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Dakota Datebook

A Physician of High Repute



North Dakota has no shortage of famous sons and daughters. Most North Dakotans, however, largely remain unknown. Doctor John Greig is one such anonymous North Dakotan.

On this date in 1905, residents of Bottineau learned that Doctor Greig had passed away at his home in Yakima, Washington. He had been in poor health and the news came as no surprise. The local newspaper observed, “Though we expected his death, the news of it brings fresh to our minds a deep sorrow for one well beloved of those who knew him best and much respected by all.”

John Greig was born in Middlesex, Ontario in 1851. He graduated from Toronto Normal School at the age of sixteen and began teaching. He graduated from Manitoba Medical College in 1886.

Greig first visited Bottineau in Dakota Territory in 1883. He moved there in 1887. His medical practice became the largest in the county. He purchased a farm and brought his parents to live there. He cultivated half of his land. The other half was valuable for timber. The newspaper described the farm as having good buildings and modern conveniences. 

In addition to medicine and farming, Greig was also active in local affairs. He was instrumental in organizing the town’s Baptist Church. He served on the county board of health. He was especially interested in education. He served three terms as the superintendent of Bottineau County schools. The citizens of the county gave him credit for the high quality of education in local schools. Greig was also active in the Democratic Party and served on both county and state party committees.

In 1895, Greig married Mary McBride, a Canadian schoolteacher. Mary died in 1898, leaving Greig with two sons. The younger boy died at the age of two. This took a great deal out of the doctor, and by 1902 it was apparent his health was failing. He moved to Washington with his mother and sister. When his mother died, he brought her remains back to Bottineau for burial. His friends were shocked when they saw him. They described him as a broken man. He died shortly after returning to Yakima. 

In every age, it is up to ordinary people to achieve progress. Doctor Greig is an example an ordinary people who didn’t make it into the history books.


Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher



Bottineau Courant. “Death of Dr. Greig.” Bottineau ND. 2/24/1905. Page 1.

Trails to the Past. “Dr. J.A. Greig.” http://sites.rootsweb.com/~ndtttp/bottineau/biographies1.htm#greig  Accessed 1/22/2921.

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