Griggs Trails and Travelers

In 1865, General Sully marched from Fort Rice to the south side of Devils Lake looking for Indians, passing through Griggs County.  He did not find any and returned to the Missouri at Fort Berthold.  A military party consisting of the 3rd Illinois Cavalry under Col. Carnahan came up from Fort Snelling to meet Sully but did not arrive in time to make a junction.  On August 11 George T. Johnson was drowned in a lake about a mile south of Shepard and buried in the vicinity.  A government headstone has been placed near the lake.  It is interesting to note that most early maps called this shallow lake "Johnson,” evidently from the soldier buried on its banks.

The Carnahan expedition had been following the Sibley trail of 1863 and passed on to Devils Lake where they named Sully's hill while trying to effect a junction with him.  They returned to Minnesota that fall by the east side of the Sheyenne and Red rivers.

In 1867, General Alfred Terry, commander of the military district of the northwest, at St. Paul, made a trip to Montana, establishing new forts.  He located Fort Ransom in Ransom County, Fort Totten on Devils Lake and Fort Stevenson on the Missouri.  He passed through Griggs County on the trip, following the Sibley trail as far as Lake Jessie area.  His trail later became the mail road from Fort Totten to Fort Ransom and Abercrombie.  A primitive log shelter was located on the east bank of Lake Jessie but it has long since disappeared though its location is believed to be the Watne dugout by the railroad tracks south of the Orville Tweed home which the historical society asked the Burlington Northern Railroad to preserve.  Another mail carriers' shelter had been erected on the east side of the Red Willow Lake, maintained by Ed Lohnes of Fort Totten.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial page 8

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