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Photographs - Collections - 2014 - #2014-P-019

Title: Saline Township (McHenry County, ND)     

Dates: ca. 1900-1910

Collection Number: 2014-P-019

Quantity: 5 items

Abstract: Photographs document the early history of Saline Township and include images of Saline  residents. The collection contains a photograph of residents at Grogan's Grove, residents outside the Saline Cash Store, a group of residents outdoors, Robert Lee Miller and Mildred Huston in horse-drawn cart, and an unidentified family outside home. Individuals in the group photographs are identified, with the exception of the family photograph.

Supplemental information, including the handwritten history of Saline Township (used for the historical sketch in this document) by Mildred Huston Miller and a copy of a photograph of Miller, is located in the case file and in PDF format.

Provenance: The Saline Township (McHenry County, ND) collection (2014-P-019) was donated to the State Historical Society of North Dakota by Virginia Brooks, granddaughter of Mildred Huston Miller, on August 19, 2014. 

Property rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to the 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.  Permission to use any radio or television broadcast portions of the collection must be sought from the creator.

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

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

Mildred Huston Miller

In 1890, a group of people in Sweet Springs, Missouri, who were not satisfied with conditions there, decided to try the northwest where free homesteads of 160 acres could be had by living on and improving them for five years. This group sent T. F. Huston, Peter Durness and W. L. Smith to the Milk River Valley in Montana to look the land over and, if possible, pick out a location.

In going through North Dakota, these men were very much impressed with the appearance of the country in the Towner Granville territory. So much so, that they advised this instead of the Montana country. So in the spring of 1900 an emigrant train was loaded and started to Towner, arriving there on March 17.

There were 40 in the group who were eligible to file on homesteads. The group included a number of bachelors, two elderly women, Mrs. Gaines and Mrs. Lucinda Miller and one Negro. The rest were men with families. On arriving at Towner, the cars had to be unloaded so the county allowed the settlers to stay in the court room at the old court house until they could find a location.

The men drove for several days until they found this township where they could all settle near each other. They had the land surveyed as soon as possible and the numbers of the quarter sections were put in a hat and each one drew for his future home. When they went to file on the land, the Clerk of Court administered the oath to all of them at once. Perhaps not before nor since, in this county, have 40 people been sworn in at one time. T. F. Huston was chosen by the men to be the Captain of the colony.

While they were hunting the locations a severe snow storm came up. Afraid their supplies would give out, they decided they wouldn't starve to death. When food was gone they would start in eating their horses.

After leaving Towner, families lived in tents until they could build their homes. Many of these were of sod. One young lady in Missouri refused to come to North Dakota to marry because the young man had a sod house. She said she wouldn't live in a dirt house for any man! Sod houses were very comfortable.

The first child born in the township was Marvin Brady in 1901. The first school, Saline District No. 20, was organized July 9, 1902. It was formerly a part of Medicine Lodge District No. 8. F. N. Molyneux was the county superintendent in 1900 when this township was settled. The first school building was built in the summer of 1900 while still a part of Medicine Lodge District. We had school in September, 1900. Miss Mary T. Berry was the teacher.

Sunday School was organized immediately and was held in the different homes each Sunday. They came on foot, in buggies, wagons, surreys and horseback, but everyone came and took active part. It was organized as a Union Sunday School because nearly every church was represented among the settlers. There were several different ministers of different denominations, but Rev. W. H. Younger, a Southern Methodist Minister, was the first. He filed on a homestead in Little Deep Township. One Sunday he made a mistake and plowed all day, but faithfully observed the Sabbath on another day when he found his mistake. Church services and Sunday School were held in the school house as soon as it was built.

Greater numbers of settlers being Methodists, they got in touch with the Methodist Conference and had several Methodist ministers. The First M. E. Church of Saline was built in 1906. This church was dedicated on Sunday, July 15, 1906 by Rev. J. G. Moore (deceased) who was Presiding Elder and Rev. Robert Ross was the pastor. The Baptist church was built in 1907.

Mail was received first at Granville. Anyone who happened to have to go to town brought mail for the whole colony, leaving it at some central place where each family could come for it. This was very unsatisfactory so the Post Office Department was petitioned for a post office. This petition was granted and a 4th class office was established in the Huston home. Mrs. T. F. Huston was appointed Postmaster and Mr. Huston was the assistant. This office was put on a Star Route with Deepriver and Pratt receiving mail from Granville three times a week. Mr. Pratt had the contract for carrying the mail. He had, in the summer, a spring wagon and in the winter a covered sled. George Herber was the first driver. They also carried passengers and nearly always had a load of principally homesteaders coming to spend a few days on their claims. This route was about 30 miles long. Boxes were established along the way. Not many people who lived on the route from Granville to Pratt who do not remember Puss and Jerry,
the faithful little gray team, as history of this township is not complete without mentioning them.

After the Great Northern built the Deering branch line and the Sao a branch through Russell, the old Star Route was discontinued. Saline received mail then by carrier from Deering. This was continued several years when the Hustons asked to be relieved of the post office and a rural route was established from
Deering and another route was established from Granville on the east side of the township. Then there was daily mail delivery.

Lumber and supplies for the homes were hauled from Granville by team. Each family got in enough supplies for the winter.

Saline Township was organized February 14, 1913. Supervisors first elected were R. H. Gaines, Edgar King and W. F. Smith. S. J. Clark was clerk. The name, Saline, was chosen first for the Sunday School, then for the township because the greater number of the settlers were from Saline County Missouri. Of the first board, R. H. Gaines and S. J. Clark are living; Mr. Gaines in Granville and Mr. Clark at Trenton, North Dakota.

There were hardships. It was the first experience for all the settlers in burning lignite coal and many times meals were late and the patience of men and cooks sorely tried. So far to haul the coal and the means to buy so scarce that most families through the summer burned cow chips. This was mostly work for the boys and girls. You could look out almost any time and see youngsters carrying tubs and pails of "fuel". How they did hate the washing and ironing days because 'chips' burned out so fast.

The first heating stoves were flax straw burners. These were stoves with a flat base and large sheet iron drums. There were several drums for each. They were taken outside and the flax straw tramped in firmly, then set in and lighted. Each drum would burn for about four hours. Later, hard coal and lignite was the principal coal used. Now we use lignite entirely.

The first years, the nearest doctor was at Towner, about 30 or 35 miles away. Often we would have to drive to Towner or go to Granville and take the train to get medicine. Luckily it was not needed very often. Every family had a supply of home remedies.

Prairie fires were numerous. The first thing after building was to plow a fireguard. When the men and boys were hauling grain each must carry matches so they would be able to burn a guard around themselves and their teams.

Mildred was born in Sweet Springs, Saline County, Missouri, September 3, 1888, the daughter of Theodore Finney and Elizabeth Barzilla Riggins Huston. She married Robert Lee Miller in the Huston home, Deering area, Saline Township, McHenry County, North Dakota, 21 November 1907 (Undated-written by Eliza Mildred Huston (Mrs. Robert Lee) Miller).                      


2014-P-019-001                 Saline  residents at Grogan's Grove, near Saline Township, before 1909 (postcard
with correspondence)                  
2014-P-019-002                 Robert Lee Miller and Mildred Huston in horse-drawn cart, before November 21, 1907
2014-P-019-003                 Saline residents, before November 21, 1907 (standing, left to right: Leland Morrison, John Brady, William Mallman, Richard Harrison, James Bailey, Theodore Miller, Edwin Ehart, Harry Bailey, Estella Beiley, Robert L. Miller, Lizzie Harrison. Seated, left to right: ? Brown, Elja Logan, Florence Remintson, Virginia Brady, Laura Brady, Bertha Phillips, Mildred Huston
2014-P-019-004 Group outside Saline Cash Store (J. B. Weaves, Proprietor), ca. 1907  (left to right: Rudolph Salisbury, Berry Neaner, Virginia Brady, Mildred Brady, T. F. Huston, Millie Salisbury, John Brady, Perry Salisbury, Florence Brady, Howard Huston, S. E. Brady, Charlie Brady and Marion Brady)
2014-P-019-005                 Family outside home, Saline Township, ca. 1910

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