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Northwestern North Dakota Development Association


North Dakota has always been a low population state. Although thousands of people immigrated to the state from 1871 to 1914, agriculture was a fickle business and many of the immigrants found that 160 acres was not enough land to support a family as climatic shifts offered feast or famine. Some moved westward to work in the mines of Montana. Many moved to the West Coast in search of a less extreme climate, or they went north to Canada as additional lands opened for homesteading there, offering three hundred and twenty acres of free land.

On this date in 1922, the Northwestern North Dakota Development Association announced that an intense effort to enhance immigration to that area was gaining momentum in almost every county in the region. Utilizing the post war prosperity, the campaign cry of “100,000 More Neighbors” echoed from town to town. Some twenty local units of the parent organization had been formed from Pierce County to the Montana line. At Rugby, the old Commercial Club, which had been dormant for a number of years, was revitalized to handle immigration work. Speakers came from Minot to organize the effort, and $2,000 was raised to promote immigration. Booster buttons and pledge cards were distributed. At Bottineau, delegations from Westhope, Antler, Lansford and Souris came together with the Bottineau Commercial Club, and another $5,000 was raised for the cause. The Crosby Development Association was formed by local businessmen with plans to extend their organization to all of Divide County. Units in Williston and Tioga represented Williams County, and other units were organized in McLean, Mountrail, McKenzie and Dunn Counties.

The aim of the Development Association was not to rekindle the flow of immigration from European countries, but to lure eastern farmers and businessmen. An extensive advertizing campaign focused on states suffering from inflated land values. Representatives travelled to the Eastern states to organize parties of home-seekers, and available land was listed with the Association to expedite sales.

While the Northwestern North Dakota Development Association was somewhat successful, the effort was ill-timed as the post-war economy bottomed out and prices for agricultural products dropped. Overextended credit resulted in bank failures, and many of the newcomers lost everything. Once again, the out-migration of the late 1920s showed that North Dakota’s population would prove to be as cyclical as its weather.

Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis

Source: Ward County Independent April 6, 1922