Kirk Post Office in Bowman County
Like hundreds of other communities that came and went in early Dakota, the outpost of Kirk, North Dakota, began with a post office. On this date in 1911, a farm post office was established for Kirk, about twenty-two miles southwest of Rhame. Kirk was named after a local rancher in Bowman County.
Samuel Goldhirsch was Kirk’s postmaster. He was a Jewish settler who came from Chicago in 1910. About 50 Jewish families had settled Bowman County in 1908, homesteading as a way to acquire land. They purchased the land for $1.25 per acre after living on a quarter section for nine months.
North Dakota had several Jewish settlements near Washburn, Flasher, Ashley and Regan. Crop failures and other financial difficulties contributed to their decline. Synagogues both current and former stand today in Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks. Jewish cemeteries sit near Ashley and Regan, memorials to the Jewish settlers who carved out a life in Dakota.
Jewish settlers weren’t the only pioneers attracted to southwestern North Dakota. Settlement boomed in the early twentieth century. Marmarth had over thirteen hundred residents by 1920. But the boom of its wet years ended with the return of arid weather. Marmarth today has about a tenth the population of its heyday.
The outpost of Kirk didn’t last long, though it did attract a grocery store. The post office closed in February of 1914, with mail redirected to Concord, North Dakota, another Bowman County outpost.
Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura
Wick, D.A. (1989). North Dakota place names. Bismarck, ND: Prairie House