llinois wasn't the end of the line for some folks.
Around the turn of the 20th century, the attraction of cheap land and the ability to homestead drew folks to the plains and the Dakotas. A number of Gallatin County families made the trek in the 1890s and early 1900s to the area of Brander Township, Bottineau Co., North Dakota.
"There are several people on the 1900 census for this area who moved here from Illinois. I am not sure if they all came from the Gallatin area. The ones I know for sure are my grandparents who were James Harry Williams and Annie Matherly. My grandfathers brother, Walter, also homesteaded about the same time but he gave it up and went back to Illinois," wrote Dakota resident Richard Williams who recently donated scans of old Elba to the Gallatin Co., ILGenWeb page.
"John Endicott and his wife who was Lena Grubbs. They homesteaded 1/2 mile east of my place, which was the homestead of my grandparents. There was a family named Hedges who homesteaded about 2 mile east of me who came from Southern Illinois. The only other family I know of came from Equality and the parents names were S. T. Sisk and his wife who was Ella Dugger. I am personally acquainted with one of their sons who is in his 80s. He was born after they moved to ND so doesn't know much about his history other than where the family came from," added Williams.
"One of his favorite stories is that someone asked his father why he moved to this God forsaken area (ND) his reply was he got fed up with hoeing corn," recalled Williams.
Willaims also noted that there were a number of men in the 1900 census that are all listed in a row as heads of empty households, "so more than likely [they] were homesteaders who came up without their families."
He also suggested that genealogists might also want to look for family members in the surrounding townships are Bentinck, Hastings, Wayne, Sergius and Antler.
The Bottineau County Historical Society published The History of Bottineau County, N.D. in 1984. Similar to other late 19th century county history books, the book is full of family histories. At least with ties to Gallatin County are listed Silaneous T. "Tim" Sisk, J. N. Endicott and J. H. Williams.
Note: The links to the bios are to scans. The Williams bio is 1.3 MB. It will take some time to download.
One other family name that's appeared in Williams' research is that of Grubbs. Lena Grubbs was the wife of J. N. Endicott. Her brother Baliss Grubbs also moved to North Dakota.
He noted that many of these people attended Elba School.
A number of the Illinois families arrived in North Dakota on March 20, 1913. The Westhope, N.D., newspaper noted the following in the next day's newspaper: "A tourist car came on the passenger last evening, loaded with settlers from Illinois and Indiana."
The following the week the paper provided some more information:
"The Pullman car that arrived here from Illinois carried 27 people who have already settled or are intending to make their homes here. Among them are S. T. Sisk and family. Mr. Sisk has purchased the J. A. Taylor farm and G. W. Barr's farm south of Kuroki, and will farm about 1400 acres this year. He is well equipped with horses and machinery and is getting a gas tractor. They came from Eldorado, Illinois.
The source for the above two stories comes from the "In the Past" column, "90 Years Ago" section of The Standard newspaper in Westhope, published in March 19, and March 26, 2003, issues. Like the Elba photos, Williams provided the information from the newspapers for this article.