Early History of the City of Fargo

This article, “Early History and Settlements of Cass County,” documents the pioneers and events that shaped Cass County. Beginning with a description of the land’s indigenous inhabitants and the influence of the Catholic Church, the article then transitions to the arrival of the Hudson Bay Company and the earliest white settlers like George Northrup and Peter Russell. The establishment of Fargo, influenced by the Northern Pacific Railroad, marks a turning point, leading to a surge in permanent settlers, the establishment of essential institutions like the post office and schools, and the growth of religious life. The article then details the significant contributions of early settlers, the arrival of Scandinavian immigrants, and the development of agriculture, particularly wheat farming. The narrative culminates with a celebration of Cass County’s prosperity, highlighting the growth of education and the impact of local newspapers.

Fargo was named for Hilliard G. Fargo, a prominent director of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, and founder of the “Wells-Fargo Express Company.” The early history of this now peerless city of the prairies begins with the entrance of the Northern Pacific Railroad, there having been no white settlements previous to that time, on account of its great distance from trading points, and with no means of holding communication or traffic with them, as the lakes and navigable rivers have afforded most of the pioneer settlements in other sections of the country. As soon as the Northern Pacific Railroad Company had fully decided to extend their road west from Duluth into Dakota Territory, a new corporation, the Puget Sound Land Company, was formed, among the personnel of whose stockholders were several of the railroad officials.

The intention of this corporation was the platting or laying out of townsites at the junction of the railroad with each of the principal streams crossed by it. The city to be built at the crossing of the Red River was looked upon by nearly everyone as of great importance, for, being at the head of navigation on that stream and in the center of a very rich agricultural district, it was looked upon with certainty to become a great city in time. The representatives of the Puget Sound Land Company forcibly denied that they possessed any inside information as to the location of the crossing of the Red River by the Northern Pacific Railroad, yet the apparent good judgment shown by them in selecting the site of its crossing on the Mississippi and Ottertail rivers and the fact that many of the stockholders were officials of the railroad company, gave rise to the belief that the location of the proposed crossing was known to them.

The lands, however, along the Red River of the North, were as yet unsurveyed, and to gain title to them, it became necessary to make actual settlement, unless it should so happen that the ground desired should prove to be an odd section, when it became the property of the railroad company under its grant, and in that event could be readily transferred. An army of followers flocked here and there along the projected line of the road, locating at every available crossing of a stream. The agents of the townsite company were everywhere, it being their business to mislead and to mislocate the adventurers, that they might secure to their company the most desirable tracts. Everyone was suspicious of his neighbor and was watching everybody else.

During the fall of 1870, several deceptive moves were made, and the road displayed seemingly unmistakable signs of crossing at a point some miles below Fargo, since known as Bogusville.

It was believed by some of the wiser ones that this settlement was made for the purpose of misleading the would-be townsite owners and accordingly Jacob Lowell, Jr., Henry S. Back, and Andrew McHench decided to keep a sharp lookout for the first indications of the railroad crossing. From early in April until the 29th day of June, they patrolled the banks of the Red River, Lowell, from the mouth of the Wild Rice River to that of the Sheyenne; Back, from the Sheyenne to Georgetown; and McHench from Georgetown to the Elm River, each making a trip every day. On the 29th day of June, Mr. Lowell found, on his trip, a person calling himself “Farmer Brown,” accompanied by three Scandinavian “settlers” who had squatted on what afterwards proved to be the present townsite of Fargo.

“Farmer Brown” wore well-worn overalls; his face was sunburnt; he wore a brown hickory shirt, and an old brown hat, and sat with such ease and unconcern upon the handles of his plow, and talked so wisely and interestingly of the great capacity of the Red River soil for wheat, but Mr. Lowell had his doubts as to the fellow being a farmer at all. “Brown, Brown,” soliloquized Mr. Lowell, “seems to me I have heard of Farmer Brown before; a fellow by that name used to run a three-card monte game at Oak Lake. Besides, this fellow is too slick for a farmer.” So Mr. Lowell hastened to give the alarm to his partners, Back and McHench, who were patrolling the river, as before stated. A consultation of the three was held and it was unanimously agreed that “Farmer Brown” knew more about locating townsites than he did of farming, and Mr. Lowell declared his intention of locating “right here.”

On July 1, 1871, Jacob Lowell, Jr., took his claim on the southwest quarter of section 18, township 139 north, range 48 west, thereby becoming the first bona fide settler of Fargo. A few hours later Henry S. Back followed his example. On July 2, Andrew McHench located near the claim of Messrs. Lowell and Back. By this time it became generally known that “Farmer Brown” was none other than G. G. Beardsley, a surveyor in the employ of the Puget Sound Land Company, whose duty it was to make script locations for that company. The three Scandinavian “settlers” who accompanied him were hired to hold the lands upon which they had settled until script could be secured, when they were to be transferred to the townsite company.

A stampede followed and it was at once realized that a bitter fight would be made over the title to these lands, but no foundation could be laid for a contest in the land office until a legal survey and the return of the plats to the land office at Pembina had been effected. The contract for the survey of these lands had been let in May, 1871, to Joseph W. Blanding, who subdivided eighteen townships along the river from Wahpeton to Georgetown. The plats were sent to the General Land Office in December 1871, but were not approved and returned to the local office at Pembina until July 25, 1873. Pending the survey, the claimants to these lands settled down to spend their time in peace until such time as their rights could be passed upon by the Land Department at Washington.

Settlements were made at a point on the Darling farm, above Fargo, where a ferry was established and several stores and a saloon were opened. No regard was given to a possible prior occupancy by the Puget Sound Land Company men, who could not be bona fide settlers if they were working in the interests of the Puget Sound Land Company. Charles Roberts made settlement on his claim July 8, 1871; Harry Fuller June 15; Jacob Lowell, Sr., July 5; Gordon J. Keeney July 5, located, but not on the land finally claimed by him, and which latter location afterwards became a part of the townsite of Fargo; James Holes July 26; A. J. Harwood August 22; Pat Devitt November 26; A. H. Moore, August 19; S. G. Roberts, January 7, 1871; Harriet Young July 5.

The ferry on the river was moved down to a point near where the Northern Pacific Railway bridge is now, and General Rosser, who was at the head of the Northern Pacific Engineer Department, crossed the river and established his headquarters at a point where the Davis Block now stands. Rosser had been a general in the Confederate army, and he laid out his camp with all the exactness of a West Pointer who had seen service. The Commissary Department was in charge of Hubert Smith, who was afterwards killed by the Indians on the Cook trail west of the Black Hills. There were some fifty tents used for various purposes: office, residence, sleeping quarters, mess rooms, and quarters for the men. General Rosser and many of his attaches had their wives and families with them, in camp during the winter, and there was all the excitement and activity that one finds at a typical military post on the frontier.

At a point where the Waldorf Hotel now stands were constructed extensive underground stables for the accommodation of the large number of horses used in the transportation of supplies from the end of the road, which at this time was in the vicinity of Oak Lake, and General Rosser’s headquarters were just east of the stables.

The hamlet numbered about thirty families and through the enterprise of G. J. Keeney was given the dignity of a name—Centralia—and a post office was established at the crossing of the Northern Pacific Railroad over the Red River of the North. Mr. Keeney was appointed postmaster and placed over the door of his ten-by-twelve office a sign bearing the words “Post Office,” “Law Office” on the door, and “Land Office” in the window. Charles Mulherin established a grocery store in a tent close by. Mulherin was afterwards tied to his wagon and burned by the Indians, on the upper Columbia River. George Egbert, afterwards the first Mayor of Fargo, occupied a tent directly opposite. At the right was the tent occupied by George Peoples, afterwards Mayor of Bismarck, and later of Mandan. The tent of Terrance Martin, in which he had a grocery store, and the boarding tent of A. Pinkham were both located nearby.

This little hamlet was situated near lower Front Street on the river bank. The first store was built by Haddocks and Mann during the fall of 1871. They failed and were succeeded by N. K. Hubbard and E. S. Tyler.

The Headquarters Hotel built by the Railroad Company was commenced in 1871, completed in 1872, and used as headquarters by the Railroad Company; it was opened as a hotel by J. B. Chapin on April 1, 1873. It was a large wooden structure situated where the electric light plant now stands and was destroyed by fire in 1874; after the destruction of this original Headquarters Hotel, a new one bearing the same name was erected on the same site, by Messrs. N. K. Hubbard and E. S. Tyler.

This was the only building of any consequence located within the burned district that escaped destruction by fire in 1893, only, however, to succumb to flames eight years later.

The first house built in Fargo was the Henry Hector residence, constructed in 1871 of logs cut in what is now Island Park, by A. H. Moore and J. S. Mann. It was constructed for a residence and used as a hotel until the Headquarters was opened to the public in 1873.

Mr. Moore was for some time Deputy United States Marshal for North Dakota, and there are several men now living and prominent in North Dakota, who in the early days of Fargo have worn the handcuffs and shackles in and about the old house. Major Bell, Colonel Wishart, Colonel Wheaton, Captain Patterson of the United States Army and many others have been guests in the house and found welcome rest in the low-roofed chambers above.

As the winter of 1871-1872 approached, what was afterwards known as Fargo sprang into existence in the timber. The point of land from the ferry landing on the river to about where Second Street South intersects Front was heavily timbered, and into this point from the east poured hundreds of people known in the early days as the end of the track gang. These people always kept just ahead of the construction crew, and had made their last move for the season from Oak Lake, and settled down at this point to endure, as best they could, the rigors of a North Dakota winter. They lived in rudely constructed log cabins, tents, and dugouts. These dugouts were holes in the ground, ten or twelve feet square and roofed over with brush and sod. If dug after the last freeze-up and abandoned before the thaw in the spring, a very small amount of fuel would keep them warm and comfortable. Many of these people opened saloons. A large tent was erected and used as a dance hall and became the center of attraction for most of the settlers.

1880 Bird's Eye View of Fargo Dakota in color
1880 Bird’s Eye View of Fargo Dakota in color

Puget Sound Land Company

The Puget Sound Land Company had been all activity while the settlers were living in fancied security. In order to make their script locations, it was absolutely necessary to dispossess and remove from the land the settler and the squatter. Through George Sweet, of St. Cloud, they discovered that the Dakota side of the Red River, at this point, was, in fact, a part of the Sisseton and Wahpeton Sioux Indian Reservation, and they secured the issuance of an order from the Department at Washington, directed to the United States Marshal of Dakota, for the removal of all trespassers upon these lands, and for the arrest of all those engaged in the sale of spirituous liquors. On February 24th, a company of troops arrived from Ft. Abercrombie and were given shelter at General Rosser’s headquarters. A great deal of curiosity was caused by their arrival, and G. J. Keeney and Rock Coffer were delegated by the citizens of “Fargo in the Timber” to go to General Rosser’s headquarters and ascertain, if possible, the cause of their arrival. General Rosser sent the delegates back to the settlement with the impression that it was Indians on the upper Sheyenne that brought the soldiers thither, but the next morning at about four o’clock, Fargo in the timber awoke to find a sentinel soldier stationed at each and every door of log hut, tent, or dugout, and the river bank patrolled by guards.

A few escaped, but little resistance was made, and to the great surprise of officer and soldier and especially to the surprise of Deputy United States Marshal Luther, the arrest of the whole settlement of “Fargo in the Timber” was looked upon as a huge joke. Deputy Marshal Luther had warrants for the arrest of those engaged in the sale of spirituous liquor. All liquors, cigars, and saloon fixtures were confiscated; the settlers and squatters for whom no warrants had been issued were ordered to get themselves and their belongings forthwith across the river to the Minnesota side. Those who were under arrest were arraigned before United States Commissioner George I. Foster, and most of them were bound over for trial at Pembina.

The detachment of troops from Fort Abercrombie were returned to their post and the Deputy United States Marshal started for Pembina with his prisoners, declaring that any settler or squatter found on the Dakota side of the Red River on his return would be arrested as a trespasser on an Indian Reservation, and his buildings and belongings burned, but H. S. Back and Jacob Lowell succeeded in communicating with Governor Austin of Minnesota, in time for the Governor to wire United States Senators Windom and Ramsey at Washington, to secure an order from the Attorney General, allowing the actual bona fide settlers to remain in possession of their land, until such a time as a treaty could be entered into with the Sisseton and Wahpeton Sioux Indians, looking to the extinguishment of their title.

This was done and Commissioners were appointed to negotiate a treaty with the Indians, which was finally signed at Sisseton and ratified by Congress on the 3rd day of June, 1873. The Land Office plats of these lands which had been completed nearly two years before were forwarded to Pembina, but even then the settlers on the townsite of Fargo were frankly told by the Register of the Land Office that they could not make entry.

Again the authorities at Washington were appealed to and in September, 1873, the Register entered up the filings in the books of the office, without any explanation as to why they had been refused in the first instance. He then took the first stage, leaving Pembina for the South, and the Land Office at Pembina was out of business, until early in September, 1874, when it was opened at Fargo, with C. B. Jordan as Register and Thomas L. Pueh, Receiver, when the bona fide settlers, who were, in fact, the only ones who had made entry, were in due time allowed to prove up on their lands, without further contest on the part of the Puget Sound Land Company. A. H. Moore and Charles Roberts, being on railroad land, their settlements were contested, Mr. Roberts acquiring by purchase what afterwards became C. A. Roberts Addition to the City of Fargo.

Pending the extinguishment of the Indian title, matters had remained very quiet in Fargo. On January 1st, 1872, the first locomotive reached the banks of the Red River of the North, on the east side, and on June 4th, 1872, the bridge was completed and the first crossing made. To Washington Snyder, engineer, Ellis Cameron, fireman, Captain R. H. Emerson, engineer of the snow plow, and C. W. Black, conductor of the train, belongs the honor of being the first to drive the iron horse of the Northern Pacific through to the Red River of the North.

The second store was erected and opened in 1872 by Pashley & Martin. During the spring of 1872, the name of the hamlet of Centralia was changed to Fargo, in honor of William G. Fargo, a prominent director of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, and known throughout the country as the founder of the Wells-Fargo Express Company.

The population grew rapidly and realizing that provision should be made for the education of their children, and a place of worship provided for all, a private school was opened by Miss Mercy Nelson, a young lady of fifteen years. This school was located in a log cabin which stood near Harry Moore’s shanty. The next term of school was taught by Frank Pinkham in the Pinkham building, situated near the foot of Front Street. The first religious services enjoyed by the people of the settlement were conducted by Rev. Howard at the residence of Dr. Forbes on his claim three miles north of town, this residence being a tent.

Anders 1915 Map of the City of Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota
Anders 1915 Map of the City of Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota

First Townsite Plat

The first plat of the townsite was filed by the Northern Pacific Railroad Company on January 2nd, 1874. In the first plat submitted for the approval of the company, what is now Island Park was platted as lots. This coming to the attention of Jacob Lowell, Jr., he suggested to Honorable J. B. Powers, then General Agent of the Northern Pacific Land department, that that portion of Island Park lying south of Second Avenue be deeded to the City of Fargo by the Railroad Company for park purposes, and it is to Jacob Lowell, Jr., and to Honorable J. B. Powers of the Ellendale farm that Fargo is indebted for this tract of land. E. S. Tyler deeded to the city for park purposes blocks 19 and 20.

Father Genin Mission House

Father Genin Mission House on the Red River above Fargo, (Dakota side), established in 1866, afforded the only opportunity for regular Christian worship up to about the fall of 1872, when the Episcopal church was commenced, but not completed. However, services were held with more or less regularity, B. F. Mackall, as lay reader, officiating in the absence of the regular clergymen. Services were also held in Pinkham’s Hall, since known as No. 27. It was in Pinkham’s Hall, erected by A. F. Pinkham in 1873, that the noted meeting occurred, to which Uncle Chapin urged everybody to go. The hall was filled to overflowing, and a great many had to stand during the services. Mr. Chapin wanted to impress upon Brother Webb, a traveling missionary for the Methodist church, that Fargo was of more importance than Moorhead, and was the proper place for the Methodist church to be erected, and in order to ensure a large congregation, procured of Mr. Hubbard, of Moorhead, $100 in fifty-cent pieces, which he distributed about among the floating population of Fargo and Moorhead, to anyone who would pledge themselves to attend the service. But to O. H. Elmer, Presbyterian minister of Moorhead, should be given the honor of holding the first Christian service within the present city limits of Fargo, December 14, 1871. These services were held in the boarding tent of A. F. Pinkham. Quite a number were present, and, to add to the congregation if possible, James Stack took the dinner bell and going up and down the trail to Fargo in the Timber, he announced in a loud voice the time and place where services would be held.

During January 1872, a log jail was constructed at the intersection of First Street South and Fourth Avenue, to safeguard the United States prisoners until they could be taken to Pembina for trial. This jail was surrounded by a high stockade and was usually well filled. Several sensational escapes were made during the winters of 1872 and 1873, but the most noted of all occurred in the early spring of 1874, when there were sixteen prisoners in confinement, six of whom were charged with murder in the first degree. Among the prisoners was a friend of “Gold Smith Maid,” who in some way entered the stockade gate, bored a hole through the outer and inner doors of the guard room, which were securely locked, and chloroformed the guards. They were found in the morning sitting at the table in the guard room, sound asleep. They had been playing cards, and still held the last deal in their hands. The prisoners were all gone but one, who was too large to get through the window and too fat to have climbed over the stockade if he had done so.

During the summer of 1872, the population increased and many business enterprises were launched. The Duluth Tribune of July 15th that year published a letter from G. J. Keeney, in which he said of Fargo: “The Headquarters Hotel is nearly completed and the Railroad Company is sinking an artesian well. Eustis and Ward are manufacturing brick, to be used by the railroad company in erecting a roundhouse, passenger depot, freight houses and a machine house at this place.” Reference is made to the hotel of Mann & Moore, to the Sherman House, as a first-class two-story hotel, kept by Martin & Pinkham, to the Headquarters of General Rosser, the store of Mann & Maddox in which was the law office of G. J. Keeney, and nearby the wagon shop of N. W. Whitman.

Organization of Fargo Township

A Petitioning of Organization of Fargo Township — Completing and Furnishing Court House, Masonic Temple, Street Railways — The Great Fire of 1893 — Organization of the City of Fargo and Names of Mayors of Fargo. Navigation of the Red River of the North.

A petition for the organization of Fargo township was presented and granted on November 19, 1874. The County Commissioners at a meeting held October 12, 1874, passed resolutions to enter into an agreement with the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, N. K. Hubbard and Evan S. Tyler, releasing from taxation for six years, a hotel which they were to erect on the ground formerly occupied by the old Headquarters Hotel which had been recently destroyed by fire, providing that the Railroad Company and Hubbard and Tyler would furnish suitable rooms and accommodations for use of the board as an office. At a meeting held on December 5th, 1874, N. Whitman was authorized to negotiate the sale of bonds to the amount of $15,000, as authorized for the completion and furnishing of the Court House and Jail. At a special election held on November 16th that year, the $15,000 of bonds authorized by the special elections of February 14th, and November 16th, not all having been disposed of, bonds seven, eight, nine, and ten were turned over to Whitebeck, Potter & Co., of Minnesota, in settlement of the amount due them on their contract for the erection of the Court House, at eighty cents on the dollar, and the contract was canceled. This settlement was made on December 30th, 1874.

Cass County Court House, Fargo
Cass County Court House, Fargo

Fargo County Court House

The first county courthouse used by the Cass County officials is the building now known as the Birchall Flats, situated on the corner of First Avenue and Seventh Street South; this building was originally located on the site of the present new and elegant courthouse; it was moved to the corner of Seventh and Front Streets, where it was occupied by the Government Land Office. To make room for the Northern Pacific Depot, it was moved on October 4, 1886, to Eighth Street North and sold to the Y.M.C.A. for $500. It was subsequently moved to its present location and converted into an apartment house. The second courthouse was built in 1884 and destroyed by fire on November 17, 1904; this second building was replaced as soon as possible at a cost of $200,000 and was occupied on August 1, 1906. It was erected by Johnson and Powers of Fargo. It is the pride of the city and is complete in all its appointments.

Masonic Temple

The largest Masonic Temple in the United States, exclusive of Philadelphia, is in Fargo. The cornerstone was laid on June 7, 1899. Special pride is taken by our citizens in showing visitors to the city through this beautiful structure; it is complete in every detail and is the source of amazement and surprise to those who see it for the first time.

Street Railways

The first street railway in Fargo was built in 1882 by Evan S. Tyler, Charles T. Yerkes, and others; this was a horse car line and ran on Broadway, Front, and Ninth Street South. The line continued in operation for two years when the barns and cars were destroyed by fire and were never rebuilt; a portion of the track was torn up and a portion covered up.

In 1904, the electric line of the Fargo and Moorhead Street Railway Company was built and put in operation on Thanksgiving Day of that year. The officers and stockholders are residents of Fargo. The line is well equipped and is liberally patronized; good service is given and affords convenient means of transportation throughout Fargo and Moorhead — L.B. Hanna President, W.A. Scott Vice President, J.W. Smith Treasurer, W.C. Macfadden Secretary, C.P. Brown General Manager.

The Great Fire of 1893

The Great Fire of 1893
The Great Fire of 1893

Fargo was in the height of her prosperity, new industries were being considered, large buildings were being constructed, and everything seemed to point to a period of more than usual success. The firemen were arranging for their annual tournament to be held on the 13th of June, when, like the tolling of a death knell, the fire alarm called our firemen to the store of Mrs. R. Herzman on Front Street, where a small fire had started. This was at 2:15 in the afternoon of June 7, 1893. The wind was blowing a perfect hurricane from the south. In less than five minutes after the first alarm was turned in, the whole building in which the fire originated was a mass of seething flames. Seeing the futility of attempting to save this building, the fire companies, aided by the Moorhead Fire Department, which had by this time come to the rescue, turned their attention to the surrounding buildings, and by persistent and heroic efforts prevented the spread of the fire to the west, saving the United Block and the Davis Block. On the east, the flames rushed down through the entire block to Fifth Street. On the north side of the street stood the mammoth frame warehouse of Magill & Company, which in less time than it takes to tell, was enveloped in flames.

From this point, the fire spread, all efforts to control it being of no avail. Those who had property that could be moved called on the crowds to help them. Every available team and vehicle was pressed into service; vacant lots became storerooms; everywhere could be seen wagons piled with furniture, merchandise, books — all in utmost chaos. No one was idle, but not a wheel turned in the many manufacturing plants of the city; all left their daily labors for the more important task of saving the property of their fellow-citizens and neighbors.

To follow the exact course of the fire would be impossible. Leaving the Magill warehouse, it spread east and north, and from now on there seemed to be no hope for the east side of Broadway, for the flames leaped from one building to another. From the warehouse, the flames shot across the Northern Pacific tracks to the Northern Pacific elevator building, leaping thence to the handsome Red River Valley National Bank building, and from there ran both east and north, destroying all the large machinery warehouses on the east, and on the north the Smith Block, the Opera House Block, and all the intervening buildings, until the insatiable monster reached the new Bristol & Sweet Block and the Republican Building. These, like the rest, were doomed. In a few minutes, as it were, they fell with the rest, opening the road for the destruction of that old pioneer, the Keeney Block. This, with the three brick-veneered buildings on the north, vanished in a few moments.

In the meantime, the residence portion lying between Broadway on the west and Fourth Street on the east, and running north fully a mile from the starting point, succumbed to the ravages of the fire; and here perhaps, the most pitiful scenes of the whole day occurred. In this portion of the city were the little homes of laboring men — not so valuable in dollars perhaps, but their homes. Little or nothing was saved, the buildings being mainly frame structures, and the warning too short to allow for removing their contents.

In its fury, the fire quickly destroyed the magnificent Citizens National Bank building, Alec Stern’s Block, the Elliott House, the City Hall, and the Yerxa Hose House.

Toward the north, it rushed with ever-increasing fury through the block of frame stores on the west side of Broadway, to the new brick building occupied by Kops Brothers, Ehrman and E.A. Perry, and containing the elegantly appointed K. of P. Hall. These, like their companions over the way, were swept down in less than ten minutes. From here the flames spread to the grand old Chapin or Masonic Block, which contained the sacred records and archives of the Masonic Grand Lodge of the State. It met its doom, soon to be followed by two of the finest buildings in the state, the Hagaman Block, occupied by E.M. Raworth & Company, wholesale grocers, on the ground floor, and the Odd Fellows and numerous other societies on the third. The Columbia Hotel, the pride of the Northwest, the finest hotel west of the Mississippi, also went down. From here its path lay through dwelling houses on the west and a few business blocks on the east, till it finally spent its fury at the tracks of the Great Northern Railway.

The next morning, a large meeting of citizens was held in the Y.M.C.A. building, relief committees were appointed, and several thousand dollars subscribed to the relief fund. Before night nearly all the unfortunates had been provided for, the committees worked unceasingly for days distributing funds and supplies contributed from all over the country.

The property destroyed was variously estimated at from $4,000,000 to $5,000,000. For two weeks, the fire insurance adjusters were busy adjusting losses. In the meantime, on all sides, plans for new buildings were being discussed, and temporary quarters erected. Nothing daunted our citizens, they were determined to rebuild their city larger and better than before, and it is conclusively shown today that they have made their promise good.

Organization of the City

The City of Fargo was organized on April 12th, 1875, pursuant to the incorporating act of the Legislature of Dakota Territory of January 5th, 1875.

The organization was effected at a meeting held in the city office of S.G. Roberts, at which time the following officers who had been previously elected were installed: Mayor, George Egbert; Marshal, John E. Haggart; Clerk, Terrance Martin; Treasurer, W.A. Yerxa; President of the Council, S.G. Roberts; Aldermen, W.D. Maddocks, Patrick McCarty, A.C. Kvello, C.A. Stout, E.A. Grant, and S.G. Roberts.

At a meeting of the council held April 15, 1875, the following appointments were made: Street Commissioner, Robert Pontet; City Attorney, S.G. Roberts; Justice, E.B. Baker; City Engineer, J.P. Knight.

The following gentlemen have served the city as mayor for the years named: George Egbert, 1875 to 1880; Evan S. Tyler, 1880 to 1881; J.B. Chapin, 1881 to 1882; W.A. Kindred, 1882 to 1883; W.A. Yerxa, 1883 to 1885; J.A. Johnson, 1885 to 1886; Charles Scott, 1886 to 1887; A.W. Edwards, 1887 to 1888; Seth Newman, 1888 to 1890; W.F. Ball, 1890 to 1892; Emerson H. Smith, 1892 to 1894; W.F. Ball, 1894 to 1896; J.A. Johnson, 1896 to 1902; W.D. Sweet, 1902 to 1904; A.L. Wall, 1904 to 1906; J.A. Johnson, 1906 to 1908; Peter Elliott is the present incumbent.


C.F. Cooper & Company, History of the Red River Valley, Past And Present: Including an Account of the Counties, Cities, Towns And Villages of the Valley From the Time of Their First Settlement And Formation, volumes 1-2; Grand Forks: Herald printing company, 1909.

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