In a very literal sense the Knud Thompsons were the first family of Cooperstown.

Mr. Thompson (1850-1924) opened the first store in Cooperstown January 5, 1883.  His wife, Anna, was the first woman to live here and their daughter, Grace, was the first child born in Cooperstown (May 15, 1883).

The Odegaard and Thompson Pioneer Emporium was a building 24' x 64' and was built on Burrell Avenue, near the comer of Tenth Street.  Mr. John Odegaard, a brother of Mrs. Thompson, had a financial interest in the store, but apparently no part in the management.

Mr. Thompson was born in Wisconsin, was in business in Minnesota and South Dakota before coming to Cooperstown.  Known for his sense of humor and his urge to trade anything or everything, Knud Thompson was well-liked.  When he was mentioned in the Griggs Courier he was seldom referred to as simply Knud Thompson.  Usually there was an adjective, such as jovial or genial.  The Courier made frequent mention of his horse trades.

John Syverson, whose wife was a twin sister of Mrs. Thompson, (Mrs. N. C. Rukke was another sister), bought Thompson's interest in the store in July 1884.  The Courier reported that "Mr. Thompson will still remain and trade, dicker and rustle as of yore, " which he did.

Knud and Anna Thompson had four children.  They were:

1.     Theodore, who had interests in a grocery store and a garage, married Helga Hammer, daughter of H. P. , and they had three children: 

1.     Kenneth, Mary Helen (Mrs. William Cheney), both of Helena, Montana, and Eleanor, (Mrs. William Snell), deceased.

Adolph was a lawyer, a district judge in Montana and an assistant secretary of state in North Dakota.  He married Maude Longfellow and they had three children: 

1.     James, deceased, Ila in Idaho and Thora (Mrs. G. H. Donaldson), Santa Barbara, California.

Grace married Earl Seekins.  Their three sons, Earl, Tom and Bob, all live in the Minneapolis area.

Oscar, a lawyer, practiced in Montana, and for many years in Cooperstown, was in partnership for several years with his neighbor, M. W. Duffy, and they each served several terms as states attorney for Griggs County.  Oscar married Florence Topping.  Their three children: 

1.     John, Valley City

2.     James, Devils Lake and Carolyn (Mrs. Ray Pfeifer), Buffalo.

The following poem appeared in the Griggs Courier February 12, 1886.


The Christmas frolics now are o'er,

Old '85 has fled, sir;

Now Cooperstown has no saloons,

And Vanderbilt is dead, sir.

But still, the bums and dudes in town

Feel good - it makes them snicker,

To loaf around, and hear the fun,

When Thompson makes a dicker.


Yankee Doodle is the tune,

Which Thompson thinks so handy;

He makes his trades, and takes his notes

With "Yankee Doodle - dandy! "

And what has Knud to sell?  you ask;

Why, simpleton, I answer:

What has he not that cuts or grinds,

Or walks upon the land, sir?

He's sure to have a specimen

Of each and every class, sir,

From J. I.  C. Eclipse machines

To Balaam's speaking ass, sir.


He'll sell you, farmers, what you want -

A mower, plow, or rake, sir;

A mule, a horse, a cow, an ox,

And binders that won't break, sir.

But best of all, he sells them cheap,

And never minds the cash, sirs;

He'll take your notes, and give you time,

Till next year's crop you thresh, sirs.


He never cares to make a cent -

He dickers for his health, sirs;

For trading seems to make him fit,

Then come and make your wealth, sirs.

He's the innocentest man in town,

You're sure to "take him in, " sirs -

Just trade your old truck for his new,

To "stick" him is no sin, sirs.

Source: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976  Page 85


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