Glen Dyson


Early Days in Griggs County

As related by Glen Dyson, Cooperstown

In 1883 the train came to Cooperstown. The settlers then started to haul their grain to Cooperstown. Two teams were used; the grain was put into sacks, 25 sacks in each wagon. When they reached the river bluffs, one team was unhitched and hitched to the other wagon to pull over the hill as the load was so heavy. When they reached Cooperstown, there were 35 to 40 teams waiting to be unloaded.

A Mr. Kindred, who lived in Minnesota, owned quite a lot of land around the locality. In 1883 anyone could buy Northern Pacific Railroad bonds for twenty five-cents on the dollar, trade these bonds for land and get par value for the bonds. In this way land could be bought for $1.25 an acre. Mr. Kindred had come in before the surveyors and had picked out some of the best land for speculation. Later he sold Section 1, Sverdrup Township to Mr. Piatt and Section 3 to Mr. Newell.

In the early days in Riverside, we attended many dances in the homes. We went with the intention of staying all night. Each family would bring a lunch and have breakfast before starting for home.

Some of Glen Dyson's Scotch neighbors were Andrew Park, Andrew Morgan, Angus Stewart, Lux Stone, George Slengsby, Charley Palfrey, three or four Saunders, and Atchisons. A Swede living north of his place was a Mr. Anderson. Mrs. Anderson was a great hand to read the Swedish dialect. The neighbors would often have her entertain them by reading off some Swedish dialect.

All the settlers went to the Sheyenne River to get their wood. Quite a few of them cut off of the government land. Mr. Kindred had a timer watchman so no one could steal the wood. The settlers got together on this and when the watchman went up the river, the men would get busy and haul the wood away. One man stood on guard to signal if the watchman appeared. When the settlers were asked where they got their wood they would say "On Section 44 or on Section 45", meaning they picked it up along the Sheyenne River.

The winter of 1893 the snow was so deep a tunnel was made across the street at Cooperstown. Levite Norgard's place on Section 22, Washburn Township, became snowed in that winter. In order to get outside, Mr. Norgard had to crawl through the upstairs window.

July 4, 1883 was celebrated near Peddler's Crossing.

December 9, 1954

Dear Mrs. Porterville,

Florence sent me your letter with your questions and I mislaid it and have been unable to find it but will try and answer as far as I remember. I have voted at about all the elections since 1883 and recall quite a few things that happened during that time. My first experience on the election board was when we voted for the county seat of Steel County. There were three places printed on the ballot and you made an "X" after the place you preferred. Hope had been appointed county seat until an election could be held.

Hope wanted to keep the county seat. Sherbrooke being in the geographical center wanted it and Picket being on a railway survey thought they should have it. I do not remember the date. The polling in our district was Mr. Aarches house on his claim west of Finley. I started out early in order to catch a ride and arrived just as the election board was sworn in. Mr. Oxton, Mr. Ross and Mr. Rieltar had been appointed judges and young Mr. Oxton and myself was appointed clerks, along towards noon the crowd began to gather and there was loud talk outside. Men from Hope, Pickett and Sherbrooke were handing out cigars and liquor and the crowd was getting more annoying. Every once in a while a bunch would come in. The room was small and the smoke would be getting thicker and the smell would be getting stronger. We finally got these votes counted and results told when a drunken agitator crowded in followed by a big crowd yelling that it isn't right we are going to take that box and want those ballots handed over and he crowded up to the table where the box stood. Jr. Ross held on and said "Men, there is a law in this country and anyone touching that box is going to get in trouble. At that some of the more sober men seized their leader and pulled him outdoors. There was a lot of loud talk out there and I was told they finally busted the leader into a wagon and hauled him home and put him to bed and he didn't wake up all the next day. That was the only time I was where liquor was used in excess although I was told of other places. Cigars were often passed out in early days. After Dakota became a state in 1889 there was quite a change. Although there were bootleggers and blind piggers, there was quite a change for the better. Another change for the better was when the women were allowed to vote.

There hasn't been much change in the ballot. They have always been printed by the county and sent out to the different precincts and spaces left so you could write in who you wished. Once a young lawyer came out to our precinct from Hope and stayed all day and worked for his candidate. On being asked why he was there, he said farmers didn't know enough to vote for a man that was capable of managing the business of the county. We didn't like it and I don't think his cigars got a single vote. The county seat question wasn't settled until after the railroad moved on to Aneta. A bill was passed by the legislature making it necessary to locate a county seat on a railroad line, where it is possible. A petition was circulated to move the county seat. Hope tried again but was too weak. Finley got it and Sherbrooke became a ghost city. I do not know if I have answered your questions or not. My memory is not as good as it used to be. Seems I remember things that happened a long time ago better than recent events. Many changes have been since we struck North Dakota 71 years ago. The younger don't realize what we have passed through. The changes, the readjustments still going on. If I've written anything I hadn't ought to, scratch it out or throw it away. If anything helps, use it.

We are now approaching the holiday season. I am sending out many cards. Nearly all my old friends have passed on and I don't belong to the modern class.

And now I wish to extend to you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And remember me to your brothers.

Yours truly, Glen Dyson


December 24, 1954

Dear Mrs. Porterville,

I think I can answer your question in part just as they were told to me by a man that worked for Cooper at the time and trove his team and hauled voters to the polls in his precincts. Griggs County was organized in '81 and '82 as far as I know and an election was held to locate a county seat and county commissioners. The townsite contained only a grainery at that time. Hope wanted the County seat and so did Cooper. The Northern Pacific Railroad was being built, the railroad from Sanborn to Cooperstown. There was supposed to be a law allowing railroaders to vote in a precinct where ever they happened to be on election day. It happened to be all the workers were working near Hannaford on that day and Cooper had all his men and wagons out picking up men wherever they happened to be. They were "all railroad workers, of course". Hope was mad, Cooper got the county seat and the books and records were kept in the grainery on the townsite and 3 men slept there to look after them. Awhile after, in the winter of '82 and '83 a gang was organized in Hope and one night came to a homesteaders place on the river and hired him to show them the way to the grainery where the books were kept. They broke in the door and seized the records and carried them to Hope. The leaders were arrested but a settlement was made by which Griggs County was to give two rows of Townships on the west side Traill and make Steele County. I think you will see how it happened. There were more votes cast in a precinct than there were residences in the county. Maybe this will help you straighten out a piece of history.

Respectrfully, Glen Dyson

I was well acquainted with the man that guided the raiding party and the man that told me he drove the team that hauled the railroaders from near Hannaford to Cooperstown and the 3 men that were sleeping in the granary at the time of the raid.

1158 Sherman Avenue
Madison Wisconsin
December 31, 1954

Well Myrtle, I don't know if I can help you much. If I could see you and talk to you I might be able to answer questions you would suggest. As for Trost, I knew him quite well having lived by the side of him for two years. His wife and 2 boys were very nice, but he was a big man and full of wind. He would tell you how and what to do, but didn't seem to do much himself. He cave from somewhere back in Michigan, couldn't stand the cold. It was better someplace else. The last I heard of him he was down in Arkansas. The man that told me about hauling the railroaders to the ranch to vote was Sam Langford. He came from the same place in Michigan as the Barnard's, hired out to Cooper at Sanborn when he was moving in and worked for Cooper for several years Sam squatted on a claim 2 miles south of town and sent for his father who came with his family on the same train with the Barnards. Mr. Barnard told me he bought first class tickets for himself and family. And Langford bought second-class tickets and they all rode in the same coach. Sam's father filed on the same section with him. Now for the Barnards. I don't know if I can straighten that out or not. I worked for the Barnards in the fall of '86 and winter of '86 and '87. They were high ups then and spread it on pretty thick. They entertained 2 or 3 times a week. The high ups would run out from town with horse and buggies. Mrs. Barnard would run out all smiles and say "come right in, my servants will put up your horse and many a night she ordered me to stay up until her guest was ready to go so as to hitch up their horses for them. And often it was 11 or 12 o'clock. They had a governess to teach the kids

A hired girl, they ate in the dining room girl waited on table and ate in the kitchen and set a table in the bunk house for the servants. I was hard up in those days and had to take it. It was easy to see that Mrs. wanted to get rid of his girls. She had got rid of the two oldest. Mary C. had filed on a claim on the Barnard section. She married Smart and they lived there. It was moved uptown has also the Washburn house. Lena P. married a kind of land agent and clerk and built a house (that Christ Bolkan since owned). Smart moved to Jamestown. I don't know what became of the other fellow. I can't think of his name. The youngest girl at that time was about 18 or 20 at that time. I wouldn't be sure though I've heard it pronounced many times, it must have been Minnie. I know it wasn't Mary or Lena. I never knew what she did. I know she was around there quite awhile after her folks moved away. I was told she went back to Michigan to live with some of her folks. I never heard of her teaching. If we knew the date the Barnards taught in Hope perhaps we could tell which one it was. Your letter says she was the first teacher. I always understood the girl at home when I worked there was the youngest. I may be mistaken. You might talk with Maynard Langford. He or one of his sisters might be able to enlighten you. They might have heard through some of his aunts or grandparents.

Wish you success.


Glen Dyson


View image file

News & Events