The majority of pioneers who settled in North Dakota arrived by train.
Immigrant trains transported immigrants west from the ocean port at Ellis Island, New York.
Immigrant families could rent boxcars for themselves and their belongings on immigrant trains.
Speculators bought land cheaply and sold it at higher prices to make a profit.
Townsites mapped out on paper that did not develop into real towns were called “paper towns.”
Railroad companies made the final decisions on townsite locations.
Livery stables rented horses. They were also places where horses could stay temporarily.
The first homes of homesteaders included dug-outs, log cabins, sod houses, and frame (wooden) houses.
A breaking plow, pulled by horses or oxen, had a heavy curved blade that dug into the sod and turned it over.
Sod houses, or soddies, were cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and fireproof.
Tar paper was used as a waterproofing material for houses.
Many German-Russians made sun-dried bricks out of clay, manure, and straw.
The interior walls of many homes were whitewashed to brighten the rooms.
Claim shanties were one-room frame houses built for the purpose of proving up the claim.
The most important item in every home was the stove, which burned wood, buffalo or cow chips, fuel bricks made of manure and straw, lignite, corncobs, or twisted hay.
Cellars were used to store vegetables and other food products.
Horses were used by most North Dakota farmers for doing field work because they were faster than oxen and not as stubborn.
Horse-drawn farm implements included the breaking plow, harrow, drill, binder, mower, rake, and stoneboat.
After grain was cut with a binder, the bundles were shocked in order to dry before threshing.
A threshing machine, run by a steam engine, separated the kernels of grain from the straw.
Women were generally in charge of cooking for the threshing crews.
A corn crib was a structure used for drying and storing corn.
A large number of homesteaders left the area because of challenges with weather, isolation, illness, grasshoppers, dust storms, and prairie fires.
A January 1888 blizzard was called “The Children’s Blizzard” because so many children perished in it.
A prairie fire was one of the greatest dangers faced by the pioneers.
About half of the cities of Grand Forks, Devils Lake, and Fargo were destroyed by fires.
The roles of men, women, and children all contributed to the success of the homestead.
Women usually provided food and income by milking cows and raising poultry.
Every fall, the women canned vegetables and meat for the winter.
Thousands of women led homestead claims in North Dakota on their own.
Children took on responsibilities at a very young age; chores were based on age and strength.
By the time a child reached the age of 10, he or she was usually considered capable of taking on many adult responsibilities.
Public schools were created by the Dakota territorial legislature in 1883.
When North Dakota became a state in 1889, it had about 1,400 schools; most were ungraded.
Teachers had the responsibility of teaching classes, doing the janitorial work, and keeping the schoolhouse warm.
Many teachers boarded with families of the students.
Bicycles were a popular means of transportation for many teachers.
Children attending school in town usually got a better education than those attending country schools. The terms were usually longer, teachers generally had more college training, and many towns had high schools.
Highlights of the school year included the Christmas program and the picnic.
Churches were a way for the immigrants to preserve the language and culture of their homelands.
Ladies’ Aid societies helped churches become organized and raise money for church projects.
Immigrants from the different ethnic groups each constructed their own church buildings, and services were conducted in the language of their homeland.
Homes were the social centers of the early North Dakota pioneers.
Schoolhouses became gathering places for community functions.
Basket socials were popular fund-raising events.
The first auto race in the state, consisting of three cars, took place at the Fourth of July celebration in Fargo in 1900.
Within a span of less than 50 years, North Dakota became settled with Euro-Americans, railroads criss-crossed the prairie, and farms and towns dotted the countryside.