Emmet Township

Emmet Township, North Dakota

Today, Emmet is an unincorporated community in McLean County, North Dakota, but at one time it was an organized township. It was dissolved in 1933.

Emmet Township was southeast of Roseglen Township, east of Blackwater Township and White Shield, west of St. Mary Township, and south of Blue Hill Township.

When they were interviewed for the Golden Jubilee book, published in 1967, Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Bjornholt gave their recollections of the early history of Emmet Township. Below, is essentially their story, although I have rewritten it for clarity, since long paragraphs don't play well in web presentations, and to change references to 1967 as being in the present. Where the Bjornholts have offered sufficient biographical information, I have created separate pages, placed beneath the "Families" page in this section.

Ranching/Farming

In the early days, nearly all of the land in Emmet Township was used for farming grain, although much of it was grazing land. A lot of horses were raised in those days because they were used for nearly all of the field work, as well as for transportation. A few of the early homesteaders used oxen, because of their great strength, which came in handy for pulling the plows used to break the sod and prepare the land for planting.

Farm machinery consisted plows, harrows, drills, binders, mowers, and rakes. Custom threshing was in use during those times.

One of the largest horse ranches in the township was that of Ralph Ward, who homesteaded where Mr. and Mrs. Donald Iglehart and family were living in 1967. Ralph Ward was the first pioneer in the township to own an automobile, and the first to build a large house, and one that was considered beautiful in that time. He had a good sized ball room and fireplace in his home.

Another early ranch was that of Mr. and Mrs. W.G. Merriam. He raised both sheep and cattle. In 1967, that rance was owned and operated by their son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Hodges. Mrs. Hodges, better known as Arlene, taught in several schools throughout the years, and was teaching at Garrison Elementary School in 1967.

In the early days, most farmers owned a few head of cattle and a flock of chickens, and sold butter and eggs in exchange for groceries. Butter was packed in stone crocks, and eggs were packed in pails of oats to keep them from breaking as they were hauled to market in buggies and wagons drawn by horses. Driving to Garrison and home again from the northwest corner of this township was an all-day trip.

Doctors

Emmet Township, in that day, could boast of having two doctors. There was Dr. J.F. Timm, a medical doctor, and Dr. C.H. Hacket, a veterinarian.

Dr. Tim and his wife, Lydia, homesteaded in the northwest corner of Emmet Township in 1905. He was the second pioneer to own an automobile., the make of which was "International." It resembled a horseless carriage, and had rubber tires. It was started by means of a crank that was situated underneath the side running board, and was sometimes very difficult to start. It could travel at a speed of about 15 miles per hour, which was an improvement over the speed of horses.

Dr. Tim had come from Germany, immigrating to the United States when he was seventeen years old. He received his medical training in Chicago, and practiced medicine in Iowa and Illinois for several years before coming to Emmet Township. He had intended to stay only the length of time required to prove up his land claim, but he came to enjoy the rural life and the climate, so he continued to live on his farm.

Besides doing his own farm work, he was a medical servant to his friends at Emmet and the surrounding area for thirteen years. His wife served as a nurse.

To demonstrate how even the very young notice differences in landscaping, when Dr. Tim's young son, Herman, came to North Dakota from Illinois, with his parents, he remarked, in the German language, "Viele steine und gar keine baume," which translated, "Many stones and absolutely no trees." As time went on, trees were planted, so that Emmet Township had several beautiful groves and shelter belts of trees by 1967.

In 1967, the farm once owned by Dr. Tims was the property of his daughter, Eulalia Helen, and her husband, Melvin Bjornholt, who also owned the homestead of the late Mr. and Mrs. Math Mertz. The adjoining homestead, of the late Mr. and Mrs. Gottlieb Mertz Sr., was passed down to their daughter, Katherine, and her husband, Henry Blohm, who were living in Garrison in 1967, who had sold the land to Richard Kerzman of Roseglen.

Post Office

At one time, Emmet Township claimed two post offices. The first one was the Roney Post Office and Store located on the Roney homestead, whose land was owned by Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Iglehart in 1967, and inhabited by Mrs. W.B. Iglehart. Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Iglehart had built themselves a home near the Garrison Dam Reservoir just south of their farm.

The second post office was the Robinson Post Office, located on the other side of the Douglas Creek, for the convenience of those who lived in that area. This post office was operated by Mrs. Frederickson.

Around 1907, the Emmet Post Office replaced the Roney Post Office, and some time later the Robinson Post Office ws also disbanded. The Emmet Post Office and store were then located just across the road from the homesteaders, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Duchane, where Mr. and Mrs. Leo Beattie were living in 1967. Leo was the son of R.L. Beattie who, along with Fred Carvel, were the first to operate the new Emmet Post Office and grocery store. Later on, Mrs. Lena House took over and, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Post Mistress was Helen Johnson, the wife of Lytle Johnson and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Albrecht, who also homesteaded near there around 1902.

The store was discontinued around 1920. Most people had cars by then, and traveled to Garrison to do their shopping.

In 1934, Mrs. O.D. Korstad became the Post Mistress, having the post office in her home, just one mile south of the original site. In 1938, A.F. Olson (Hack Olson) took over the post office, with his wife, Dorothy, assisting. They again attached a small grocery store to the post office, at the same location it was at in 1967. Hack Olson passed away in 1950, and his wife carried on for a couple of years, and was assisted in the Post Office by Mrs. Joe OShea.

In 1952, Louis Brindy and his wife, Aldine, came to Emmet Township from Minot, and took over the Emmet Store and Post Office until they moved to Minneapolis in 1960 to become Director of the Personnel Division in the Regional Postal Department.

Gerhard Korstad became the store manager, while his wife, Alma, became the Post Mistress until 1963, when Reid Hill became Post Master for three years. After his resignation, Alma Korstad was installed as acting Post Mistress, a position she still held in 1967, when the Golden Jubilee book was published.

Schools

The educational system in Emmet Township was known as the Hacket School District, which once extended to the border of the Missouri River. For a number years, there were five schools in the Hacket School District, some of which were relocated several times in order to accommodate changes in the township's population.

In the early years, most of the school buildings were very small, and were heated by small coal-burning stoves. Because of the severity of the weather, many of these schools were in session only in the fall and spring. The coal that was used to heat the schools was mined in the southeastern and south-central portion of Emmet Township, which was a hilly region. At first, farmers mined their own coal, but later the Burns and Wretling Coal Mine began operations there, one mile east and one mile south of the Emmet Post Office.

As time went on, some of the smaller schools were closed, and the remaining school buildings were improved with automatic (electric) furnaces, as Rural Electrification reached the township in 1949.

In time, new homes were built within the township, and modern conveniences were installed. Having only two school by that time, it became necessary to transport students by bus, sometimes at great distances.

In 1958, the Hacket School District consolidated with the Garrison School District, and Emmet Township students were transported by bus to Garrison. The last of the schools in Emmet Township were closed.

Recreation

In the early days, social and recreational activities were held in both schools and homes. During the summer months, picnics were held at Smokers Coulee just north of the Missouri River, and about five miles south of Emmet.

About 1915, Albert Urdahl furnished the community with a large building, built on land that was owned by William Kastner in 1967. The Urdahl Hall was used for several years for programs, dances, and other events, sometimes with music furnished by local talent.

Churches

In the first years that homesteaders lived in Emmet Township, religious services were held in homes. In 1903, the Reverend Frank Peterson homesteaded two miles south and one mile west of where the Emmet Post Office was in 1967. He was the local Methodist minister for many years.

In 1908, a church building was built on his land. In those days, candles were used to decorate Christmas trees. Following one of the Christmas programs at the church, Santa's cotton beard, and also the tree, caught fire and created quite a commotion. The fire was quickly extinguished, however, so little damage was done. In later years, it became difficult to obtain a pastor for that church so it disbanded in 1945.

Pioneers of the Catholic faith attended services at the Blackwater church.

The Norwegian Lutherans organized a church in the early years. They met in home until 1925, when they built a church in the Romsas Township, just two miles north of Emmet. In 1958, that church was moved just across the road from the Emmet Post Office; remodeled, it became the St. Peter Lutheran Church. In 1967, two charter members of that church were still living: Mr. and Mrs. Konrad Iverson.