Hannaford, North Dakota

As we celebrate the Centennial of our State, North Dakota, we will celebrate a hundred plus years since the first settlers came to Hannaford area, not yet a town, to begin life on the prairies of our state.  Dakota Territory was a very large area, as a part of the Louisiana Purchase; but as other states and territories were formed, it became the area of North and South Dakota.  The boundary of Minnesota was the Red River.  When Wyoming territory was formed, it fixed the boundary on the west of our states.

Yankton was the capitol of the territory.  The two largest settlements were the area around Pembina and the large area around Yankton, It was a long distance from Pembina to the capitol at Yankton.  The only way to travel was on foot or by horseback or they could travel by steamboat.  They decided the capitol should be more centrally located.  The voting at that time wasn't always fair.  There were stuffed ballot boxes very often as a means of winning.

The governors of the territory were appointed by the President.  When Dakota Territory was created on March 2, 1861, President Buchanan signed the bill two days before his term ended.  Two days after Dakota Territory was organized, Abraham Lincoln became President of the United States.  He appointed his friend and family physician, Dr.  William Jayne, Governor of the territory.  The first General Election was held in October 1861.  At this time, the people chose the members of the legislature and a delegate to Congress.  The first legislature convened on March 17, 1862.

A change in the site of the capitol became a big issue.  Yankton wanted to keep it.  Fargo and Jamestown also wanted it.  Bismarck, in the northern part, and other cities in the southern part of the territory wanted to be chosen.  Finally a bill was passed providing that the Governor appoint a commission of nine members to choose a capitol city.  They were not to choose any city that could not offer $100,000 in cash and 160 acres of land on which the capitol was to be built.  The acres not needed of this land for capitol grounds was to be sold and the money put in a building fund.

The commission visited and was royally entertained at each prospective city.  Bismarck put on the best show of entertainment for the commission and also made the best bid.  Its offer was $100,000 and 320 acres of land.  This offer was accepted and Bismarck became the capitol of the territory.

The cornerstone for the new capitol was laid on September  5, 1883.  Many distinguished people from the East were in attendance at this ceremony.  Among them were Gen.  Grant, ex-president of the United States; Henry Villard, President of the Northern Pacific Railroad, who laid the cornerstone; the Secretary of Interior; the British Minister; and the members of several other legations from European countries.

The reason why there were so many prominent people at the ceremony was that the transcontinental railroad was just being completed and the Northern Pacific was taking several special trains of prominent people and high officials on an excursion to witness the ceremonies in connection with the driving of the last gold spike in the track.  These people stopped over to see the laying of the cornerstone of the new capitol.  Gen.  Grant wrote his name on a card and dropped it into the cornerstone.  Sitting Bull, representing the Sioux Nation, was also in attendance.

The name Dakota had been chosen from the Sioux “Dacotah”, meaning allies.

Soon after Dakota Territory was reduced to the present size of North and South Dakota, the territorial legislature began to ask Congress that the territory be divided and that each part be admitted to the Union as a state.  This request was repeated many times and there was a big question how it should be divided.  Some thought that the Missouri River should be the dividing line, but that would leave one state and one territory, since in the western part of the territory, there were so few white people west of the Missouri River.

The Pembina settlement and the Yankton settlement were so widely separated that that would not remedy things either.  At last they settled on the seventh standard parallel instead of the 46th parallel as that cut across quarter sections, putting part of the land in either proposed states.

The southern half of the territory, being older and more thickly settled, had the better claim to the name Dakota.  Several names were discussed for the northern half, such as Pembina, Lincoln and Algonquin, but North Dakota seemed to be the most acceptable name.  The people in the southern half of the territory were anxious to form a state so as to have a capitol to replace the one moved from Yankton to Bismarck.

In January 1889, the issue was brought to Congress.  After much discussion, a bill called the Enabling Act passed both Houses and was signet by President Cleveland.  The bill provided for the making of four states: North and South Dakota Montana and Washington.  The Enabling Act pro vided that a convention of 75 delegates, to be elected in the spring, meet at Bismarck on July 4, 1889, to frame a constitution that would be submitted to the voters in October.

On July 4, 1889, 75 delegates, elected from 38 territorial counties, met at Bismarck to form a constitution.  The State was fortunate to have among these delegates some very outstanding men.  This being a new country, some of the men were young compared to legislative bodies today.  Four of them were in their twenties, 65 were less than 40 years of age.  None of them were born in Dakota Territory, but 52 were native born Americans.  They had come from Midwestern states such as Minnesota, Wisconsin and also from New York.  Twenty-three were foreign born, 10 were born in Canada, and 13 in Europe.

The convention was organized on the same lines as our House of .Representatives.  There were speeches and ideas presented for the new constitution, such as women's suffrage, prohibition, marriage and divorce regulations, observance of the Sabbath, and a unicameral legislature which is one legislative body.

The delegates worked long and hard, the days were hot and the farmers would have liked to have gone home and take care of the crops, but none consented to that, so they worked on the job and, finished it as soon as they could.  In the evening of August 19, 1889, the 45th day, the constitution was completed.

There was much to discuss in the making of the constitution - should it be a long or short constitution? They used other state constitutions as models.  They all had copies of South Dakota's proposed constitution before them; but when completed, they believed it was the best constitution in the land.  It was six times as long as the Federal Constitution, and it contained 217 sections grouped in 20 articles.

The locations of the State institutions was a very big issue.  Some felt that wherever they picked, it would bring prosperity to that area; but the Enabling Act provided gifts of land to each of these institutions, and they thought it should be done right away.  The most controversy was over prohibition.  After much discussion and so evenly divided on the issue, they decided to submit the Prohibition Clause to the voters, separate from the constitution.  If that was defeated, so would the constitution be defeated.  If it carried, it would be a part of the constitution.  At the election in October, the Prohibition Clause passed by a slim margin, 18,552 to 17,393, while the main constitution had a majority of 27,441 to 8,107.  President Harrison, on November 2, 1889, declared North Dakota a state, and at the same time John Miller became the first Governor of North Dakota.  It is interesting to note that President Harrison signed the bill making North Dakota a state before he signed the bill making South Dakota a state, so as to make North Dakota the 39th state in the Union.

Delegates by ancestry: American 22, English 15, Irish 1, Norwegian and Swedish 10, Scotch 6, Irish Scotch 3, Scotch American 2, Scotch Danish 1, English German 1, Dutch 1, German Irish 1, Irish Welsh 1.

The constitution was ratified October 1, 1889, by a popular vote of 27,441 to 8,107.  A. M. David Bartlett of Cooperstown was a member of the North Dakota Constituting Convention in 1889.

In 1864, Congress granted a charter to the People's Pacific, later to become the Northern Pacific Railway Co.  The charter was long and had very liberal land grants.  The railroad was to receive every other section of land for 40 miles on either side of the track.  This amounted to 22,000 acres for each mile of road.  This was the grant given to railroads in territories.  Minnesota had already become a state, so the grant was only half the size and up to 50 miles.

No factor contributed more to the building of North Dakota and the Northwest, than the railroads.  They brought the settlers in, and the population grew enormously.  They brought supplies to the settlers and provided markets for what they had to sell.

In 1886, when North Dakota farmers had their first crop failure and not even having enough seed to plant their next crop, the railroads furnished them with seed.  They also reduced the freight on what the farmers had to sell or had to buy.  It was to their best interests to get as many people as they could to live here and also to help them here.  This was true especially for the big farming operations that were created in areas of eastern North Dakota.  Those were people who came here with money enough to enable them to work such big operations; but not so for most of the farmers who came to our area.  They came from perhaps Minnesota or Wisconsin, but originally from a foreign country, willing to work hard to obtain a piece of land for themselves.

Beginning in 1863, and continuing as long as there was any land left, anyone over 21 years of age could get 160 acres free.  All he had to do was live on it for five years.  If he wanted more land, he could get a tree claim of 160 acres.  To get a clear title to it, he had to plant 10 acres of trees and keep them living for at least eight years.  They had to prove title to the land by having two reliable witnesses prove that the trees were still living.  Thus, an individual over 21 years could acquire 320 acres, free, of choice land in North Dakota.

A third tract of 160 acres could be obtained under the Pre-emption Laws which permitted a settler to locate on land, if he filed papers which stated that he intended to buy it and pay for it in a period of 18 months.  The cost of the land bought in this way was $2.50 an acre if railroad land and $1.25 if it was not.  Also a person could buy soldiers land strips on land that had been proved up on by others.

Honorably discharged soldiers were given a land scrip good for 160 acres of land.  They were usually willing to sell this scrip for little or nothing.

Some of our early settlers came about 1880, some perhaps earlier, but the majority came after the railroad was built north from Sanborn through Dazey and Hannaford and on to Cooperstown in 1883.  Before the railroad was built, they had to haul everything from Sanborn or perhaps Valley City.  Most of the hauling was by oxen and a cart until they became more established and got horses.  It was also the same when they had grain to sell.

It is hard to imagine the trials these pioneers had in establishing a home.  The first settlers perhaps settled by the rivers, where they could easily obtain water and wood for their stoves; but as the country became more settled, they had to take their homesteads on the prairies.  Then it was to dig wells and haul their supply of wood from near the rivers, where the trees grew.  Most of the settlers got their supply of groceries in the fall; but we hear that sometimes they walked to Valley City or perhaps Mayville and carried a sack of flour and other supplies home.  Some of the settlers worked on bonanza farms until they got more land broken up and could raise more wheat, which was the main crop and perhaps some oats for feed.

Source:  Hannaford Area History North Dakota Centennial 1889 - 1989 Page  8


The town of Hannaford was named after J. M. Hannaford, a railroad man.

The early years of Hannaford will be recorded the same as in 1976, when we celebrated the bicentennial.  They are facts of the history of the town and of the people as they settled here.

Source:  Hannaford Area History North Dakota Centennial 1889 - 1989 Page  10

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