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Old Settlers’ Organizations


For the earliest white inhabitants of Dakota Territory, the hardships of frontier living created a unique bond. As the years progressed, and more residents arrived, these first settlers increasingly felt a need to maintain contact with one another, preserve their story or simply differentiate themselves from the new arrivals.

The Dakota Territorial Legislature organized the first old settlers' association as early as 1861. But with a few exceptions, most members lived in southern Dakota Territory. It took over a decade for the first old settlers' organization to form in northern Dakota Territory. Early residents of Bismarck created the Burleigh County Pioneer Association in 1873 and within a year had produced a short history of Bismarck. For residents in the east, the Red River Valley Old Settlers Association was organized at Grand Forks on this date in 1879.

Written by Christina Sunwall


Kingsbury, George W. History of Dakota Territory Vol. 1. Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1915.

Lounsberry, Colonel Clement A. Early History of North Dakota: Essential Outlines of Americans History. Vol. Complete in One. Washington, D.C.: Liberty Press, 1919.