A stretch of U.S. Highway Two in North Dakota has a string of towns with English names. York, Norwich, Surrey and Leeds. Leeds, dates back to 1886. The Great Northern Railroad founded the town at the site of a community previously known as Barker. It’s about 30 miles northwest of Devils Lake.
On this date in 1887, the post office at Leeds was established, still in the days of Dakota Territory. Leeds took its name from the town in Yorkshire, England. Other upper Dakota towns took English names to please English stockholders of the railroad, like Norwich, which is fifteen miles east of Minot.
Leeds became a village in 1899 and incorporated as a city in 1903. Its first mayor was Elisha Bartlett Page. He was a farmer who settled in Benson County in the spring of 1890, at age twenty-four. Over seventeen years, he acquired 600 acres of land near the town. Leeds’s population nearly doubled under his and other mayors’ terms, jumping to over 600 residents from 1900 to 1910. Over 720 people called Leeds home by 1930. Today: about 450.
Leeds is located near sites of interest like Rugby, which claims the geographical center of North America, and Devils Lake, North Dakota’s largest natural lake. To the northwest is the Turtle Mountains, and in every direction, farmland.
Dakota Datebook written by Jack Dura
Gavett, J.L. (2009). North dakota: Counties, town and people, part II. USA: Watchmaker Publishing Ltd.
Wick, D.A. (1989). North Dakota place names. Bismarck, ND: Prairie House