kief-feature

Kief, ND

McHenry County
Inhabited as of 5/10

Kief is a near-ghost town in McHenry county, and is home to the first Russian Baptist Church ever established in the United States.

Although only listed as having a population of 12 in the 2000 census, the amount of activity we saw on our visit to Kief seemed to suggest a larger population, perhaps twenty?  Kief has a bar which was open for business on the day we visited.

US Census Data for Kief
Total Population by Place

1960 – 97
1970 – 46
1980 – 36
2000 – 12
2010 – 13

CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE

Many of the abandoned homes in Kief were in quite good condition, and led us to wonder why someone wouldn’t be interested in buying a home there.  The property could surely be had for a song, it’s a beautiful community, and only minimal updating would need to be done.

From the era when a guy came out to your car and pumped your gas, washed the windows, and checked the oil.  Let’s bring that back, can we?

Kief is also home to a well-known missing persons case.  Donna Jean Michalenko disappeared from Kief on November 2nd, 1968.  Michalenko disappeared after a night of drinking with a male companion, who claimed he dropped her off at her ex-husband’s house.  She was never seen again.

The investigation into Michaelenko’s disappearance was hampered by the fact that she wasn’t reported missing for six weeks after she disappeared.  If you have information regarding the disappearance of Donna, please call the McHenry County Sherriff’s Office at 701-462-8103.

Pictured above is the first Russian Baptist Church ever established in the United States.

All photos by Troy and Rat, copyright SonicTremorMedia.com

Comments
24 Responses to “Kief, ND”
  1. Larry says:

    WOW!!! Does Someone want to invest? I will gladly move my family up there to remodel & upgrade.
    Turn it into a resrt or vacation spot!

  2. Jeff says:

    Great pics that bring back wonderful memories. My mother graduated from Kief High School with my grandparents farming just south of town. Kief actually had a 100 yr reunionin 2 yrs ago. I was unable to attend but they put out a video that was really cool. My mother and aunt were interviewd along with alot of the older folks with their memories of Kief. Hey, is it true, I heard Earl’s bar reopened?

    • There was a bar open the day we were there.

      • Robin Gordon says:

        My Mother was born there. It seems my Great-
        Grandfather was responsible for naming the town of Kief. He and his wife moved there after fleeing Kiev with their children. Family name (although there are 3 different spellings that I am aware of due to Ellis Island) is Korchenko (which is my Grandfather’s spelling)

    • Constance Merz says:

      I spent many happy childhood days on my relatives’ farms around Kief but was unable to get tot he reunion. Do you know how I might get a copy of the video that was made? I would love to have a copy.

  3. Matthew Lorentzen says:

    I believe Benny still keeps the store open at the old gas station. My stepmother was from Kief (Karen Ebel). She died last year from cancer (2009) but my father Keith Lorentzen still lives in Butte.

    • Inez Schuster says:

      Marie Ebel b. 1919 married William Arndt b. 1912 (parents Jacob & Jetta Arndt) on 29 Sept 1939.
      Looking to connect with some relatives to share family history. Jacob’s parents were Friedrich Arndt and Minnie Suckert Arndt. Minnie passed away in 1919 and is buried in Rosenfield Cemtery, Kief, ND.
      Is there a website for the cemeteries in that area? Thx and stay well. Inez (Arndt)

  4. MarJean Ostrom Selby says:

    I grew up about 15 miles south of Kief…Kief was our address although I went to High School in McClusky…I was shocked that the bar opened….is there enough people to keep it going?? But then I hear ND is really rocking with all the oil activity going on……one of my friends saw on TV not long ago ND had more oil than Saudia Arabia …..

    I was home 3 years ago….and of course drove through Kief…..was wondering how long the post office had been closed.

    MarJean

    • Dustin Martin says:

      The bar in Kief is open. People like to drink there, nothing else for miles around. I remember 10 years ago delivering cigarettes and pop to Benny’s grocery store. ND is booming with the oil business, but not in the Kief area.

  5. I was back in Kief for the reunion ( 100 year ) and try and make it back to the area every few years. I have a lot of relatives in the cemetery there so thats to the personal that do a great job keeping up the area. I too stopped in the bar in Kief but only had a few soda pops so had to visit with all just a month ago. I think my heart will always be back in Kief as we had a lot of fun times growing up in the area. Thanks for the write up and the pictures.

  6. drtrd says:

    Great gallery from Kief! I can’t wait to visit North Dakota and photograph places like this. Thanks also for your kind link to my blog, http://vanishingsouthgeorgia.com . You’re doing a wonderful thing with this site! –Brian Brown

  7. DeLane Krueger says:

    very interesting to see all the old buildings, and the gas pump where i used to get gas. and also the lutheran church where i went to sunday school. so many memories. was great to be back at the celebration a few yrs ago, seen so many old friends and nieghbors. and the best part was camping right in town for 3 days. Awsome web site thanx.

  8. Darwyn Dasenko says:

    I taught a rural school near Kief, directly out of high school (1953 -54). I played backetball with the Kief’s men while teaching there. These are great prictures, I feel so sad and depressed when I see these old towns disappear.

    I also lived in Regan, ND during that time and it should also be placed on the Ghost Town list, nothing there but a few homes.

  9. Charity Ritchie says:

    Very fun to see this. I grew up near Kief. My great aunt still lives there and I saw a building that she owns, in the pictures. My childhood home, that my folks still live in on a farm near there, was moved from Kief 35 years ago.

  10. My Mother, Anne Schielke, daughter of Sam Schielke, and was born in Kief in 1916. About 20 years ago we had a Schielke reunion in Minot. Relatives took us all around Keif, Butte, Lincoln Valley, etc. My mother married Konrad Suelzle from Butte in 1935. His family owned the General Store in Butte which sold groceries among many other things. Mother graduated from Keif High School in about 1934 and my Dad graduated from Butte about 5 years earlier. I was born in Minot and was raised in Crosby located north of Williston where the oil activity is.

  11. John Xavier says:

    Kief Lutheran Church was one of 6 (no typo) served by my father, Rev. Karl Astrup Xavier in the 1949-1952 era. I was barely old enough to remember about Kief and yet do not have at hand a photo of the church. Therefore, I am unable to pinpoint which church as portrayed here is the one served by my father.

    The McHenry county area was heavily Norwegian Lutheran, although its proximity to Minot brought about a certain diversity to the area, mostly from railroad and commerce. There were also in the Kief and Butte areas a number of sod houses still around at the time.

    If I run across photos or newspaper stuff from the Kief area I will gladly post.

    Thanks tons for sharing all of this.

  12. Marcy Arndt Knopp says:

    Inez,

    My grandparents were Jacob & Jetta Arndt. My dad was Jacob Arndt Jr. Would love to share family history with you.

    Thanks!

  13. Darlene Letvin says:

    This was great to see these pictures. My husband, Gary, grew up south of Kief and tells stories of growing up around there. I grew up at Butte but really didn’t go to Kief much till I was in high school. Benny Krueger just died this past week, in fact I think his funeral is today. We attended the reunion a few years ago. It was fun to see and visit with old friends. The Baptist church there is very active . That is the only active church left there.

    • Claudia (Antonov) Anderson says:

      My family grew up on a farm SE of Butte & SW of Kief. Kolchevskys now own it. I still come back to Butte every couple of years and stay a few weeks with Ron & Donna Plesuk so I can visit Knodels, Hegney, other Plesuks, and any of the older folks that are part of my childhood memories. My Grandmother, Agnes Antonov, was married to, Dan Sr. in their later years. Our families (Roy Antonovs & Danny Letvins) would get together for dinners often. I will be going back to Butte at the end of this June to bring my father’s ashes home. Roy Died Oct.10, 2013 at ripe old age of 91. Butte & Kief area will always be “home” to me.

  14. Joanne Bahn Dieterle says:

    Lived in the area for 9 years — 1972 to 1981. Our address was Kief but we lived closer to McClusky. I played softball on the Kief Elevator team with Betty Blumhagen, Lenny Mortenson and many others whose names excape me! Haven’t been back in years but glad to hear there is an active church there and that Earl’s is open!!

  15. phyllis says:

    Benny passed away this winter in Jan of 2014. he was my dads first cousin

  16. Megan J Udelhofen Mohs says:

    If I remember right, my grandmother was born in Keif. Hazel Korolsky Udelhofen

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  1. [...] Kief, ND « GhostsofNorthDakota.comMay 18, 2010 … She died last year from cancer (2009) but my father Keith Lorentzen still lives in Butte. Reply. MarJean Ostrom Selby says: July 11, 2010 at 3:17 … [...]



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