Using The Old Book “Standard Atlas Of Hettinger County, ND 1917”

In yesterday’s blog post article, I was trying to explain how I was doing research on the railroad line that had once passed through New Leipzig, Mott, Regent, and dead-ended in New England, North Dakota. This railroad line was abandoned in about 1982, and had been operated by a company called the Milwaukee Road railroad. I was hoping that if I could locate this former railroad easement, I could ride this easement on my motorcycle, unless it had been sold or turned over to the adjacent farmers. It appeared that the steel rails had already been torn up and taken away a long time ago.

When I was trying to look information up on the internet, I found an old book titled, “Standard Atlas Of Hettinger County, ND 1917”, that had been digitally photographed and uploaded to a website called Digital Horizons. This physical book itself is held in the state of North Dakota historical archives, but the Digital Horizons website allows anyone with a computer and internet to look through each page of this book.

Here is the link to this book: http://www.digitalhorizonsonline.org/digital/collection/p16921coll2/id/2326/

When I first stumbled upon this “Standard Atlas Of Hettinger County, ND 1917”, I had only been looking for a plat map of the towns of New England, Regent, and Mott in order to prove to the readers that these towns were actually created and laid out by the Milwaukee Road railroad company. To me, even though I had heard that old west towns sprung up wherever there was a railroad, I hadn’t known that the railroad company actually laid out the town.

Please click on these links to the plat maps of the towns of New England and Regent North Dakota: http://www.digitalhorizonsonline.org/digital/collection/p16921coll2/id/2254 http://www.digitalhorizonsonline.org/digital/collection/p16921coll2/id/2255 When you click on these links and view these plat maps, you will see written across city blocks of land “Milwaukee Land Co’s Add 1”, “Milwaukee Land Co’s Add 2”, “Milwaukee Land Co’s Add 3”.

Once I began trying to use this book “Standard Atlas Of Hettinger County, ND 1917” to find out and look at more, I was a little confused at first. Please click on this link to the plat map of Hettinger County itself, showing how Hettinger County is divided up into blocks of land called “townships”: http://www.digitalhorizonsonline.org/digital/collection/p16921coll2/id/2249

If you click on the above link to the plat map of Hettinger County, you can look and see that there is a township named “New England” and within this township there is a town named “New England”. You can look and see that there is a township named “Havelock” and within this township there is a town named “Havelock”. But if you continue looking at this plat map of Hettinger County, just because there is a township named “Kunze” doesn’t mean that there is a town named “Kunze” within this township. In other words, don’t expect the name of every township within Hettinger county to have a corresponding town inside it with the same name.

The other thing that you need to remember when looking at the plat map of Hettinger County, is that each township consists of 36 numbered sections, each section being 1 mile x 1 mile in size.

If you look at the township of New England, not the town of New England, but the township which consists of 36 numbered sections of land, back in 1917 the “Standard Atlas Of Hettinger County, ND” labeled the owners of these sections. This is astonishing information if a person was trying to look up and find exactly where their great-grandparents used to farm: http://www.digitalhorizonsonline.org/digital/collection/p16921coll2/id/2285

To read the family names of the property owners on this plat map of the township of New England, click on the expansion icon on the computer screen near the upper right hand corner of the map image, then you should see another set of zoom icons on the upper left corner of the map image.

Lastly, this “Standard Atlas Of Hettinger County, ND 1917” has a map of the state of North Dakota, divided into two pages. This map shows the name of towns that no longer exist anymore, and the location of railroad lines that no longer exist anymore. On the left side and the right side of this map, in alphabetical order it lists the populations of the counties and towns in North Dakota: http://www.digitalhorizonsonline.org/digital/collection/p16921coll2/id/2287 http://www.digitalhorizonsonline.org/digital/collection/p16921coll2/id/2288

3 thoughts on “Using The Old Book “Standard Atlas Of Hettinger County, ND 1917”

  1. Township governments were created to organize the residents of the surveyed township for local needs, mainly roads and trails at the time.

    In theory, there were up to 144 families living within 36 square miles.

    Organized townships still exist today, but mainly in the big money agricultural areas of ND for the benefit of millionaire welfare farmers to build field roads with public money.

    A famous township is Captains Landing between mandan and the Missouri river where Heidi heitkamp used to live.

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    1. Rusty,

      I had not ever heard of township governments, only county and town government, such as Stark County and the City of Dickinson.

      When I was reading about the Homestead Act, where farmers could lay claim to land through occupying a quarter-section, making improvements, and several years later proving that they had made improvements, I remember in the Homestead Act law it was required for land to be divided into 36 sections, each section being 1 mile x 1 mile.

      I thought the 36 section deal was to facilitate the granting of 1/4-section land grants to homesteaders.

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  2. Many townships in ND never had incorporated townships. They are unincorporated areas. The central to eastern parts of ND are mostly still incorporated, it’s another layer of government below the county. Many counties spent very limited money on “township roads” because it’s the local townships responsibility to maintain them.

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