Leal, ND

Barnes County
Inhabited as of 5/10

Leal is a small town in Barnes county, an hour northeast of Jamestown.  We found just a little to photograph in Leal… a few select buildings and an abandoned farmstead outside of town.

US Census Data for Leal
Total Population by Place

2000 – 36
2010 – 20


Watch out, that first step is a doozy.

All photos by Troy and Rat, copyright SonicTremorMedia.com

51 Responses to “Leal, ND”
  1. Engineer Bruce says:

    The “general store” building was torn down a few years ago. I remember having to clear on the siding there to meet a train and going over to the store for an ice cream bar. That was in the late 70’s, The store closed around that ime too.

    • Ann Lynn says:

      My great grandmother lived in Leal. I used to go to the general store back in the 60’s and 70’s. There was an abandoned school, a little fire station and a church. The general store was also the gas station, post office and about once a month a barber would stop by and give haircuts. I haven’t been there for at least thirty years.

  2. Jerry says:

    Anyone know the purpose of the round hole in the concrete foundation by the porch?

  3. Ken Willson says:

    My Family (Willson) lived in Leal for many years, in the 1950’s I spend alot of time there in the summers. At that time my Grandfather ran the post office attached to his house. Buildings I remember: the School house (I went to 3rd grade there) Willies Merchantile, Old Post Office, Bank building on Corner, Community Hall, Hardware Store, Masons or KOC hall, Church (Methodist), Firehall (shown above), LumberYard, Halter’s Auto, Elevators, Train Station and a number of houses.

    • Ken, by any chance did you have a relative by the name of Edith Willson who married a man named Lewis Myers? They would have had 2 children, Howard and Ialene. My mother’s family, Myers, are from Leal. Her brother Lewis married Edith Willson. We recently returned from a trip out there for a family reunion. If you have pictures of Leal when it still had the school, church, store, etc I would love to see them. Also if you have any information about locals there it would be appreciated. My mom is 91 and made the trip from WI with us for the reunion. She would love to see photos of her home town again. We are traveling back out there in a month or so to look up relatives, etc. Any information you might have would be appreciated.

    • Karli Willson says:

      Ken, are you still in north Dakota?

  4. Ken Willson says:

    I’ll see if I have pics if anyone is interested.

    • Jim Wilkins says:

      You might remember my grandma & grandpa Harry & Sofie Peterson who lived right down the road from town. I spent time with them on their farm when i was young, very cool place & i have great memories of those days

  5. Erin says:

    Is the high school still standing? My grandma was telling me she played a bball game there and u had to climb down a ladder to get to the gym…

    • Jim Wilkins says:

      They tore the school down a long time ago. We used to play in it when it was abandoned & i always thought that gym in the basement looked like a pool when i was really young.

      • Don Dahl says:

        My brother and I took the school down in about 1971. We filled the basement with Bernard Rondestvedt’s cars. (my father-in-law) I wish I had some of those cars now!

  6. My family was one of the last to live in the general store building. We left in 86/87 (or at least my folks and brothers did). I graduated from North Central of Barnes in 1985 and went on to fargo/moorhead and places beyond. I was sad to hear the store was torn down, the two years I spent there was unique, with the grain trains shaking my bed in the middle of the night! Very nice little town, with nicde people, oh yes, I did attend the methodist church in town too. Mike Crittenden

  7. John says:

    They failed to photograph the church and now it’s gone.

  8. Virgil Haugen says:

    Jim, this is your Mom’s cousin Virgil Haugen. I remember playing at Aunt Sophie’s house with you and your brother Jeff. Many great memories. I talk to your Uncle Don often.We also saw your Mom and Dad at the Haugen Cousin Reunion in Whapeton in Aug. I drove through Leal after leaving Marg and Gile Gazetties farm. That isn’t your Grandparents house in the above pictures is it?

    • bill kuhlmann says:

      i wonder if anyone remembers my cousins the arnold dilts family. they lived outside town a bit. i used to stay with them during the summers. my dads family was from wimbledon and my moms family was from courtenay. kuhlmanns and rapps.

    • Jim Wilkins says:

      Hi Virgil. Im Jim Wilkins , Mary & Wards son. The pictures are not of my grandparent farm. The farm house, garage & barn are still there, but its changed alot over the years. I was in Leal this summer for the first time in 20 yrs & had a hard time recognizing anything. I also have great memories of Leal, grandma & grandpa Peterson & great grandma Haugen. Thanks for e-mailing me back. Take care

  9. Virgil Haugen says:

    Hi Jim. Wish I could have seen the family house when I was in Leal. Be nice if you could make it to the cousin reunion in 2014.

  10. Julie Maxey says:

    My Grandmother was born in Leal, ND 1910. Her father ran the train depot,his name was Thomas Twiselton.

    • Mary Everson Drudik says:

      My parents and Grandparents lived in Leal back in the 50″s and 60″s. The old house remained for several years and it was and annual trip to come back to “revisit.” My Grandfather Carl Brandt ran heavy equipment for
      the county in the 30’s maybe and the 40’s. My Grandmother Caroline Brandt, later Flewell remained in Leal after my grandfather’s death. My favorite memories were visiting from Nebraska, and checking on on my Grandparents neighbor. A retired sailor from Norway. Loved his accent. His first name was John, can’t recall his last name. My parents are Leonard and Bea (Marilyn) Everson. We moved to Nebraska in 1965. We made trips back every summer and actually had other relatives move back into the area on the Everson/Rhondsevedt (spelling ?)side. Rocky and Charlene! :)

      • Dan White says:

        My mother Shirley Trudeau White lived in Leal in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s graduating from high school in there in 1943. There were only two students in the class of 1943, my mother and a Vernon Anderson. My mother said she lived across the street from the old firehall pictured above. The house she lived in was later sold and moved outside of town onto a farm. She said they paid $7.00 a month rent. She said the Brandts were friends of her parents Leo and Agnes Trudeau. My mother has a friend a Ruth Westin Van Duesen that also grew up in Leal. Her parents were Lawrence and Olava Westin. My mother said they knew Marilyn Brandt and her two older sisters. The Westin’s and Agnes, Yvonne and Shirley Trudeau moved to Washington State in the mid 1940’s. In the photos of the house above that is probably a well next to the back porch. My mother said they had a well next to their back porch with a hand pump in the kitchen. The had no running water, just the pump.

        • Dan, my mother has a friend Ruth Westin Van Duesen also! We recently travelled to Leal while in Jamestown for a Myers family reunion. My mom is 91 and we were able to get her to Leal to see her home farm, the cemetery and what is left of Leal. Some of the names my mom remembers are Willson, Abrahamson, Nelson, Peterson, Lundy. Her brother married Edith Willson. Any information you can share would be greatly appreciated, any memories at all.

  11. Lori Sievers says:

    I just found this site and was excited to see these photos of Leal. My mother (Patricia Shape) grew up on a farm around there and graduated from North Central in 1964, I believe. When I was younger we used to go visit my grandparents(Lorraine and Russel Shape). My mother passed away in 1996 and I haven’t been been in that area since then. It is so great to see these photos.

    • Terri Thiel says:


      I remember your grandparents, they lived just south of my grandparents, Harold and Eleanor Martinson. I used to go to your grandparents to play with your aunts/uncles when my grandparents went to visit. The barn was so big! I went past their farm not long ago, it’s fun to remember going there.

    • Tom Potter says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your mother. I graduated from North Central in 1967 with your Aunt Susan Shape. It’s fun reading all the comments and seeing the great photos.

  12. Jeanne Burchill says:

    Pam, My husband and I recently bought the old Abrahamson farm, it was pretty overgrown. On Memorial day weekend we were out there and met a woman (Shirley Abrahamson) who stopped to see the farm she grew up there and was able to give us a little history it was a nice visit. Gerald Willson and his wife live just to the south of us

    • Jeanne, I am not sure where that farm is but I’m sure my mom remembers. I will mention it to her and see what she knows. That is great that you got some history from Shirley Abrahamson! Please share that you learn, I would love to know more about the area. Where is the farm in relation to the old school and the cemetery? I am familiar with that area the most.

  13. Mike Sharpe says:

    Just reading Larry Woiwode’s “Through the Bedroom Wall” and Leal has a prominent place. I’m not from N.D. but for all of you from the area you might enjoy it. Other towns in the area also figure in; e.g. Wimbleton, Valley City, Hyatt.

  14. Ann Lynn says:

    I was in Leal in September for the first time in 30 years. It really is a ghost town. I’m not sure when my family moved there, maybe late 1910″s. My great grandparents were Lena and Herman Cassatt. He was a blacksmith. They had a bunch of kids. Clarence had a farm near there and then moved back into Leal. My uncle, Elmer Cassatt lived there until the general store closed and has lived in Vallley City since then. Any information you could give me about the family would be great. My grandma’s house was across the tracks from the store and nothing is left of it….. a bit of a gravel drive and grass. It was sad, as I had great memories visiting there as a kid.

  15. Neal says:

    My dad along with Elmer cassatt swatted swallows in the grain elevator. I do have some news letters the kids made when they were in school. If you would like I can make a copy for you

  16. iris (Dwyer)Fogderud says:

    I graduated from North Central of Barnes in 1965. Tom Cassatt was in my class. The consolidated school is made up of Leal, Rogers and Dazey. Tom’s sister was a year ahead in my brother’s class. I know that Tom lived in Fargo but moved to Washington state when he retired.several years ago. I don’t know his parent’s names but as far as I know his was the only Cassatt family in Leal at that time. He had at least 2 sisters but I don’t remember any brothers. I was from Dazey but knew a lot of the folks from Leal.

  17. Laurie Grotberg Korum says:


    My Grandparents Harold and Elsie Grotberg (Elsie was your grandmother Lorraine’s sister) lived just across the field from the Shapes. I was telling my kids this morning that during harvest one year, I had a sleepover (around 1970) with your mom, Pat. I don’t remember ever doing that besides that one time. The kitchen in that big house was always a fun place with the “boys” Marvin, Keith and Kevin! Nice memories!

    • Lori Sievers says:

      It is so nice to hear these types of things. I haven’t been to my grandparents’ farm for about 12 years or so. But I do remember the kitchen very well. :)

  18. Tom Didier says:

    My family lived in Leal from the forties until 1968. Dad Bus Didier managed the grain elavator for the Jim Hayden family. Willie and Ester Loberg owned the grocery store. Duffy Willson was our Post Master. Tom, Mary Ann and I believe Kathy Cassett lived on the south side of the tracks by the elevator. Thier Uncle Julius worked for Dad . Betty and Jr. Jorrisen were nieghbors, Hilda and Cubby Anderson lived in town. Bill and Shirley Eagan lived in town with brother Jack just south toward highway # 9. I could go on and on. Great Friends, Great Memories, Great Childhood! Tom Didier North Platte Ne.

  19. Dawn says:

    I live and work in Valley City, My parents were from the Leal/Dazey area. Marilyn Rebhahn Newman,, Daughter of LEO and Viola Rebhahn . My mother told us of many stories of growing up there and her and Elmer and Cubby remained close friends until she passed away recently. I have the pleasure of seeing them every day as i am the cook at Kenny’s Restaurant in Valley City. Both of these gentlemen could tell anybody any information they may want to know about this area, as they often tell me stories yet to this day.

  20. Glenn Cochran says:

    My Dad worked on one of the farms near Leal in 1915. I just came across post cards, one to him and the other from him with the Leal, North Dakota postmark and address. He and another young man from here in Pennsylvania evidently answered an advertisement for farm workers and decided to go there for a season or so. More than likely it was the farthest away from home either one had been at that time. It was a major adventure for them. Dad often talked about the farming there and how when he encountered a dust storm he would have to unhitch the team and then lie down in a furrow until the storm passed. The horses would find their way to the barn and he would have to walk back to get them. I have no idea of who he worked for or stayed with. I was wondering if he left any “footprints’ there. His name was Chauncey Cochran, nickname of “Mick” or “Mickey”.

  21. Fay Anderson says:

    Hi Glenn and others. My grandparents, Fred and Selma (Sally) Marble, were also working on a farm in Leal. They were there in 1911 as my grandmother put Leal, ND as her address on her sister’s death certificate who died in Duluth, MN. They had a daughter born in Valley City in June of 1916. I am assuming they worked in or near Leal from 1911 to 1916. In 1919 and thereafter, they were living in Minnesota. Also, a relative of my grandmother recalls cows being shipped via railroad from a farm in ND to MN. The place in MN could have been called Duluth, Palmers, or French River. Does any of this sound familiar to you or anyone else? I am hoping to hear from someone on this.

    • Glenn Cochran says:

      Fay, I am totally in the dark on this. It was only recently that I was able to pin down a town in North Dakota where my Dad had been in and around 1913 to at least 1915. I should have paid more attention or at least asked more questions while he was alive. With the size of town that Leal was I would guess that my Dad probably knew your grandparents. As far as I know he was only a year or two in North Dakota and then returned to Pennsylvania where he lived for the rest of his years.

      • Fay Anderson says:

        Glenn, thanks for replying. Yes, I too wish I had asked more questions when they were alive. If I learn or hear of anything further about their time in Leal, I’ll post it here.

  22. Lucy Estes says:

    Glenn and Fay, I live 3.5 miles north of Leal, I moved here from Maine last summer and bought the old Ernie farm, talk about an adventure! Being a history buff, i started my research on Leal and Wimbledon before I moved here. Check out historicalmaps.com, Leal was a community in Edna Township, and they have a map of Edna township showing Leal and all the surrounding farms and farm owners in 1915, another for the 30’s and also one from the 60’s. The Abrahamson farm was quite large and just outside of town, within walking distance for the post in Leal as were others in the 4 corners direction. You did not mention your relatives mode of transportation, but for the time, like my dad and granddad, they probably arrived by train, so they probably walked to town from whichever farm they were living and working on, there are also ariel photos online of Leal and Edna township, another close by was Lake Town Township, more towards Wimbledon to the west, and Uxbridge township. At least you will be able to see where they spent those couple of years. Aslo check the Cencus records, for the timeframe and township, they would have been interviewed for age, income and state of birth. Leave no stone unturned, you may find someone’s memoirs in which they mention the summer of 1915 and a couple of fella’s from PA!

  23. Lucy Estes says:

    Wanted to add this. The state historical society of North Dakota has recorded oral history from many north dakoa citizens one is Victor Marsh, who’s father was a stockman in leal and i believe used to own the house that belonged to Sophie Peterson (currently owned by the Martinsons). Tape #14, Barnes Region 10157. Their number is 701-328-2666. The interviews were conducted from 1973-77 and the collection contains his recorded account and copies of many photographs. I think the only way to access is to go to Bismark, i was hoping to find it in their digital library on line.

    • Glenn Cochran says:

      Thanks, Lucy. Will definitely follow up on this. Thanks again. Glenn

    • Fay Anderson says:

      Lucy Estes. Thank you for all the info. I’m excited to check out the things you’ve mentioned. I need to ask some of my relatives some questions; see if they can remember anything. I have no idea how my grandparents traveled. I assumed they went by railroad. We plan to be in Leal for a few hours on Aug 14th..

  24. Marcy MARTINSON Rynestad0 says:

    I went to school with your mother, she was also my neighbor,I am Marcy Martinson (Rynestad)

  25. Denise V. Berg says:

    I just came across a picture of my grandmother, Esther Berg, my father and his younger sister (only picture of her – she was born in Leal in 1927 and died in March 1928 in Leal). They are sitting on the porch of Grandma Carrolts house. Also pictured is Mrs. Norell, son Denny and Raymond; and Esther Clink; and 3 unidentified persons. My Grandparents – Alfred & Esther Berg also lived in Leal in 1924-25.

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