Blue Hill Township

Blue Hill Township, North Dakota

Blue Hill Township was named by the pioneers who, looking east, noted the big hills looming blue in the horizon.

Blue Hill Township is northeast of Roseglen Township, east of Gate Township, west of Douglas Township, and south of Ryder Township.

Mamie Olson wrote the history of Blue Hill Township for the Golden Jubilee Book, published in 1967. At that time, she wrote, only about five of the early-day folks were still alive.

In speaking of the pioneers, she goes back to the 1890s or early 1900s, when not a furrow was turned, and there were only wide open spaces, with nothing but prairie grass. The greatest fear then was from prairie fires, which occurred nearly every day.

Another fear was of the “red man,” especially among the settlers who had come to North Dakota from the Eastern states or from across the ocean. Today, as she writes in 1967, the “red man” is our friend, as we walk hand in hand in social and business life.

When Blue Hill Township was first settled, Minot was the nearest town, and trips were made there only once a year, twice at the most, in order to purchase essential supplies.

She recalls her mother, and other mothers, using starter yeast. Starter yeast uses a naturally occurring wild yeast as a leavening agent, into a mixture of water and flour. Beginning with the mixture of flour and water, active dry yeast may be added or the mixture may be allowed to collect naturally occurring wild yeast and bacteria from the environment. Families would prize and guard their starter yeast, as it was used to make bread.

Mamie Olson remembers the trips to the coal mines, which took several days, particularly in the winter. She remembers the men talking about trips to the coal mine several miles southeast of Blue Hill taking a week. Several neighbors often made the trip together. While they were gone, there were no telephones to let the anxious folks at home know where they were, or that they were all right.

The women would be left alone to do the chores, hardly daring to leave the children in the house alone with the coal and wood stoves, which were used for cooking and heating.

There were no churches in Blue Hill Township. Services were held in homes by various denominations. Ministers and priests came on horseback or bicycle, and many walked miles to serve the scattered people in this part of McLean County, North Dakota.

Schools in Blue Hill Township

There was very little schooling in Blue Hill Township until 1907, when the people voted, and the district was consolidated.

The first school was opened in January of 1909, with Grace Ackermann as the teacher. Others who served as teachers in the first years were Miss Paulson, Miss Aboar, H.M. Hansen, and Russell Whitsel.

In 1913, the schoolhouse was divided. The teachers at that time were Alvin Johnson and Mrs. Mansferd Smith. Miss Bertha Spicher (Mrs. Andrew Anderson) and Miss Mathsen were teaching when the school was destroyed by fire in 1916.

In 1917, a large brick building was built, large enough to accommodate all eight grades and two years of high school. However, tragedy again hit Blue Hill when this building was struck by the tornado of August 15, 1928.

School was held in the basement for several years, until 1951, when a school building was moved from northwest of Garrison to the same school grounds. In January of 1953, this building was destroyed by fire. It was decided to send the Blue Hill children to Ryder for school. Alvin Officer hauled the pupils to Ryder for the rest of the school term. That fall, a new quonset building was erected at the site of the old school ground.

In the fall of 1966, Blue Hill was redistricted, with the southern half of the township attending school in Garrison, while the northern half of the township went to Ryder. After sixty years of school, Blue Hill Township was left without one.

Some of the early school board officers were Mr. and Mrs. Dan Jackson, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Albert, Ole Johnson, Chris Linnertz, Mr. and Mrs. George Robbins, and several others.

The township board included Henry Albert, Ole Anderson, Carl Anderson, Ole Johnson, George and Leo Robbins, Dan Jackson, and Paul Folden.

Early Settlers

Some of the early settlers, from 1895 to 1905, were Mr. and Mrs. Chris Amundson, Mr. and Mrs. Otto Witt, Mr. and Mrs. John Aldrich, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Albert, Magnus and Marie Bjorlie, Mr. and Mrs. Dan Jackson, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Osmon, Grandma Osman, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Bussmann, the Paul Foldens, the Chris Linnertz family, the Jacob Krafts, and the families of Oscar Gilbertson, Ole Johnson, G.H. Brandt, Carl and Ole Anderson, Fred VanHook, the Sutterlands, the Brasfields, Nick Skotte and Gust Myers, John S. Johnson, George Hazlett, George and Lo Robbins, the Grahams, and the J.C. Hopkins family.