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Hirschville, North Dakota


In the late 1800s, Casper Hirsch immigrated to the United States with his family. They were among the Germans from Hungary who came seeking better lives. After spending some time in New York State, Hirsch was attracted to the West by the promise of owning land. He brought his family to North Dakota between 1900 and 1902. They homesteaded north of Gladstone.

The Hirschs were determined to thrive on the frontier. They believed that in order for a town to grow, they had to have a church. So, on this date in 1910, the family donated six acres of land for the construction of St. Philip’s Catholic Church, which would provide services for German speaking immigrants. The church became the center for a growing population. It had a resident pastor from 1928 to 1951.

Hirsch was confident that a town would grow around the church. He built a grocery store and a hardware store. In 1911, the United States Postal Service established a post office attached to Hirsch’s general store. The post office was called Hirschville in honor of Casper Hirsch. The unincorporated village seemed poised to prosper.

But Hirschville never attracted a population sufficient to support the local businesses. The Hirschville post office closed in 1920. The grocery store and hardware store closed shortly after. Hirsch became discouraged. He talked of going back to New York. He said he would not have to freeze there like he did in North Dakota. But he never made it that far east. Instead, he bought a hotel in Wisconsin where he and his wife spent the rest of their lives.

St. Philip’s Catholic Church hung on a little longer, remaining for a time as a reminder of one man’s dream. After the departure of the resident pastor in 1951, the church was served by priests from Assumption Abbey in Richardton and St. Thomas Church in Gladstone. The congregation was down to eighteen families in 1997 when the archdiocese made the decision to close it. It was sold and torn down, going the way of many other rural churches of North Dakota.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


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