Long seasons ago the wind whispered through the land as wild game grazed on the prairie. Indians roamed the land moving from one hunting ground to another and the area was void of any other settlement.
The first incidence of white settlement was in the year 1842. Major Joseph R. Brown, a well known soldier, fur trader, and Indian expert in Minnesota and Wisconsin, arrived in the fall and established a fur trading post on the west side of Baldhill Creek or what the Indians referred to as "Butte Pelee" some four miles of Dazey.
Major Brown represented the American Fur Company and carried on a fur trade with the Cut Head tribe of the Yanktonnais Sioux. The Indian name for the post was "Pa-ha-shda-shda".
Before leaving for the Baldhill Creek, Major Brown filed for election to the legislature of his home state, Wisconsin. Shortly after Christmas in 1842, a messenger arrived at the post and informed the Major of his having won the election. The trading post was closed and Major Brown returned to Wisconsin.
The Baldhill Trading Post was never reopened. Its location has been lost to the passage of time. It is likely the site has been covered by the waters of Lake Ashtabula.
Following the Indian uprisings in Minnesota, General Henry Sibley was sent to the territory in 1863 to look for hostile Indians. He and his troops crossed the Sheyenne River and then made camp near the southwest corner of Section 8, Township 143 Range 58 before continuing on to the northwest and Jessie area. A historic marker has been placed at the site of Camp Corning commemorating the encampment made on July 16 and 17, 1863. Township 143 Range 58 of Barnes County was later named Sibley Trail Township in honor of the route made across the township.
The area known as Dakota Territory, including what is now North and South Dakota, had been Indian country until 1861 when Congress authorized its formation. The following year the Homestead Act was passed. This allowed interested parties to obtain government land in three ways.
Any citizen over the age of twenty-one could secure a tract of 160 acres by pre-emption and have one year in which to make payment for the land. He paid a small filing fee and after living on the land for the one year period and showing that he had made improvements on the property could purchase the land at $1.25 an acre or double that amount in railroad land areas.
Land could also be acquired by homesteading. Any person over twenty-one years of age who was a citizen or had declared his intent to become a citizen could obtain 160 acres by filing such an intention, paying a $14 fee and fulfilling the requirement of living on and improving the land for a period of five years. He then paid a further fee of $4 plus the cost of drawing up the papers.
The third way to get free land was provided for by the timber culture law. Under this law, any person who was entitled to pre-empt or homestead was required to plant ten acres into trees and improve the rest of the land.
With the westward expansion of the railroad and the threat of Indian uprisings no longer a worry, the territory opened up. Although settlement was slow, the population grew as more and more homesteaders were lured by the rich fertile land. Most settled along the rivers and streams where there was a water supply and trees to provide shelter. The railroad companies did much in promoting the availability of land in the territory. Gradually the migration began from eastern and southern states and from foreign lands where the railroads had also heavily advertised the land.
The first settlers arrived in the county as early as 1872 and located along the Sheyenne River near what became Valley City. Other homesteaders traveled the river northward. They came by wagon, oxcart, on horseback, and some came by foot. They came by train to Valley City or Sanborn and then traveled north.
The Mack Brothers, James, Thomas, John, and Theodore, located near what would become Dazey in 1879 when John Mack purchased land in Township 149 Range 59 from the Northern Pacific Railroad. Later James Mack bought the land.
Census records taken in June 1880 carry the names of other early day settlers as Ole Olson and sons Knut and Thomas, Lewellyn Ladbury, sons Frederick and Edwin, and the latter's wife Phila, Hubbel and Viola Pierce and her brother Edward Keyes, the Charles Dennet family, and the Ole Thoreson family.
Residents of the area became very dependent on the communities of Sanborn and Valley City for their supplies and mail service. The Cooper Trail was established and passed to the west of the present townsite. The Cooper brothers, Rollin and Thomas, who had large land holdings in Griggs County and thirty-five miles from Sanborn, built a "halfway place" with a 30x100 feet barn in the vicinity of the present town of Dazey. They and other settlers traveled the trail to and from Sanborn with their lumber, grain and supply wagons.
Many more settlers would move in to the territory in the following years. In the early spring of 1882, Charles T. Dazey and his father Mitchell arrived in Valley City from Illinois. On May 8, 1882 Charles T. Dazey purchased from James Mack 2240 acres of land in Township 143 Range 59 for which he paid $17,600. He bought Sections 7, 17, and 19 and the south half of Section 15. His father also bought land in the township and this later proved to be a bonanza farm. In the fall of 1883 the Dazeys harvested their first crop yielding 6200 bushels of wheat, 10,000 bushels of oats, and 600 bushels of barley. The following year they reportedly had 1000 acres under cultivation.
Other settlers did not farm on the scale that Charles Dazey and his father did. Their first harvests were considerably smaller as were their acreages. When these settlers came, they had to break the land before it became useful. The first settlers used oxen and a walking plow and then later horses and a walking plow to turn back the sod and exposing it to decay. Sod breaking was hard and tedious work. Two acres breaking per day was a good day for breaking with oxen. In a good year, as many as 20-30 acres could be broken.
Not many acres could be seeded the first year as the sod had to be "backset" (shallow plowing) after it was broken. The first seeding was done by hand, broadcasting the seeds over the field. As the grain grew, farmers anticipated the harvest all along knowing that the fields could be destroyed in an instant by hail, by blight, or by insect. An early frost was not uncommon in those days either.
Gradually the farming methods improved. Horses replaced the slower oxen and then came more efficient machinery and steam powered tractors. The old sod shanty and claim shacks were soon replaced with new larger homes. The homesteaders' dreams were being fulfilled.
In 1881 the Sanborn, Cooperstown, and Turtle Mountain Railway Company began building a branch line from Sanborn to Cooperstown. The railroad built to the site of Odell (one-half mile south of Rogers) the first year. In the spring work resumed on the line and railroad officials were in search of land for a station. Charles T. Dazey then donated a half section of land for a townsite (the east half of Section 19). His only stipulation was that the town be named for him.
In July 1883 the Cooperstown Courier reported two new towns were to be platted between Sanborn and Cooperstown, one at Daisy's and the other on Baldhill Creek by the railroad (Hannaford). In August the paper reported these two towns were platted and on the market.
Mr. Dazey began preparations for the town but in July 1883 disposed of his holdings to Charles A. Roberts and Nathan L. Lenham. On July 16, 1883 the tract of land was purchased by J.M. Burell who laid out the town. The townsite was surveyed August 1-4, 1883 by F.B. Edwards and filed with Barnes County officials in September 1884.
The little town began to grow and places of business were established and homes were built. The first depot was located where the present loading platform stands and the wooden water tower held its spot where the railroad last maintained a depot. John H. Little erected the first store building hauling the lumber used in the construction over land from Sanborn.
In December 1883 Mr. Little petitioned the Postmaster General for the establishment of a post office and was granted it on January 7, 1884. John H. Little was appointed to serve as the first postmaster. Prior to this the mail had been received by Star Mail Route from Sanborn. A tar-paper shack housed the first post office until being moved to Mr. Little's store.
The Lenham Elevator Company built in 1884 and began handling the large crops grown in the area. Nels Larson became its manager and remained as such for ten years. Mr. Larson built the first home in Dazey and today this is the home of Harry Mohr. Nels Larson also had the distinction of being the father of the first child born in the community. His daughter, Lula, was born September 24, 1884.
Meanwhile other firsts were taking place. Walter Wheeler soon built his blacksmith shop and Welcome Patterson erected the first hotel, the Patterson. That same year the Nelson Brothers established a general mercantile business in their newly constructed three-story building. This was later to be known as the Big Store.
Over the years other business places were established to meet the needs of the growing population. A second hotel was constructed as were a drugstore, confectionary, restaurant, implement, and general store buildings.
The educational and religious needs of the community were also being met. Two congregations had already organized, the Methodists in 1883 and the Lutherans in 1884. The German settlement east of Dazey was being served by itinerant priests until a church body, known as St. Mary's, was organized in 1900. The Congregationalists in Sibley Trail Township joined together to establish their church in 1897.
Social activities were also being held. Dazey's baseball team organized in 1888 and played their first game against Getchell. Team members included such men as Frank Quick, O.T. Olson, Clendenning, Knute Thompson, Sever Tolstad, and Alfred Anderson.
The Dazey Cornet Band organized during territorial days and was the forerunner of the popular combined Dazey and St. Mary's bands. The band provided musical enjoyment for many years not only to the people of Dazey but also at Luverne, Wimbledon, Valley City and throughout the area. Weekly concerts were later presented from the bandstand and these were the highlight of the summer.
The years prior to the First World War were a boom period to the bustling little town. On July 27-30, 1903 Thurston's Addition was platted and joined the townsite on the north. New homes were being built as were structures to house the businesses.
The residents were seeking an incorporated status for the growing village. To accomplish this, a petition accompanied by a recent census had to be filed with the County Commissioners. If the Commissioners chose to award the right of incorporation, the final decision rested with the legal voters in the town.
Ole Heimark, partner in the Nelson and Heimark Implement, conducted the first census. Taken on May 31, 1904 Mr. Heimark recorded 222 residents in the community.
Following the census, a petition bearing the signatures of J.E. Jacobson, Andrew Thurston, and others was filed with the County Commissioners on July 14, 1904. The petition was granted and the Commissioners ordered that an election be held August 4, 1904 to decide whether said territory should be incorporated.
The election was held at the office of Oppegard and Company Implement. A favorable vote was cast and on September 6, 1904 the Barnes County Commissioners authorized the incorporation of the Village of Dazey.
The first village election was held on September 22, 1904 and the officials elected were W.H. Smith, J.E. Jacobson, and George G. Lee, trustees, N.J. Nelson, treasurer, C.W.J. Prydz, clerk-assessor, M.C. Spicer, Justice of the Peace, and Smith Davis, Marshall. Many of Dazey's founding fathers left the community after a few years yet their actions plotted its course and made many decisions which Dazey would abide by for years to come.
In that same year, 1904, the Dazey State Bank moved into its new building and the following year the Security Bank was established. 1905 also marked the beginnings of the Co-operative Telephone Company and the Farmers Co-operative Elevator. The Farmers Store and Dazey's first newspaper, the Dazey-Herald, were started in 1906.
The businessmen soon organized an active Commercial Club. In 1911 they instituted the annual Stock Show. This event was held in June and included judging in different classes of horses, beef and dairy cattle. A parade was held, the Dazey Band presented a concert, and ball games, races and various amusements were sponsored. A bowery was held in the evening.
They also took it upon themselves to organize a local fire department. After two fires had done considerable damage to local businesses in 1909 and 1911 they were concerned with bettering their protection against fire. In the spring of 1912 they first met for that purpose and the Dazey Fire Department was the result.
The Commercial Club also acquired the journalistic talents of Leo Ratcliff and once again a local newspaper was being published.
The United States soon found itself engulfed in the battles of World War I. Albert Olson and Oscar Stubstad were among the many fighting in the war. They gave their lives for their country.
The roaring twenties and the dirty thirties saw the pioneers pass away, one by one. Charles T. Dazey, who had left the Dazey community in 1885, passed away at Quincy, Illinois in 1939. He had gone on to achieve great fame as a playwright.
Other residents moved away seeking better times. With the depression and the poor farming situation came a gradual decline to the economy of Dazey. The banks ceased to operate as did the newspaper, drugstore, and implement businesses.
Government agencies, including W.P.A. and the C.C.C. were established. Many young men joined the Civilian Conservation Corps while others became part of the Workmen's Project Administration. The W.P.A. locally, was responsible for the building of several small dams along the Baldhill Creek and they also helped to remodel the former Big Store building so as to house the new Community Hall.
Slowly, economic conditions improved as the rains came and the drought ended. The prices that the farmers received for their goods rose. The town felt the "boost" also. Businesses changed hands and the outlook brightened.
Soon the country was at war again. Young men were called into service, some never to return. Henry Lovaas was one of them. There were days of rationing and ration books. Gasoline, tires, sugar, shoes and clothing were all purchased with ration coupons. War bonds were sold to aid in the country's defense.
After the war, some veterans returned home to stay while others were lured by the better paying jobs of the larger cities. A slow, but steady, migration took place. Farming was on an upward rise and the trend towards larger farms began.
The 1950's marked the years of the Korean Conflict. Richard Sad was among those to serve overseas and here he gave his life.
School reorganization was the topic of the mid 1950's. There were many pros and cons on the subject creating a rift in the community that lasted a long time. After much discussion and several attempts at a bond issue, the North Central of Barnes School District became a realization. The Dazey High School closed in 1958 while the grade school continued to operate until 1963. That fall all students were being bussed to the new school along Highway b1, five miles south of Dazey.
Fire destroyed the Community Hall on December 2, 1961 and Dazey lost one of its oldest landmarks. Almost immediately the community joined together to make plans to rebuild. DuWayne Hare lead the fight and by September 1962 the new Community Hall had been completed largely to the use of volunteer help.
The Vietnam Conflict began and many young men had once again gone to fight on foreign ground. Dazey was spared the loss of any of its men who had gone to serve.
In the late 1960's discussion began on implementation of a water and sewer district. Construction started in 1970 and by the end of the year most homes and businesses were receiving service. Mayor DuWayne Hare was largely responsible for the new project.
The Village of Dazey became a city in the early 1970's when the legislature enacted a measure which made all villages and municipalities into cities. Dazey now has a Mayor and Council form of government. Helen Sherlock is currently serving as Mayor.
In the years that have followed few changes have taken place. Some businesses have closed. New homes have replaced older ones and the population has risen slightly. People now commute to and from their jobs away from Dazey as the appeal for rural life continues to grow. Community spirit is strong.
Dazey's youngest resident is Robert Allen McKenzie. He was born January 7, 1983 the son of Randy and Mary McKenzie.
Source: Our Heritage Dazey, North Dakota 1883 – 1983 Page 10