Walsh County, North Dakota


Taken from “Walsh Heritage” Vol 1, pgs 28-30

Historical information on the origin of Acton township was obtained from Book A of township dated Januar

y 2, 1883, of township 157-Range 51 in Walsh County, Dakota Territory and Plat Book of 1893. When Walsh County was opened to settlers for homesteading many settlers came to this area because they were able to buy land cheap. One of the early settlers was Antoine Gerard, who came from Acton, Ontario, Canada, and filed claim on lots 4-5-6 in Section 25-157 Range 51.On Jun 1, 1880, he was given Certificate No. 699 by R. B. Hayes, president of the U.S.A., for the land, which he platted and started the town of Acton – named after his hometown in Ontario.

The site is on the west banks of the Red River between Grand Forks and Pembina and was a steamboat landing. The name of Acton was then used for the Township 157 Range 511.

Some of the names of the early setters were: George Alder from Illinois, who settled in Acton township in 1881; George Becker from Iowa – 1880; George Cochrane from Canada – 1880, who was a livestock breeder; Patrick Conlon from Canada – 1881; Nicholas Dipple, Jr., Canada – 1880; Jacob Dipple, Canada – 1880, who was a farmer and breeder of horses; Hendrik Feldman, Minnesota – 1879; Victor French, Michigan – 1880; E. F. Schumann, Minnesota – 1880, farmer and proprietor of a hotel in Acton; Nicholas Welter, Wisconsin – 1881; Otto Shumacher, Iowa – 1888; H. H. Shumacher, Iowa – 1889; Carl Wolfgram Wisconsin – 1882; Gotleib Zinke, Wisconsin – 1882; D. W. Driscoll, a farmer and manager of Elm Stock Farm, which consisted of over 1200 acres, also a breeder of purebred horses and cattle.


  1. C. Leistikow also was a land owner in Acton Township and owned a flour mill and grain elevator in Grafton and had a Grafton park named after him. Antoine Gerard was the postmaster in the post office established August 23, 1878. There were 128 families listed as land owners in 1893 in the plat book.

Church services were conducted in the township with Rev. C. F. Malkow as Pastor of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, which was organized July 25, 1887, and services were held in a schoolhouse located in section 3. This building later became the Acton Township hall, when the congregation erected a new house of worship in 1890. Another church in the township was a Methodist Church located in Section 30.

There were four schools in the township. Two were in District 30 I the north half of the township and one in District 57 and one in District 15, the south half of the township.

The township elections and meeting were held in the school in District 30 in Section 3. Later this school was moved to the southeast corner of Section 8. In 1929 the township bought the building from South District 30 and had it moved to the northwest corner of Section 22, which was the center of the township, and used it for the township hall.

Later, this township hall needed much repair and was disposed of and sold to Hilary Osowski. As the schools were consolidated with the Grafton District in 1960, the township bought the school in District 30, Section 8, which is the present site of the Acton Township Hall.

The first records of township meetings listed in Book A of township records was on January 2, 1883: Adam Gray as chairman, Theo Tanke and E. F. Schuman, supervisors; Robert Lynn, clerk; Henry Becker, treasurer; Robert Alder, assessor; Robert Lynn, Justice of the Peace; Antoine Gerard and Pat Conlon, constables.

On January 16, 1883, the township was divided into four road districts with W. T. Greer, Patrick Conlon, John Dipple, and Joseph Dierier as road overseers. It was further decided to hold regular township meetings the last Monday of March, June, September and December. In December, 1883, an election was held to vote on bonding the township for $4,700 for building roads. The vote was 15 for bonding and 5 against.

Due to the flat land of the area, road building and drainage were always a problem. AS drainage was east to the Red River; east and west roads were the first to be graded. On June 2, 1884, a contract was let to a Fred Hildebrand for grading for a cost of $90 per mile. The township purchased scrapers, an elevator grader and blade for building roads and all male residents of voting age were required to work on the road one or two days as a road poll tax.

Horse power was used to pull the grader and eight to twelve horses were used to pull the machines. Later the township hired the county and their equipment to build the roads and after this, private contractors were hired for the work. Records show that the building of a bridge across the Park River in Sections 1 and 2 was approximately $600; however, the contractor did not complete the job and the amount of $60 was deducted from his pay.

At the present time the township has in it six miles of Interstate Highway, I-29, a four-lane paved road opened to traffic in 1974 going north and south and six miles of Highway 17 east and west; also 12 miles of county road. Most of the township roads have been graveled the past years.

Acton township borders the Red River and travel to Minnesota across the river was only possible by ferry boat. As traffic and loads became heavier a more permanent means was sought and a pontoon bridge was placed across the river on the section line of Sections 12 and 13; straight east of the Oakwood road. The bridge was brought down the river in sections from Pembina and was financed by the City of Grafton. In 1940, North Dakota and Minnesota built a permanent bridge across the Red River extending from North Dakota 17 to Minnesota 317.

As farming was the main occupation, small grain and livestock were raised on all farms. Oats and barley and livestock were raised on all farms. Oats and barley were mostly fed to livestock and wheat and flax were sold to the Minneapolis and Northern Elevator, which was located in the town of Acton. Charles F. Sims was manager for the elevator. The wheat and flax were sold to the Minneapolis and Northern Elevator, which was located in the town of Acton. Charles F. Sims was manager for the elevator. The wheat was loaded into barges and shipped by boat to Grand Forks. Records show that some barges were loaded with 5,000 bushels at a time. The Selkirk, the Grandin and the steamer Manitoba were some of the steamboats. The Manitoba set a record of forty-five hours on its maiden voyage in 1875 from Moorhead to Winnipeg.

The township record of June 22, 1894, shows the Minneapolis and Northern Elevator Co. was assessed for 2,000 bushels of wheat at 20 cents per bushel, which was stored in the elevator at the time of assessment. A representative of the grain company appeared before the Board of Equalization and stated that the wheat in the elevator not be assessed to the grain company, but to Henry Bussel of Albany, New York, who had purchased the wheat.

Spring flooding of the Red River was a bad time for people living along the river. Two of the worst floods were in 1897, when many of the farmers had to move their livestock and belongings to higher ground. It is said that the river was twelve to fifteen miles wide when it crested. In 1950 much of the land was covered with water for almost six weeks and no field work was done until June of that year.

Records show there were good and bad years for the farmers, from drought to too much rain, weeds and grasshoppers. In 1932 and 1933 the township spent much money for poison bran to control grasshopper damage.

Records indicate that Chris. Weinlader served on the township board for forty-three years. He served as supervisor from 1897-1901; assessor from 1901-1908; and clerk from 1908-1940. The present officers of the township are Glen Miller, treasurer, June 2, 1950; Fred Hoenke, clerk since January 26, 1942; Leslie Seeba, supervisor since March 7, 1951; Earl Schultz, supervisor since March 17, 1964; Allan Kirkeby, supervisor since March 16, 1973 and Peter Kuta, assessor since March 18, 1958.

By Fred O. Hoenke and Mrs. Grace Schultz.

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