Trails to the Past

North Dakota

Grant County




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Until November 23, 1916, Grant County was a part of Morton County. Grant County was named in honor of General Ulysses S. Grant.
The first County Commissioners were appointed by Governor Hanna, out of a group of 60 applicants only three could be named to the board and they were Thomas E McDowall, First District, John D Thompson, Second District and William Wade, Third District. T.E. McDowall was appointed Chairman and the first meeting was held on Nov. 28, 1916.

It was the duty of the commissioners to select the county officials who were as follows: Robert D Beery- Auditor, I.N. Steen - States Attorney, J.J. Ryan - Clerk of Court, M.C. Rauch - Probate Judge, Don Stevenson - Sheriff, J.G. Patterson - Treasurer, P.P. Schlosser - Register of Deeds, Mina H Aasved - Co Supt. of Schools, L.L. Dahl - County Coroner, A.D. LaDue - County Surveyor. At that time the counties of the state were allowed an official paper in each commissioner district and the Carson Press, Shields Enterprise and Elgin Times were selected. Mr. Thompson resigned as commissioner after serving for a short time and Wm Eastman was chosen to take his place. The present three commissioner districts were formed by the first three mentioned commissioners and they also selected Carson as the temporary county seat. At the November 7, 1918 election Carson won the permanent County Seat with a vote of Carson 1,247 to Elgin with 1,064 votes.

The citizens in the early days were anxiously waiting for the railroads to come and help domesticate the prairie country, which now comprises Grant County. They came in 1910 and two of them came at once. The Northern Pacific started work from Mandan to Mott and the Milwaukee from Mobridge, SD to New England, ND. Both roads met at New Leipzig and it was a competitive battle between these two roads to traverse the county in a spirit of conquest of new territory. Following the advent of the railroads, towns sprang up on these roads with businessmen of energy to make a live town and serve the citizens of their community.

Eventually thru time and economy small towns disappeared one by one until only four towns remain that has a governing board. In the early 30's Grant County had a population of over 10,000 as of the 2000 Census there are less than 2,900. Sadly the Northern Pacific Railroad passenger train was discontinued in the late fifties and in the early seventies all train activity was stopped. The Milwaukee Railroad was the first to go and the tracks were taken out in the late seventies and the Northern Pacific tracks were removed in the mid eighties.

On the Cannon Ball River south of Leith is an area, which was supposedly a campsite of General Custer and his troops on their way to the Black Hills in South Dakota. Also about nine miles northeast of Carson was another campsite of Custer's while en-route to the Battle of the Little Big Horn in Montana on June 25, 1876, where they were met their death.

A stagecoach, which ran from Deadwood, SD to Bismarck, ND, had a route through the southern part of Grant County and there was a stage stop near Sebbens on the Cannon Ball River.

Cities of Grant County are Carson, Elgin, Leith, and New Leipzig.  Unincorporated communities are Brisbane, Raleigh and Sheilds.

On Line Data


Adjacent Counties 

Hettinger County (west)
Stark County (northwest)

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