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Odessa Township

Early Settlers

Information submitted by Hugh F Rice and included in the Ramsey County Centennial book.

In 1882 Mr. and Mrs. Oscar E Rice arrived in what is now Odessa township. That part of north Dakota had not been surveyed at the time. The Oscar was from Massachusetts and his wife from Rome, New York and were from Pennsylvania Dutch. Their parents wandered west, lived in Iowa for awhile, moved to Nebraska, were Oscar and his wife met and were married. In 1881 they moved to Larimore, North Dakota, which at that time, was the end of the Great Northern Railroad. They arrived there in an emigrant car with everything they owned, including a baby girl.

The next spring another land-hungry man hired Oscar to haul a load of lumber to the Devils Lake region where he planned to squat on a homestead until it was surveyed. About this time, the man got "cold feet", sold the boards and tar paper to Oscar so he built his own shack and moved his family to Odessa township.

By this time the railroad had come to Devils Lake and on the west. It was intended to be built about ten miles south of there, but someone must have hurt Jim Hill's feelings, so he moved the whole thing north. The south route had already been surveyed and some grading done. The farmers along the intended route were all optimists, so they built a huge brick hotel on the shore of Stump Lake. James G Lamoreaux started a store there and a trading post on the shore of Devils Lake. When he applied for a license for a Post Office, his town had no name so the founding fathers met to decide on a name. The talk was getting rather heated when Mr. Lamoreaux got up and walked out, telling those who were left, "Call the place Jerusalem". They call it that yet.

Thomas Holden. Among the gentlemen of Odessa township, Ramsey county, who have made a success of agriculture and are well known as worthy citizens may be named Thomas Holden. He went to that region during the early days of its settlement, and has labored unaided for the acquisition of a comfortable home and has fully accomplished his purpose. He is proprietor of a fine estate in section 3, and is one of the self-made men of his community. His farm occupies over five hundred acres of land, and he is one of the solid men of Ramsey county. Our subject was born on a farm in Ramsey county, Wisconsin, November 26, 1861, and when he was four years of age removed to Cerro Gordo county, Iowa, and settled on a farm with his parents eight miles from mason City. Here he was reared to manhood and received a good education and resided on the home farm until the spring of 1882, when he decided to try his fortunes in the new Northwest, and accordingly went to North Dakota, and in July of that year settled on the farm which he now owns. He has erected substantial buildings thereon and has met with unbounded success in his vocation.
Mr. Holden is possessed of active public spirit, and has held the office of constable of Odessa township two years. Although he is a genial gentleman and well known in social circles of his community he remains unmarried. His sister, Mary J., is now the wife of Horace E. Stevens, a sketch of whom appears herewith. [Source: Compendium of History and Biography of North Dakota, Publ. 1900 - Tr. By Debbie Gibson]


Taken from Andreas' 1884 Historical Atlas of Dakota


On the east shore of the lake, in Town 152, Range 63, was laid out on a large scale, in anticipation of the railway making a crossing here. At present it is simply a post office.


A post office on the eastern side of Lamoreaux Bay, in Town 152, Range 62.


Information submitted by James Braaten and included in the Ramsey County Centennial book.

In the earliest records of 1886, there were three schoolhouses known by many different names in Odessa Township: Jerusalem, Kelly, Rumney, Wright, Avery, and Kavanaugh; possibly using the closest homestead for identity. In 1891, they took the same number as the road district numbers for their names #1, #2, and #3. Names of the earliest school board directors and clerks were: J.G. Lamoreaux, George Oliver, Erland Christofferson, John Mullen, Austin Graves, Chris Searle, and William Stanton.

Odessa #1 was located in the northeastern corner of the township, in Section 11, along the Federal Aid road. In 1894, Myrtie McLoeod of Crary was the teacher with five pupils: Alta Rice, Dexter Rice, Elbridge Rice, Arthur Marks, and Mary Rasmussen. The school was closed at the end of the 1954-55 school year with Ronald Blaufuss and Dale Fisk in 3rd grade, Janet Fisk in 7th grade, and Clarine Blaufuss in 8th grade. The teacher was Mrs. Laurin Gilbraith and the School Superintendent was Gladys Smith. The school was bought by Robert Martin and moved to the family Jerusalem farm.

Odessa #2 was located in the southwestern end of the township by Jerusalem traing post, in Section 28, and was called the Jerusalem school. In 1894, Margaret Pendergast was the teacher with seventeen pupils, aged 6 to 15 years. They were as follows: Mary Christofferson, Carrie Anderson, Lizzie Pendergast, Samuel Avery, George Anderson, Ole Olson, Bennie Olson, Louis Olson, Alfred Lamoreaux, Peter Christofferson, Martin Olson, Leonard Olson, Charles Christofferson, Joseph Olson, Edward Christofferson, Carrie Christofferson, and Minnie Anderson. This school buned during the Christmas vacation of 1922-23 when Stella Shiels was teacher. The Jerusalem Church was used to finish that term and until another school was moved there in 1924. The school closed in the 1951-52 school term with pupils  Glenda Rust, 1st grade; Shirley Rust, 8th grade; and Dorothy Walker, 8th grade. The teacher was Anne Hoover. The school was sold to Willis Calderwood and has been partly torn down.

Odessa #3 was located in the northwestern end of the township in Section 7. In 1893, Kate Kavanaugh was the teacher with 17  pupils as follows: James Kavanaugh, Charlie Kavanaugh, Mabel Graves, Elmie Graves, Eddie Olds, Earl Olds, Ronald Olds, Michael Olds, Micheal Mullen, Jimmie Kavanaugh, George Thomson, Eddie Brown, Willie Thomson, Fred Thomson, Anges Thomson, Annie Kavanaugh, and Sophia Thomson. The district later divided and was known as Lakeview #39. The school closed in the 1941-42 term with pupils as follows: Willis Calderwood, Glen Kirk, John Kirk, Gene VanSteenvoort, Stanley VanSteenvoort, Tom VanSteenvoort,  and Leo Jodoin.  The teacher was Jean Chapman.  The school was sold and later moved away.


Jerusalem Lutheran Church and Cemetery (AKA Odessa Cemetery, Odessa Township Northwest 1/4 of section 34.)

If you wish to submit data for this township, please contact Colleen Goltz Ramsey County Coordinator since 19 April 2013.