Manfred in 1893
P. B. Anderson, one of our first settlers, said he did most of his pioneering in the southeast corner of Eddy County. He filed on land there in 1885 and lived there six or seven years, but struggled to make ends meet. It was 30 miles to nearest market. If they were lucky enough to raise a crop, the expenses of threshing and marketing took nearly all the profit.. The settlements of half a dozen families were all equally poor.
With the coming of the Soo Line Railroad through North Dakota, opening of new lands in the northwestern part of the state land for settlers close to railroad became available.
In the spring of 1892, T.K. Rogne, Nels Hovey and P. B. Anderson struck out looking for a better place to make a new start in life. Having been hampered with long distances to market they agreed not to go more than three miles from the railroad survey. They commenced to prospect where the survey crossed the James River near Kensal. They took notes of different quarter sections as they went along. After they got out in the center of Wells County the settlers were very few and far apart.
There was not a house where Fessenden now stands. Bob Roberts was putting up a building near the fairgrounds. A mile or two to the northwest, Al Bean had a claim shanty and that is where we spent our first night in Wells County. They continued on their land hunting trip to the western border of the county.
The last settler was on the eastern bank of the Sheyenne River. West of the river, a fire had just swept the prairie so the land was black as far as we could see. The land looked like a desert. They went as far as five miles from where Harvey is now located, but had to turn back as there was no feed for their horses.
The next night they were quartered in William Montgomery's granary. Montgomery and Shaw had settled there three or four years before and a post office was established there called Whitby. Mail brought from Sykeston once a week. At this time it was known that a railroad station would be built at Fessenden and we figured another would be put up where the Railroad crossed the Sheyenne River as there were 16 miles between those two points. There necessarily would be another half way between.
A Decision Was Made
After looking over their field notes of the descriptions taken down Rogne and P.B. agreed to file on Section 20 and 29, taking some of each section. This location was just half way between Fessenden and Harvey so we figured we would not miss getting close to a town. Going back we stopped at Sykeston and made an application for filing with Webster Sanford, Clerk of Court at that time. P B. was the first Norwegian settler in Manfred Township.
Building a Shanty
In July that same year Rogne, L.O. Burkum and P.B, Anderson came back and brought a load of lumber and put up a shanty 12 ft. by 16 ft. They also put up about 25 tons of hay. The mosquitoes were quite bad at night. After completing our haying we back to Eddy County again.
Late in the fall P.B, came back out to Wells County again. This time he had C.O. Roble with him. P.B. filed on Section 20; a part of this land is where the village of Manfred is now located. By this time the railroad graders were at work and the grade was nearly finished.
The next spring he loaded his worldly possessions in a wagon drawn by three oxen and two cows led behind and started out for what he expected to be the promised land. The first day he was overtaken by a snowstorm so had to stay with a farmer about 10 miles east of New Rockford.
The next day he managed to get into New Rockford. Bright and early next morning he left Rockford. Every low place was filled with water so he had quite a time in coming through. He crossed the James River at John Gosses place on a bridge. Coming three or four miles west he met a farmer who informed him that it would be impossible to cross the river at the next crossing as there was no bridge. He stopped that night out on the prairies. The next morning he went back and re-crossed the bridge at Fosses and followed the south side of the river. This was Sunday and a very beautiful day with bright sunshine.
April 21, 1893
About three miles east of the claim P.B. was overtaken by his brother-in-law, P.B’s wife, and his three husky boys ranging in age from three to six years. They drove a horse and buggy. Coming out to the claim they found the shanty they expected to stop in was plumb full of snow. They had a small tent, so were not so bad off after all. The next day they cleared the snow out, moved the shack on a dry spot and before night they were domiciled in their new
home. This was April 21, 1893.
In Manfred Township there were already four settlers--Charles Bartz, Frank Kolosky, Jesse Fincher, and William Goedecke. These families had been here for about three and one-half years or so before Anderson’s appearance. Two or three weeks after their arrival, T.K. Rogne and family came out and built their shanty about 30 rods from Andersons. From then on things commenced to move very fast.
In the last part of May, the rails were laid and trains began to run. New settlers came in thick and fast and all land subject to homestead was gobbled up in short order.
The town site of Manfred was laid out on Section 28, water tank put up, section house built, and the O & M. Elevator built with R.C. Jacobson, as agent. Rogne and Burkum erected and started a general store; a lumber yard opened up, a blacksmith shop--everything was humming. The old settlement here was called the James River.
The settlement here was called the James River Crossing. There was a road or trail crossing the James River just below the present Manfred Dam. The settlers had already organized a school district and named it St. Anna and built a school house in St. Anna Township. Both Rogne and P.B. had children of school age. They had to be looking for better school facilities as for us the road to the old school would be in the neighborhood of four miles.
Manfred School District
The school district was composed of two townships. After some wrangling, an agreement was made to divide and for us to organize a new school district naming it Manfred. The old St. Anna School House was moved up to a location one quarter mile west of Manfred on the south side of the railroad and St. Anna built a new school house about one and one-half miles further south. The first teacher was Miss Sadie Hutchinson and the next was T.H. O'Neal.
The nearest post office was Whitby, about seven miles distant. In 1884, the Manfred Post Office was established with T.K. Rogne Postmaster and another store was started by Benson and Willborg.
Two more grain elevators were built and put in operation. In 1905, the Manfred Farmers Elevator Co. was organized with T.O. Roble as president and P.B. Anderson, secretary and manager. Before the building of the Sykeston-Turtle Lake branch of the Northern Pacific and the Surrey cutoff by the Great Northern Manfred was a lively trading center. More than 600,000 bushels of grain was marketed yearly through the four grain elevators only. Through the Farmers Elevator, of which he had records, in good crop years were marketed 225,000 bushels a year.
The Norwegians organized and built a church in 1905. Manfred has out lived two school houses and is already casting about for another. Manfred at its height of prosperity boasted of three or four general stores, two hardware stores, two blacksmith shops, two lumber yards, two barber shops, two pool rooms, bank, drugstore, livery barn, feed mill, doctor, and butcher shop. Taken all in all, a real lively place.
The advent of automobiles and good roads brought ruin to the small towns. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry had to have an automobile and for to have somewhere to go, had to go to a bigger town. Everybody had to have an automobile regardless of whether they could afford it or not. This likely is one of the main causes that so many are now clamoring hardship.