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Manuscripts by Subject - Family / Local History - #10046

Title: Dana Monroe Wright Papers

Dates: 1889-1963

Collection Number: 10046

Quantity: 10 feet/1r. (#09162)

Abstract: Consists of correspondence, subject files, biographies, research notes, and maps.  Papers relate primarily to local and family history, archeological surveys, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota, diaries, correspondence, newspaper clippings, family histories, and memorabilia, and notes and an 1863 map of the military trail of General H.H. Sibley in Burleigh, Kidder and Stutsman County ND.

Provenance:  The State Historical Society of North Dakota acquired the Dana Wright Papers from Mrs. Dana Wright in May 1966.  Juliann Henriksen prepared the inventory to the Dana Monroe Wright Papers in August 1983 and Amy Sakariassen in July 1985.

Property Rights:  The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

Copyrights:  Copyrights to materials in this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs.  Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code and an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite collection title, collection name, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

Transfer: Photographs and negatives were transferred to photograph collection 00101.  Records of the State Historical Society of North Dakota--approximately ½ cubic feet--were removed from the papers and transferred to the agency archives.

Related collections:
00101 Dana Wright
10026 Albert E. Dease
10085 Orin G. Libby
10553 Frank E. Vyzralek
10691 Roy Johnson and Louis Pfaller
10870 Walter E. Essig
30203 Historical Society. Superintendent’s Correspondence
30205 Historical Society. Curator’s Correspondence


Dana Monroe Wright was born on August 30, 1878 in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. He moved with his parents to farm near Jamestown in 1882, and left that area in 1898 to enlist in the North Dakota National Guard.  Wright served in the military during the Spanish-American War in the Philippines and later in the Mexican Border War and World War I.

Wright had a variety of jobs between his active duty military service.  After returning to the United States from the Philippines, he taught school at Sydney, North Dakota and then homesteaded at Montpelier, North Dakota.  In 1902, he became an employee of the Northern Pacific as a fireman and locomotive engineer and held that position for ten years.  Wright was elected sheriff of Stutsman County in 1913 and in 1917 served in the State House of Representatives.  After World War I, he was elected to another term as county sheriff.  He was hired in 1927 by the U.S. Customs Service and was posted on the Canadian border near St. John, North Dakota. Wright retired from the customs service in 1941 and became a game warden and custodian of the state game farm through 1949.

Dana M. Wright was elected a director of the State Historical Society Board in 1915; later, as chairman of the State Parks Committee, he had the responsibility of locating sites of historical interest.  Wright wrote articles concerning North Dakota history which were published in the Society's historical quarterly and by a number of newspapers.  The reorganization of the State Historical Society resulted in his resignation from the Board in 1962.

Dana Wright married Sybella Henderson Pearson on May 4, 1904. They had four children: Sybella Luneta, Sivilla Jeanne, Jean Laurie, and Monroe Dana. Dana M. Wright died on February 16, 1964 in Rolla, North Dakota.

Sources: Turtle Mountain Star, February 20, 1964; Fargo Forum, December 2, 1956; and the Fargo Forum, February 17, 1964.


The Dana Monroe Wright Papers date from 1920 to 1963 and occupy eight feet.  Three series, with five subseries, have been established to organize the Wright material.  Series I consists of correspondence for the years 1920-1963.  Series II is entitled Research Materials, ca. 1930-1960, Series III, Miscellaneous, ca. 1950-1960. 

Series I, Correspondence, measures 3/4 cubic foot and dates from 1920 to 1963.  The series consists of chronologically arranged outgoing letters and alphabetically organized incoming letters.  The focus of the letters is on the work and research conducted by Wright. Wright was a knowledgeable and frequently consulted authority on many facets of North Dakota history. Of particular and consuming interest to Dana Wright were the old trails that cross North Dakota and her history. On the subject of these trails he was an untiring collector of information.  For the main part, the correspondence found in Series I concerns the old trails followed by explorers, traders, Indians, military figures and outfitters during the 1800s.  The letters relate or request specific information and details about the trails and those who traveled and even died on them.  Among the trails mentioned are those used by the La Verendrye expedition in the 1700s, the Sully campaign of 1864, General Sibley and his soldiers in 1863 and 1864, and George Armstrong Custer. Some exchanges of information on the 1869 route of Captain Twining and the 1873 trail of Lt. Greene are also present in the papers.  Wright sought to establish exact locations of campsites, river crossings, skirmishes, and burials along these trails and also along the routes between Fort Totten and other forts in North Dakota, or Dakota Territory.  Fort Abercrombie, Fort Seward, and Fort Stevenson are mentioned in connection with Fort Totten, because of the trails that linked them in the 1800s.  Wright's efforts and meticulous approach have made the information he collected valuable and valued to other scholars and historians who are interested in reconstructing, with accuracy, the old trails in the state.

In his work for the State Historical Society of North Dakota, Wright's responsibilities included arranging for commemorative markers to be placed by historic landmarks.  A great deal of correspondence pertains to details involved in his duties of research, collection, preservation and marking of historic places.  Pursued via correspondence are researches into grave sites on old trails and the genealogies of Turtle Mountains pioneer families, Souris River trading posts, and North Dakota place name origins.  Business letters concerning Metigoshe State Park are also present, as Wright was involved with the park and camp as another of his work responsibilities.

Series II, Research Materials, Subseries I:  Biographies, is contained in Boxes 2 and 3.  This unit consists of queries, responses, notes, obituaries, and genealogies on settlers who came to the Turtle Mountains in the mid and late 1800s.  Wright collected family histories, interviews and statements in the 1950s.  Genealogies, anecdotes and reminiscences involving such families as the Hormuth family, the Bottineau family, the Prescott family, the Wohlgemuth family, and the Martineau family are found among Wright's historical information.  Prominent among the individuals infamous or somehow important in the history of the region in the early years Wright researched, are Albert Boudoin, E. W. Brenner and Mary MacDonald, Brave Bear (hanged in 1882 for murder), and General Pincott, and early Sheyenne River settler.  Wright has included sketch maps of homestead locations, grave sites and cemeteries.  His attention to detail and accuracy is evident throughout this series.

Subseries II, within Series II, consists of county history material, including maps, notes, and histories.  This subseries is arranged alphabetically by county name.  For each county, Wright attempted to record significant facts and historical information.  As a consequence the material collected for each county varies a great deal, in accordance with the specific attributes, development and historic importance of a certain county.  Wright recorded the names of early settlers, points of historic interest, landmarks, geographic features, town plats and descriptions of old buildings, cemeteries and prehistoric grave sites.  Assorted county affidavits and business records appear for some but not all counties.  The oldest item is dated 1883.  For the most part, the county histories encompass the period of years from the 1840s to the early 1900s.

Subseries III, Subject Files, Boxes 4 and 5 contains material on a variety of topics, all of which are historical in content, concerning places and events in the early history of North Dakota and Manitoba.  Areas that interested Wright -- the Turtle Mountains, the Selkirk Settlement, and battleground where the Battle of the Grand Coteau was fought, terrain crossed by any of the great old trails -- are mentioned in the collected material within this series.  The Metis culture, the Mouse or Souris, the James and the Red Rivers and their history and settlements are also subjects represented by information found in the collection.  County maps, accounts and anecdotes written by descendants of the Turtle Mountain settlers are included.

Most of Series III:  Miscellaneous Records, ca. 1950-1960 focuses on North Dakota history, historic sites and trails.  A copy of a handwritten Turtle Mountain Protection Association Constitution dates to 1894, but beyond that, and with the exception of a small amount of personal material relating to Wright's World War I experience, the papers date from the 1950s.  Clippings form the rest of the Dana Wright collection, and these date from 1920 and the 1950s.  Again, the focus of the newspaper articles is North Dakota history.  They were taken from the Fargo Forum, the Jamestown Sun, the Devils Lake Journal, and the Turtle Mountain Star, newspapers based in the areas which most interested Wright.


Series I.                Correspondence, 1920 to 1963, Box 1-2
Consists of outgoing and incoming letters.

Series II.               Research Materials, ca. 1930-1960, Box 2-5
Consists of notes, obituaries, family genealogies, maps, and manuscripts.

Series III.             Miscellaneous Records, ca. 1950 to 1960, Box 5-6, 11
Consists of manuscripts, maps, notes, newspaper clippings, reports, letters, and receipts


Series I:                Correspondence

Box 1:
1 Outgoing Letters           1920-1929
2 Outgoing Letters           1930-1939
3 Outgoing Letters           1940-1949
4 Outgoing Letters           1950-1951
5 Outgoing Letters           1952-1953
6 Outgoing Letters           1954-1955
7 Outgoing Letters           1956-1957
8 Outgoing Letters           1958-1959
9 Outgoing Letters           1960-1963
10 Incoming Letters A-E, 1946-1960

 Box 2:
1 Incoming Letters F-J, 1946-1960
2 Incoming Letters K-N, 1946-1960
3 Incoming Letters O-R, 1946-1960
4 Incoming Letters S-Z, 1946-1960

Series II:               Research Material:  Biographies, County History Material, Subject Files

5 Biographies     A-B
6 Biographies     Boudoin, Albert
7 Biographies     Bottineau Family
8 Biographies Brave Bear
9 Biographies     Brenner, E.W.
10 Biographies   Casey, Mrs. James
11 Biographies   D-H
12 Biographies   Hormuth Family
13 Biographies   Inkster, George
14 Biographies   Jarvis, Fred
15 Biographies   Jeanotte Family
16 Biographies   Johnson, Clarence
17 Biographies   Johnson, Edward
18 Biographies   Kanick
19 Biographies   Kildahl
20 Biographies   Kiplin, Maggie McLeod
21 Biographies  Kreeber, John C.
22 Biographies   Kurtz, William
23 Biographies   L

Box 3:
1 Biographies     M
2 Biographies     Martineau Family
3 Biographies     Moorhead, William
4 Biographies     N-P
5 Biographies     Prescott-Wolgemuth Family
6 Biographies     Rondeau Family
7 Biographies     S-T
8 Biographies     W
9 Biographies     Willink, Mrs. John
10 County History Material - Barnes
11 County History Material - Benson
12 County History Material - Billings
13 County History Material - Bottineau
14 County History Material - Burke
15 County History Material - Burleigh
16 County History Material - Cass
17 County History Material - Cavalier
18 County History Material - Dickey
19 County History Material - Divide
20 County History Material - Dunn
21 County History Material - Eddy
22 County History Material - Emmons
23 County History Material - Foster
24 County History Material - Golden Valley
25 County History Material - Grand Forks
26 County History Material - Grant
27 County History Material - Griggs
28 County History Material - Hettinger
29 County History Material - Kidder
30 County History Material - LaMoure
31 County History Material - Logan
32 County History Material - McHenry
33 County History Material - McIntosh
34 County History Material - McKenzie
35 County History Material - McLean
36 County History Material - Mercer
37 County History Material - Morton
38 County History Material - Mountrail
39 County History Material - Nelson
40 County History Material - Oliver
41 County History Material - Pembina

Box  4:
1 County History Material - Pierce
2 County History Material - Ramsey
3 County History Material - Ransom
4 County History Material - Rolette
5 County History Material - Sargent
6 County History Material - Sheridan
7 County History Material - Sioux
8 County History Material - Slope
9 County History Material - Stark
10 County History Material - Steele
11 County History Material - Stutsman
12 County History Material - Towner
13 County History Material - Traill
14 County History Material - Walsh
15 County History Material - Wells
16 County History Material - Williams
17 Subject Files:  Antler Creek Area
18 Subject Files:  Boundary Survey
19 Subject Files:  Brenner's Crossing
20 Subject Files:  Canada
21 Subject Files:  Canada-Emerson Area
22 Subject Files:  Canada-Wakopa Area
23 Subject Files:  Glyndon, Minnesota
24 Subject Files:  Grand Coteau Battle
25 Subject Files:  Hatch's Battalion
26 Subject Files:  Hudson's Bay Company
27 Subject Files:  Indians
28 Subject Files:  James River
29 Subject Files:  Manitoba Geographical Society
30 Subject Files:  Manitoba Historical Society
31 Subject Files:  Military
32 Subject Files:  Metigoshe Lake

Box 5:
1 Subject Files: Metis
2 Subject Files: Mouse River
3 Subject Files: Northern Pacific Railway
4 Subject Files: Palliser's Rambles and Adventures
5 Subject Files: Pingree Area
6 Subject Files: Red River
7 Subject Files: St. Cloud Church Records
8 Subject Files: Selkirk Settlers
9 Subject Files: Snake Creek
10 Subject Files: South Dakota
11 Subject Files: Stage Lines
12 Subject Files: John Tanner:  "Grey Hawk"
13 Subject Files: Trails:  Bismarck to the Black Hills
14 Subject Files: Trails - Fort Totten to Fort Abercrombie
15 Subject Files: Trails - Fort Totten to Fort Seward
16 Subject Files: Trails - Fort Totten to Fort Stevenson
17 Subject Files: Trails - Sibley
18 Subject Files: Trails - Miscellaneous
19 Subject Files: Turtle Mountain area
20 Subject Files: Twin Lakes Stockage
21 Subject Files: La Verendrye - David Thompson Monument
22 Subject Files: Winona area
23 Subject Files: Miscellaneous

Series III.             Miscellaneous, ca. 1950-1960, Box 5-6

24 Brackett, George A. "A Winter Evening's Tale"
25 Fleming, John. "Pioneer Days"
26 Fuglestad, Torkle T. "Memories from the School of Life"
27 Johnson, Roy. "The Watson Crossing of the Maple River"
28 Kildahl, N. Johanna. "Reminiscences"
29 Lee, Charles H. "The Long Ago"
30 MacFarlane, Robert S. "The Lewis and Clark Country--A Century and a Half Later"
31 Manitoba Women's Institute manuscripts
32 Maps

Box 6:
1 Map purchases
2 Newspaper Clippings
3 State Historical Society of North Dakota Site Reports
4 Turtle Mountain Protection Association--Constitution
5 Wanberg, Mrs. R.T. "Know Your North Dakota District--Know Your State"
6 Wright, Dana:  Personal Papers
Oversize Township Plats - Western North Dakota (many old township plats) 1889

Box 7:
1 Ft. Totten Indian School, Information  1913, 1960
2 Correspondence and information on Devils Lake/Sheyenne area 1920's
3 Sully, Ft. Rice and West, 1864
4 Totten-Georgetown Trail 1950's
5 Ft. Totten, Memoir of Jean Baptiste Fairbault, notes on military cemetery by Mrs. Archie Miller
6 Diary of Enoch Eastman, Teamster with Gen. Sibley, 1863
7 Charles Atchison (with Gen. Sibley) and Camp Atchison
8 Mackinaw Boat destroyed by Sioux, 1863
9 Notes and Correspondence on Sibley Trail and Camps
10 First Sibley Story, 1863
11 Notes and Correspondence, Tour of Sibley Trail--Valley City to Atcheson (Minnie J. Nielson) 1953
12 Notes on Griggs County Historic Sites
13 Major Buell
14 Notes on Sibley in Griggs County 1954
15 Notes on Sibley Trail and Camp Atchison, 1862-1866 1960
16 Notes from Letter File of 1900 at Ft. Totten
17 Maps
18 Photo of Sheyenne River west of Camp Wharton, Ransom County
19 Ft. Totten 1867 1950's
20 Historical Notes on Sibley, Sibley Trail
21 Trail between Ft. Seward and Ft. Totten
22 Ft. Totten School, Harold Schunke, Sam Feld Schools
23 Ft. Totten, Sully Hill, Guy Robbins
24 Ft. Totten Trail South to Abercrombie and Seward
25 John Thune, Griggs County
26 Sully, Sentinel Butte to Yellowstone, 1864
27 Sibley Expedition 1863
28 Manual Lisa Trading Post
29 Stevenson-Totten Trails
30 Big Mound Battle, Kidder County
31 Kittson-Rolette Pembina Trail
32 Sibley Expedition 1863
33 Notes on John C. Fremont; Charles B. Atchison; other members of Sibley's company
34 Camp Forbes--Sibley
35 Camp Corning Park
36 Camp Carter
37 Camp Gilfillian, NE of Woodworth
38 Camp Buell
39 History of St. John, ND
40 Camp Willison, South of Pettibone
41 Camp All, north of Melville
42 Correspondence with Ray Lingk, Beach; Sully Expedition 1864
43 Sibley Trail, Camp Grant 1863
44 Camp Libby, SE Ashtabula
45 Camp Arnold, Barnes County
46 Camp Smith, Barnes County
47 McPhaill Butte
48 Sully Corral 1864
49 Camp Olin 1863
50 Camp Sheardown, Valley City
51 Sully to Killdeer 1864
52 John Burman Park

Box 8:
1 Sibley Trail in Barnes County
2 Sibley in Ransom County
3 Sibley in Burleigh County
4 Sibley in Kidder County
5 Camp Pope
6 Camp William H. Kimball State Park
7 Sibley in Stutsman County
8 Sibley Trail in Griggs County
9 Sibley in Foster County
10 Records of the War Dept., National Archives, 1869-1870

Box 9: SEE - Photo Collection 00101 Dana Wright

Box 10:
1 Company H, First Infantry, ND National Guard
2 Military Records and Correspondence of Major Dana Wright
3 Information and Correspondence--Major Dana Wright
4 Photos--ND First Infantry
5 Field Notes--Ft. Lincoln
6 Field Notes--Ft. Lincoln

Box 11:
Hand-drawn Whitestone Hill park map (Dickey County) (fragile)
Property owners of several sections written on Wakopa Creek Refuge (Rolette County) US Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service map, n.d.

Box 12:
1 Personal Journals of Dana Wright, July 1897-Jan. 1898
2 Personal Journals of Dana Wright, July 1897-Jan. 1898
3 War Diary 1916
4 Personal Journals, Jan. 1936-Dec. 1936
5 Personal Journals, Jan. 1936-Dec. 1936
6 Personal Journals, Jan 1937-June 1938
7 Personal Journals, July 1938-Oct. 1939
8 Personal Journals, Jan. 1937-June 1938
9 Personal Journals, July 1938-Oct. 1939
10 Personal Journals, April 1, 1948-Dec. 1953; Jan-May 1955

Box 13:
1 Personal Journals 1948-1953, 1955
2 Personal Journals, May 1955-Feb. 1956
3 Personal Journals, Nov-Dec. 1956
4 Personal Journals, Feb. 1956-Sept. 1956
5 Personal Journals 1959
6 Personal Journals 1959
7 Personal Journals 1963

Box 14:
1 Sioux Expedition Map, General Sibley's, 1863
2 Officers of General Sibley, 1863
3 Soldier Deaths during Indian Expeditions 1933-1954
4 Weiser, Dr. J. S. Gravesite
5 Burham, J. W., Diary of 1863 Expedition 1955-1956
6 Camps and Mileage 1863 Expedition 1913-1957
7 Correspondence and Clippings, Misc. 1922-1954
8 Correspondence and Clippings, Misc. 1923-1986
9 Belcourt Chapel, Walhalla
10 Notes, Sibley Expedition/Trail 1863
11 Correspondence and Notes--Dana Wright
12 Field Notes and Photos--Sibley Camps

Box 15:
Duplicates of Dana Wright Materials

Oversize Township Plats - Western North Dakota (many old township plats) 1889

Microfilm roll #09162
The Wright Record with Data on Allied Families, Cambridge, New York, 1943

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