Walsh County, North Dakota


Grafton, North Dakota (Incorporated)
Post Office Established: May 20, 1879
Postmaster: Thomas E. Cooper
Location: Secs. 13 & 24-157-53 Grafton Twp. and Secs. 18 & 19-157-52 Oakwood Twp.
Village incorporation: 1881
Became a city: 1903
Elevation: 827 feet
Zip Code: 58237
Peak Population: 5,946 in 1970
(2,000 residents by 1883)

GRAFTON: The post office was established May 20, 1879, with Thomas E. Cooper as postmaster. By 1883 the city claimed to have 2,000 residents. It is located in Secs. 13 & 24-157-53, Grafton Twp., and Secs. 18 & 19-157-52, Oakwood Twp., and was designated as county seat of Walsh County in 1881, the year it incorporated as a village. It was reached by both the Northern Pacific RR and the Great Northern RR. Mr. Cooper named it for his wife’s home of Grafton County, New Hampshire, which was named for Augustus Henry FitzRoy, third Duke of Grafton (1735-1811). Folklore says that Mr. Cooper planned to raise fruit in the area by grafting on branches, and coined the term “graft-on.” The village became a city in 1883, with Stewart Cairncross as mayor, and the State Institute for the Feebleminded was founded here in 1903, with Dr. L. B. Baldwin as Superintendent. The elevation is 827 feet, the Zip Code is 58237, and a peak population of 5,946 was recorded in 1970. 2 (11,2,10,18,25,40,45,75,79) (Pg 78).

The city of Grafton was settled in the spring of 1879, by Thomas E. Cooper, who came from Goodhue County, Minnesota. At that time the land had not been surveyed, and he had only squatter’s right. Shortly following him came Mr. Nils Monson and Mr. Gus. Colson, who squatted on claims adjoining his on the west. Mr. Cooper built a small hotel, and from the first, anticipated that there would be a town at this point, for he felt, as he expressed it, that “nature never make a mistake”. In June, 1879, Mr Cooper was appointed Postmaster and the office was named Grafton. He assigned the fact that he considered this a “graft on ” the civilized world, as his reason for the name. In 1880, Mr. T. A. Beer opened a general store there that was situated on the bank of the Park River. He was soon joined by a blacksmith named Valk, and to the business of the settlement was soon added the store of H.J. Roholt. The only addition to the hamlet that year was Mr. W. Chandler (who eventually became the second Postmaster) who also opened a general store. In the spring of 1881 Mr. Cooper proved upon his claim and received the title from the government. The following July he sold 110 acres of this land to Comstock & White, of Moorhead, Minnesota, who also bought 210 acres from Mr. Colson and Mr. Monson. The town site was platted, and on August 31, 1881, Mr. J. A. Delaney, as their agent, commenced the sale of lots.

Official Website: grafton.govoffice.com

Grafton, ND: State Institute for the Feeble-minded, 1910s
The first sale was to F. F. Walker & Co. It consisted of six lots, for which the consideration was $1000. Immediately succeeding the commencement of the sale of lots, Mr. Chandler moved up from the river bank to the site of the present city. The railroad had not yet been completed to the the town, and all lumber and merchandise had to be hauled several miles. Despite these disadvantages, however, several gentlemen commenced the erection of business buildings, first among whom were Stuart Cairncross, William Pearson, and E. F. Chase. Mr Cairncross built a store, Mr. Pearson built a saloon, and E. F. Chase & Co. erected an elevator with a capacity of about 20,000 bushels. (Approximately 100,000 bushels of wheat were handled in that year). Rev. Cobleigh, pastor of the Presbyterian Church, built the first private residence at about this time.

The railroad reached Grafton near the close of December, and upon its arrival found a thriving village of some 300 people. The rush continued all winter. The Walsh County Bank commenced business, which was soon followed by the Bank of Grafton. The Grafton News was started by F. M. Winship, and Walsh County Times was started up by H. C. Upham. Schuman & Pierson opened the Sherman House for the accommodation of travelers, and the little settlement grew so rapidly that it was a lively town in a few months. In the spring of 1881, Grafton was incorporated as a village. Several churches, a good school house with 150 students, 8 hotels, 25 mercantile houses, eight agricultural warehouses, and the usual small traders, artisans, and mechanics, and other buildings were constructed by 1884, and a substantial and well built town of 2,000 inhabitants stood, where but three years ago Thomas Cooper had slept under the cover of shawls and coats spread over bushes because there was not a house for miles around. Grafton contained two weekly papers, the Herald and News and Times; seven church organizations, a good school with 150 scholars; eight hotels; twenty-five mercantile houses; eight agricultural warehouses, and the usual small traders, artisans and mechanics.

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