Cooperstown 1882

By 1882 many people had come to Griggs County. Since there was no more land to get along the Sheyenne River settlers were building homes in the prairies. The influx of homesteaders, workers, etc. served to emphasize the need for a town close by. Early settlers were forced to go to Mayville, Grand Forks or Valley City for their supplies. Griggs County, too, needed a courthouse where land filings could be made. True, Hope was the county seat at the time but is was 25 miles away with a river to ford in getting there. During part of the season this was no problem but during the spring or wet weather it was hazardous crossing the Sheyenne.

To promote the building of a town the Cooperstown Townsite Company was formed in 1882. This company immediately platted the town, which was named Cooperstown, and filed its plat on October 26th of that year, only 12 days before the November 7th election which was to determine the location of the county seat.  While the selection and its aftermath is a story in itself, suffice to say Cooperstown won the election and became the County seat.

This accomplished, the town began to boom.  Where only a granary had existed before on the Cooperstown site, soon buildings began to mushroom almost overnight and the building of an early day town was on in earnest. Boom advertising soon reached the east and stories of unexcelled prosperity brought new settlers and business and professional people in by the dozens.

As soon as a building was constructed to feed and house the carpenters, work was started on the Palace Hotel. Standing on the corner of Main or Burrell street, the Palace was rated an elegant hotel for those pioneer days. The year 1883 saw, in addition to the Palace, completion of buildings housing a store, the school, a lumber yard, the printing office and other businesses as well as many dwellings. The carpenters worked all winter in 1882-1883.

According to the original plat, Cooperstown was laid out with its streets running north and south and numbered beginning from the west side. The avenues were east and west and were given names. These included the names of members who composed the Townsite Company. Rollin Avenue (Highway No. 7) was named for R. C. Cooper; Lenham Avenue for Mr. Lenham who had an elevator and lumber yard which was operated by his nephew, Maynard Crane; Burrell Avenue for Mr. Burrell who had banking interests; Roberts Avenue for Mr. Roberts for whom one of the streets in Fargo is so named; The Boulevard - a fine residence avenue; Foster Avenue for Foster who surveyed the town lots; Hobart and Louis Avenues whose authorship is not known; Odegard Avenue for Mr. Odegard, a merchant and Howard Avenue for Howard Oviatt, a big landowner in Griggs.

It was first planned to put the depot on Lenham Avenue, where Mr. Lenham wanted his elevator. The first business places were put on Lenham Avenue, where Mr. Lenham wanted his elevator. The first business places were put on Lenham Avenue, with the idea it would be the most important part of town, and cost of lots were high there. But Mr. Roberts planned to build a mill on the avenue named for him, and wanted the depot there. He was bossing the job of building the railroad, so the depot was put where he wanted it. Then it was that some business men began to build their buildings on Roberts Avenue. But lots were less expensive on Burrell avenue and in the end it became the "Main Street" of Cooperstown, and most of the business places on Lenham and Roberts Avenues were moved to Burrell Avenue. Until the Railroad got to Cooperstown in August 1883, Cooperstown€™s  "mule-freight" hauled most of the lumber and supplies for the business places from Sanborn.

The first family to come to Cooperstown was that of Knud Thompson in January 1883.  Mrs. Thompson was the first woman, and Theodore and Adolph Thompson were the first children - both under six years of age. Their sister, Grace, was the first girl born in Cooperstown and Otto Marquardt was the first boy born in Cooperstown - both in 1883. Grace and Oscar Thomson were born in the living quarters in the back part of the first store in town. It was then called the Thompson and Odegard Store. This building still stands, facing east as part of the Lende building just south of the Syverson Block. Mrs. Thompson and Mrs. John Syverson were twin sisters and Mr. Odegard was their brother. Mr. Syverson bought out Thompson and Odegard. He built the Syverson Block in 1892-1893 and was in business until 1929.

The Palace Hotel stood on the site of the Main Motors. It was taken down in 1922 when the Palace Motors was built there.

The first paper was the "Courier" of January 26, 1883, printed less than three months after the plat of Cooperstown was filed. The building housing the paper has been remodeled into the Anton Oien house. The first editor was a young man by name of Ed. Stair, a graduate of University of Michigan.

The first schoolhouse was started in January 1883, and was located where the High School is now. It was 40 x 40 feet square, two stories high with a 4 x 4 bell tower on top that was 18 feet high. could be seen for miles. It burned in 1904. There were no children of school age in town at the time but by June the building was finished and enough children of school had come to town to start a school. The first teacher was Z. A. Clough. He too was a graduate of the University of Michigan.

The Townsite Company had planned to have the Court House built on the hill where the Water Tower stands. That block had not been surveyed into lots, and it was marked "Public Square" on some early maps, and "Court House" on others. But there was some disagreement among the County Commissioners when the Court House was to be built. The Cooper Brothers then platted the "Cooper Addition" south of the first plat, and then offered the County commissioners any block of it they chose - free - plus one thousand dollars in cash after the building was completed, if they would build the Court House there. They accepted. This building cost less than $30,000 and has been in use ever since. Many county officers had built homes near the 'Public Square". Now they found they had a half mile to walk to go to work every day when the Court House finally was built. Their resentment is reflected in the Couriers of the early 80's, when they dubbed it "Vinegar Hill" a name which still persists.

Early day business and professional men

Standing - Dr. Theo. F. Kerr, Doctor and County superintendent, Iver Jacobson, Lawyer, John N. Jorgenson, M. L. Michaels, Sheriff,

Seated - Peter E. Nelson, hardware merchant, Dr. George Newell, surgeon and first druggist, Rollef Berg and Iver Udgaard, county officers.

Cooperstown post office was established December 28, 1882 with George W. Barnard as the first postmaster.

Cooperstown was incorporated as a village on August 23, 1892 with population within the townsite of 437; and as a city on November b, 1906 with population of 675.

Source:  Cooperstown Diamond Jubilee 1882-1957 Page 9

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