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An Early History of Valley City

Excerpt from the 1908 Valley City High School yearbook “The Sheyenne”

Valley City is one of the most prosperous towns in North Dakota. Its growth has been very rapid. It seems almost incredible that about thirty five years ago no white people lived anywhere near here, and that this portion of the United States was then the home of the Red Man.

It must have been a picturesque sight when the trees were green in the spring

It must have been a picturesque sight when the trees were green in the spring. One must have seen wigwams crowded closely together on the level, the skins hanging in the trees to dry, the smoke rising from the wigwams and the dusky inhabitants moving about in stateliness. This band had heard of white people, but had never seen them and were anxious to do so. At last their curiosity was gratified one day when a trapper arrived in their village. The Indians gathered around him in amazement and examined everything that he possessed and were very much pleased when he addressed them in the Sioux language.

The trapper was invited to a council and smoked the pipe of peace with the old men. He gained permission to build a hut on the river bank, and assisted by the chief, arranged his traps. He won the respect and affection of these people by his great kindness.

Once while he was gone, a visit was paid to this tribe by an Indian from a neighboring tribe. He told them to kill the trapper. The next day the deed was done. On the hill back of their village they erected a large mound. After a time the white people began to settle here, but they were in fear of their red brothers and the Indians were suspicious of them.

At last, when there were more whites than Indians, the latter left the whites and moved westward. This land was first owned by the railroad company and Mr. H. Walker bought it in 1878. He sold it to A. Sifton with the exception of twelve acres which he sold to the Board of Management for the Normal School.

A party of surveyors laid out a new proposed route in 1870-71 to Bismarck. A few settlers had already located on this line, two were Mr. D.D. McFadgen, who conducted the first post office and hotel in the county, and Mr. Gates, who secured the quarter section on the border of the river opposite the park.

The Northern Pacific crossed the Red River into Dakota in 1871 and reached the Sheyenne September 15 of the same year. Valley City was then called “Second Crossing of the Sheyenne;” later it was called “Wahpeton,” afterwards it was changed to “Worthington,” and later was given the name it now bears.

In 1878 the Sherman House was built, then used as a store, and A. Olson was the pioneer merchant. Later Mr. J.S. Weiser opened a store. This same year the first school was opened in a log building.

The summer of 1879 saw the first issue of the Northern Pacific Times, Barnes County’s pioneer newspaper, which was under the editorship of Dr. Coe. The Times afterwards changed the Northern Pacific in its title to Valley City.

1880 saw the organization of several business enterprises, the most important was the Valley City Bank in which Mr. C.F. Kindred and H. Root were invested. Mr. Root came to reside here permanently and also bought a large amount of real estate. The population of Valley City at this time was about 200.

In the spring of 1881 houses, stores and churches went up on every side, each day adding largely to the population which rose over 1,000 by the end of the year. The population in 1883 was at least 2,000.

Since then the population has been increasing rapidly and now Valley City is a very prosperous place. We can say without fear of contradiction that no town in the Northwest is growing more rapidly and substantially than Valley City.

Article provided by the Barnes County Historical Society Museum

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