Lynn Town’s Namesake

Feb 21, 2018


George W. Lynn didn’t want the newest town in Emmons County to be named after him, but he found peace with the “Lynn Town” derivative, Linton.  Lynn was Emmons County’s first state’s attorney, and also a farmer and newspaper publisher.

In the 1898 election, the town of Linton won out over Williamsport to be the county seat. Linton was also a hub as a double end point for the Milwaukee and Northern Pacific railroads. On this date in 1899, Linton’s post office was established.

As for the town’s namesake, Lynn first came to Dakota Territory in 1885. He studied under attorneys in Yankton and Bismarck, then came to Emmons County in 1886 when he was 23. He joined the bar in 1889. In 1892, he became the state’s attorney for Emmons County, a position he held for four non-consecutive terms.

Lynn had a hand in a trial involving the Spicer family murders of 1897. Six members from four generations of the Spicer family were killed at their farm north of Winona, North Dakota, an old Missouri River town. Five men were accused of the murders, including Alec Coudotte. Lynn was an assistant defender appointed to Coudotte’s legal team.

Coudotte pleaded not guilty, but a jury convicted him. He was sentenced to be hanged, but the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the verdict and ordered a new trial. Thirty local men had other plans, and broke into the Emmons County Jail at night and lynched Coudotte and two other suspects.

Lynn was a Republican and said to have one of the largest law libraries in the state, and was noted for his thoroughness and diligence in his casework. He was succeeded as Emmons County top prosecutor by his stepson, Harry.  George W. Lynn died in 1933 at the age of seventy.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura


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