Roseglen Township

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Roseglen Township, North Dakota

Introduction

This history of Roseglen Township covers its early settlement in 1902. It tells the stories of the lives of the settlers, including the threat of prairie fires. In 1916, a portion of the township that had previously been retained as part of the Fort Berthold Reservation was opened for homesteaders, which led to a wave of settlement in that part of the township. In 1917, life was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, in which many of the older boys and young men of Roseglen Township participated. In the late 1920s, the depression hit, and was aggravated by a series of crop failures. In 1941, the United States entered World War II, and twenty-four residents of Roseglen were called into military service, every one of them returning safely at the conclusion of the war. The higher prices received during the war, and following, brought a level of prosperity to the area. Farms were kept up, and many of the area farmers were able to improve upon their homes.

Geographical Aspects of Roseglen Township

Roseglen Township is made up of flat, level land, for the most part. The northern part of the township is flat, with one coulee intersecting the township for a short distance along the northwestern edge (Section 12). This coulee is known as Glennon's Coulee.

The extreme southern corner of the township is rough, hilly land, suitable for the purposes of pasture. The soil in this area is more sandy than in the rest of the township. The soil of Roseglen Township is generally good for crops.

Roseglen Township usually receives from five to twenty inches of precipitation per year, and crops are generally fair to good in yields. As an example, in 1961, the area suffered from crop failures yet, in 1962, many farmers received twice the normal yields on their crops.

Roseglen Township (T 149N, R 87W) is located in the western part of McLean County, North Dakota. Roseglen Township is surrounded by Deepwater Township on the west, Amundsville Township on the northwest, Gate Township on the north, Blue Hill Township on the northeast, Blackwater Township on the southeast, and the unorganized territories of T 149, R 86W on the east, and T 148, R 88W on the west-southwest. Other nearby communities have included Emmet Township, which was once, but is no longer, an organized township; and Romsaas Township (T 149, R 86), which is also no longer an organized township in McLean County, North Dakota. Also, a portion of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation was once part of the township.

Early History of Roseglen Township, North Dakota

Roseglen has always been a small, rural community and, like most small areas, Roseglen does not have a spectacular history, but it does have a history that is distinctly its own.

Before the settlers came en mass to the area, it was all open range, used by ranchers to the south. In 1884, Patrick Glennon settled on an open range in what is now known as Glennon's Coulee. When the area was opened to homesteaders in 1902, he took out a homestead claim.

When other homesteaders and settlers arrived, Patrick Glennon sold hay to those who came too late in the fall to put in a crop of their own. The Glennons were also the gardners of the region, boasting huge gardens in which they grew potatoes and many other vegetables, storing their food in large root cellars until it could be used or sold to their neighbors. Their root cellars could keep potatoes and vegetables year-round, without spoilage.

The early settlers made their homes out of whatever materials were available. Some lived in sod shanties, others in tar paper shacks. Most, as soon as they were able, built homes from lumber, which was usually purchased from a mill across the river, or from Minot.

By 1904, the people from Roseglen Township felt that they needed a post office, as the nearest one was in what is now Blue Hill Township, but was originally known as the Oscar Post Office. A petition for the establishment of a post office was signed and sent to the Postal Department in 1904, along with a letter with the surnames of six early settlers as suggested names for the new post office. The names submitted were Hill, Glennon, Snippen, Kolden, Shea, and Rostad. All of these names were rejected by the post office. A group of men then met at the Johannes Snippen home for the purpose of finding a name for the new post office. A picture of roses on a seed catalog caught the eye of one of the men, and he suggested that the "rose" be combined with neighbor's surname, Glennon, and the name "Roseglennon" was submitted to the Postal  Department. They shortened the name to "Roseglen" and accepted it.

The post office was open for six months before the mail delivery route was extended to Roseglen. During this time, John Snippen, the Postmaster, made the trip to Oscar every day to pick up the mail and bring it back to the Roseglen Post Office.

The post office remained on the John Snippen farm (NW ¼ of Section 13) until it was moved to its current location, after the Reservation boundaries were moved back. At that time, John Snippen sold his store.

In 1906, there was so much snow that the trains couldn't make it into Ryder, leaving people badly in need of coal. Some of the area farmers hauled coal to Ryder in very cold weather, where they could sometimes get as high as forty to forty-five dollars a load. A load usually consisted of about two tons. The coal was divided among the residents of Ryder, with each one getting about five hundred pounds until the wagon was empty.

During the early years, most of the settlers got their coal down by the river, where it was free for the digging.

In 1907, Mr. John Hill, Sr. was the first resident to build a large, hip-roofed barn, hauling the lumber from Minot. In 1967, when the Golden Jubilee book was published, that barn was still standing, and being used by his son, Arnold.

Mr. Peter Kolden built the first large home in 1910. In 1967, Vernon Hanson, a grandchild, was living there.

Early farming in Roseglen Township was done mostly with horses and mules, although a few of the early homesteaders used oxen. The average day for a farmer, when farming was done by horses, began at 4:30 or 5:00 o'clock in the morning. The farm family would have to feed the horses, do all of the other chores that needed to be done, and get into the field by 7:00 a.m.

The farmer would work until noon, eat, and rest the horses for an hour, and then go back into the fields until 7:00 p.m. Arriving home sometimes after 7:00, he would unharness and feed his horses, then eat an everning meal. After supper, he would return to the barn to curry the horses, get them ready for the next day, milk the cows, and do any remaining chores. By this time, it was 10:00 p.m. and the bed looked inviting.

The same horses would be used day after day, so it was important that they be kept in top condition. Often, when a mare was about to foal, she would be worked right up to the time she foaled, at which time she would be unhitched and taken back to the barn. The next day, the mare would be back to work, with the colt trotting along beside the mother.

Although tractors were introduced to Roseglen Township early, they were used mainly for threshing, and horses continued to be used for field work. To a large extent, horses were used for field work until the 1930s. As documented in the Golden Jubilee book, A.C. Hill recalled using horses as late as 1928 to pull the combine.

Threshing would be done in the fall, after which everyone set out to prepare for winter. Grain hauling was done in the winter. It usually took one day to  make the trip to Ryder, and another day to return, a distance of about fifteen miles each way. John Hill, Jr. hauled grain to Ryder with his Big Four Tractor, pulling seven wagons behind, hauling about 1,100 bushels of grain.

Generally, one or two trips each year were made to Minot, usually in order to have wheat ground into flour for the settler's own use. This trip took from three to four days, which included one day for the trip in, often leaving home about 2:00 o'clock in the morning, one day to rest the horses and get the flour ground, and another day for the trip home, if everythiing went smoothly. The trip was about fifty miles, each way.

Later Settlement of Roseglen Township

In 1911, a part of the Fort Berthold Reservation lands were opened to settlement. Those wanting to have a chance at getting land had to register for it in Plaza or Roseglen. The land was to be distributed by lottery, those with the low numbers getting the first choice at the land.

Coal Mines in Roseglen Township

In 1919, a coal mine was opened in Roseglen Township on the NW ¼ of Section 20. The mine was an underground mine located on the side of a hill. Chris Prang and Bill Braasch opened this mine. In 1921, they sold out to Carl Larson, who operated it until it closed.

The shaft of the mine ran back into the hill for about 60-80 rods. Coal was hauled out of the mine by a horse or mule, a half ton at a time. The coal vein they were mining was about eight feet thick. They mined only about five feet of it because there was too much slag in the other three feet. The coal was mined in rooms off of the main shaft. There were government regulations as to the layout of these rooms. There had to be a six-foot wide entryway into the room. The entryway had to be sixteen feet long, and the rooms could not be over nine feet square.

The only serious accident occurred in 1934, when Bill Drake was undermining and a huge chunk of coal fell on him. He was taken to Minot by Arnold Hill and Carl Larson. His spine was injured, and he died about eleven days after the accident.

The price of coal was one dollar per long ton delivered, or about seventy-five cents at the mine. Expenses incurred by the mine owner were a royalty tax of ten cents per ton to the government, due to its location on Indian land, and from ten to twenty-five cents a ton, depending on the time, for labor to have the coal hauled out of the mine.

The owner of the Roseglen Mine, Alex Braasch, met with a tragic accident in the fall of 1928. He crashed through a plate glass window while sleepwalking, cutting a severe gash in his arm. He crawled to the nearest neighbor, who took him by car to Ryder. He died before reaching the doctor. The mine was then taken over by Carl Larson.

In the mid-1920s, the mines were modernized. Carl Larson installed a Willys Knight engine and cable to pull the cars out of the mine. Sometimes the cable would break, and the cars would roll back into the mine, piling up at the bottom of the incline, and it would take a full day to make repairs.

A second mine was opened in 1922, across the road (SE ¼ of Section 17). Its operation was much the same as the other mine. In 1935, Grant Shaw was burned by a powder explosion. Grant was welding in the blacksmith shop when a spark flew into a poweder keg, which exploded, knocking the roof loose and burning Grant. This mine was closed in 1937.

In 1947, Iver Vangsness and son had a field fire get out of control, igniting an prairie fire that caught the mines on fire, so that they had to be dynamited shut. The entrances and all of the air vents were blasted shut in order to extinguish the fire beneath the ground.

School District

The Roseglen School District was organized in 1905, electing the following to positions on the school board:

  • Adolf Johnson - President
  • Peter Knolden - Director
  • Johannes Snippen - Director
  • Henry Snippen - Treasurer
  • John Hill, Sr. - Clerk

The first teachers of the Roseglen School District were Elsie Nelson and Nellie Walsh. From September 4th to November 24th, 1905, Elsie Nelson taught at $35 a month. From April 23rd to June 29th, 1906, Nellie Walsh taught at $40 a month.

From 1905 to 1910, school was held in a homestead shack on the Frost quarter (SE ¼ of Section 15). In 1910, the first school building was built. It was known as the Fines School.

On August 17, 1917, the portion of Roseglen Township that had been within the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and the Roseglen School District combined, to become known as Roseglen School District No. 53.

From 1910 to 1925, the district built four schools, which were used until the 1954-55 school year, after which school children were enrolled at White Shield. On April 2, 1959, the Roseglen School District officially  became a part of the White Shield Common School District.

Township Organization

On March 8, 1923, the petition for incorporation was granted and, on March 24, 1923, Roseglen became an organized township. Since that time, Roseglen has put in a road system that serves everyone in the township with all--weather roads.

At the time that the Golden Jubilee book was published, in 1967, Kenneth Hill, Lloyd Kolden and Vernon Hanson were serving as township supervisors, Art Skeiten was the township clerk, a position he had held since 1932, Maurice Snippen was treasurer, Harolf Giffy was constable, and Julius Lunden was assessor.

As of 1967, Arnold Hill had served the largest number of years as supervisor, having put in twenty-seven years. There had been only two clerks and four assessors between the time that the board was organized in 1923 and 1967, when the Golden Jubilee book was published.