Almont North Dakota

1906     Centennial     2006

The People

To Almont
There’s a quaint little village, far out on the hill
It’s not bedecked with any of fancy or frill
The growth has been slow and always of toil
And all that is gained is wrested from soil.

The streets are plain dirt and it boasts no Times Square
But there is an air of peace and hospitality there.
No skyscrapers are seen and the buildings are old and gray
But they always shelter a weary traveler on the way.

The natives are just plain common folk
And as to a wheel each man is a spoke.
Shopkeepers live on the profit of honest gain
Laborers, through toil their existence claim.
No marbled halls nor splendors do they aspire
Nor dream that their village will be the first city of any empire.

So even though they seek not for fortune and fame
They still know they have a definite place on the plain.

By Henry Nyquist,
Written (Probably in the 1940's or 50's) as a tribute to Almont by one of her sons.


The coming of the railroad was essentially the beginning of the settling of North Dakota. The official U.S. Census in 1880 lists a total population for North Dakota of 136,432, with 200 living in Morton County. (In 1870 the population of Dakota Territory was only 14,141.)  None of the 200 names in the census of 1880 are familiar as later residents of Almont or vicinity.   The records for the 1890 census were lost. In 1900 North Dakota had 325,729 people with 19,674 in Morton County and 231 in Sims Township. By 1930 the census listed 325 living in Sims Township.

The first permanent settlers must have arrived in the area shortly after the 1880 census. The majority of those around Sims and Almont were Norwegians and many Germans settled southwest of Almont. I am not sure who was acclaimed the first permanent settler around Almont and/or Sims.   These first settlers were determined and tough people to face the long hard winters and hot summers. That spirit seems to have carried on in the community over the years.  

It seems as if whenever we talk about Almont it is all too frequently about the people who left there and were successful in whatever they did in life elsewhere. However most important in the history of Almont is the people who chose to stay there and become ranchers, farmers, businessmen, teachers or retirees.   Without them there would be no Almont and no Centennial.  Without them there would be no celebrations to return to and no entertainment when we visited. Therefore our hats go off to those of you who have stayed there and made the town a continued success. You have carried on the values that our ancestors brought with them when they came to this new country.  Please accept our heartfelt Thank You for all your hard work over the years to make us eager to return on for most any occasion.

Below are a few excerpts from The New Salem Journal from 1906 to 1940. These will give some insite into life on the prairie during those times. These same stories were experienced by many in the community over time.

June 6, 1924
The Almont Commercial Club held their annual business meeting in the bank last Tuesday evening and to its already large membership four new members were added. They were Prof. E. W., Froemke, C. R. Hill, E. R Kruger and A. Holritz which brings the membership up to 31. Several matters of importance were discussed, the most important being that of securing proper drainage for the streets. A novel plan was suggested by Mr. Becklund and two or three of the business men offered to give the plan a trial on a small scale and if it proves satisfactory a thorough application of the plan will be made by the club. The plan is like this: miniature wells, eight of ten inches in diameter and eighteen or twenty feet deep will be sunk in the low places where water gathers after a shower, and these small wells will be filled with coarse gravel and sand. It is claimed the water will find its way down through the gravel and disappear quite rapidly. This plan is quite inexpensive, and if it proves successful it will prove of great benefit to the town. The Commercial Club also decided at this meeting to provide hitching posts at designated places in town for the benefit of the farmers and appointed a committee to see that proper signs were erected along the Red Trail near Almont directing the tourist to the free camping grounds in Almont, which, by the way, is also a creation of the commercial club. The president of the club was requested to appoint a committee of two to organize a fire department and the following were appointed: E. W. Kruger and L. C. Nelson. The organization was to be perfected before July 4th. Up to the last meeting of the commercial club no regular time was set for their meetings but the president could be asked at any time to call a meeting whenever it was deemed necessary, but at their last meeting it was decided to hold a regular business meeting every month. All of the old officers were unanimously reelected for another year. They are: E. W. Hyde, president; E. E. Templeton, vice president, and G. H. Anderson, secretary and treasurer.

June 5 1925Almont News
The automobile bug has been very busy hereabouts the past week. Following the trail of the bug we find the following victims: Olaus Christenson, a new Fordor Ford sedan, Jens Nelson a Maxwell sedan, John Anderson bought N. E. Becklund's Ford touring car and the Malone sisters bought the Bateman Ford touring. Mr. N. E. Becklund a new Ford touring. this is not all, but it is all we have been able to locate at the present writing.

May 1, 1926
The following Almont People attended the Swedish Marine Band Concert at Bismarck last Saturday evening; Mr. and Mrs. N. E. Becklund, Mr. and Mrs G. H. Anderson, Mr. and Mrs C. R. Hill, Mr and Mrs. A. Bergstrom, Mr. and Mrs C. G. Thor and son Carl and Messrs. Noah Becklund, Gust Johnson, Otto Lidstrom, A. Rudgerg, Olaf Feland and Andrew and Frederick Holritz. In order to accommodate this aggregation, the Superintendent was kind enough to stop trains number 4 and 3 at Almont that day. those attending report the concert the best they ever heard. One of the chief attractions on the program was the tenor soloist Folke Anderson. He sang several selections each of which called for encores. His tone quality and volume was marvelous and the rendition very pleasing.

Aug 1928 A number of Almont ladies motored to Belfield Thursday where they were entertained at the Andrew Holritz home in a royal fashion. A trip was made to the Badlands to view the recent landslide at Medora. The Chateau DeMores proved interesting to several of the ladies who made a tour of the “Petrified Cain Ranch.” Those making the Belfield trip were Mesdames Nels Jacobson, R.R. Peterson, Dena Johnson, O. G. Feland, J. R. Bateman, Martin Peterson, O. K. Overgaard, Jonathan Pederson, A. H. Bergstrom, C. A. Knutson, A. H. Anderson, T. A. Barstad, L. C. Nelson, C. E. Kelsven, Geol Ims, N.E. Becklund and the Misses Amanda Nelson, Lois Williams and Bernice Ims.

June 17, 1927
Last Thursday evening one of the oldest settlers of the Sims community, Ole R. Feland, passed away at the home of his daughter, Mrs Dena Knudson at Almont. The old gentleman had been in very poor health since last December and had been confined to his bed for several months. On last Thursday evening his daughter had left his bedside, thinking he was asleep for the night and upon returning a short time afterward found that he was still in death. He passed away without a struggle after his long illness at the ripe old age of eighty-eight years.
Ole R. Feland was born at Feland, Norway, September 15, 1839. He was married to Aaselene Peterson in the year 1858 and made his home in that country for twenty-four years after following the occupation of sailor. He then immigrated to America and located at Sims, N.Dak. where he took a homestead and engaged in farming and mining. About twenty-six years ago he returned to Norway where he made his home until six years ago when he again returned to America and has made his home since that time with his daughter Mrs. Dena Knudson at Almont. He enjoyed a very good health until last December when he began to fail and gradually became weaker until his death last Thursday evening. He leaves to mourn his death his children. They are, Mrs. Dena Knudson, Mrs Olivia Lotspiech, Mrs Jacobina Peterson and Rudolph, Otto and Oscar Feland. Two of his children, Theo Feland and Mrs Bertina Jacobson passed away before their father’s death. He also leaves a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren: four half brothers and two half sisters in the vicinity of Almont.
Funeral services were held Sunday afternoon from the Sims Lutheran church, Rev Wullchlager of Taylor, officiating. Interment was made in the Sims cemetery beside his wife, who passed away many years before.

July 1, 1927 (Front page headlines)
Sims Woman Lost Life and Home in Kerosene Fire
Kerosene for kindling exploded, covering her with Burning Oil. Wished for death for 40 hours. children Jump to safety from upstairs window after hearing Mother’s cries.
One of the most sadly unfortunate accidents to occur in this section for some time, was the burning of the Mrs. Lotspiech farm home located about half way between Sims and Almont, on last Saturday morning and the death of Mrs. Lotspiech the following day caused by burns she received during the fire. Mrs. Lotspiech is the mother of eight children, six of who were at home when the fire occurred.
The mother arose before any other members of the family at about seven o’clock and was building a fire in the kitchen range. According to her story of the accident she was pouring some kerosene from a can unto the fire when the explosion occurred which must have thrown the ignited oil over her and to all parts of the room. She ran from the house screaming and rolled in some sand on one side of the house endeavoring to put out the flames in her clothing. Because of the fact that her screaming came from the side of the house where no windows were open the children did not hear her at once and the house was filling with smoke when Margido, the son about fourteen years of age heard his mother’s cries and hurriedly awakened the other children. The stairway from the upstairs rooms led into the kitchen so that way of escape was impossible and they broke out a window at the rear of the house which opened out to the roof of a coal shed and jumped to the ground. The older children grabbed a few items of clothing before leaving the burning house but the younger children escaped in just their night clothes.
After escaping from the house, one of the boys ran to the Theo. Feland home about a mile distant to ask for help and the other children tried to save what they could from the burning house, but the fire had advanced too far and only a few items of furniture could be taken our of the house. their piano radio and several violins were in the dining room next to the kitchen and no one article was saved from this room. A new refrigerator had been purchased and placed in the kitchen only the day before and this of course was also burned. One might say the nothing of any value was saved from the house.
Help soon came from the Feland home and the mother who was suffering intense pain from her severe burns was rushed to New Salem where Dr. Gaebe dressed the burns and she was taken to Bismarck by Rev. J. Thornell and Miss Anna Feland, her niece. The remainder of that day she was conscious but on Sunday passed into an unconscious state and death came about eleven o’clock that evening.
The house was insured for a small amount with the Morton & Oliver Co Mutual Fire Ins. Co., but will fall short a great deal from recovering the loss of the home and furnishings, besides all their clothing which was consumed in the burning house.
This farm home was one of the best in the Sims vicinity and was built many years ago. Several very large trees grew right near the house and these were practically burned down along with the house.
The children at home at the time of the fire was three sons, Erling, Enoch and Margido, and three daughters, Elsie, Luella and Dorothy. One more son, Andrew, who is agent for the Standard Oil Co. at Almont was at Lark, N. Dak. on business and the other daughter, Gertrude was attending the Dickinson Normal. All have the sincere sympathy of the entire country side in the loss of their mother and their home in this terrible manner all inside of two days time.
It seems almost certain that no insurance was carried on the property according to last information. They at one time had insurance in the Morton & Oliver counties Mutual Fire Insurance Company, buy that policy was not renewed, and no other policy is known of at this writing.

Almont News
The saddest tragedy that has ever taken place in this neighborhood happened last Saturday morning when Mrs. Olivia Lotspiech was fatally burned when she attempted to start a fire in the stove with what she thought was kerosene. Although it is not definitely known how it happened it is supposed that she took a gallon can in which the kerosene was kept and poured into the stove from the can. Gasoline was also kept in a gallon can, and it is probable that she got a hold of the wrong can. The children were all asleep upstairs and were awakened by their mother’s screams. By the time they got up and out, which was a matter of only a few seconds, the whole house was ablaze and only a very few things were saved. Mrs. Lotspiech, in spite of the terrible agony she endured, had presence of mind enough to roll herself in a pile of sand near by in an attempt to put out the flames that were literally roasting her body, but before the flames were extinguished, they had done their fatal work. She was rushed to New Salem by auto, where first aid was administered and from there was taken directly to Bismarck where everything possible was done to alleviate her suffering and save her life. In spite of all that medical skill and tender hands could do she passed away Sunday evening, June 26th.
Mrs Lotspiech, formerly Miss Olivia Feland was born in Norway fifty-one years ago and came with her parents to Sims about 1886 and has resided in the vicinity for over forty years. Besides a host of friends and other relatives, Mrs. Lotspiech leaves to mourn her death, her eight children: Erling, Andrew, Gertrude, Elsie, Enoch, Margido, Luella and Dorothy, all of Almont. She also leaves three brothers and two sisters: Mrs Dena Knudson and Mrs Abraham Peterson, Otto and Oscar Feland all of Almont and Rudolph Feland of Antler, N. Dak.
Mrs Lotspiech was well and favorably known in this neighborhood, and when the news was spread of her death the whole community became shrouded in a pall of gloom, and the fact that she passed so suddenly and in the best of health makes the shock so much harder. It is hard for us poor mortals to understand why such tragedies are allowed to happen but this we do know, and that is that the Almighty God, who rules the universe, has a purpose and that this purpose is for the best, tho we are unable to see it that way. It is hard indeed to lose a kind and gently mother and it is also hard to lose one’s home, but when both of these disasters overtake a person at the same time, it is a blow that is almost unbearable. It is our fervent prayer, that the Almighty God will have mercy upon these motherless and homeless children, and provide for them in such a way that their loss, irreparable as it may seem will be made easier to bear, and may they put their trust in the Lord and he will surely abundantly bless them. The bereaved children have the sincere sympathy of the whole neighborhood, and they are all willing to lend a helping hand to them should it be necessary.
The funeral was held from the Lutheran church at Sims Wednesday afternoon, Rev J. Thornell officiating.

The Mrs Lotspiech funeral was held at Sims last Wednesday. So large was the number of those who came to pay their last respect to a departed friend that the large church at that place was unable to accommodate more than about half of them. The funeral train of automobiles was almost a mile long and the floral offerings were many and beautiful. Rev Thornell searched a very impressive sermon. the Engelter hearse from New Salem was engaged and Mr. Henry Engelter had charge of the arrangements.

April 27, 1928
Almont News
This has been an exceedingly busy week for the young men, and some of the older ones too, for they have gotten the “Golf Bug two right.” A course is being laid out about a mile south of town, and if we can judge from conversation that we hear, they have or will have, one of the sportiest nine hole coursed in this part of the country, Nature having provided the very best in the way of hazards. All that will be needed now is daylight savings time.

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