Almont North Dakota

1906     Centennial     2006

Comments made by Roger Becklund at the Programs

These are my comments at the July 4th and Labor Day Celebrations.  I deeply regret I was unable to get written summaries of the outstanding comments made by the other descendants of the early businessmen (Duane Hyde, Gordon Templeton, Howard Knutson and Burton Nelson).

On Thursday August 8 1907 a short note appeared in The Winthrop News, the local paper for Winthrop, Minn, and read as follows:
'N. E. Becklund left for Almond, N.Dak. last Saturday (August 3, 1907), where he will take up his duties as cashier for a new bank which will open for business in a few days.  Mr. Becklund is a conservative and painstaking young man and we join his many friends in wishing him unbounded success'.

He arrived in Almont on Monday or Tuesday the 5th or 6th of August to join G.H. (Andy) Anderson to open the Farmers State Bank.  He very quickly grew to love this small town on the prairie and the people in it and those farmers who made the town possible.  He had the deepest respect for the integrity and work ethic of the community and quickly realized this was to be his home for the rest of his life.  He then devoted the many years he remained here towards making this a better place to live.

About 1905 Bessie and Peter Williams homesteaded on land North and slightly west of New Salem.  Their third daughter, Beatrice had been born in Ashland, Wisconsin on June 21, 1897.   In 1915 Beatrice came to Almont to clerk and give music lessons in the Ellingson General Store.  Several of her siblings lived in Almont for many years.  Best known to those in the community were Clara and Ruth.  Beatrice and Nels were married on August 18, 1918. and lived in Almont until 1962 when poor health made them move to Minneapolis to be near several of their children.  Nels died on June 5, 1964 at the age of 80 and Beatrice on Nov. 19, 1997 at the age of 98.

They initially lived in the Bank Building on Main Street and in the early 1920’s moved to the Gronvold residence on the corner of Burt Avenue and Margaret Street.  They lived there the remainder of their time in Almont.

Beatrice clerked in several stores over the years and later was very involved in the Lutheran Church.  Probably her most significant contribution over the years was in music.  She worked tirelessly to develop choirs over many years.  She also gave piano lessons to the young people.  Grace Nelson, who in today's vocabulary would have been called Almont’s ‘lead singer’, worked closely with her in most of these endeavors.

Nels immediately became involved in the business community and remained totally committed to the success and progress of Almont over the years.  Over the years he was secretary and/or treasurer of almost every organization in town.

The bank was successful until 1931.  It closed on Nov. 12, 1931.  That same week two banks in New Salem and one in Mandan closed.  Two years later one bank reopened in New Salem and remains open today.  He was later involved in the Banner Oil Company, running a gas station in town and a bulk delivery service to local farmers.  He sold the oil and gas business to Morris Christianson about 1955.  He then retired by working on his farm which was the best retirement he ever wished for.  He loved the land and did his best to leave it better than when he found it.

Even though he arrived slightly over a year after Almont was founded he loved the town as if he had been there on day one.  He remained dedicated to its success until his death on June 5, 1964.  The only thing that could have made him happier was if one or more of his 5 children had decided to remain here as adults.  If he had his way we all would be living here today.  Four of us (Warren, Wayne, Thornton and myself) are here today and and Eileen lives in Minneapolis and sends her greetings.

It seems as if whenever we talk about Almont it is all too frequently about the people who left Almont and were successful in whatever they did in life elsewhere.  However most important in the history of Almont is the people who came to the community before there was a town and those who chose to stay here as adults and become ranchers, farmers, businessmen, teachers or retirees.    Without them there would be no Almont and no Centennial today.   Without them there would have been no celebrations to return to over the years and no entertainment for those events when we visited.  Therefore our hats go off to those of you who have stayed here and made this small hamlet a continued success throughout the years. You have carried on the values that our ancestors brought with them when they came to this unknown prairie country.  (Duane Hyde very eloquently expressed these same sentiments in his comments.)   Please accept our heartfelt Thank You for all your hard work over the years to make us eager to return here for most any occasion earlier in the program.  I know if my parents were here today they would say Thank You, Thank you, Thank you, to each and everyone of you who stayed in the community and we do the same.

My parents and the G.H. Andersons recognized the outstanding personal values of the members of the community and chose to remain in the community after the Bank closed in 1931.  I think these were the same values Mr. Hyde initially recognized in the people of Sims' and surrounding community (many of whom had been here since 1880).  In those first days after he got acquainted somewhat with the community when he first arrived in Sims' he probably said to himself: "I like this land and the people who live here and I am going to make this community my home, even if I have to start a new town to do it!!!"