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Wheelock, ND

These photos contributed by Nichole Simpson.


The interior of Wheelock School.

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36 Responses to “Wheelock, ND”
  1. sandra felchle says:

    You should come see Denhoff ND this summer! Denhoff is the geographical center of ND. The school burned down 15 years ago. We have about 15 people left living in town, quite a few old houses, 1 old church, and 1 really neat small business building. Denhoff is located right by the corner of highway 14 and highway 200. So, just 1 mile of gravel to get there. I don’t know if it technically qualifies as a ghost town, since people still live there. But it is a neat place to visit! We still have our own zip code. ;)

  2. Mark J says:

    Is Wheelock the town that essentially has fences all over the place so that most of the town is being used as a pasture? I seem to remember that from a trip in that area in 2005 or so. We have seen that in mostly abandoned towns all over the state.

    • John Piepkorn says:

      Wheelock still has a couple of people living there, you may be thinking of Temple which is just a short distance NE of Wheelock. The area around the Lutheran Church in Temple is fenced and is used as a pasture.

      • Mark J says:

        Yeah I remember the pasture at Temple, but I am sure it was one of the towns between Ray & Williston. Epping is a nice town, so perhaps it was Spring Brook? I just remember lots of fences, we didn’t even stop to take any photos.

  3. Alan Cook says:

    Interesting website! I had aunts and uncles who lived and worked in Wheelock for decades (Bradbury’s and Thue’s). Lenora Bradbury ran the post office, and her sister, Gladys Thue, ran the general store (shared the same building). The church in the photo was on the south side of the Bradbury’s property, and I remember my uncle Orlo Bradbury used to mow the church lawn. When my family visited, he used to “let” my older brother and me help him. Too funny.

    Wheelock was a very cool little town; at least as seen through the eyes of a young city boy who visited in the summers of the 1970′s. The innocense of that region always amazed me; no drugs, murders, rapes, or other mayhem on a daily basis. I remember it seemed “abnormal” to me at the time, that such a place existed.

    • Sheri Bendewald Donovan says:

      My father, Daryl Bendewald graduated with Olro Bradbury’s son(/), Dean and I remember him talking all about the other people too. We have an old calandar with Thue’s Store featured on it. My grandmother was Iona Pingrey Bendewald and she was the school teacher in the area. When I am in ND, I ALWAYS travel back to Wheelock and just sit and feel the stories that my Dad told me come alive. I have a brick from the schoolhouse that I display proudly.
      My father and Grandmother and their family are buried in the Wheelock Cemetary just outside of town.

  4. Mayble Horton says:

    I remember haning out in the yellow house having hodowns there on Sat nights. Dancing untill 12 then going home past curfue my dad would be so mad.

  5. Pat Crilly says:

    I started the 1st Grade in the Wheelock School in 1947 and then in the middle of the year my Dad who was the Depot Agent for the Great Northern Railroad was transferred to Minot,ND
    Thanks for the memories.
    Pat Crilly

  6. I grew up in Wheelock. We lived on a farm but we moved into Wheelock every year to go to school. I started first grade in 1951 and we lived over the old bank building that year. The next year we bought a house next to Jake Hodenfields garage. My dad paid $300 for the house. The house and the garage are both gone now. Kenny Thue ran the store “Thue’s General Mdse” and the post office was next door. H.K. Thue ran the store in the early days; Kenny took over when I was in the third grade or so. Sometime after I graduated from high school in 1963 the post office moved in with the store. For the first couple of those years we had a hardware store, “Lofgren Brothers”. The store closed when the last Lofgren Brother died. I don’t think I ever seen both Lofgren brothers at the store. In 1962 Wheelock High School had 10 students. 4 boys and 6 girls. The high school was closed that year and in 1963 we were all bused to Ray where I finished my senior year.

    • Alan Cook says:

      $300 for a house?! Yet another reason to love Wheelock! Every time I visit this website it brings back very fond memories. It’s a shame that those little towns are no longer viable.

  7. Oh! Thank you for the memories and for letting Wheelock be alive again through them. It’s so sad to go back and see the condition of the town. I wish it could be the neat little clean town it was when I was growing up in the 50′s &60′s. I’m the youngest of the big family of Vinger’s. I’m sure anyone who ever went to school in Wheelock had one of us in your room! Ha!

  8. Rhonda Melland Daniel says:

    Brings tears to my eyes to see my church and school where I grew up in shambles. I went 2-8 Grade at the school. Attended Church, Sunday School was Confirmd & Married in this church. I have alot of awesome memories of Wheelock that was my hometown. I grew up on the Carl Melland farm,he was my Grandfather. Our address was Epping for the mail but Wheelock is where I call home.Our neighbors where the Alvin Garaas’s,Olive Vinger’s, Clearance Sherman & Oliver Hodenfield’s. My memories will alway’s be with me and can never be taken away. Thanks for the memories Wheelock and all the lived there while I was growing up.

    • ed says:

      I wish there was something that could be said to make you feel better but thats what life is. I would feel the same way as you if I grew up there. Things turn to dust even us some day.

    • Brenda Melland Ehrmantraut says:

      Found this site on a whim. I’m looking for a picture of the inside of the store. (Anyone? anyone?) I used to visit my grandparents in Wheelock (also in the early 70′s) and walked to the store for treats, crossed the street to go to church, and played on the lone swing next to the school. It’s cool how many names I recognize above. I wonder if I’ve ever had a conversation with Grams when a Bradbury, Thue or Vinger wasn’t mentioned!

    • Sheri Bendewald Donovan says:

      Are you related to Dorland Melland? My father was Daryl Bendewald and he graduated with Dorland…I still go back there and just feel at peace. My Dad is buried in the Wheelock Cemetary.

    • Amy says:

      Could you please tell me when school started in Wheelock? My grandpa and grandma was Clarence and Ceona Sherman. My mom is one of the younger ones, Helen. Thank you.

    • Craig Garaas-Johnson says:

      Alvin passed away just a few years ago. After I met him, along with my in-laws, we stopped at Wheelock to see some graves and take photos of the town my wife’s grandfather (Halfdan, Alvin’s father) settled in when he came to North Dakota. Really interesting town.

  9. Jason Skurupey says:

    Hello all!, My name is Jason and I currently reside in Hayden Idaho. I’m originally from Williston N.D. Though many of you have personal stories of Wheelock when it was a thriving town I have only memories of it starting in 1996. I was 13 when my grandfather who lives just 9 miles away in a lake house on Lake Sacajawea took me for a drive. My curiosity as a young man started then. I have photos of these buildings when they were still in descent condition. I had always wondered about the people who lived in this amazing town and your posts have really been quite surreal to read through. I return to Wheel lock with my wife and kids every other year as I have family who still live in the neighboring towns. My Grandfather Leland Olson “Ole” played basketball at the school. I have gone through many of the houses and buildings that were accessible. It has been sad to see over the last 2 years as the town has been overrun with bikers and a new bar named Wheelock Ramblers. If any of you would like more photos send me an email and let me know. Also, if anyone knows how to acquire land in this wonderful town I would be greatly appreciative. I did go to the Williston City hall to get names of the land owners to call and see if they would like to sell but had no luck getting this info.

  10. Lawrence Strong says:

    I spent my first 8 years in Wheelock. I was adopted by my grandparents. My grandfather Elwn (Shorty) Strong operated the equivalent to the modern convenience store. He had a gas pump in front where you had to pump the gas up into glass tank at the top and then use gravity to let the gas flow into a car or tractor or whatever. Maximum 10 gallons at a time. Inside you could buy a coke from the machine where you slid the bottles along a metal track and then lifted it out if you had put in the correct price. He also sold snacks. In the back of the store you could play cards or get a haircut from Grampa. We lived above the store for awhile and later got our own house.
    There was a well in the center of town where mostly kids got the joyful duty of carrying filled water pails home. Lots of outhouses in the town as well. The elementary portion of the school had 6 rows of seats … one for each grade. My grade had 3 students. We had one teacher for all of those 6 grades.

    • Sheri Bendewald Donovan says:

      My Grandmother was Iona Pingrey Bendewald and she taught school there in a one room school house by Wheelock. My Dad was Daryl Bendewald WHS Class of ’49. He had a brother and a sister and they lived with my Grandma’s brother. Very unusual for the time. Grandma sold the farm when Dad went to Korea in the war, but we have relatives in Tioga and friends near Wheelock that we still visit and I love coming back to Whelock. My Dad told us many of the stories that you shared in your post!

  11. Lawrence Strong says:

    We lived in Wheelock until 1948. I was back a few years ago and would recommend the Buffalo Trails Museum in Epping. There are some references to Wheelock there.

  12. Gordon Constable says:

    My Grand father homesteaded in the early 1900′s close to wheelock .Interested in any info,pictures of wheelock. Grandfathers Name Fred Constable.Grandmothers name Amke.

  13. Carol Seymour says:

    Who ever thought I would find myself on a site discussing Wheelock, ND??? This has been great fun. My maiden name was Carol Hodnefield. We lived right next to the church, and my family owned the yellow house. My dad, Jake, ran the local gas station/vehicle repair shop, which I believe is still standing. I too, have many wonderful memories of Wheelock. We were always safe wandering around town back in the 50′s and 60′s and managed to entertain ourselves quite well. In spite of leaving the house early each and every day and only coming home for meals, etc., I don’t think our parents worried about us very much. Those were much simpler times. I certainly remember many of the names mentioned here. Lenore Bradbury was our Sunday School superintendent and made us practice endlessly for Christmas programs. Kenny and Gladys Thue were the only people i ever remember running the grocery store. Kenny and Viola Melland were wonderful neighbors. And I certainly remember the Vingers and the Shermans. Mrs. Vinger made the best cinnamon rolls. Thanks for the memories. Hope we can keep this site going.

    Wheelock has sort of gained a resurgence with this recent oil boom. Last time i was there, there was considerably more action than in the past number of years.

    • Jerry Hodnefield says:

      How sad to see Wheelock in its present state. My family used to spend our summers there and in Epping and I have wonderful memories of being there with my cousins making pests of ourselves in Jakes garage and Thue’s store. The school used to be the best building in the area and my cousins played basketball in the basement. What a shame to see it today.

      Jerry Hodnefield

      • Daryl Hodnefield says:

        I am Daryl Hodnefield and a brother to Carol Hodnefield Seymour. I also have a younger sister, Janice Hodnefield, and an older brother, Jon Hodnefield. We all grew up in Wheelock with our parents, Jake and Esther (Halvorson) Hodnefield. Mom was born in Wheelock and lived there most of her life. Dad had the garage/repair shop, and was involved in farming with his brother, Oliver. I went to school in Wheelock through the 6th grade. During my last year of school in Wheelock, we had two grades with a total of 4 students (which included Janice and myself). Wheelock annexed with the Ray School District in 1969 after which time we attended Ray Public School. I don’t remember any new homes being built while I was growing up, but with the current oil boom there have been new homes moving into town and a frack sand business that has started up. The frack sand business is located where the grain elevators used to be on the south side of the railroad tracks. When driving into Wheelock a couple months ago we noticed a sign for “West Wheelock”. Since you can easily see from one end of town to the other I must admit it put a smile on our face. Although the town has changed considerably since our childhood days, it was a great place to grow up. Many fond memories of the people, church, school and business places that made the community.

        Daryl Hodnefield

        • Ben Johnson says:

          The oil boom is changing things some good some bad

        • Sheri Bendewald Donovan says:

          I remember my dad talking about the Hodenfields and I believe he probably grew up with relatives of yours. I too, swy the “West Wheelock” sign recently and chuckled. My Dads name was Daryl Bendewald and he and his brother and sister grew up there with their Mother who was the school teacher there for many years…she taught all grades back in the day, way before your time I am sure.

        • Ray P says:

          I’m looking for information concerning any Hodenfield that may have married a Leota M. Reed, probably in the 1930′s
          Ray P.

    • Sheri Bendewald Donovan says:

      Do you remember the Bendewalds? My Grandma was Iona Pingrey Bendewald. She was the school teacher for all grades for years and my father was Daryl Bendewald (WHS Class of ’49) I am so happy to have found this site and read all the memories that people have. I thought my brothers and I were the only ones out there that even knew about Wheelock…we used to sit for hours and listen to Dad talk about growing up there and I visit at least once a year.

  14. Tim Krause says:

    The “bar” you speak of is the private clubhouse of the Ray Ramblers MC, an old and very much respected Motorcycle Club comprised of Medical Professionals, Business owners, common working people, Grandma’s and Grandpa’s and are some of the most friendly people you will ever meet from at least two states and Canada. They do not “overrun” the town, they come to meet and visit with their members, and guests, and to improve and maintain their private property. And they’ve been there doing that for decades beyond “two years”, breathing a little life into an otherwise nearly dead town.
    Please don’t assume that people are bad simply because they arrive wearing black leather and riding loud motorcycles.

  15. Amy says:

    Could anybody please tell me when school started in Wheelock, if there was a river between Wheelock and Ray and any information on a family called the Shermans?

  16. Joel Horton says:

    school started in wheelock in 1908 the brick school house was built in 1927. I remember playing basketball in the down stairs gym. shirley, jon hodnefield, joe sherman and linda thue were in my class 5th and 6th grade. I remember the Vingers very well

  17. Byron Moe says:

    I spent a lot of summers out in Wheelock. My Grandmother Poole ran the bar in town in the 60s and I also had my Aunt Agnes Wilkie who lived next to the school. I also spent a lot of time in the general store. A safe and amazing place for a preteen boy. I actually went to 1st grade in the school until my mom moved us into Williston in 1965.

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