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Brenner Crossing State Historic Site

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Brenner Crossing State Historic Site lies near the military trail linking Fort Totten, near Devils Lake, to Fort Seward, near Jamestown. The actual river crossing, named for Ernest Brenner, is located several miles away on the Sheyenne River. The site is northeast of New Rockford, Eddy County, but is unmarked and has no visible remnants of the trail or other archeological features.


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Ernest W. Brenner
SHSND: C1396

Ernest William Brenner, born May 30, 1844, in Germany, came to the United States with his parents in 1848 and settled in Boston, Massachusetts. His varied career began as a page for two Massachusetts governors and later included scouting for General Banks and clerking for the adjutant general. In 1868 he became the post trader at Fort Totten. He remained at the fort until 1882, when he left and began farming on the south bank of the Sheyenne River along the Fort Totten-Fort Seward trail.

In addition to farming, Brenner ran a river crossing and established a post office, where he served as postmaster. His enterprise was not a financial success, and in April 1887, he was appointed to be government agent (farmer-in-chief) at the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation. The Brenner post office was discontinued April 23, 1887.

Brenner and his wife Mary had a daughter, Christina, who married Alexander Charlebois. Brenner’s wife was the daughter of Pierre Bottineau, scout and guide, for whom the city and county are named.

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