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Ingersoll School

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May is National Historic Preservation Month. Today, we celebrate North Dakota’s preservation history by highlighting a site on the "National Register of Historic Places."

In 1883, the Washburn Times celebrated the organization of McLean County, calling it “an important epoch in the history of this booming little commonwealth.” The newspaper went on to characterize the organization of the county as “an incalculable benefit to the country. It enables us to work unitedly and effectively for the public good.” This included new roads and road repairs; a better-established court and prison system; and, of course, new schools.

And within a few years, a new school was built in Veeder Township, just outside of Washburn. Ingersoll School was a single story, one-room building. The farmers in the area sold a bond to a Michigan firm for $1,000 to help pay for the school – likely the first and only bonds sold that way in Dakota Territory.

The school was built by Olof A. Anderson of Painted Woods on land donated by Frank G. Nordquist. It was centrally located for ease of access. The school became a community center, housing religious services, presentations, programs, weddings, funerals, and more.

Various school teachers served the school until it closed in 1911. The first schoolteacher was Josephine Lindeleaf, whose father, John, had established the post office there in 1883, and had named the town and school after Col. Robert Green Ingersoll, a civil war veteran, lawyer, and agnostic lecturer.

Miss Lindeleaf had 13 students in the school’s first class, and was paid $30 a month. By 1905, the school district arranged free transportation for the school children, costing the district $900 over ten months, hoping that would save by not building three more school houses and hiring more teachers. But the additional schools were still deemed necessary, and by 1911, after a fourth school house was built, Ingersoll was closed as a school, though it continued to serve the community. Today, the Ingersoll Veeder Cemetery Association helps preserve the school and the history of that white schoolhouse, which still stands out brightly on the rolling, green plains.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

Sources:

Washburn Times, October 18, 1883, p1

National Register of Historic Places Registration Form 32ML971, Ingersoll School

North Dakota Place Names, Douglas A. Wick

The Washburn Leader, August 17, 1901, p8

The Washburn Leader, July 21, 1911, p5

The Washburn Leader, September 27, 1890, p1

Bismarck Daily Tribune, March 24, 1905, p2

McLean County Heritage

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