North Dakota

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Welcome to the North Dakota Project!

The North Dakota Project is also part of the United States History Project.

See the North Dakota Project page.

The leader of this project is Alison Andrus. Please contact her if you would like to join.

The state of North Dakota became a United States territory as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. It was originally part of the Minnesota and Nebraska territories until it was organized into the Dakota Territory in 1861 along with South Dakota. It became a state on Nov. 2, 1889.

1910 North Dakota Map
North Dakota Counties
Adams Barnes Benson Billings Bottineau Bowman
Burke Burleigh Cass Cavalier Dickey Divide
Dunn Eddy Emmons Foster Golden Valley Grand Forks
Grant Griggs Hettinger Kidder LaMoure Logan
McHenry McIntosh McKenzie McLean Mercer Morton
Mountrail Nelson Oliver Pembina Pierce Ramsey
Ransom Renville Richland Rolette Sargent Sheridan
Sioux Slope Stark Steele Stutsman Towner
Traill Walsh Ward Wells Williams


North Dakota Timeline

  • Information gathered from the e-reference desk resources
1610 - Henry Hudson claimed the Hudson Bay watershed, which included much of eastern North Dakota for England.
1682 - LaSalle claimed the entire Mississippi River drainage which included the Missouri River drainage in North Dakota, for France.
1713 - England receives the northern part of North Dakota from France
1738 - Pierre Gaultier de la Verendrye, a French explorer, visited Mandan villages near the Missouri River. This is the first known Euro-American expedition into what is now North Dakota.
1742 - The sons of La Verendrye returned to the Missouri River as part of an expedition in search of a western sea. Subsequent explorers to visit this region included Jonathan Carver (1768) and David Thompson (1797), among others.
1762 - Spain received from France land claimed by LaSalle.
1763 - Treaty of Paris granted to England part of the state drained by the Mouse and the Red Rivers.
1781 - The first known business enterprise, a fur trading post, was briefly established near the Souris River, but was soon abandoned as a result of pressure from unfriendly Indians.
1792 - Jacques D'Englise (Santiago Leglise) opened trade between Mandan villages and Spanish interests from St. Louis.
1794 - Rene Jusseaume built a Fur Post near the Knife River.
1796 - John Evans from St. Louis ascended the Missouri River to the Mandan villages near the Knife River.
1797 - Charles Baptiste Chaboillez, a French trader, opened a post at Pembina. David Thompson, an English explorer, mapped the northern part of the state.
1800 -Alexander Henry Jr. established a fur post at Park River. Henry moved his establishment to Pembina in 1801, and it became the nucleus for the first white settlement in what is now North Dakota. By this date, fur traders from Canada were frequent visitors to this region and a trade route had been established between posts near Lake Winnipeg and the Missouri River Indian villages. See the Native Americans Project
1801 - John Cameron built a trading post at the current site of Grand Forks.
1802 - On March 12, the first non-Indian child was born in what is now North Dakota to Pierre Bonza and his wife, Black slaves of Alexander Henry, Jr.
1803 - On November 20, Spain returned the Missouri River watershed to France. The Louisiana Purchase transferred the area of North Dakota drained by the Missouri River from France to the United States on December 30.
1804 & 1806 - An expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark entered North Dakota and wintered near the present town of Washburn on its way to the Pacific Coast. This temporary post, Fort Mandan, was frequently visited by nearby Indians. See the Lewis and Clark Expedition Project.
1806 - The Lewis and Clark Expedition returned down the river on its way back to St. Louis. Their journey marked the first major American penetration of the area and was characterized by amicable relationships with native inhabitants. See the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
1809 - Fur Company entrepreneur Manuel Lisa of St. Louis led the first formal American business reconnaissance along the Missouri River in search of sites for trading posts. On December 29, the first white child was born in present-day North Dakota to fur post employees at Pembina.
1811 - Botanists John Bradbury and Thomas Nuttall surveyed the region during their journey to Oregon. Later expeditions included Prince Maximillian of Wied and artist George Catlin (1832-34) and naturalist John J. Audubon (1843) among many others.
1812 - An agricultural colony was established near Pembina by settlers from Canada under the authority of a royal grant to Lord Selkirk. The ill-fated attempt failed after internal feuding, boundary changes, and grasshoppers destroyed the crops in 1820. Part of what is now North Dakota became part of the Missouri Territory.
1818 - All of North Dakota became part of the Missouri Territory. Fathers Dumoulin and Provencher established a Roman Catholic mission at Pembina; the first school, taught by William Edge, operated in connection with this mission. The 49th parallel was agreed to as the boundary between the US and Great Britain in a treaty whereby the United States acquired possession of the upper Red River drainage.
1822 - Fur Trading posts were established in the Missouri Valley.
1823 - An expedition led by Stephen H. Long fixed the boundary between the United States and Canada at a point north of Pembina. A second military expedition, led by Henry Leavenworth, attempted to make treaties with the Arikara and other tribes. Later expeditions included Atkinson-O'Fallon (1825), Fremont-Nicollet (1839), and the Stevens Survey (1853).
1829 - Fort Union fur trading post was established.
1831 - Fort Clark fur trading post was established.
1832 - The Yellowstone, the first steamboat on the upper Missouri, reached Fort Union.
1834 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Territory of Michigan.
1836 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Territory of Wisconsin.
1837 - A smallpox epidemic virtually annihilated the Mandan Indians near Fort Clark.
1838 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Territory of Iowa.
1839 - John C. Fremont and Jean Nicollet explored the east-central part of the state.
1842 - The first Red River ox-cart caravan traversed trails between St. Joseph (Walhalla) and St. Paul, inaugurating a major commerce that continued for over 25 years. Major fur posts in this area were operated by Joseph Rolette (1842), Norman Kittson (1843), and Antoine Gingras (1843).
1845 - Fort Berthold fur trading post was established.
1848 - Father George Anthony Belcourt opened mission fields at Pembina, St. Joseph, and in the Turtle Mountains. Reverend Alonzo Barnard and James Tanner conducted the first Protestant services in the area at Pembina.
1849 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Minnesota Territory.
1851 - The first post office was established in what is now North Dakota at Pembina with Norman Kittson as Postmaster. A permanent agricultural settlement was established at Pembina under the leadership of Charles Cavileer. First flour mill was established at St. Joseph by Father Belcourt.
1853 - Issac I. Stevens crossed the state surveying the "Northern Route" for the proposed transcontinental railroad. See The Way West Project
1854 - Land east of the Missouri River became part of the Nebraska Territory.
1858 - Land east of the Missouri River was left without territorial government when Minnesota became a state. Military occupation of North Dakota began with the establishment of Fort Abercrombie on the Red River and the present-day town of Abercrombie; the fort was abandoned in 1877.
1859 - The Anson Northrup, first steamboat on the Red River, traveled from Fort Abercrombie to Winnipeg.
1860 - Regular steamboat service on the Missouri River began.
1861 - Dakota Territory was officially organized by the Federal government and William Jayne was appointed the first governor by President Abraham Lincoln. See the US Governors Project
1862 - The First Territorial Legislature for Dakota Territory met at Yankton. Fort Abercrombie was besieged by Sioux during the Minnesota Uprising. See the Native Americans Project
1863 - Dakota Territory was opened for homesteading. See the Homesteaders Project Campaigns intended to punish Santee Sioux who participated in the Minnesota Uprising pushed through northern Dakota and were led by General Henry H. Sibley and General Alfred H. Sully. On September 3, Sully's forces attacked a peaceful hunting camp of Yanktonai Sioux at Whitestone Hill; this was the last major battle of the Indian Wars period to be fought east of the Missouri.
1864 - The first newspaper to be published in northern Dakota, The Frontier Scout, was issued at Fort Union. An immigrant party led by James Fiske was besieged near present-day Marmarth for two weeks; members of the party constructed sod breastworks now known as Fort Dilts. A second military expedition led by Sully battled Sioux at Killdeer Mountain and in the Badlands. Military troops began temporary occupation of Fort Union (1864-65) and Fort Berthold (1864-67) pending establishment of new forts. The military post of Fort Rice (1864-78) was established.
1866 - The military post of Fort Buford (1866-95) was established.
1867 - The Fort Totten Indian Reservation was established and Sisseton and Wahpeton Sioux ceded lands to the US government by treaty. See the Native Americans Project The military posts of Fort Ransom (1867-72), Fort Totten (1867-90), and Fort Stevenson (1867-83) were established.
1868 - A major peace council was held at Fort Rice; this led to the Laramie Treaty which defined Sioux lands as those west of the Missouri River in Dakota Territory. See the Native Americans Project The first homestead entry in northern Dakota was made by Joseph Rolette in the northern Red River Valley. See the Homesteaders Project
1870 - The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation was established and treaties between the Sioux and Chippewa and the US government ceded most of present-day eastern North Dakota to the Federal government. See the Native Americans Project The military post of Fort Pembina (1870-95) was established.
1872 - The Northern Pacific Railway was built from the Red River to Jamestown; the NPRR reached Bismarck in 1873, but did not complete its main line to the Montana border until 1881. See The Way West Project The first commercial telegraph line was extended from Fargo to Winnipeg and the military posts of Fort Abraham Lincoln (1872-91), Camp Hancock (1872-77), and Fort Seward (1872-77) were established.
1873 - On July 11, Colonel Clement A. Lounsberry published the first issue of the Bismarck Tribune, now North Dakota's oldest newspaper. The first commercial lignite mine opened at Sims, but failed.
1874 - A US Weather Bureau station was established at Camp Hancock at Bismarck. The Fargo Express, first newspaper in the Red River Valley, began publication. A major reconnaissance from Fort Abraham Lincoln, led by Col. George A. Custer, explored the Black Hills and verified the existence of gold in that region. The military post of Fort Yates (1874-1903) was established.
1875 - Bonanza farms were established in the Red River Valley. White settlement was permitted by the US War Department on Indian lands reserved by the Laramie treaty, precipitating a major Indian uprising on the plains. See the Native Americans Project
1876 - The Seventh Cavalry, led by Col. George A. Custer, joined the Sioux Expedition of 1876. Leaving Fort Abraham Lincoln on May 17, Custer met decisive defeat at the Little Big Horn River in Montana on June 25.
1877 - The first Bismarck to Deadwood stage left Bismarck. See The Way West Project First telephones in northern Dakota connected locations on the Grandin bonanza farm near Grandin.
1878 - Ranching was introduced in western Dakota Territory.
1879 - The Great Dakota land boom began. Military post at Cantonment Badlands (1879-83) was established. The St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Manitoba Railway (later the Great Northern Railway) entered northern Dakota near Grand Forks; The GNRR, led by James J. Hill, completed its main line to the Montana border in 1887. See The Way West Project
1880 - Military reserves in the eastern and central portion of northern Dakota were opened to homesteading. See the Homesteaders Project
1882 - The last great Indian buffalo hunt took place. Turtle Mountain Reservation was established. Fire destroyed a large portion of Grand Forks.
1883 - The territorial capital was moved from Yankton to Bismarck. First capitol was constructed. A university (UND) at Grand Forks and a Presbyterian College (now Jamestown College) were established. The Marquis de Mores began a packing plant and other businesses and planned the town of Medora; these enterprises failed in :1886 - Theodore Roosevelt first visited Medora; he later established two ranches in that vicinity that he utilized periodically until 1888.
1884 - Half the city of Devils Lake was destroyed by fire.
1885 - The first meeting of the Territorial Legislature was held at Bismarck. Marquis de Mores was acquitted of murder in a trial at Bismarck. The Hospital for the Insane (now North Dakota State Hospital) was opened at Jamestown. Territorial prison (now the State Penitentiary) opened at Bismarck. Territorial census was taken.
1886 - Severe winter in the western part of Dakota Territory put an end to open range ranching. Bank of Hamilton (oldest state bank in North Dakota) was opened. The Soo Line Railway began construction in northern Dakota at Fairmont; the Soo completed its lines to Portal in 1893. See The Way West Project
1887 - The Standing Rock Indian Reservation was opened to homesteading. Board of Pharmacy, North Dakota's first examining board, was founded. The North Dakota Medical Association was founded at Larimore.
1889 - North Dakota was admitted to the Union as the 39th state on November 2, and a State Constitution was adopted in October. North Dakota's first Governor, John Miller of Dwight, took office. See the US Governors Project State Legislature convened at Bismarck on November 19. Constitutional prohibition of alcoholic beverages was instigated, North Dakota Farmers Alliance was formed. The Catholic diocese of Jamestown was established (the offices were moved to Fargo in 1891).
1890 - State Normal Schools at Valley City and Mayville (now State Universities), the State Agricultural College (now North Dakota State University) at Fargo, and the School for the Deaf at Devils Lake were opened. A State Agricultural Experiment Station was opened at Fargo. Panic among White settlers, stemming from Ghost Dance activities among the Sioux, rushed through western North Dakota. During his arrest by Indian Policemen, Hunkpapa Sioux leader, Sitting Bull, was killed on Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
1892 - Early Republican Party domination of state politics was overthrown by the fusion of Democrats and Populists; Eli C.D. Shortridge was elected Governor. See the US Governors Project Laura J. Eisenhuth, the first woman to hold state office, was elected Superintendent of Public Instruction.
1893 - The Industrial School at Ellendale (later known as the State Normal and Industrial School) was opened; this institution existed until 1971 when its Constitutional status was removed by referendum. The North Dakota Soldiers' Home was opened at Lisbon. Fire destroyed almost the entire business section of Fargo.
1894 - Fire destroyed four city blocks in LaMoure.
1895 - The State Historical Society of North Dakota was incorporated with Colonel Clement A. Lounsberry as president.
1897 - The first free public library opened at Grafton.
1898 - North Dakota sent troops to assist in the Spanish-American War. See the Spanish American War Project. Fire almost destroyed the entire Bismarck business section.
1900 - Frank White of Valley City was elected Governor; when reelected in 1902, he became the state's first Governor to serve more than one term. See the US Governors Project
1903 - Ft. Lincoln, located south of Bismarck, was completed and garrisoned; this military base became the training center for the State Militia and was later used as a detention camp for prisoners of war during World War II. See the World War II Project The State Industrial School opened at Mandan.
1904 - The State School of Science at Wahpeton and the School for Retarded (now Grafton State School) at Grafton were opened. A state-owned street car line began operation in Bismarck; commercial lines were operating in Fargo and Grand Forks.
1905 was the single largest construction year for railroads in North Dakota (529.3 miles). See The Way West Project
1906 - Charles Service of Park River became North Dakota's first automobile fatality.
1907 - The first gas well in North Dakota was discovered south of Westhope. The State School of Forestry (now North Dakota State University, Bottineau Branch) opened at Bottineau. American Society of Equity established a North Dakota union.
1908 - The battleship "USS. North Dakota", the first turbine-powered ship in the US Navy, was launched; it was later scrapped in 1931.
1910 - The first airplane flight in North Dakota occurred at an exhibition in Grand Forks; the passenger was Frank V. Kent. Democrat John Burke became North Dakota's first three-term Governor. See the US Governors Project
1911 - The North Dakota state flag was designated. First state motor vehicle licenses were issued.
1913 - The Legislature passed a law making bootlegging a crime punishable by penitentiary imprisonment. See the Bootleggers and Moonshiners Project John Burke, former North Dakota Governor, became Treasurer of the United States; his service extended until 1921. The State Normal School (now Minot State University) opened at Minot.
1916 - Completion of the Wildrose-Grenora branch line by the Great Northern Railway (36.3 mi.) ended the last major railway construction in the state. See The Way West Project
1917 - North Dakota units were ordered into Federal military service during World War I. See The Great War 1914-1918 Project and North Dakota in the Great War A women's suffrage bill was signed into law, ratified in 1919, and women were allowed to vote in the first general election in 1920. See the American Suffragettes Attorney General William Langer and law enforcement officers conducted the state's biggest raid; 44 were arrested in Minot on charges of gambling, prostitution, etc. See the Black Sheep Project
1918 - An Influenza epidemic swept the state killing 2,700 North Dakotans. See the 1918 Flu Pandemic
1919 - North Dakota's first airplane fatality occurred when Brian Kerr was killed in a crash near Sutton. See Airplane Disasters
1920 - Hazel Miner became a posthumous national hero when it was revealed that this fifteen-year old gave up her own life in a blizzard to save her younger siblings.
1922 - The first motor vehicle bridge across the Missouri River was completed at Bismarck. North Dakota's first radio station, WDAY at Fargo, began broadcasting.
1923 - The profile of Sioux leader Marcellus Red Tomahawk was designated as the state hiway symbol.
1928 - Carl Ben Eielson of Hatton became the first person to fly nonstop over the arctic.
1929 - June was one of the driest on record in North Dakota, followed by continuing drought conditions throughout the 1930s; this period is often referred to as the "Dirty Thirties." This also marks the beginning of the Great Depression which continued until the beginning of World War II. See Dust Bowl Disasters
1932 - Prohibition agents hit a still at Jamestown making it the biggest raid west of Chicago; the still was capable of producing 1,000 gallons of moonshine a day. See the Bootleggers and Moonshiners Project
1936 - North Dakota recorded its lowest and highest official temperature readings (60 degrees below zero at Parshall and 120 degrees above at Steele). Drought devastated North Dakota's crops. See Dust Bowl Disasters
1938 - The first hard-surfaced hiway across North Dakota (US 10) was completed.
1941: Units of the North Dakota National Guard were ordered into Federal military service during World War II; 164th Infantry became the first American unit to fight in the Pacific during the battle of Guadalcanal in 1942. See the World War II Project 90 persons, 39 in North Dakota, were killed by a Red River Valley blizzard. See Blizzards part of the Worldwide Disasters Project
1943 - North Dakota led the Nation in per capita war bond sales.
1945 - Senator John Moses died in office; Governor Fred Aandahl selected Milton R. Young as replacement. Young served continuously until 1981 becoming the nation's longest serving GOP senator.
1946 - Construction of Garrison Dam began.
1947 - A bill authorizing the creation of Theodore Roosevelt National Memorial Park was passed by Congress and signed by President Harry S. Truman; the park was dedicated June 4, 1949.
1950 - The Dickey Rural Telephone Mutual Aid Corporation became the state's first modern rural telephone cooperative. 231st Engineering Battalion of the North Dakota National Guard was ordered into Federal service for the Korean Emergency. See the Korean War Project
1952 - The William J. Neil Electrical Generation plant near Velva began service; at the time of its completion, it was the largest coal-fired power plant in the United States. The nation's first jewel bearing factory opened at Rolla.
1953 - The Garrison Dam closure ceremonies featured President Dwight D. Eisenhower. First North Dakota television stations began broadcasting. Construction began on a pipeline from Tioga to Mandan. Bismarck Businessman Harold Schafer won the Horatio Alger Award. The bones of Sitting Bull were allegedly stolen from a grave at Fort Yates and reburied near Mobridge, South Dakota.
1954 - Mandan's oil refinery was dedicated and the first gasoline extracted from petroleum in a North Dakota refinery occurred at Dickinson. President Eisenhower signed a law authorizing the establishment of Grand Forks and Minot Air Force bases.
1956 - Construction began at the Grand Forks Air Force base; the base was completed in 1960.
1957 - Construction began at the Minot Air Force base; this base was operational in December, 1959.
1958 - Quentin N. Burdick, Democrat, became the first member of that party to be elected to congress from North Dakota. First potato flake plant in the state was established in Grand Forks.
1960 - Seven years after the Garrison Dam closure ceremonies the reservoir was completed and Lake Sakakawea was formed. Highway 29 became the first interstate highway to reach an international border. First airplanes arrived at Grand Forks Air Force base.
1961 - Roger Maris from Fargo broke Babe Ruth's single season home run record.
1963 - The Leland Olds Generating plant, North Dakota's first major lignite-fired power facility, began construction near Stanton. Uranium recovery from ore-rich lignite beds in southwestern North Dakota began. UND hockey team won a national intercollegiate championship.
1965 - The first sugar beet refinery in North Dakota was established near Drayton
1966 - The worst blizzard in state history struck most of North Dakota in March
1968 - The Garrison Diversion project was authorized by congress and ground-breaking was held for the Snake Creek pumping plant. North Dakota's worst traffic accident occurred near Jamestown when 8 teenagers were killed. First recorded earthquake occurred in North Dakota with its epicenter near Ashley.
1969 - Minot was hit by the worst flood in history
1972 - The first rural water system in North Dakota, Grand Forks-Traill Water Users Association, began operation
1975 - The worst blizzard in half a century (60 to 70 m.p.h. winds, coupled with 20 below zero temperature and snow) resulted in the deaths of 12 state residents and countless cattle; the following floods cost North Dakota $1 billion in damages.

List of Things to Do

  1. Add profile page for René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle and link to this page
  2. Add profile page for Pierre Gaultier de La VĂ©rendrye and link to this page
  3. Add profile page for David Thompson and link to this page
  4. Add profile page for Alexander Henry, the younger and link to this page
  5. Add profile page for Manuel Lisa and link to this page
  6. Add profile page for John Bradbury and link to this page
  7. Add profile page for Thomas Nuttall and link to this page
  8. Add profile page for George Catlin and link to this page
  9. Add profile for Henry Leavenworth and link to this page
  10. Add profile for Joseph Rolette and link to this page
  11. Add profile page for Antoine Gingras and link to this page
  12. Add profile for Alonzo Barnard and link to this page
  13. Add profile page for the Marquis de Mores and link to this page
  14. Add profile for Laura J. Eisenhuth and link to this page

Ongoing List of Things to Do

  1. Cemeteries in North Dakota need to be photographed and the categories added to profiles on WikiTree. See the North Dakota Cemeteries Project
  2. Add profiles for those who obtained land grants and homesteaded in North Dakota. See the Homesteaders Project
  3. Help develop the Native Americans Project with information about North Dakota state tribes.
  4. Work on North Dakota's unconnected and unsourced profiles.
  5. Create new profiles for people of North Dakota who are documented in a family member's profile, but might not have their own profiles yet. See Needs Profiles Created
  6. Work on Suggestions for profiles from North Dakota, as reported by the Data Doctors Project.
  7. Add profiles for the men who died in World War I, serving from North Dakota in the Great War project and for the Roll of Honor project.

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Excellent page!! Love the sunflowers!! There is so much history here!! Great job!!
posted by Paula J