Trails to the Past

Ransom County North Dakota Biographies



FRED D. ALPIN, editor and part owner of the "Ransom County Gazette," has ably conducted the various departments of that paper, and has built for himself an enviable reputation as an editor, and a large patronage for his paper. He is also connected with other financial enterprises and is one of the substantial men of the County. He has made his home in Lisbon for the past fifteen years and is well known as an excellent business man and true citizen.

Mr. Aplin was born in Perry, Wyoming County, New York, May 5, 1858, and was the youngest in a family of five children born to Abner P. and Eliza C. (Meltcher) Aplin. When about fourteen years of age he began working in a printing office, and when sixteen years of age went to Caro, Michigan, to complete his trade. He remained in that state seven years, during which time he was part owner of the "Advertiser." On his way to Montana, where relatives of Mrs. Aplin were living, our subject stopped in Lisbon, in October, 1884, and there formed a partnership with H. S. Harcourt, the original newspaper man of Lisbon, publishing the Dakota Herald." The "Dakota Herald" and "Dakota Clipper" were consolidated in January, 1886, and the "Ransom County Gazette" was established under the control of our subject and W. S. Buckley. The present partnership with E. S. Kilbourne was formed in August. 1892. The paper is a Republican sheet and stands firmly for the principles of that party. Aside from his newspaper interests Mr. Aplin is a director of the State Bank and director of the Lisbon Building & Loan Association at Lisbon.

Our subject was .married, in January, 1883, to Miss Luella E. Cooper, a native of Michigan. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Aplin, as follows: Louis and Harold. Mr. Aplin is prominent in secret society circles and is past master of Sheyenne Valley Lodge, No. 12, A. F. & A. M.; high priest of Lisbon Chapter, No. 7, R. A. M.; T. I. M. of Tyrian Council; prelate of Ivanhoe Commandery, No. 8, Knights Templar; R. E.  grand king of Grand Chapter of North Dakota; past V. M. of Lisbon Lodge of Perfection, No. 4, and a member of the Scottish Rites and York Rites.  He has served as a member of the local school board for two terms and in 1898 was elected mayor of the city of Lisbon.

JAMES P. AYLEN, M. D. Among the professional men of North Dakota, Dr. James P. Aylen, physician and surgeon, whose office is in Sheldon, stands in the foremost rank. He is well fitted by education and training for the position he holds, and his genial and social temperament has endeared him to the people of Ransom county, and he is especially popular in his home town of Sheldon. He has met with unbounded success in his practice, and his field of labor extends twenty-five miles in each direction from Sheldon. He has successfully competed with others of his profession, and since 1895 has been the sole physician of that city.

Our subject was born in Aylmer, Quebec, Canada, September 25, 1863. His ancestors for generations back were professional men, devoting themselves either to law or medicine. The father of our subject was Dr. John Aylen, and the mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Salonia Prentiss. Their family consisted of three sons and one daughter, and true to the professional instincts, the sons, of whom our subject was the eldest, devoted themselves to medicine.

At an early age our subject entered Collegiate Institute at Ottawa, and later attended Woodstock Baptist Theological College. He next entered Cornell University, but soon left the institution to pursue his medical studies at McGill University, which institution he attended four years, and then entered Bellevue Hospital College, graduating there from in March, 1888. He chose Minneapolis, Minnesota, as a location, where he established his office and to practice orthopedic surgery. His health soon began failing, and in May, 1888, he went to Sheldon, since which time he has followed his profession there. He is devoted to his work, but by way of recreation has not only the largest kennel of dogs in the state, but also some of the best bred, and speediest coursing hounds. Among them is the celebrated dog "Oakes," out of Vallaire and Raven.

Mr. Aylen was married, in 1887, to Miss Florence Carter. Mrs. Aylen is a lady of rare attainments, and presides over the household in a truly gracious manner. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Aylen, as follows: Gerald Valley Lee, deceased; and Walter C. Our subject is a member of the Ransom Medical Society, the North Dakota Medical Association, the American Medical Association, and has been for two and a half years a member of the state medical examining board, and since 18S8 has been county physician. In the fraternal world he has attained prominence, and is a Scottish and York Rites Mason, and is grand master of the state Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and also holds membership in the Knights of the Maccabees, Ancient Order of United Workmen, Modern Woodmen of America, and Brotherhood of American Yeoman. Politically he is a Republican and is strong in his convictions.

REV. OLE K. ANDERSEN, pastor of the Standing Rock Norwegian Evangelical church, at Fort Ransom, resides upon his present farm on section 35 in Fort Ransom township. He is a gentleman of excellent education, beloved by his people, and possessed of ability and grace of character, which has made the church of which he has charge one of the leading congregations of that denomination.

Rev Mr. Andersen was born in the country village Ytteren, in Hegeland, Norway, July 9. 1856. He followed fishing and sailing in his native land, and when twenty years of age came to America, and worked in Minnesota about three years. He then took up the classical and theological courses at Angohing College and Theological Seminary, later completing his studies in Chicago at Dr. Widener's Theological Seminary, when he was ordained to the ministry in 1887, and at once went to Ransom county, Dakota. He had charge of the Standing Rock congregation and five others in Ransom, LaMoure and Barnes counties, all of which were without church buildings. He now has charge of three congregations, and two of them have erected churches, and the third is to erect a house of worship in the near future. Standing Rock congregation was organized in 1882, by Rev. J. L. Lundeby, who was followed by Rev. L. C. Hill, who in turn was followed by the present pastor. Rev. Mr. Andersen. Upon his arrival in Ransom county the congregation consisted of sixty families, and now numbers one hundred families. A church building was erected in 1890, and was completed and dedicated in 1898. It is located in Fort Ransom, and the building is an imposing structure. 50x32 feet, with a vestry 24x16 feet. The spire extends eighty feet from the ground. Mr. Andersen's farm comprises eighty acres of land along the river, and is a pleasant home.

Our subject was married in 1894, to Miss Maria Andersen. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Anderson as follows: Ely A. and Ethel  J. Our subject is a firm advocate of prohibition and in political faith is a Republican. His labors have been successful to a marked degree, and he is deservedly held in the highest esteem throughout the locality.

MATTS ANKARFELT, a well-to-do farmer, residing on section 25, in township 134, range 53, is the oldest settler of the township. He has experienced the privations of a pioneer, and surmounted the difficulties which meet the early settler of a country, and has acquired a comfortable competence to enjoy in his declining years.

Our subject was born in the northern part of Sweden, April 27. 1846, and was the oldest of a family of three children born to Erick and Christina (Matts) Mattsen. The father died when our subject was but nine years of age, leaving the widowed mother to care for three young children, and while yet a small boy our subject began working for neighbors. At the age of twenty years he was employed in a lumber yard, and almost four years later entered the employ of Oscar Dixson, a lumberman, in whose employ he remained ten years. He accompanied relatives to America in 1880, and located in Kandiyohi county, Minnesota, and in April, 1882. started across the country, selling a tailor's cutting chart. He made a few sales and secured money sufficient to purchase transportation to Dakota, and he arrived in Wilcott with but thirty-five cents in cash. While working on a railroad the year previous he had filed a claim to land in Ransom county, and there he made his way, stopping at his brother's and his sister's homes for food. The sister's family assisted him with a team, and a sod house 12x14 feet was soon constructed. He sold his overcoat to pay for the hauling of a few poles for the frame of his house. His family joined him in June, 1882, and the winter was a severe struggle for them. It was over two years before our subject secured a team for his work, and he tramped many miles over the prairies hauling his scanty supply of eggs and butter to market on a hand sled. He made Wilcott his trading point, and there he secured the necessaries of life in exchange for the products he hauled. His first home was on section 24, where he built a sod house, which was part dugout and boarded up, and in 1894 he erected his present dwelling and other buildings on section 25. He purchased five calves during the first of his farming in Dakota, and now has a fine herd of cattle. He has made a success of farming, and is one of the substantial men of southeastern Ransom county.

Our subject was married, in 1871, to Miss Annie Johnson. Mr. and Mrs. Ankarfelt are the parents of twelve children, as follows: Christina, now Mrs. Bowden, a resident of Ransom county; Erick, deceased; Andrew; Annie, deceased; Jennie; Sophie, deceased; Sophie; Emil; Gustaf; Alfred, deceased; Allie and Edwin. A family group portrait appears on another page. Mr. Ankarfelt is a Republican and Prohibitionist in political sentiment. He is well known throughout that region as a prosperous farmer and worthy citizen.

EASTON K. AUS. As a pioneer of Ransom county, and a prosperous farmer this gentleman deserves special mention. He has aided in the development of that region, and his labors have always been given heartily and with a oneness of purpose commendable in every respect. He is proprietor of a fine estate in Preston township, and makes his home on section 6, where he has added modern improvements, and perfected arrangements for enjoying the comforts of life.

Our subject was born in Filmore county. Minnesota. April 2, 1861, and was the oldest in a family of eight children born to Knud and Ingeborg E. (Aus) Aus, who were natives of Norway.

Our subject went to Lisbon, Ransom county, in 1882, and worked in the Sheyenne valley for some lime. He removed to the farm he now owns in 1891, and is now the possessor of one half-section of land. The farm and the improvements thereon represent his labors in Dakota, and bespeak honest industry and careful management. He has become interested in stock raising in recent years, and is breeding to purify the short horn Durham strain, which he is confident is the best for Dakota. Good water is obtainable on the farm from a depth of one hundred and forty-two feet, and is abundant for domestic and farm use.

Our subject was married, in 1888, to Miss Gertie Randall. Six children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Aus. as follows: Carl, Anna, Oscar, Emma, Edwin and an infant, Arthur. Mr. Aus is a member of the Lutheran church. From 1892-94 he served as county commissioner for the fourth district, is chairman of the township board, serving two terms, and has also served as treasurer, and in the organization and naming of the township he took an active part. He is a man of good education, having completed his studies at the Decorah Lutheran College, and is a man of influence wherever he resides. He keeps pace with the times, and in all matters of a public nature takes an active interest. Politically he is a Republican and Prohibitionist. He is a thorough student of the questions of the day, and is strong in his convictions. A portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Aus is shown above.

ANDREW R. BERLAND. A prominent position as a public-spirited citizen and prosperous farmer of Ransom county. North Dakota, is accorded this gentleman. He has been associated with the agricultural interests of that region from its earliest settlement and is proprietor of one of the best estates in the Sheyenne valley. He makes his home in Preston township and engages in general farming.

Our subject was born near Stavanger, Norway, February 14, 1853, and was the fourth in a family of five children born to Rasmus and Inger (Hefgeson) Berland. The family came to America in 1857 and made their home in Houston county, Minnesota, where our subject was reared, engaged in farm work. He went to Ransom county ,North Dakota; in the fall of 1879, and located his claims, returning to Minnesota, and the following spring drove overland to Dakota with his family, household effects and stock. He is now the owner of five hundred and twenty acres of land, about forty acres of which is in timber, furnishing plenty of fuel. The river runs through his land and' the water supply is abundant, making an ideal farm for stock raising, which industry he is becoming interested in.

Our subject was married, in 1875. to Miss Anna Abrahamson. Eleven children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Berland, as follows: Inger, Lottie, Minnie, Clara, Olaf, Bertie. Alfred, deceased. Alma, Emma, Stella and Ella. Mr. Berland has always taken an active interest in the affairs of his county and township and has served as county commissioner and owner-ship treasurer. He has many friends in Ransom county who attest to his praiseworthy labors in behalf of his community. Politically, he is a Republican and stands firmly for the principles of his party. He keeps pace with the times and lends his influence for good government, local and national.

WILLIAM D. BIXBY, of the firm of Bixby Brothers & Marsh, owners of an extensive stock ranch, is a resident of section 12, in township 154, range 53, in Ransom county. He has resided in Dakota since he was a boy and has become thoroughly identified with the farming interests of that state.

Our subject was born in Geauga county, Ohio, August 27. 1864. He was the fourth in a family of five children, born to Dewitt C. and Louisa (Dunbar) Bixby, and was reared on a farm, assisting with the work. He went to Dakota when he was twenty years of age in company with his brother and settled at Lisbon. After a few years he took land in Sargent county and lived there about five years, when he settled on a farm south of Lisbon and engaged in dairying and stock raising. He disposed of his interests in the spring of 1899, and joined in the partnership above named. The buildings of the ranch owned by the firm are located in Richland county, and the range consists of two and a half sections of land in Ransom and Richland counties. It is among the sand hills of which the southeastern portion of Ransom county is composed, and the land presents a most desolate appearance, but is excellent for stock raising. The soil is sandy, but: water is obtained at a depth of eight to fifteen feet and range is abundant. The ranch is one of the most extensive in that region, and usually winters from three to four hundred head of stock. The Galloway strain of cattle is being introduced as a special feature of the stock raising interests. Mr. Bixby is a practical farmer and stock raiser, and occupies a sound financial position in his locality.

Our subject was married in 1889 to Miss Lyda Parkhurst. Mr. and Mrs. Bixby are the parents of four children, as follows: William, Tracy, Austa, and Ora. Mr. Bixby is a man of ability and keeps pace with the times in all matters. Politically he is a Republican and prohibitionist, and stands firm for the principles of his party.

HON. CHARLES W. BUTTZ, owner of a vast landed estate in Lisbon, Ransom county, is one of the most noted men in the state of North Dakota, and in the West. He is one of the veterans of the Civil war, and was an active participant in the reconstruction of the south after that memorable struggle.

Major Buttz was born in Stroudsburg, Monroe county, Pennsylvania, in 1S38. His parents were John and Rebekah (Horn) Buttz, and his grandfather was Michael R. Buttz, who served for many years in the state legislature of Pennsylvania. The family is of German extraction. When our subject was two years old the family removed to what is now known as Buttzville, Warren county. New Jersey, and he received his education at Belvidere Academy, and then took up the study of law. When the Civil war broke out he was the second man to enlist in Warren county, the date being April 18. 1861, for three months' service. When this term had expired he assisted in raising a regiment of cavalry known as the Eleventh Pennsylvania, and was commissioned second lieutenant and later as first lieutenant. He saw much detached service, and on the field won enviable laurels for his bravery. He was breveted captain "for meritorious conduct in capturing from the enemy a full rocket battery," and was breveted major "for gallant and meritorious service before Suffolk," both documents bearing date of March 13, 1865.

In 1863 Major Buttz resigned from the army and opened a law office in Norfolk, Virginia. Here he incurred the displeasure of General Butler for championing the cause of a lady whose property had been destroyed by an officer in the general's department, and was ordered by General Butler to quit his military district at once. Major Buttz went to Washington and there called upon President Lincoln, gave him a brief statement of the facts in writing, and the president immediately wrote upon the envelope enclosing the papers, requesting General Butler to hear the young man's statement, and intimating that he thought there was room enough in his district for both General Butler and Major Buttz. This was sufficient, and Major Buttz remained in Virginia, and was an active supporter of the government during the troublous times of reconstruction. He was sent to the national convention in 1864, and assisted in organizing the Republican party in Virginia. In 1870 he removed to Charleston, South Carolina, and four years later was nominated for congress on the "Republican ticket for the second congressional district of South Carolina. E. W. Mackey, his opponent, received the election certificate, but upon a contest was thrown out of office, and Major Buttz was appointed to fill the vacancy, and the following election was elected by a majority of nine thousand. A stroke of paralysis in 1878 caused Major Buttz to retire from active life, and upon the advice of his physicians he started for Colorado, going via Fargo, North Dakota. On reaching that city he was persuaded to remain in Dakota, and began the practice of law. His health improved, and in 1881 he and his brother, John, located upon land in Ransom county, and Major Buttz contracted for the town site of Lisbon. He practiced law at Lisbon, living on the farm he now owns. He assisted in the organization and procured the location of the county seat. At the first general election he was elected state's attorney.

Major Buttz is now living the quiet life of a farmer, and is the owner of sixteen hundred acres, located near the city of Buttzville. It is a model farm of the modern type, and everything is conducted upon the grandest scale. Abundance of modern machinery, buildings and conveniences of every kind, with stock of the best grades, he takes great pride in the superintendence of his farm operations, and has made a success of this line of business. In July, 1899, he lost his immense barn by fire, its value with contents being estimated at ten thousand dollars. It was one of the finest structures of the kind in the state, being 34x140 feet, and three stories in height, and handsomely trimmed.

Major Buttz was married, in 1864, to Miss Pickett, who died three years later, in 1867, without children. Major Buttz is a member of the Masonic fraternity. He has visited three of the great gatherings of the century, viz: Paris in 1868, Philadelphia in 1876, and the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago. For the past twelve years Major Buttz has spent his winters in Washington. D. C.

OLE CHRISTIANSON, one of the most successful farmers and stock raisers of Ransom county, resides on section 30, of Liberty township, and is surrounded by all that goes to make country life pleasant. He made his start in Dakota with limited means, and is now the owner of a fine estate, and has also gained a high reputation among those in his locality.

Our subject was born near Kongsvinger, Norway, January 20. 1848. He remained in his native land until 1870, when he came to America, and settled in Mitchell county, Iowa, and in the fall of 1881 went to Ransom county, Dakota. He purchased a half section of land and the following spring moved onto the place for permanent residence. He had ten head of cattle, and six horses, but did not have enough money to pay in full for his land. He began raising wheat, and soon engaged extensively in stock raising, the latter industry proving a success to a remarkable degree. He has now sixteen hundred acres of land, on which he conducts stock raising, and is one of the substantial men of that region. He crops about fourteen hundred acres of land annually, and on his home farm has added valuable improvements, including a comfortable residence, and a barn 60x72 feet. With Mr. Fausett he owns a threshing outfit, and that is a source of income annually.

Our subject was married, in 1878, to Miss Belle Thorsen, who died in 1884, leaving three children, as follows: Charles, Bertha and Josie. Mr. Christianson married Miss Christina Gulberg, and three children have been born to this union, as follows: Alfred. Willie and Clarence. Mr. Christianson is a member of the Knights of the Maccabees and Independent Order of Foresters, and is a communicant of the Lutheran church. He is chairman of the board of supervisors, and works earnestly for the better interests of his community. In political sentiment he is a Populist and Prohibitionist.

THOMAS A. CURTIS, state's attorney of Ransom County, residing in the city of Lisbon, is a man of estimable character and has gained the confidence of those among whom he has chosen his home. He has become a leader in his profession by dint of his own efforts and well merits his success.

Our subject was born at Magnolia Corners. Rock County, Wisconsin, January 21. 1862, and was the youngest in a family of four children, born to Israel and Elizabeth  (Fitzpatrick ) Curtis, both of whom are deceased. The mother was of Irish birth and the father was of colonial English descent. Three of five sons of an English lord of the Curtis family were kidnapped and brought to America, where they were sold or bound out to pay for passage and our subject is a descendant of the son who chanced to settle in New York. Soon after the birth of our subject his father went to the Civil war and the family removed to Janesville, Wisconsin, and the father never returned from the service.

A common-school education was afforded our subject and he worked in a shoe factory until sixteen years of age. when he became a painter, which occupation he followed four years, during which time he read law, under the guidance of J. B. Cassoday, who is now chief justice of Wisconsin. Mr. Curtis went to Marshalltown. Iowa, in 1881, where he worked in a barbed-wire factory one year and then went to Minneapolis, and from thence to Fargo. Dakota. He arrived at Lisbon, Ransom County. May 7. 1883. and followed lathing and carpenter work, in the meantime pursuing his law studies. He entered a law office at Lisbon in the fall of 1884. and March 11, 1885. was admitted to the bar. He then entered the real estate office of Judge Allen and was also city clerk and October 1. 1886, began work with C. D. Austin and the following April established an office for himself. He was appointed city attorney in 1890 and was elected to his present office in 1898. He .defended the only murder case ever tried in the County and secured acquittal for his client, in state vs. Frank Welch.

Our subject was married, in 1886, to Miss Phebe Forward. Five children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Curtis, as follows: Loren B., Walter G., Rollo A., Elsie S. and Alice L. Mr. Curtis was elected mayor of Lisbon in 1892 and served two years, the honor being conferred upon him through the efforts of the G. A. R. He was a candidate for state's attorney in 1892 and County judge in 1894 and 1896, but was defeated and in 1898 was elected state's attorney by a large majority. He is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Ancient Order of United Workmen. Modern Woodmen of America and Knights of Maccabees. He is a young man of prominence and has a bright future in North Dakota.

CLARENCE S. DUNBAR, a prosperous agriculturist of township 135, range 56, Ransom county, stands among the foremost men of his calling in that locality. He is the owner of one and a half sections of land on which he engages in diversified farming, and is one of the early settlers of Dakota, He attends strictly to his farm duties, is intelligent and well educated, and as a citizen and farmer is highly esteemed and respected.

Our subject was born in Lake county, Ohio, June 14, 1852, and was the second child and only son in a family of three children born to Sceva and Lucina (McUen) Dunbar. His parents were of Scotch extraction, and the father died December 30, 1857, aged thirty-two years. The mother survives him and makes her home with our subject. After the father's death, the care of the family devolved upon the mother, and they were quietly reared in a country home. Our subject was given a common-school education, and spent one year in Willoughby Methodist Episcopal College. At the age of sixteen years he began clerking in a grocery store, and when about nineteen years of age secured a position as brakeman on the Lake Shore Railroad, working thus three years, at the end of which time he returned to the old home in Ohio. He engaged in farming there, and in 1877 engaged in the grocery business, and the following year went to Waseca county, Minnesota, where he engaged in farming until 1882, when he removed 10 Dakota. He took land under his pre-emption and tree-claim rights south of Lisbon, and began the raising of wheat, and soon was farming one thousand acres, investing all his capital in that line. In the spring of 1888 he purchased the farm on which he now resides, in section 6, township 135, range 56, and changed his method of farming somewhat. He invested in cattle, and is now breeding the Galloway strain. His farm is well improved, and admirably adapted to general farming, and he is making a success of his work.

Our subject was married, in 1878, to Miss Mina Hopkins, a native of Ohio . Mr. and Mrs. Dunbar are the parents of five children, named as follows: Danie, Marion, Mabel, Merton and Ella. Mr. Dunbar is a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Modern Woodmen of America. Politically, he is a Populist and Prohibitionist, and stands firm for his convictions. He has attended numerous county conventions, but does not take an active part in political affairs nor seek public favor, preferring to serve his community by other methods.

HON. TIMOTHY J. DWIRE, a stockman and prominent farmer of Ransom county, has been for many years one of the leading men of the state. His home is on section 14, township 134, range 58.

Mr. Dwire is a native of Allegany county, New York, and was born February 17, 1859. He is the third child in a family of seven children born to John and Ellen (Dugan) Dwire, both of whom are now living on. our subject's farm in the state of New York. They are both natives of County Cork, Ireland.

Mr. Dwire received a common school education at the town of Wellsville, New York, and then fm-about seven years worked at milling. In 1883 he came to Dakota with Marshall Davis and took up three quarter-sections of land. He lived with tenants and developed a grain farm, but soon found grain-raising unsuccessful. In 1890 he went to Engleville to live, and shipped horses to his farm in New York to be sold there. He also began to invest heavily in stock for his Dakota farm, engaging in the raising of cattle, horses and sheep. The wolves proved troublesome for a time, but a pack of four stag hounds solved the difficulty, and sheep-raising has proved a very profitable department.

Mr. Dwire is a Republican in politics, and has taken a very active part in public affairs of the county and state. He was elected to the legislature in 1898, and served on the judiciary, the appropriations committees. He introduced house bill No. 80, providing a penalty for altering or defacing brands and for cattle-stealing. Also house bill No. 176, providing for the bonding of the lands allotted by the state to the Soldiers' Home, in order to raise funds for building a hospital, and he was made chairman of the buildings committee and also of the committee for visiting state institutions. He introduced and put through house bill No. 27, providing for stock running at large from November 1st to April 1st. His services to his county and state have been valuable and highly appreciated by the people.

Mr. Dwire was married, in 1886. to Miss Fannie C. Murphy, and to this union four children have been born.



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