cashier. "Tony" Bjornson opened a drug store, his building was later removed to Ashley and today flaunting a Beauty Parlor sign stands on Main street, the sole relic of Hoskins. There were soon two attorneys, J. H. Wishek and A. W. Clyde; two newspapers, the first, The McIntosh County Herald, published by J. W. Kenagy, in whose hurried first issue we see advertisements of H. J. Whitney, as trustee for the Hoskins Townsite Company; Geo. W. Abbot, dealer in groceries and provisions; Geo. W. Lilly, Civil Engineer and Surveyor; J. H. Wishek, real estate and attorney; G. W.
Hoskins townsite is platted land owned by enterprising business men, who hove the push to bring the town to the front.... They have reserved spacious grounds on the lake shore for public parks, and a block for a court house and others for churches, believing that a liberal policy will in the end be most successful."
Yes indeed there were boomers in those days and even after a lapse of fifty odd years one can imagine the intense disappointment of those who had gambled all they had on these prospects. A line of post offices was established, with the help of Bismarck parties and friends in Washington, from Ellendale to Bismarck and a daily mail driven over the trails.
This building formerly at Hoskins and known as the "The Grand View" was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Smith. After being moved to Ashley was called the "Smiths Hotel" or "Washburn House". When located in Ashley the building was on the present site of the Ashley Creamery. Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Smith, in front with baby. Seated on steps from left to right: I.C.A. Thorn; "Doke" Lawhead; Tony Bjornson; Murray Hammond;
Mr. Stark. Seated on porch: Uncle Mac (MacDonald reading paper); two traveling men; Marion Farley Beveridge; Mrs. Anna Farley; two traveling men. Standing on porch: unknown man; Christina Buchholtz.
They had a certain portion of it surveyed and laid out in blocks and lots, and named it Ashley in Honor of Ashley E. Morrow, a member of that company and the sale of lots was begun. As an inducement to the disappointed people of Hoskins the company agreed to donate lots to all those who would move their buildings from Hoskins to Ashley and although all the buildings, except a small school house left at Hoskins, were moved to the new town of Ashley in the spring and summer of 1888, it made a very small beginning for the new town. The business places were located on Main street and were on the North side, the Land Office, on the site now occupied by Edwin Blumhardt as a filling station, the store of Gulack and Gravedale in the building now occupied by the Ashley Implement Company; the drug store of "Tony" Bjornson being the same building now occupied by Miss Theophelia Reule as a Beauty Parlor. On the South side of Main street was a hotel called the "Washburn House" owned and operated by Fred Smith and located on the present site of the Ashley Creamery; the publishing house and home of J. W. Kenagy; the LaMotte Miles meat market located in the building West of the Stube Hotel; a business little further East a hardware store and postoffice combined in a building owned by George Lawrence and John Williams located on the site now occupied by John Eisenbeis as a Cafe. South of the hotel and on the present site owned and occupied by Edwin George was the Livery Barn of Clare Johnson, and East of there his home on the present site of the home of Dr. Cohen; then a few scattered residences of G. W. Hammond, located on the present site of the Home Hotel, the residence of George W. Lilly located on the site of the present home of County Judge A. W. Meidinger and the home of G. O. Gulack. In all a total of twelve buildings, some of them serving in a double capacity, that of dwelling and business place. Thus was Ashley brought into being with a total population of about forty five inhabitants.
LAND OFFICE This building was moved to Ashley from Hoskins in 1888, and was located on the site now occupied by Edwin Blumhardt as a filling station. Was used as a Court House before one was built by the county. Was also used as an office by J.H. Wishek, his living quarters were in the lean-to on the left. The building was destroyed by fire about 1895. Left to right: Christian Weber; Harry McMillian; John C. Schaeffer. LaMotte Miles; C.D. Johnson; Fred Heiss; R.A. Larimer; J.H. Wishek; I.C.A. Thorn; J.M. Hanson.
The town being now established and past its infancy continued a healthy and prosperous growth, elevators were built until now there are six elevators, one mill. Other business places were added and now Ashley boasts of 6 filling stations; 5 cream stations; plumbing shop; 4 garages; 3 barber shops; 3 hardware stores; 2 cafes; a drug store; telephone exchange; 2 dentists; 5 recreational parlors; 5 law offices; 2 physicians; 3 hotels; 2 real estate and insurance offices; a bakery; a creamery; 3 bulk gas stations; a general contractor; 2 blacksmiths; 2 lumber yards; a newspaper; 5 general stores; a ladies furnishing; 3 beauty parlors; a gamble store; 3 implement dealers; a bank; I.G.A. store; Jewelry store; theater; wood work shop; commercial trucker;
2 meat markets; a produce market; harness and shoemaker; chiropractor; office electric light company; 7 churches; library; and City Hall in combination with fire hall. In addition to this numerous fine homes have been built and it is quite a different town from what it was fifty years ago, the population being a little over 1200.
Other towns that have aided in the development of McIntosh County are as follows:
The townsite is a part of the original pre-emption claim of Henry Ellwein. In 1902 the Milwaukee Land Company bought this land and had it surveyed and platted by the county surveyor, LaMotte Miles, as the town of Zeeland. The town was named for a province of the Netherlands by a colony of settlers who formerly lived near the townsite.
The population of Zeeland is around 500. The people mainly are of German-Russian extraction, the older settlers coming to this country from South Russia.
Many of the earliest business men came to Zeeland from Eureka, S. D., some of whom are still active in their endeavor to build up the town.
The Chicago, Milwaukee Railroad was built through Zeeland in the fall of 1902. The town made rapid advances after the railroad reached it. business places common to all new towns quickly sprang to life and were very prosperous.
The first house was moved to town by Christ Haffner and the first store was owned and operated by Haffner Brothers, the first drug store and pharmacy was operated by Wenz and Preszler. Hezel Brothers started the First State Bank in 1904. Michael Henne was the first postmaster.
The Village of Zeeland was organized on September 24, 1906 and the first Trustees were Adolf Boschee, Frank Kraft and Adolf Feinstein. Treasurer was Michael Henne, Clerk William S. Siegele, Marshall John Jund, Justice of the Peace John L. Preszler.
The first school was opened at Zeeland on September 5, 1903, with an enrollment of seven pupils. The instructor was Miss Marion Amby. The first year of school was conducted in the depot and the office of the North Star Lumber Company. As time went by the school facilities were enlarged to accommodate the needs of the growing population. In 1908 a school house was built. High school teachers are now employed, thus meeting the State requirement for a four year accredited high school.
Michael Henne was on the first school board. Present school officers are Directors: John Maier, George Rempfer, A. M. Nolz; Treasurer, A.J. Wald, and Clerk, John F. Koth, Jr.
The Catholic Church, built in 1905, was the first church in the town. Several churches of different denominations have since been built.
Present city officials are Jacob Vossler, Joe Maier and Rhinee Delzer, Trustees; Gail Hernett, Treasurer; W.A. Melchert, Clerk; George Lacher, Marshall, and John F. Koth, Jr., Justice of the Peace.
"WILBUR HOUSE" Early hotel in Ashley, succeeding the "Washburn House". Was located on present site of Ashley Creamery, and was owned and operated by C.D. Johnson.
The present townsite was at one time the homestead of Michael Tesky and Philipp Huber. In 1901 the Minnesota Loan and Trust Company acquired the land from these gentlemen and had it surveyed and platted, as the town of Venturia.
The population of Venturia is around 300. Has a grade school but no high school. The school house was erected in 1907.
The settlement of this village dates back to the year 1901. The first building, which is still in use, was a general merchandise store built by Jacob Wiedmann. The following fall another store was built by Jacob Hockstetter, and the same year the Victoria Elevator Company built the first elevator. With the building of a few residences of the early type; Venturia became a town similar to the many dotted here and there over the North Dakota prairies. The bank was built in 1905. Following are a few of the first business places: Jacob Wiedmann and Jacob Hochstetter, general merchandise; Sayler Brothers, farm implements;
Wiedmann Brothers, hardware; Gottfried Dobler, harness shop; Osborne McMillan Company, elevator; North Star Lumber Company, lumber. The German Baptist Church was built in 1908, and the German Lutheran Church was built in 1914.
Those who have served as Trustees and other offices of the town are Jacob Schlepp, Christ Joachim, Gott. Joachim, John J. Ritter, Fred Herbold, Jacob Schnabel, P. P. Schnabel, A. E. Maethner, B. Iszler, Jr., Math Maier, Geo. Lacher, Geo. Roth, Gott. Pfeifle, Jacob J. Dockter, O. B. Kretschmar, Ed. Meidinger, J. S. Wiedmann, Peter Schnabel, A. A. Sayler, Dan Fueller, Philip Wiedmann, Theo. Giedt and J. J. Tesky as Trustees. Those who have served as Marshall are Andreas Weisenburger, Jacob Weisser, Jacob J. Tesky, F. J. Strobel, Fred Wohl, John J. Ritter, August Deide, August Dockter Gottlieb Delzer, Sam Krause, Henry Delzer, Andrew Delzer, Theo. Delzer, Rudolph Buchholz. Serving as Clerk have been P. T. Kretschmar, W. E. Kretschmar, J. Hochstetter, John Wiedmann, A. E. Maethner, Emil A. Sayler. Assessors have been A. A. Sayler, And. Weisenburger, Fred Rott, O. B. Kretschmar, Ed. Kilber, A. J. Wiedmann, John Golz, Adolph Wiedmann, Ephriam Giedt, Arthur Giedt and Arthur A. Sayler. Justice of the Peace have been Fred Rott, A. Steinecker, X. Junge, Fred J. Strobel, A. A. Sayler, P. T. Kretschmar, F. J Strobel, A. A. Sayler. Those serving as Treasurer have been, F. J. Strobel, Andreas Weisenburger, Jac. J. Tesky, B. Iszler, Jr., P. Wiedmann, X. Junge, O. B. Kretschmar, Arthur A Sayler and E. J. Schrenk.
Venturia has had a steady healthy growth and now has the following business places; First State Bank; Wiedmann Brothers, hardware; C. A. Johnstone, general merchandise; Schrenk Meat Market; August Deide, cream buyer, patent medicines, flour; Gideon Dobler, soft drinks and candy; Edward Deide, filling station;
Otto Groszhans, blacksmith; Tesky Garage; Sayler & Krause, farm implements-cream buyer; Fred Herbold, harness shop; Ginthon Bender, filling station; Martin Bertsch, cream buyer, patent medicines; Venturia Lumber Company, lumber, coal, paints; Jacob Schnabel & Son, farm implements, harness shop; Otto Groszhans, recreational parlor; Wiedmann Garage; Venturia Farmers Elevator Co., grain; Venturia Grain Co., grain; Delzer Brothers, dray line.
The town of Danzig was started in 1908, several years after the railroad was built. It was named for the Free City of Danzig.
The present townsite was at one time the homestead of Ethel G. Moore who proved up the land, on which the town was located, in the year 1907. She in turn conveyed the tract to Samuel B. Miller in 1910 and in 1911 it was acquired by George Gackle and Peter Billigmeier who in turn sold it to the Tri-State Land Company, who in 1911, had it surveyed and platted as the town of Danzig in September 1911.
The population of Danzig is around 200. Has an elementary School, which provides for the education and recreation of the youth of the community.
Among the early business places in the town of Danzig, were a hardware store, bank, lumber yard, a general merchandise store operated by Adam Meidinger and son, an implement shop operated by Stepper and Pudwill. The growth of the town was rapid and now has two elevators, lumber yard, meat market, garage, two general stores, hardware and implement store, recreational parlor, three cream stations, one filling station and operates their own electric light plant.
An incident connected with the growth of the town was when in 1911 the farmers in that territory came into town with teams and donated their labor in the building of a side track for the railroad.
As most towns around here were started with the idea of providing a more accessible point to market the produce of surrounding farmers, who in those days had to haul their grain forty or fifty miles in some instances, an elevator was the first building constructed, followed the same fall by a general store under the joint proprietorship of Adam Nagel and John F. George.
The town has a modern school which houses a four year high school and the grammar grades. North Dakota highways Nos. 13 and 30 cross at Lehr. Two "Soo Line" trains pass through Lehr daily.
Lehr is an incorporated City and at one time boasted of being the biggest little city in the state of North Dakota.
Lehr was first organized as a Village on November 18, 1907, with the following Village officers; Adam Nagel, Jr. President of the Council; Members of the Council were Adam Nagel, Sr., Adam Reich, Sam
On May 18, 1909, Lehr was organized as a City with the following selected officers: John Rott, Sr., Mayor; Aldermen were Lott Lachenmaier, Karl Sattler, Jacob Mack, Jacob Bittner; Auditor, A. H. Becker and J. H. George, Police Magistrate.
The officers at the time of this writing February 15, 1938, are Martin Helmer, Mayor; Aldermen, David Sperling, Peter Becker, Jr., Jacob Koepplin; Auditor is J. J. Mack; Adolph Jenner, Marshal, and Adam Mayer, Police Magistrate.
From a small beginning Lehr has grown until they now have the following business places. Two general merchandise stores, Wentz & Grenz and R. H. Hummel; hardware store, A. F. Ziegenhagel, owner; Implement Dealer, D. F. Ziegenhagel, owner, two restaurants, Albert Johnson and R. J. Jonas, owners; blacksmith, Martin Helmer, owner; two garages, D. F. Ziegenhagel and John Seefried; three recreational parlors, A. Johnson, R. J. Jonas, and Arnold Jenner; two cream buyers, flour and feed stores, Fred Ketterling and Jacob Bauer, owners; three filling stations, Fred Goebel, Otto Zimmerman and Fred Kruger, owners; three bulk gas and oil stations, Standard Oil Co., Home Oil Co., and Farmers Union Exchange; three grain elevators, Lehr Grain Co., J. H. Jenner and Eichorn & Son; a lumber yard operated by Thompson Yards, Inc., with Wm. Kranzler, Manager; C. B. Kuisto is agent for the Soo Line, there are four churches and one Tabernackle; in addition to the school in McIntosh County there is also a school on the Logan County side. Postmaster is John H. Bellon, with A. J. Hellwig as Assistant, John Kranzler is rural carrier.
A City Park has been built three miles west of Lehr, the work being done by the CCC.
The townsite is a part of the original Pre-emption and Timber Claim of Paul Pudwill, Homestead of Wellington Stark and a portion of the original Northern Pacific land grant. In 1898 these various owners sold their land to the Minnesota Loan & Trust Company, who in the same year had it surveyed and platted, naming the town in honor of J. H. Wishek.
In 1898, when the town was established, J. J. Doyle, Gottlieb Nickisch and Jake Herr became members of the first village board. A town organization was maintained until 1930. At this time the citizens voted for a city government and elected Mr. H. E. Timm its first mayor.
IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS OF THE HORSE AND BUGGY Looking north on 6 th Street, Ashley, N. Dak., taken July 4, 1913. Buggies backed up against west side of present Ashley Farmers Lumber Co. Note the old Court House in background.
Up-to-date retail stores supply the needs of the community. Medical and dental professions are represented by highly trained men. Organizations include the Wishek Association of Commerce, the Women's Civic League, Parent and Teachers Association, the Fred Kelly Post of the American Legion, Boy and Girl Scouts, Girl's Friendship Circle, the Odd Fellows and its sister lodge the Rebekahs. Started under the auspices of the Women's Civic League, the Wishek Library is benefiting an ever growing number of people each year. The only municipally owned buildings are the school buildings and the town and fire halls.
The civic activities include an annual Sauer Kraut Day and the Tri-County Fair, held about one mile west of town. This fair was organized several years ago with H. E. Timm as its first president, and Robert Grieser, secretary and manager.
A cursory survey of the names mentioned as settlers around Hoskins will show them to have been a fair average whose fathers had pioneered at a still earlier date in the East and central states, with, added here and there, a good Scotch burr, a brogue or a gutteral Nordic accent. There is one peculiarity to be noted in the roster of the earliest settlers, there was not a single name showing a German derivation in 1884. When one considers the great number of Germans who flocked to the north central states in the eighteen forties, it must be because when a German settles, he stays settled. He becomes a part and parcel of his adopted home, is honest, industrious, respected and prosperous, with little reason to re-locate, unless overtaken by such a series of searing disasters as in the past few years, which no pre-vision could possibly have anticipated. But when he moves, he moves in a mass and locates in a mass and holds intact his beliefs, his customs and his language.
Livery Barn operated by C. D. Johnson. This building was located on the present site, south of the creamery, owned by Edwin George. Reading left to right: On horse, W. L. Johnson; his father, C. D. Johnson; next two unknown; LaMotte Miles; next two unknown; George H. Fay; Fred Heiss;John H. Schaeffer; last man unknown.
In the early months of 1885, a sudden and revolutionary change took place in the origins of McIntosh County settlers. The population became predominantly German and has remained so ever since. The propaganda of which we hove spoken where the railroads plastered the country with pictures of a bonanza land did not stop at the Atlantic. The great steamship lines took it up and showered Europe with lithographs of these extraordinarily fertile lands, free for the asking induced about three quarter of a million Europeans to buy transportation to the land of promise. This little sketch is not concerned with the origins of any but those who settled in the second bench of the rise from the valley in North Dakota. These were preponderantly Germans from South Russia. They came in solid trainloads in 1885 and its next succeeding years to settle the higher lands of the coteau which runs from the north in a gentle southeastern direction across the state. McIntosh County was one of the first sections of the state to receive the welcome onslaught.
Just who were these people who in these few years populated the country as thickly as it is ever likely to be. At the first mention of "German Russian," the newcomer is likely to raise his eyebrows and ask "How come?" Well, they are not ordinary Germans and anything but ordinary Russians. They were the descendants of what had originally been a rigidly selected group. At the time that Jefferson was writing our Declaration of Independence and Washington was winning the war of the Revolution which followed, Catherine the Great, Czarine of all the Russias was prosecuting and winning a war with the Turks who had overrun and permanently occupied the district north and west of the Black Sea. Her armies drove them out. This great district stood empty. It is now called the Ukraine, sometimes White Russia. It was, from what we can hear, a beautiful land, where almost anything could be grown. Catherine was born a German princess and was married to a moron Czar. After a series of intrigues and a few convenient murders she was proclaimed Empress. Now, confronted with this smiling but vacant land, she thought of her native Germany and the good people there. She conceived a gigantic colonization scheme, or rather Potemkin her shrewd advisor thought it up for her and assumed the task of carrying it out. It was a plan so immense, this first Rural Resettlement, that, like its successor, it had to be abandoned when only a quarter through. Even Catherine who could quickly squander $60,000,000.00 couldn't find the money for it all. They were to rigidly select German farmers and bring them into Russia. They had to be not only good farmers but superb physical specimens. They had to be married and the wives also must be in perfect health. Each farmer was given about 100 acres of this fine black soil, mills were built, "dorfs" were arranged and each given his own vine and fig tree. All were promised civil and religious liberty, with perpetual freedom from military service. The scheme looked good to a lot of Germans, and it was good, while it lasted. As the years rolled along the bureaucrats forgot the bargain and began to press. The young men were dragooned into the army and other privileges were constrained. So thousands approaching military age took ship on a journey to the land which had been described to them as a land flowing with milk and honey. It wasn't but they were free, free of police surveillance and grafting bureaucrats, free and willing to adopt a new land as their own, to love, honor and cherish. It wasn't all they expected as they
An early day threshing scene. Note the horse power.
The first civic institution necessary in the territorial county as a county organization, was the appointment of three County Commissioners, and after due formalities had been met, Hon. Gilbert A. Pierce, then Governor of the Territory of Dakota on September 25, 1884, appointed as the first County Commissioners the following named gentlemen: George W. Lilly, Charles C. Morell and Charles V. Basye, and they in turn on October 4, 1884, completed the county organization by appointing the following officers to hold until the regular election: J. H. Wishek, Register of Deeds and County Clerk; Alanson Richards, Probate Judge; Alexander McDonald, Sheriff; George W. Abbott, Superintendent of Schools; Horace L. Bear, County Treasurer; C. D. Johnson, Assessor; David Richey, Coroner; George W. Lilly, Surveyor; C. D. Johnson, Samuel Basye, W. O. McIntosh and Isaac Lincoln, Justices of the Peace, and Jasan M. Love, Geo. W. Coyle, T. G. Springer and E. M. Lund, Constables. The commissioners then proceeded to describe commissioners districts and named three voting precincts giving the name of Coldwater to precinct number 1, Jewell No. 2 and Hoskins No. 3. Thus the band-wagon of county politics began its lumbering way down the half century, pausing each biennium to take on a new load of native common sense able enough to place the county in such financial shape that it has been able to outlast the last decade. The first regular election was held in the fall of 1888, and each two years thereafter with the following gentlemen holding office: County Judges, Alanson Richards (1884-89), R. A. Larimer (1889-93), Geo. H. Fay (1893-95), Christian Becker (1895-1901), G. A. Bietz (1901-05), Jacob Breitling (1905-09), Gottlieb Becker (1909-13), Jacob Doerr (1913-1921), E. J . Schaeffer (1921-1931), present encumbent A. W. Meidinger. Clerk of Court, J. H. Wishek (1884-85), Seth D. McNeal (1885 to October 1886), C. C. Hammond (October 1886-1895), J. M. Erbele (1895 to July 1896), John Rott (July 1896 to 1897), C. C. Hammond (1897-99), Paul Kretschmar 1899-1905), G. A. Bietz (1905-07), R. C.Miles (1907-1911), E. M. Harrison (1911-1913), T. M. Buchholz 1913-1921), H. D.Piper (1921-1927), E. W. Schock (1927-1935), present encumbent A. W. Meidinger. County Superintendents: George W. Abbott (1884-1886), John Ogden (1886-1889), A. T. Wiles (1889-1894), W. A. Linn (1894-1895), George C. Wiles (1895-1901), W. A. Linn (1901-07), E. T. Clyde (1907-1913), F. N. Fullerton (1913-1915), John J. Laemmele (1915-1917), George A. Boschma (1917-1924), E. E. Gloege (1924-1933), present encumbent Ed. Doerr. County Auditor: J. H. Wishek (1884 to April 30, 1890), LaMotte Miles (April 30, 1890 to April 1, 1895), Christ Albright (April 1, 1895 to Jan. 1, 1905), Paul T. Kretschmar (Jan. 1, 1905 to April 5, 1909), John F. George (April 5, 1909 to April 7, 1913), John Hildenbrand (April 7, 1913 to Dec. 31, 1920, resigned), John Billigmeier (Jan. 3, 1921 to April 2, 1929), G. A. Bietz (April 2, 1929 to April 6, 1937), present encumbent Walt Schmidt. States Attorney: George H. Fay (1887-1890), A. W. Clyde (1891-04), R. R. Hedtke (1905-1906), G. M. Gannon (1907-15), H. P. Remington (1917-1918), A. A. Ludwigs (1919-1920), Franz Shubeck (1921-1924), A. A. Ludwigs (1925-26), Franz Shubeck (1927-30), Max A. Wishek (1931-36), A. O. Ginnow present encumbent. Treasurer: Horace L. Bear (1884-85), Paul P. Orth (1885-1886). William F. Smith (1887-88), G. O. Gulack (1889-1892), Fred Heiss (1892-98), La Motte Miles (1899-1900), Christian Becker (1901-08), Jacob Breitling (1909-12), G. A. Bietz (1913-16) J. A. Meidinger (1917-20), G. A. Bietz (1921-24), W. J. Kilber (1925-28), A. R. Henne (1929-1932), A. J.Wiedmann (1933-36), William Bauer (1936-1937), G. Juengling, present encumbent.
Register of Deeds: John H. Wishek (1885-92), George W. Lilly (1893-94), John J. Giedt (1895-1902), G. D. Grosz (1903-06), Fred Heinrich (1907-12), Adolf Moench (1913-1918), Otto F. Hinz (1919-26), Fred Gieser (1927-32), B. Iszler, Jr., present encumbent. Sheriff: Alex McDonald (1884-1887), C. D. Johnson (1887-1894), John Meidinger (1895-1898), Emanuel Hildenbrand (1905-08), Fred Brosz (1909-10), Emanuel Hildenbrand (1910-1912), George Rott (1912-1913), John Hoffman (1913-1916), Christ Dockter (1917-20), W. J. Pudwill (1921-24), Dan Erlenbusch (1925-28), W. J. Pudwill (1929-1932), Christ Bauer (1933-36), Mike Henne, present encumbent. Commissioners who hove served in the first district have been Charles V. Bayse, Adam Meidinger, John Rott, Gottfried Heinrich, Gottlieb Strobel, John Meidinger, Jacob Reule, Fred Wolf, Sr., Fred Goehring, Fred Wolf, Sr., Jacob Frederich now serving. In the second
Relief in various forms was necessary in the early years of McIntosh County much the same as now. We quote from the Commissioners proceedings of January 8, 1891; "On motion: Christ Albright and Adam Meidinger, County Commissioners, were authorized to make any necessary arrangements for procuring any further supply of flour, etc., for the needy people of the County, through the Mayor or Relief Committee of the City of Fargo, or the City of Grand Forks, N. D., and Geo. W. Lilly was authorized to go to either of said cities on behalf of the County, if necessary for such purpose." Again we quote from the Commissioner's proceedings of a meeting held March 11, 1891; "Board met pursuant to call for the purpose of considering the question of obtaining seed grain. Present Christ Albright and Adam Meidinger. On motion the following resolution was passed:
Resolved, that John H. Wishek and Geo. H. Faye be, and they are hereby authorized to negotiate with any person, company or corporation with whom they may be able to make satisfactory arrangements on behalf of the County of McIntosh, N. D., to procure seed grain for the farmers of said county, upon the best terms possible; and for this purpose they are authorized, if necessary, to make agreement with any such person, company or corporation for the issuance by said County of Bonds to on amount not to exceed $10,000.00 to guarantee payment of notes given, with seed lien security, by those persons who shall procure seed grain through such arrangement. On Motion a warrant was ordered drawn on the General County Fund for $100.00 in favor of Geo. H. Faye, for expense of aforesaid seed grain committee."
Experiencing the joys and sorrows of pioneering, faced with the necessity of making a living for self and family---miles from a food supply, miles from a railroad, miles from a church, miles from a doctor---here our forefathers came. And as they came they dedicated their lives to the task of establishing a town on the prairie that their descendants might enjoy its pleasures and advantages. A few homes and business places closely associated on the wind swept prairie---thus was the beginning of Ashley.
1898 From the McIntosh Republican, published every Friday by Fred Heiss.
Soo Line Time Table
West bound departs at 11:08 A.M.
East bound departs at 4:45 P.M.
Trains arrive and depart from Wishek on Thursday and Sunday of each week.
Poles for the telephone line have been unloaded in town and everything is working nicely toward the completion of the line.
Hotel Knickerbocker at Eureka, S. D., will make a rate $1.00 per day to transients from Ashley and country tributary.
Hitching posts have been set around the Court House for the accommodation of the farmers---a good idea.
Christ Weber will have a turkey shoot November 20 th . Everybody is invited to come. It will cost only 10c a shot.
1908 From the McIntosh County Republican:
A large crown attended the dedication of a new Lutheran Church in Long Lake.Rev. C. H. W. Schulz of Ashley conducted the services.
A prairie fire burned off a large strip of territory northwest of Ashley near Harrisons ranch. Fire brakes were burned south of town the following week.
In September a merry-go-round was set up. This was the first to appear here and attracted much attention.
Johnstone's received a large supply of roller skates and the opera house was opened as a skating rink. Their band furnished the music.
First of December no trains were running on the Hankinson-Bismarck or Pollock branch of the Soo Line. Snow blockade was given as the reason.
1918 From the Ashley Tribune:
Red Cross branch is very active in sewing project for patients in R. C. hospitals.
McIntosh County was assigned a county agent, namely E. G. Porizek. He was stationed at Wishek.
County Treasurer J. A. Meidinger reports the collection of $27,947.69 in taxes before February 1 st . $93,319.70 remains uncollected.
Liberty Loon Bonds and War Saving Stamps are being sold.
Fifty young men, the pride of McIntosh County, entrained for Military service.
Rousing patriotic demonstration given at Ashley, Danzig, Wishek and Lehr.
Local light plant constructed and put into operation.
Frank Piper laid to rest on French soil. Armistice declared in November.
1928 From the Ashley Tribune:
Ashley's first bakery, Fischer and Pfeifer started operation. Oven capacity was 175 loaves.
Senior class published the second annual for the local high school.
Thirty-one trees were planted on the east and south sides of the Evangelical church property.
Soo and Great Northern Railroad run a special dairy and poultry train through North Dakota in co-operation with N. D. Agricultural College. Stopped at Ashley and was well received.
Cement bath house at Lake Hoskins built by popular contributions.
All trees at Hoskins numbered and assigned to Ashley citizens to cultivate and irrigate.
Old livery barn burned.
Street light rates were reduced.
We, who now have our homes in Ashley, do greatly honor our forefathers, the pioneers. They were the staunch hearted men and women who worked with light hearts and heads held high; rejoicing when harvests were abundant and accepting failures without complaint; who suffered hardships and toiled unceasingly that their children might have ease and education which they never knew. To them now and through the years to come our deepest respect and reverence is given.
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Last updated: 19 May 2017