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Fillmore, ND

Benson County
Abandoned as of 4/06

Fillmore, ND is in Benson County, about 20 miles SE of Rugby, the geographical center of North America. Fillmore reportedly had 150 citizens in 1920, but that declined to 74 by 1960 and today Fillmore is home to only two part-time residents.  When we arrived, we were surprised to find Fillmore was one fo the best North Dakota ghost towns we’d run across so far.

There is a defined Main Street in town with vacant buildings staring each other down from opposite sides of the street. There are many vacant homes too, not to mention two vacant churches.

The townsite pictured here is actually the second townsite to bear the name Fillmore. The original townsite several miles southeast is now wiped from the prairie.

Like most ghost towns in North Dakota, Fillmore was another casualty of the decline of the train and the rise of the automobile.

CLICK PHOTOS TO ENLARGE

Fillmore, North Dakota, 2006

Fillmore, North Dakota, 2006

Fillmore, North Dakota

Fillmore, North Dakota

Fillmore, North Dakota, 2006

Fillmore, North Dakota, 2006

Fillmore, North Dakota, 2006

Fillmore, North Dakota, 2006

Fillmore, North Dakota, 2006

Fillmore, North Dakota

Fillmore, North Dakota, 2006

Fillmore, North Dakota, 2006

Fillmore, North Dakota, 2006

Fillmore, North Dakota, 2006

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

See also: Fillmore’s Lost Legacy
See also: Return to Fillmore

Comments
126 Responses to “Fillmore, ND”
  1. Mark J says:

    OK, two questions: Who knows anything about the stone church (that building is amazing)? And, what is with the churches with the steeples cut off? That’s at least three I have seen, Fillmore, Brantford, and Silva. I would speculate it has somehting to do with moving the church (IE to get it under power/telephone lines)? In Brantford, I am almost posotive the church was moved. Here in Fillmore, it’s not moved, but maybe is was planned to be at some point? In Silva, I am pretty sure the steeple was placed at the nearby cemetary (it was there in ’04).

    • Oinos says:

      The Silva church didn’t have a steeple per se. What you see is how it was meant to be. There are several other churches with similar features in Western North Dakota. The Fillmore church steeple collapsed from a wind storm, if I remember correctly.

      • We hate to disagree with you Oinos, but the Silva Church DID have a steeple. It was not designed that way. We know that because the steeple is now actually sitting in the Cemetary in Silva.

      • Mary H says:

        My husbands family lives in the area. WE were told the steeple on all of the closed churches have been removed and put into the local cemetaries. And Silva did have one it was in the cemetary near by. None of the churches as far as the family knows has been moved.
        The building that you listed as the Community Center was actually the Grange Hall for the area. In later years when the family had reuions there the boys put up the basketball hoop.
        we were there in 1986 for a family reuion, And the one building with the flat store front was stillopen then. It was the local tavern and ice cream. One of the nights while we were there, some kids broke in and stole pop icecream and pizzas. If you were to follow straight down from the tavern there was a single wide trailer that was the local store. Mostly just milk eggs bread and can goods. You also couldget and receive mail there.
        And last of all, you called it a ‘vault in the middle of the town’ I might be wrong but that looks like a outhouse.

      • ghostsofnorthdakota says:

        Mary, the basketball hoop was not just put up in later years… the community center (or Grange Hall as you called it) has a wood basketball floor with the original basketball lines still painted on it — not soemthing that was just thrown together in later years.

        The vault in the middle of town in Silva is definitely NOT an outhouse. We went in it. It’s a bank vault.

    • Harris says:

      The stone church was built in 1948 by the local parish members. It was St. Mary’s Catholic Church. A lot of the rocks came off the Nick Duchscher’s farm. Father Miller was the first priest. Before the church was built all masses were held at Fillmore Hall. All the parish members names and the priest that built the church are in a time capsule behind the cornerstone.

    • James Watland says:

      Mark,

      I am sure you have had some other responses by now but if not here are a few of mine.

      The “Stone Church” was a Catholic Church built by the local people in a very short time around 1949 (?) There is a plaque on the church giving more accurate information.

      The Lutheran Church was about a block away to the east of the Catholic Church. The steeple was removed and placed at the cemetery west of town about 1/4 of a mile. Dont ask me why.

      My Granfather (a Noregian Immigrant) and his sister lived in Fillmore after his retirement. The house that they lived in has since been removed and is or was a soy bean field the last few years.

      I lived on a farm about half way between Knox, ND and Fillmore, ND.

      At one time there were two grocery stores in “town” at least one Bar, grain elevators, hardware store that doubled as a post office, a railroad depot (Sioux Line RR) with a water tower for the steam locomotives, a hotel, a two story elementary & high school building, barber shop, farm repair shop.

      I left the area in June of 1952 to join the USAF and visit infrequently over the years. I live in Florida now and make a brief pilgrimage to the area and take pictures, etc. I met one of my school teachers that I hadn’t seen in about 55 years when I stayed in Rugby, ND. The thing that I remember the best is when she sneaked up behind me and gave me a “round house” smack on the face and knocked me out of my seat. We had a big laugh about that one. I have be “traumatized” ever since!

      Many of the people I went to school with have moved on to the big cities or are deceased now.

      There is going to be a 100 year anniversary shindig in Fillmore on July 6, 7, and 8th that I plan on attending. It has been over 50 years since I have seen any of the people that are still alive.

      The former Depot Agent’s son and his wife live in the Phoenix AZ area in the winter and Show Low AZ in the summer. They are more familiar with Fillmore than I am because they spent more of their life there.

      Feel free to email me if you have aything I might have forgoten.

      JimWatland@aol.com

    • Debbie says:

      Your right about the Silva church steeple being at the Silva Cemetary.

      • Sharon Klemm says:

        Hi, if you read the entire string associated with the Fillmore, Rat has answered a whole lot of the questions about the stone church and the steeples. I agree, that church is amazing.

    • As to the Filmore Lutheran Church Steeple it is at the Lutheran Cemetery on the West edge of town.

    • Deb says:

      Someone bought the stone church , when it no longer was a church, for themselves.I went to church there sometimes when I was a kid. It was a more modern church inside,lots of wood, not ornate like the Balta church. As for the steeples, I know the one in Silva in in the Silva Cemetary. They take them off and put them in the cemetaries. Think it is the same for Fillmore, I think.

    • Rita says:

      My mother grew up on a farm new Fillmore and went to school in Fillmore through the 8th grade then transferred to Rugby for h.s.. My grandfather was a farmer and all the area farmers brought stones that were cleared from their farm fields to be used to build the church. I have no idea why the steeples were cut off though.

  2. That’s a good question Mark. I’ve always wondered too, but I assumed it had something to do with fire mitigation… nobody goes to the church anymore, so they take down the steeple to minimize the risk of lightning strikes…? Maybe I’m reaching.

  3. Mark J says:

    Good point, that’s one thing I hadn’t thought of. It is quite a drastic measure just to make sure the church doesn’t burn down though!

  4. Kelso19 says:

    Possibly they removed the steeples to preserve them? It’s a complete shot in the dark, but in instances like Silva, it seems as though they ARE doing something with the steeples? When the church starts collapsing, the steeple is often the first thing to go. Just a guess. The lightning/fire idea sounds pretty legitimate as well.

    As far as the stone church, all I know is that it’s marked at pretty much all the entrances with “no trespassing” signs. Someone must be out there, at least during the summer, because when I was there all the grass was mowed, esp. around the church. One would assume that if they were still holding regular masses, they wouldn’t have “no trespassing” signs everywhere? Also, there didn’t seem to be any signs or anything indicating when masses are. It’s a shame to see such a beautiful building not in use.

    Somebody needs to plan a trip up there and ask the guy who lives there :P

    • B. Brandvold says:

      I think that is the Catholic church that was closed about 8 or 10 years ago because of lack of parishioners and the usual priest shortage. I remember hearing that it was a beautiful building and that they had a lot of wonderful Catholic icons, statues, etc. I’m sure that stuff was taken out of there and sold. I bet there are still parishioners in the area that keep things mowed up and make sure the place isn’t broken into.

      • Mark J says:

        There was a movement about 8-9 years ago where the Diocese sold off a number of rural Catholic churches in North Dakota. I wonder if this was part of that, and now privately owned. When I was there in 2004 or 2005, the place was locked up and there was a bathtub sitting outside the front door!

    • Lorna says:

      We own the stone church and it is privately owned, the last church goings on in the church I was told was in 1986. When we purchased it the furnishings and fixtures were either sold or moved to other churches. We use it as our private get a way since it is so peaceful there.

      • James says:

        Hello neighbor! I am the new owner of the auditorium. I purchased it with the same intent you have for that beautiful building.

        I have no intent of tearingit down for srap lumber but conditiona and finances will be deciding factors in its new incarnation.

        I hear there will be a reunion in Fillmore this summer. Please feel free to send me the details.

  5. Judy says:

    The stone church was the Catholic church. My mom was raised in Fillmore. She said all the farmers would bring in the rock from the field to help build it. We went there last summer and it was really heartbreaking. We spent a lot of time there when I was a kid. My grandmother lived there and her house was an old railroad coach. We had electricity and no running water. (Still hate outhouses!) We had to go to the town pump to get water in cream cans. The photo with the 2 buildings show the bar on the left and the store/postoffice on the right. The store/post office was functional in the late 60′s when we were there. The town hall was still functional and we played alot of basketball. The pink house belonged to my moms cousins. They were all Voellers. The white church was the Lutheran church.

    • Mary Jo (Braaten) McGuire says:

      Judy, you must be Barbara Voeller’s granddaughter; I am Bertha Braaten’s granddaughter; I have not been out to the Fillmore area in a very long time…..I believe my cousin Joel Braaten now owns our Grandmother’s home…he is moving from Leeds to Rugby now…..it is just amazing to me to see these old pictures…..

      • Judy says:

        Mary Jo,
        Yes! My grandmas was Barbara Voeller! And your grandma was such a sweetheart! I have a linen hanky that she gave me when I was 7. That was a while back. I remember getting her mail and she would give me a dime for bringing it up to her. She was such a wonderful person. We were there last year and hadn’t been there since ’94 and I just walked around and cried. :-( Grandma’s house is gone and so is that stupid outhouse… (still don’t like them!) We found the town pump and it still works! It was such a fun place to spend the summer!!

    • David Voeller says:

      The stone church was built by Father F.X. Miller. He was priest for both Knox and Fillmore from 1946 until 1963, at which time he moved to Michigan, ND. He passed away in 1988 in Devils Lake, ND. His sister, Elizabeth Miska, passed away at age 99 in 2010.

    • Kay (Judy's sister) says:

      I miss that waterpump. Saw a milkcan today, and remembered riding in the trunk of Grandmas car, holding the can upright and getting bonked on the head by the trunk lid as we bounced along. The taste of well water…. unforgettable!

      I dont like outhouses either! :)

  6. Oinos says:

    I was in Fillmore in 2008 and there were at least three families still living there fulltime. The stone Catholic church had just closed (there was a write-up in the Minot Daily News) and that prompted my visit. The locals were pretty protective of the stone church, but didn’t seem to care about any of the other structures in town. The Fillmore cemetery had fresh flowers at several graves, and an interesting hand made marker for someone named Otto Slotto.

    • Again, hate to disagree with you Oinos, but there aren’t three families living in Fillmore. Unless you’re talking about people who live on nearby farmsteads. None of the houses in Fillmore are even fit for habitation anymore. When we were there, there was one guy who said he was a part-time resident, and he said there was one other person who was also a part-time resident. Neither of them actually “lived” in Fillmore, they just bought houses in the town once it was abandoned. There are a couple of buildings in Fillmore that were being used by farmers who lived nearby.

      • Mary H says:

        Worng. My husbands uncle gose ther
        EVERY Summer. there is another home the family is there during the summer too. We have family reuions about every 5 years there. So yes, there is people living there. there is electricity and indoor plumbing.

      • ghostsofnorthdakota says:

        How does that make us wrong, Mary? We said there are two part-time residents, you said there are two guys that go there every summer (the definition of a part-time resident) and somehow you say we’re wrong. This is a fact: There are ZERO full-time residents of Fillmore, unless you’re counting people who live on nearby farmsteads.

    • Bonita Hanna says:

      Otto Slotto was my grandfather, my dad’s side of the family lived in Fillmore. I was there last month (for the first time) and it was pretty sad.

      • Bonita Hanna says:

        I meant to say that Otto Slotto was the brother of my grandfather, Ole Slotto, who is also buried in the Fillmore Lutheran Cemetery.

  7. bladelka says:

    I was out in Fillmore with some of my friends about a month ago and immediately when we got there a man drove up and asked us what we were doing. We explained that we were photographers and he said we could explore anything but his house (which led us to believe that he lived there). There was at least one house that looked kept up and nice enough to live in. Another man drove up and said that his grandfather helped build the stone church, which, as was stated before in other comments, was built using the rocks from around the area. He said that the man who we had talked to earlier now uses the building for his own personal storage. Sadly, we did not ask too many questions which I regret now, but it was definitely an adventure and a great day of exploration!

  8. Kristi says:

    I was born and raised in Fillmore. There are no full-time residents in “town.” The stone Catholic Church was purchased some years ago by a family that lives in the area. The steeples are removed from churches to place them in the affiliated cemetery. This has been done after the church officially closes in order to maintain a connection between the church and the cemetery.

    • bladelka says:

      Hi, I was just wondering what condition the town was in when you grew up there… I visited to take pictures there in April and was really intrigued by the history of the town but couldn’t find out any information about it. Was it nearly empty when you were there? What happened?

      • Kristi says:

        The town developed with the railroad; the Soo Line was established there at the beginning of the 20th century. With the advent of the car and good roads, the need for rail service declined and the community went the same path. Thus, the rails were torn up in the 1990s. Also, since my great-grandmother first homesteaded there in the 1890s, farms have gotten bigger, farmers fewer, and small towns smaller.

        There were about seven people in town when I grew up (to give you some context, I was born in 1975). Pete’s Bar, which still stands, was open when I was there, though it was only open during summers for some years before he closed it. There was also a trailer which served as the Post Office on one side and a small store on the other. It was lovely — open 24/7 with a notepad on the desk where you wrote what items you took so you’d be billed at the end of the month. Mailbox combinations were permanently set to open, though sometimes some kid would play with them and we’d have to struggle to remember the combination, or ask the post mistress to give a hand. If she wasn’t there, we’d reach through someone else’s to get our own!

      • Todd says:

        My grandmother (Lois Peterson) was the “post mistress” in Fillmore for some time (well into the 80′s and possibly very early 90s). She was actually in the Guinness book of world records for having the smallest functioning post office in the US. My dad (Dan) grew up in Fillmore and we would take roadtrips back every so often. I remember playing ball in the old gym and my granddad (Walt) using the center of town as a huge garden (there were only ~4 residents at the time).

        The last time I was there was in ’05. It was heartbreaking to see the condition of the gym and the few remaining structures. I have pictures of the Luthern steeple – it’s in a nearby cemetery. This is my first visit to this site – if there’s a place to upload photos, I will definately share.

    • Daryl Evenson says:

      Kristi, I believe you and I are related. My grandmother was Julia Rendahl Baustad who lived right in Fillmore and my mother, Juanita, was married in the Lutheran church in Fillmore. I have been poking around online to check into my family tree…both sides came from Norway. I have a son, Alex, who lives in St. Paul and you would be cousins.

  9. Travis says:

    Ha! I remember buying a Kit Kat at the Post Office/Store. Must have been in the late 80s some time. Kristi, I have a sneaking suspicion that I briefly went to school with you at Concordia.

  10. Travis says:

    Well, I should have graduated in 1998. I think we had Norwegian language class, or some other Scandinavian Studies class together. Last name is Woyen.

    • Kristi says:

      Travis – I forgot to respond to this until now. Nice to hear from you! Of course I know the Woyen family. Funny to think of buying chocolate at the Fillmore post office/store. The chocolate was often white from age, but it still tasted good to me! And that’s where I developed my affinity for tootsie rolls!

  11. Shirley says:

    I had a ‘tour’ of the country side this summer by an older gentleman from Esmond and was awestruck by Fillmore, the field rock church, and reminded of cheerleading in the hall in the 60′s when Esmond played basketball against Fillmore.

  12. Judy says:

    I love Fillmore and was there last month to the cemetery. The Lutheran Church steeple is still at the cemetery. I attended 1st grade at Fillmore while we lived in our grandfather’s home across the street. After moving to Rugby, my brothers and I often returned to Fillmore to be with our grandparents and cousins. There was always much to do…we would sneak to the “cuts” after crossing the railroad bridge for the danger and excitement craved by youth. Both my mother and father grew up in Fillmore. My family research always brings me back to this town where Dad’s Norwegian father immigrated and maternal Norwegian grandparents were early settlers. It is rich in history and hopefully the descendants of the early families will record this. My mother’s sister was the last postmistress and raised her family in Fillmore. Thank you for this site and the photos.

  13. Kristi says:

    Judy/Judith – Are you a Baustad? My father’s lineage is completely Norwegian. Kristi

    • Judith Larsen says:

      No, but related the same to the Baustads. Marky and Gertie Thompson are my grandparents. Both mine and your paternal lines go back to the Feten and Rennedal farms in Vetlefjord at Balestrand, Norway. Gpa Marky first immigrated to Fillmore Co, MN to Louie’s farm in 1910 and it was your g.gfather, John, who enticed him to come to Benson Co. ND in 1914. Gertie was daughter to Iver and Birgit Iverson…sister to I.O and Emma. Birgit & Iver were early homesteaders in Impark Twp in 1899. This may be more info than you ever wanted, but an explanation that my heart will always be in Fillmore and my favorite cemetery anywhere is Hopper’s Hill. Fillmore must have been a “rockin place” in those early years…although very cold in the winter. :) I was a classmate to Terry Baustad and your aunt was just a yr older and a good friend of my brother. They graduated together at Rugby HS.

      • Kristi says:

        Great information, Judith! Of course I’ve heard about Marky my whole life and have a vague memory of a gift he gave me as a small child, if that’s possible. I’ve visited the Rendedal farm in Vetlefjord – have you had a chance to go? It’s lovely to hear of another who left their heart in Fillmore. I’ve never heard the name Hopper’s Hill – is that the name for the cemetery straight west of Fillmore (i.e. the Lutheran cemetery where our family members are buried)? If so, I couldn’t agree more. There is nothing like sitting up there looking out over the world.

  14. Judith Larsen says:

    Yes, Kristi. In 2006, my Aunt and I had a fabulous trip to Norway. The highlight, of course, was visiting the ancestral Feten farm. It is still in the family. We did get a picture of the Rendedal farm, but did not visit there. We were able to meet many of our extended family at Balestrand and the neighboring fjords and villages. They were so wonderful and kind to us. The Sognefjord and surrounding area are at the top of the most beautiful places in our world. It was like coming home…just as every trip to Fillmore is.
    We have always called the Lutheran cemetery, Hoppers Hill…I hope I am correct in this. The cemetery around the Tjugum church at Balestrand comes to a close second to the peace I feel at the top of our Fillmore cemetery…. It is there that I am encouraged that all will be okay and world problems CAN be solved somehow! Thank you for all you do, Kristi, to promote Fillmore…you are the one who grew up there. Actually many of my favorite family members were raised there.

  15. Kristi says:

    I’ll have to ask around about the name Hopper’s Hill. I like it, in any case. It’s more quaint than “cemetery hill.” I’ll also note that you and anyone else can support the maintenance of the cemetery by sending a check written out to the Fillmore Lutheran Cemetery. I send a check every year. You can either mail it to 3743 53rd St NE Fillmore ND 58332 c/o Laura Rendahl, or to the North Star Community Credit Union in Rugby or Maddock (http://www.northstarccu.com/locations.php). It costs about $500 per year to keep it mowed, and possibly more if there are services. There are other costs, like repairing the shingles when the raccoons have their day, but those costs are harder to predict. It’d be great to raise enough money to cover maintenance costs with interest income. Maybe you and I should pose a challenge grant? =)

    And I couldn’t agree more about Sognefjord. It’s so, so beautiful.

    • Judith Larsen says:

      Kristi, you are the best. Of course, it is the children, grandchildren of the strong early Fillmore residents that should help maintain this important cemetery. I will send what I can tomorrow. I will try to continue to support it, as I am able. It will be in memory of my Thompson, Iverson, Brenno, and Peterson family interred there. I will also present it at our Thompson reunion next summer and at least take a donation offering, Perhaps those who can, will contribute. It is especially important when the Lutheran Congregation is no longer there to support the upkeep of the cemetery. I have researched the early records from the Fillmore Lutheran Church, which are now at Bethany Lutheran in Rugby. These are such important early records for family research. Have you considered writing Fillmore’s history? It would be such a gift, but I know it would be a great deal of work. There are a few journal entries out there. I wish they all had kept journals.

      • Kristi says:

        Thanks for your generosity, Judith! And your willingness to talk about it at the Thompson reunion is very helpful indeed!! I hadn’t considered writing Fillmore’s history until you suggested it. Do you think it could be done in a way that makes it appealing to a broader audience than just those with roots in Fillmore (who are fewer and fewer by the way)?

      • Grace A. Lybeck/ Harder says:

        I am Grace Lybeck Harder, MY sister Margy Lybeck Stone lives in Knox N.D. We lived on a farm east of Fillmore We lived 1/2 Mile from the Baustad place. Where it is now. My folks a buried in Fillmore. Adolph and Clara Lybeck. I used to work for Lyn Boustad. I played basket ball for the Fillmore team, when Mr. Jeske was coach. My Two Brothers Eugene & Lowell Lybeck are also buried out there athe Fillmore Cemetary. I live in Yakima Washington. If there was a way to up load pictures I would. I have pictures of the snow plow on the tracks. I also have group pictures that must have been taken at play day or at a picnic at the end of the school year, if any one is interested.

  16. Kristi says:

    P.S. I meant to say “by the day”!

  17. Dan Peterson says:

    Really enjoyed looking at this website. A lot of great memories as I was raised in Fillmore. One of the pics is even of the house we lived in for awhile. Played grade school basketball in the “hall” plus countless hours of scrimmage with who ever we could round up for a game. Like cousin Judy said, the “cuts” was a favorite hangout for us kids.One of my biggest regrets in life is that I didn’t talk to my grandmother more about the history of Fillmore. It was once stated to me that my grandmother watched the railroad come to town and she lived long enough to witness the tracks being taken out! I have a lot of old pics, if anyone is interested, like the schoolhouse which isn’t even there anymore.

    • Kristi says:

      Dan – I remember hearing that your grandmother said that, too! She was a wonderful woman; I last saw her in 2001 or 2002. She helped take care of me as a baby after my mother died.

    • Ken Lund says:

      Great comments. Really enjoyed reading the replies from various people. I grew up in Fillmore, went to grade school there and graduated from the 8th grade in 1962. We then moved to Esmond for a few years and then on to “life”. Dan, nice to read your comments. I was in your grade. I visit Fillmore almost every year as I make the rounds visiting and cleaning up the cemetery plots of my relatives in Rugby, Fillmore and Baker. Sometimes Esmond and Balta. My father had a blacksmith shop & garage in Fillmore for about 12 years. When I visit Fillmore, I drive almost every street and it does give you that certain “peaceful relaxed feeling”. It is great to remember the “good old days”.

      • Larry Jaeger says:

        Hi Kenneth Lund and Dan Peterson, I went to school in Fillmore as well and remember you guys, however I was a few grades behind you. I am Larry Jaeger and my parents are Chris and Ardys Jaeger. My borthers still farm my Dad’s place 3 miles south of Fillmore. Great memories seeing these pictures. I remember my very first time I got to play basketball in the Hall and got fouled. I was so nervous taking the free throw the ball hit my shoe and rolled straight out the door into the street. Someone had to retrieve the ball and wipe the snow off it so we could continue playing!

      • Dan Peterson says:

        Great memories of playing basketball in the hall in Fillmore. I remember beating Little Flower Catholic school in grade school and then going to high school in Rugby and having to take all the snide remarks from those guys about the hall. Especially the iron furnace grate that was on one side of the hall. The coach told them to bring the ball up on the opposite side because they would always lose it bouncing on the grate. Another scraped his knee really bad when he slid across it. They say it was one of the main reasons they lost that game. — We played them a few weeks later in Rugby and lost by 30 some points, so there may have been some truth in the “home court advantage”!
        Can’t really top Larry’s one memory of the hall tho. My wife and I really laughed when we read that one. Thanks for sharing Larry!

    • Stephen N. Duchscher says:

      Stephen Duchscher
      February 13, 2012

      Dan maybe a couple old guys can still scrimmage. You think Judy would come to.

      Great times in Fillmore, Last time was early 70s. Beer was a dime on tap.

  18. Dennis says:

    The steeple of another Fillmore Lutheran church in Ransom county N.D. was removed due to leaks and wood rot. We replaced it with a lighted cross many years ago. It was cheaper than trying to rebuild the steeple.The church has since been demolished but there is still the Fillmore Cemetery across the road. Always got kind of a kick out of the name, Fill more cemetery.

    • Kristi says:

      Dennis,

      Minor correction: Fillmore is in Benson County, not Ransom. Unless Ransom County has captured Benson County and is holding it for… you guessed it, ransom.

      Sorry for the terrible joke – your play on the name Fillmore put me in silly humor!

      • Dennis says:

        :>) I do like the holding for Ransom. :>) l wanted to send a picture of the wrought iron sign “Fillmore Cemetery” to one of the funniest sign segments on a old TV show but mom did not think that was a good idea. It was a nice old church (the Fillmore Lutheran in Ransom county) but it needed to come down. I’ve never been to the town of Fillmore.

  19. Paul Marbach says:

    My father (Walter Valentine Marbach) was born in Fillmore in 1919. He had two brother and a sister, out of a total of eight children, who were also born in Fillmore during the early twenties. Their names were Jacob, John and Mary Marbach. They left ND and moved to the southeast side of Chicago in the late twenties as my grandfather and grandmother Ben and Margaret) could no longer make a living on their 160 acre farm. I remember visiting the town and local cemetary when i was about 10 years old in the mid 60′s. I remember my dad telling me about his first invention when he was a young child. It was a small piece of bamboo that he would stick thru a hole in his blanket. That way he could still breathe and was nice and warm under the thick blanket during the cold ND winters. I still have reletives (the Schmaltz’s) on my grandmother’s side that live and farm in ND.

    • Darla says:

      Paul: So glad to see a comment from one of my relatives! My grandmother, Eva Marbach Piatz was a sister to your grandfather, Ben. I would love to chat with you via email. I’ve done some geneology, but that was quite a few years ago! Please email me at obie@gondtc.com It’s been great fun reading all these comments and reminicing.
      Darla Rieger Obenchain

  20. Scott Thompson says:

    This is Scott Thompson – and our family lived in Fillmore until 2004, when Mom finally moved out and moved to Rugby (she is still there). Great to read all of the memories of everyone . . . the Hofferts, Voellers, and, of course, the Petersons (cousins). We had 4 kids in our family and the Petersons had about 10 (am I close?) I remember Judy coming to stay with her Grandma Barbara for the summer – it gave us kids a playmate for the summer (awesome!). My Grandparents – Pete and Mary Goetz bought and ran the bar since 1959, when they moved off of the farm and into town. The amazing thing about the bar is that they only sold beer (no hard liquor) and the bar did not have running water – Grandpa carried 2 buckets of watter every day from the pump (Judy refers to above) by Eva Piatz’ house. The Catholic stone church was built by the locals in 1959. This effort was led by Pastor Felix Miller. I’ll write more later . . . I didn’t think anyone remembered the Fillmore days . . .

    • Christ Jaeger says:

      There are some corrections in regard to the Fillmore Catholic stone church. The church was built in 1949 and completed in 1950. The pastor’s name was Father Frank Fx Miller. I helped lay many of the rock in the building working with Edroy Patterson. He was a stone mason and did wonderful work. Just an old timer now.
      Aug. 6, 2011.

    • Dan Peterson says:

      Only 8, Scott!

    • Terri Voeller Jacobson says:

      Hi Scotty! (That is what I used to call you) This is Terri (Therese) Voeller Jacobson. I remember hanging out with you all the time in Fillmore when we were kids. Fun times! I hope to see you and your family this summer at the big Centennial celebration! I wrote a blurb to leave on this site, but I don’t see it anywhere so I will try this and reply to yours. My parents lived in the pink house pictured on this site for almost 30 years. I remember your house being one of the newer, “fancy” ones. We didn’t have a flushable toliet and had to use the outhouse. Yuck! Don’t miss that! Also had to warm our water on the stove and we took our baths in a galvanized washtub. I remember when we moved to Rugby that was the first thing I looked at in our house was that we had a flushable toliet and a bathtub with hot and cold running water. What a luxury! Loved going to visit Bertha Braaten (what a sweet lady) and Barbara Voeller in the “train house” and playing with her granddaughter when they came for a visit. Fun times!

  21. Kristi Rendahl says:

    SAVE THE DATE: Fillmore will be hosting a Centennial Celebration from July 6 – 8, 2012. There will be activities for the whole family to enjoy and we expect a great turnout! More information to follow in the coming months.

    • Dan Peterson says:

      Kristi,
      Sounds like a fun time–keep us posted!
      Dan

    • Harris says:

      This is Tony Harris I have a basketball picture from 1957/1958. How do I post it? I know all of the names of the players, cheerleaders, and coach. If you are doing history on Fillmore and need information I have plenty to share. Our graduating class of 1958 from Fillmore was six. The class of 1957 was two.

  22. deb mack says:

    We met last nite at Grandma Myrtles’s house–used to be the Lutheran parsonage–for a pot luck dinner and meeting. This is the home referred to earlier that my uncle David Peterson maintains and spends most of the summer in Fillmore. It was a great planning event for next summer’s celebration. There were approx. a dozen people attending. Plans are in place for alot of early spring cleaning in the area and anyone wishing to spend a nostalgic weekend helping would be wonderful. My daughter Ashley and I were in Fillmore 2 wks ago and have photographed all the existing buildings. We do need photos of years gone by. It is planned to do a calendar of Fillmore and each month would have many photos. Thanks in advance to anyone who can help us with this. Deb

  23. Kathy says:

    I have so enjoyed your pics and the posts. I took my grandson, daughter, mom and mother in law to Fillmore about 5 years ago. One of the best road trips I have taken. So many memories – I thought I forgot a lot about being in grade school until I stood in that round staircase in the gym – those scary memories about all those school programs, waiting to go onstage. WOW – it was quite a day and the cheerleading memories also came flooding back. We toured the old church and had a picnic at FILLMORE CEMETERY – Such a peaceful lunch. Good day. I will continue to keep up on all our memories of Fillmore.

  24. Valerie O. says:

    My dad grew up in Fillmore and knew people there and he actually helped build the stone church there. He has told me some stories and stuff like that. I could ask him about the steeples on the churches and such. He out of 4 children was the only one born in Rugby, ND in the hospital. The rest of the children were born on the farm.

  25. Lorna says:

    My husband grew up in Fillmore and we own the St. Ann’s Catholic Church, built in 1949 from native stone. We call it our Little Peace Of Heaven, since some of the stone came from the family farm and my father in law always referred to the farm as God’s country. The church interior was basically gutted out and sold before we purchased it. We owned the church when the picture was taken for this website, we do go down there quite often and people to watch out for it when we aren’t there. Shortly after the article appeared in the Minot Daily News, someone broke into the church which saddened us alot, little respect there, that is why signs are up and mean what they say. It’s a shame that yes the town is occupied by less people, but there is many people stopping by and around the area, just not every day. The past year we had alot of water around the parimeter of the church, not in it, so it hasn’t been groomed to it’s usual neatness. We also own the Thompson properties and what my husband refers to Herman Brenno’s shop. I have taken many pictures of the town since coming down there in 1979. I remember going to the trailer house with Brian to get a ham for his mom. Couldn’t figure out for the life of me what he was just walking into someone’s house and then he told me it was the post office and store, I looked confused. I was in awe of the old greenish-blue railroad car that sat on the south corner of the street with lilacs flanking it.

    • Judy says:

      Lorna, that “greenish-blue” railroad car was my grandmothers house. Lots of fun there way back when! Sure wish it had running water! :)

  26. deb mack says:

    Fillmore Centennial Committee met last week. Plans are progressing rapidly for next summer’s celebration. We ask that anyone who would like to be added to the list to receive letters and agenda for next summer, please get your family’s names and addresses to any of us or email to deborajmackcpa@gmail.com. We do not want to leave anyone out. Thanks. Deb

  27. Hannah says:

    You guys i live 5 miles a way from fillmore and i have road horse there a couple times and my brothers go there a lot and there was recently a new building built there and there will be a fair there this year because the centenial this year so we welcome you to come and see our small little town June 5, 6, 7, and 8th so please join us!

  28. Pete Hammer says:

    If you look at craigslist in ND, one can find the Fillmore gym for sale very cheap ($2500 I think). It seems one of the many people in this post should own it and enjoy/restore it. Hope you can use this info.

  29. Gary Erick says:

    Tony Harris, I would like to see the Fillmore High school basketball pictures from 57-58. I remember Harold,and Stanley Oakland and playing high school basketball at Fillmore around 1954-1957. I probably played there myself in grade school 56-57. from Esmond. When is the centenial June or July?

    • Allen Oakland says:

      Gary, as you know i’m Stanley and Harold Oaklands brother . I was born in Fillmore and lived there until the school closed. my grandparents were some of the first settlers in that area. They owned the Oakland Hotel. Both of my brothers played basketball there. Harold graduated in 1955. Some people i’ve talked to said Harold was quiet good at basketball. I remember Harold had a freind John Harris. I’m guessing He would be related to Tony Harris but I’m not sure. I’ll be going to Fillmore for the centenial this summer. I hear from your brother Frank every so often . We were good freinds growing up. Take care, who knows we might see each other this summer. Allen Oakland

  30. Joyce (Elkins) Zupan says:

    I just received my letter on the Fillmore reunion so got on this web site. My grandparents, Louis and Carrie Knutson were some of the first settlers in the Fillmore area. I have a booklet written by Uncle Edwin of Grandma’s recollections of her life, and she relates a great deal of information on the first settlements, the first school, the church, etc. I do not know as much about Fillmore as my sisters do, but my parents are also buried in the Fillmore cemetery, and I go there every year when I get to North Dakota. I do remember my first sight of Fillmore in August 1941, on our arrival from Canada. My sister thought Grandma and Aunt Ada were Indians, they were so brown. We got our first store bought ice cream cone – the town was thriving then. All my memories of Fillmore are wonderful ones. We had a big family reunion on the farm in 1947 and we had a ball. People history is my passion, and a book on the history of Fillmore would be one I would buy. Don’t know ifI will make it in July, but do intend to keep up with this web site. Many of the names mentioned by people are familiar to me. The Peterson’s are my second cousins.

    • kay johnson gaebel says:

      your grandparents pioneered with my grandparents the harwoods and johnsons, we used to visit aunt kari every summer when she would come back to the old place at fillmore.

  31. Art & Verla Martel says:

    We are interested in attending the centennial next summer, and would like to be included in any mailings or emails from the committee. My wife is Verla Martel (Lacher), and we were married in the stone church on June 7, 1968.
    My address is: 8300 Red Oak Drive, Bismarck, ND 58501

  32. deb mack says:

    The Fillmore Centennial Celebration committee met last wk. We have firmed up much of the celebration plans. The registration information will be sent out toward the end of January. So SAVE THE DATE for the celebration on July 6-7-8th. And remember to send additiional addresses of family and friends to lpete@bis.midco.net to be included in the registration letter. Len Peterson (brother of Dan Peterson who previously wrote on this site) has been the creator of our database. We are so very excited about all who have written to us about their plans to come to Fillmore.

  33. Sharon Klemm says:

    How do you purchase property in a ghost town? I think that is interesting taht two people on this post seem to have done just that. Seriously, I am interested if anyone would like to respond.

    • honogica says:

      Me? I got lucky and found the gym in a Craigslist ad.

      If you’re searching for a particular property I suggest you go to the County Clerk’s office. Locate the property you want on a plat map, find who owns it and contact them.

      With a little luck, which in the case of a ghost town is a little over 20%, the lot will be owned by the Township and you will be able to buy it for 4x the estimated tax. Which, in some cases, can be as low as $4.

      I hope that helped and I wish you luck.

    • Pete Hammer says:

      Whether the property is in a ghost town or not does not matter. As long as the property has an owner, it can be bought and sold. I purchased a property in a ghost town in Washington state from the county. This was because the county received as a result of taxes not being paid. However, other property nearby was privately owned. You can look up the owner through the county – often online. Good luck! Its an interesting experience.

      • Gene Reieson says:

        i remember the hall Fillmore highschool basketball team played Minnewaukan,Duane Randle and I (Bakerites) were hired to referee the Fillmore games for the season by Jeske. Minnewaukan beat Fillmore .Duane and i got fired .I can still see Bortsad hollering at me from the balcony that night .Remember Golberg’s store Johnny Piatz’s, Herman had the bar . Cars parked in the middle of the sreet instead of at an angel toward the sidewalk . Mrs. Nellie Stromme got the name bloomer leg Nellie . She taught in Baker along with her son after Fillmore. Summer Saturday nites going to Fillmore . Mrs.Titus hadware store and post office .A, Bertsch had a little pool hall and then Mrs. Voller had it
        I O Iverson the Farmes Union oil truck . Clayton Tolllerud had I O ‘s Old fuel hauling tank .
        Ralph Morrel in the elevator .Herman Brenno and I ended up being competitors we were friendly competitors . Herman would say it’s a mean hog Gene a mean hog . Now it’s 2012 and there were as many people in Fillmore (early 50″s)as there are we have in Esmond today .The Satler Brothers would sing those were the days .

      • Jean (Stangeland) Borstad says:

        I can imagine my father-in-law hollering at you if you were calling fouls on Jerry!!!! We have our reservations to fly to ND for the big celebration in July and are looking forward to meeting and visiting with friends from our days in Fillmore. It should be a fun time.

  34. Jean (Stangeland) Borstad says:

    I can just imagine my father-in-law hollering at you if you were calling fouls on Jerry!!!!! We have our reservations to fly home to Fillmore for the big celebration. It will be fun to meet and visit with friends from our youth. Fillmore has always been a special place. It should be a fun time!

  35. Ruth Rabenberg says:

    My family–the Harwoods–lived in the Fillmore community from the early days. My father, Russell Harwood, ran the Minnekota elevator during the thirties. I completed my elementary school education in the four room school in Fillmore and moved on with my family to Maddock to complete high school in 1942. Years later I stood in the Fillmore cemetery with my Uncle, George Johnson. He told me he had removed the steeple from the church in Fillmore when it was no longer used as a church and had been sold. I remember as a child that my father cleaned up the cemetary and made some concrete block to mark graves that lacked stones. I wonder if they are still there.

    • kay johnson gaebel says:

      i am kay johnson gaebel and my brothers bob and dallas and i will be there to celebrate. our grand pa harwood settled on one side of cranberry and lake and the johnsons on the otherside.. so excited to see long lost cousin, neighbors and classmates.

  36. becky solway reierson says:

    Would like to know schedule of events for Fillmore north Dakota reunion.

  37. Kristi says:

    For those of you in the area, check out Prairie Talks: http://www.prairietalks.org

  38. Kristi says:

    Hello, people -

    I just wrote this blog post about my childhood in Fillmore: http://blog.kristirendahl.com/2012/05/home-then-and-now.html

    Kristi

    • Kristi says:

      P.S. A big thanks to the people at GhostsOfNorthDakota.com for letting me use one of their photos in the blog!

  39. Kristi says:

    Hey, everyone – here’s my theory about being from a small town: http://blog.kristirendahl.com/2012/06/you-can-take-girl-out-of-small-town-but.html Does it resonate with anyone else?!

  40. Dave Erickson says:

    Our grandparents, Rev. Edward and Anna Erickson, and their children Marie, Ozzie and Erling, lived in Fillmore in the 1940′s and early 50′s. Grandpa was the minister at several of the Lutheran churches in the area, such as the church in Fillmore and St. Petri near York.

  41. Gene Reieson says:

    i remember Rev Erickson going by our Farm in his black 1940′sOldsmobile to preach in St Petri on Sundays . Didn’t he also have the harlow Lutheran Church ?

    • Dave Erickson says:

      Yes, he served the Harlow church also; should pass your comment on to our Aunt Marie, she would find that interesting–thanks.

  42. myrna heisler says:

    As I sit here reading all the memories of Fillmore, I feel compelled to add a few of my own. I am Myrna Zimmerman Heisler. My mother, Marion Thompson Pederson Zimmerman may be the eldest living person from Fillmore. She was born June 5, 1921 to Tom and Pearl McMillan Thompson. Her mother died a few days later.Her father remarried Ada Slotto within a year or two. Her brothers and sisters were/are Bronald,(Inga Brenno) Myrtle(John Peterson), John, Doreen (Herman Brenno)Corrine(Jerry Leibfried), Edwin, and Ardell(Lorraine Goetz). Only Mom and Corrine are still living. I remember all the trips to Fillmore as a child to see Gramma Thompson. She was a wonderful cook, I think was the Fillmore school cook for many years. I loved going there and seeing all my cousins, especially the Peterson kids. They even took me with them to Balta and to Leroy’s quonset by Esmond! Am looking forward to bringing Mom to the big reunion tomorrow and seeing lots of relatives!!

  43. Dave and Robin Hearnshaw says:

    My wife and I were just reading all the interesting post about Fillmore, we live in Carrington, about four weeks ago we purchased an old trunk from an auction and stenciled on the top is the name Joe Czechowzki, Fillmore ND. We would love to find out about this gentleman. We plan on visiting the town in the next few weeks. Any info would be great. Many thanks!!

    • Debbie says:

      They only have 2 part time residents that live there. They had a centenial a few weeks ago. There is not much left to the town. Good Luck!

    • deb mack says:

      I was wrong. Just talked to Bev Miller and Joe was her brother-in-law not her father-in-law. He came to the US from Poland when he was 21. Bev’s husband John had not met him till then. Bev’s number is 701-776-6012. She would love to see the trunk and visit with you. She just stopped to deliver fresh farm cream to me from the Wolf farm at Fillmore. Makes the best kuchen. Deb

  44. Joyce (Elkins) Zupan says:

    Since I was unable to attend the reunion it would be nice to have some comments on how it all went, how many attended and so forth.

    • Grace A. Lybeck/ Harder says:

      I am Grace Lybeck Harder. I live in Yakima Washington. I would have liked to come back to the Fillmore reunion, But could not as I had been there for my nephews and my Granddaughters graduation the end of May. My Dad worked at the Fillmore Elevator. We lived a mile south of Fillmore and then moved to a mile east of Fillmore. We used to deliver Milk to a lot of people in Fillmore, butter, cream and also eggs. My folks Adolph and Clara Lybeck are buried at the Fillmore cemetary as well as my Brothers Eugene and Lowell. Mother used to play for Church, In the Luthern Church. Dad bought us a horse and buggy to deliver milk ect in.

      • deb mack says:

        Bev Miller is I believe the daughter-in-law of the Czechowski’s. She just had an auction at the original farmstead. She was married to Johnny. Joyce Zupan–the Fillmore Centennial was a total success. So many wonderful stories of people meeting up after 20-50 yrs. The Pierce County Tribune has a wonderful story by Edie Wurgler and a page of pictures. And we were proud to have Marion Zimmerman as our grand marshal. Makes me very emotional to think of how much Grandma Myrtle, Elvina, my mom Carol and so many more would’ve been so thrilled to have been there. Deb

      • Jean (Stangeland) Borstad says:

        The Fillmore Centennial was great. There were lots of displays, vendors, great food and great entertainment We saw school friends we hadn’t seen for 50 years – including your sister, Margy. Would you believe a parade with about 50 entries?? The night time entertainment was great – the band on Sat. night apparently is very popular in the area and I heard about 1,000+ attended the dance by quitting time. We didn’t stay that long. Jerry and I flew to ND from Florence, AZ where we now live. The people who worked on this event are to be commended – a lot of hard work went into making it a success.

  45. Grace A. Lybeck/ Harder says:

    Thanks Jean, Good to hear from you, If I would have come you and Jerry are the ones I would have liked to see. I still remember the going away party your Mother and Dad had for us before we moved to Leeds, It was great. Grace

    • Jean (Stangeland) Borstad says:

      There are some great pictures posted on Facebook – Fillmore Centennial and All School Reunion site. Check them out!

  46. Gene Reierson says:

    Bev Miller was married to John Czechosci .

  47. Kristi says:

    For those who grew up on a farm (and for those who didn’t): Country Lexicon. http://blog.kristirendahl.com/2012/09/country-lexicon.html

  48. Kristi says:

    More farm reflections for my fellow country people: What farm kids do that city kids never do. http://blog.kristirendahl.com/2012/09/what-city-kids-never-did.html

  49. My maternal grandparents lived on the hill to the SE of Cranberry Lake – John and Ingeborg Haugen until the early 1930′s. (The farm now belongs to Eunice Bengson) Grandma and Mom talked about going to Fillmore for various things. We lived on a farm east of Esmond but went to Rugby by way of Fillmore for many years. I especially remember the grain elevators. As a student at Concordia there were numerous Fillmore and Silva classmates. I worked for the Rendahl’s in the Admissions office and fully enjoyed them. Nice to hear of this celebration.

  50. Katie L says:

    I am thankful that the creators of this website got to Fillmore before the centennial celebration. They have also posted an article stating the changes that have taken place in this ghost town–including the fact it really is now a nonexistent ghost town. Many buildings have now been burned down.

    I went to the centennial celebration, expecting to get some great histories, photos, BASED on the pictures I saw here. It was verrrrrrrrrrrrry different than what I expected. And in short, a very negative way.

    I just wasn’t pleased to come to a celebration where there was nothing left to see. I went because my boyfriend’s family lived here for a number of years, I was excited to see the home, the buildings that they once frequented. It is all gone.

    The creators of this website go into great details of what happened, why this happened, and I will agree: you can’t control what property owners can do with what they own. But gosh darnit…..DON’T have a centennial celebration if you a) take down all the buildings (not all I should say….but most), and b) if you don’t WANT the people there. There were some people there that I don’t think wanted ANYONE there–literally camped outside one building, yelling at people to stay away like some old guy waiting with a gun on his porch, waiting to yell at anyone for any reason.

    I was just so excited for this celebration, drove 4 hours for it….and was immensely disappointed. It was utterly heartbreaking to come into town and see a bunch of plastic orange gates and “keep out” signs everywhere.

    I’m glad that some people were able to come back and reminisce, have a positive experience out of it. But I did not, and it makes me quite upset and a little angry thinking about it still to this day.

    The ONE and only thing I liked at this celebration–one of the old churches was still standing, and that’s where all the registrations took place. THAT was fun, to walk into the old church, see all kinds of old pictures, and socialize with some who used to live there.

  51. Gordon says:

    One of my great aunts lived there in 1916-17 (at least, they could have arrived as early as 1914 and left long after 1917) with her husband – a school teacher when they lived in Rolette County so maybe the same when they moved to Fillmore? – named Perry Brown. Her dad, my great grandfather Alexander O Anderson, and his wife Margaret, lived with them from some time the spring of 1916 to September 1916 (when he moved to Alberta) or January 1917 (when she died).

    I would like to see if there is any mention of them in the local papers. I can get old newspapers via interlibrary loan – I have already done so for Rolette County – but I have no idea what paper would have carried Fillmore news back then (Fillmore does not seem to have had its own paper). Papers from York, Knox. and Esmond all look like candidates. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  52. Sharon Klemm says:

    Do you guys have any plans to revisit Fillmore this summer and post photos of the “now”? I would be interested in seeing what it looks like in its current state.

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