Werner, ND

Werner, ND

Werner is in West Central North Dakota, south of Lake Sakakawea, in the oil patch region of Dunn County. According to North Dakota Place Names by Douglas A. Wick, the last business, a service station owned by Arthur Kummer, closed in 1970. The city charter was dissolved with a 7 to 2 vote in 1971.

Monica Hardy contributed these photos of Werner.

Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media

77 thoughts on “Werner, ND

  1. Does anyone have any thoughts on if it is inhabited or not? From the pictures I’d say it’s doubtful but the pictures never show the full picture. Thanks

    1. This house is not inhabited. It has electric wire surrounding the house so we, the grandchildren of Paul Hoffer who built it, were unable to go in the house in 2011.

    2. It is inhabited I live in one of the 100 year old farmsteads out here and have other family here too they are just huge farms so its hard to tell

  2. I was in Werner in about 2005 or 06 and at the time I recall at least a couple residences that were occupied. If you look at Gene’s comment and the Flickr link he provided, in a couple of those photos you can see that there are some homes up on the hill. That’s where the houses were occupied.

    1. The litle white house with the green roof was built by my grandfather Paul N. Hoffer and the birthplace of my father John E. Hoffer. I was last in Werner June of 2010, and saw places of all of the pictures dispalyed on the site.

  3. The little white house with the green roof was built by my grandfather Paul M. Hoffer and completed in 1919. My father John E. Hoffer was the first child born in the house. The house was the first to have running water in the town of Werner ND. Paul Hoffer had a blacksmith shop right by the grain elevator. Paul died in 1929.

  4. I was there in 2004 and my uncle’s house was still standing but not occupied. I will be back up there next summer.
    Susan Robison

  5. My mother was born and raised in Werner. My grandfather owned the local hardware store. My mom is a walking encyclopedia of all things “Werner”. Growing up there were the happiest years of her life.

  6. Ha !! I always wanted to stop at Werner. My Father-in-Law John Werner’s Grand or Great Grand Father started this town. DOn’t remember the whole story correctly. It’s been so long. LOL Stumbled across this and maybe I’ll take the ride for history purposes. I think Father-in-Law held minerla rights here until he sold them way back when. He;s been deceased for years. Was 72 I think when he died.

  7. I am the new owner of the elevators and land pictured above. Werner is very quite and peaceful. There is 20 to 25 people living in the area lots of deer and pheasants.

    1. Lots of deer and pheasant? That would make the trip more fun. Always wanted to see my Father-in-laws old history. I wrote just before your post. Typos and all.
      Tim Bederka, Rockford, IL

    2. My family and I were in Werner in the fall of 2011. We could not get near the little white house our grandfather, Paul Hoffer built. There was an electric fence surrounding it. Lots of pictures were taken of the grain elevator. Our grandfather’s blacksmith shop was located near there. We loved the trip!

      1. I had a good friend Joe Hoffer that I knew from a cabin on Elephant Lake in northern Minnesota. Joe was from Werner, and before he passed away, I travelled there and took some photos of the cemetery, grain elevator, etc. He talked of riding horses across the plains with Indians and how much fun he had growing up there. Such a serene place….

        1. My Uncle Joe Hoffer was my dad John’s older brother. Lots of Hoffer kids were born in Werner. My dad was the first baby born in the little white house in 1919.

          Rose Marie Hoffer Gruidl

  8. So sad to hear they burnt down the elevators, not much left now. My Aunt and cousin live near there, but have not seen them in years. Such beautiful part of the country.

  9. My mother, Arleen Nodland Thorstad, now deceased, lived on a farm near Werner and went to school there in the 1930’s. Does anyone have a picture of the barber shop, which is likely no longer standin? My family lived there after it closed in 1940.

  10. My mother lived in Werner and has many stories of the town, knows where businesses were located, etc. Her mother, Stella Bessaw, saw the railroad come to Werner and lived to see it leave. She passed in 1976 and was one of the oldest, if not THE oldest, residents. We visit Werner often and love to listen to mom talk about who lived where and what happened when she was a kid. I remember the store/post office, Art Kummer’s gas station, the depot, the school, and knew several of the “old timers” who lived there. What a beautiful spot for a town!

    1. My Grandmother, Margaret Rousseau lived in Warner and died at age 99 in 1960. Goldy Kummer’s first husband was Phil Rousseau, my uncle who I am named after. My wife and I might visit that area this Sept.

      1. Phil, would you post or reply to my post when you plan your trip to Werner? My mom knew your grandmother very well. She would love to meet you and visit about her. I have a friend who is a great grand daughter of “Gramma” Rousseau and mom has a friend who is a great-great grand daughter! They would love to meet you, too, I’m sure! Thanks for your post and I look forward to hearing from you regarding your visit to Werner! Sandra LaDuke sladuke@excite.com

      2. Phil…..

        I am trying to sort out my grandchildren’s heritage on their father’s side. Was your grandmother Margaret Rousseau who was married to an Edward Rousseau? I am trying to determine if they had a son named Paul or perhaps Louis, who was married to a Josephine Martel. This Paul/Louis died around 1918/1919 in North Dakota o Montana. Does any of that ring a bell? I can be reached at rkreklow@mindspring.com. Thanks for any help you can provide.

      1. Sue, Ardella Bessaw Strand was my mom’s (Mary Jane Bessaw Miller) sister. Ardella passed a few years ago. She is buried along side her husband, Art, in the Werner Cemetery.

          1. Awesome! I will share your posts with my mom. She’s coming to see me this week! She loves to hear from and about others with connections to Werner!

          2. Yes, she mentioned your mom and said she was a really nice woman! I am waiting to hear from JoAnn.

  11. My maternal grandpa was a Werner. Wonder if he was any relation to the person who started this town. Will probably never know. Love the pictures though!

  12. My mother (now passed) was born in and grew up in Werner (born 1920). Her maident name was Odum and her dad was the postman. I have one of those weird memories for small details and I swear I remember her mentioning the last name Bessaw (pronounced it Bee-saw if I remember). Also Vaagen. Anyway, remember hearing about stories of Werner of the 20s and 30s; it was a pretty good size town. Visited once in the early 70s when there was a little still left and have been there a couple of time recently when travelling in the Midwest.

  13. Paul, my mother is Mary Jane Bessaw Miller. She grew up living next door to your grandfather, Bob,and his family. She will be so excited to hear of your post and yes, she knew the Odum “girls”, Ruby and Pearl, too! Werner was a busy little town “back in the day” and we love to listen to Mom’s stories of “who lived where” and what went on in her hometown! Your grandpa’s house is still standing as is my grandparent’s house. Not much is left of the little town any longer. Your memory does serve you well….Vaagen’s lived in Werner, too!

    1. Sandra — Most amazing! I think (based on your post) that you probably already know or may have figured it out, but Pearl was my natural mother. She passed away in 1966 only a couple of months after I was born and I was adopted by my aunt, her sister, Irene (well, actually, Lola — but mom always went by Irene or “Erin”) and her husband. Mom passed back in 2006 and aunt Ruby passed I think in 2003. Uncle Don (James/Jim given name) is still alive in Minnesota. Last time I visted he showed me some interesting pictures of Werner in the past. As you note — it was quite a happening town. Mom used to talk about how it would be fun to drive in to Halliday or Killdeer or even more exciting, to Dickenson. If your mom has any interesting stories she wants to share, I would certainly be interested.

      1. Don, I will talk with Mom and share your email. She loves to hear from others who are interested in Werner! I’d guess that she has some stories that involve your family. I’ll see what I can share with you! My grandparents, Joe and Stella Bessaw were your grandparent’s neighbors and used to visit, have coffee, etc. all of the time! If I remember correctly, your grandpa was a mail carrier and WWI veteran. I remember him coming to Grandma’s kitchen and having coffee and pie! If you’d like to share your email address, I will send the information to you personally. My email address is sladuke@ excite.com. Good to hear from you!

    2. My dad Curtis Rowe grew up in Warner and knew a Jack Beesaw. I met Jack in California many, many years ago when they were both involved with the VFW. I’m 99% sure his name was Jack. I remember him because he gave us “saw” lapel pins… Was he a relative?

      1. I believe you’re referring to my uncle, John Bessaw. He was very involved in the VFW in California and yes, he did have lapel pins that were bees with a saw!

  14. My mom is Buehner, she graduated from Werner High School in 1948, the only one out of the class of 3 girls that graduated.

  15. When was the elevator built anyway? I’ve found mention that the Equity Elevator & Trading Co. was started in 1916 or 1917. The elevator included a small DC light plant and which served the town until Hughes Electric Co. came to town in the late 1920s.

  16. Paul Teagle and Sandra….my mother Ruby died 5 September, 2007. My uncle Donald turned 93 in Jan and he is in Bloomington MN. I will try and get him over to Plum City WI where I live. Donald loved Studebakers and I have 5. If any Werner ‘kids’ are ever near the Twin Cities I am one hour east in Plum City. Sandra and I knew each other in early 70s and you, Paul Teagle, urinated on me from 2 feet away when you were having a diaper change in July, 1966 at Irene and Harry’s house. Field, 715 307 8222 fieldmcc@yahoo.com @fieldmcc

  17. Good to hear from you, Field. I will update Mom on your information! She enjoys hearing from those who have a Werner connection! Very sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. Your Grandpa’s house as well as the pump are still standing!

    1. I am a Quill kid. Theodore Quill owed the Quill brothers store. He married Emma Rossing and had 6 children who all attended Werner High School. My great aunt Clara was post mistress prior to Odum. My dad, Colman Quill, was a depot agent and knew the Bannings and I knew their sons: Darcy, Dana and James. I also remember MaeBloom Beesaw and meeting Ardella and sisters in Dunn Center. My cousin Gordon lived in Dunn Center around 1970 – 1975 or so.

      Charlotte Quill Olson cqolson54@gmail.com

  18. My aunt Joyce Banning and uncle Robert Banning were Depot Agents in the1960’s. Many a summer was spent there with my cousins and are my happiest memories. No running water, had to haul it in from the stream on the side of the depot. How I remember that cold cold water bubbling up from the earth. It was brown water from all the minerals in the ground. On a vacation to Mount Vernon in 1990 I stopped by a water fountain to get a drink and to my surprise out came brown water. It tasted the same but was not cold. I enjoyed seeing the pictures. I bought a train set (HO) size for my husband on his birthday we are just getting started on putting the layout together. My goal is to build the depot as I remember it. Just happened on this site. What a wonderful way to start my day, thinking about Werner. Now will have to call my Aunt and chat. Reading the posts some names jump out, Vaagen, I bought my piece of werner from her. After husband passed she sold some parcels and I was fortunate to buy one. I have visited Werner several times since my family left North Dakota, not much there now mostly cattle and horses grazing. Thanks so much for the pictures.

  19. I’ve recently discovered I have ancestors who lived in Werner. Andrew Johnson apparently ran the post office for a short while, and his son Alfred is buried in the Werner Cemetery, along with Alfred’s wife Susie Dava Dancer and Andrew’s 2nd wife, Edna. Anyone know anything about them? I loved seeing the pictures … 😉

    1. My mom, Mary Jane Bessaw Miller, was raised in Werner. She asked me to mention that Susie’s name was Davis not Dava. As kids we loved to say her name. It was rhythmic and just rolled off your tongue! I will see if I can get some additional information about your Werner relatives!

      1. Another case where some record got it wrong and every family tree since kept it up? I’ll be glad to fix that in my records, and please thank your mom for me …

        I’m now thinking that my Andrew ran the post office in Renville for a while earlier in his life, but may have been a postal carrier Werner? He seems to have retired there, to be near Alfred and Susie … and I was able to get a copy of “Dauntless Dunn II”, where I saw a bit on Susie and Alfred as well. Interesting, and I’d be thrilled to get any information you can find on my relatives, as six months ago I knew NOTHING about this branch of my tree! 😉

  20. My grandfather, Theodore I Quill, own the Quill Brothers general store. My great aunt, Clara Rossing, was the post mistress until the 1960s.

  21. May I ask another question about the area and time? I have a descendant report that her mother (a Hannah Myrtle Johnson, daughter of Andrew and Katherina Johnson) lived with her parents on a farm about 3 miles from Tyler/Taylor? Her mother died in 1917, and there was apparently a prairie fire about that time that destroyed the farm and the town, and they lost everything. Their farm was in Dunn County, she seemed to think he owned most of the town but lost it all in the fire.

    Does this ring a bell to anyone, or any way to track? I’m asking because we know the father gave up his four daughters to their grandmother right after Katie died, for other reasons, and I’m trying to figure out if there’s some kernel of truth here, or she made up a story to “hide” the real reason … thanks! 😉

  22. I’ve pretty well figured out the prairie story never happened, it was made up by one of Andrew’s daughters to explain why she was separated from her family. However, I do have another question … they were in Commissioner District 3, Dunn County; where would the kids have gone to school in 1915-1916? Records say they did, but I haven’t seen anything that says where … thanks!

  23. I am the Son of the late Glenn and Anna Marty. Our farm was eight miles south of Werner, as a very young boy I remember going to the train depot to pickup freight. On our farm there is a big lone tree, my Dad would tell me stories of a town called Renville! Can someone tell me more about it?
    Wes Marty

        1. Interesting, my great-grandfather owned land on 144.93 for a while … we’re talking Dunn County for Werner, right? He would have owned it in 1913, I think; I have a plotted map that puts him near Vang Lutheran Church … do you have any idea when your family owned the land?

          Checked more papers here … I have “meridian” 5th PM, “Twp-Rng 144N-093W, “Aliquots” E1/2SW1/4/LotTrct3/LotTract4, “section” 30, Dunn County. Were there more plots of land in each section? My paper says he had 144.68 acres. I know almost nothing about how they did this homestead stuff …

          Beth in MN 😉

          1. Hello Beth
            Interesting info! Yes we’re talking Dunn County and the Vang Lutheran Church. Sadly the Vang Church was struck by lightning and burned to the ground about 2 weeks ago!
            I don’t know when my Folks bought the place. When Dad passed away he owned 920 acres. To get to the home place you had to drive up s big hill and the house was at the bottom, a 2 story white frame house with a cellar!
            Thanks for the information

  24. We here, at the Dunn County Museum have high school graduate pictures from 1927-29, 1931-1941, 1943, 1944, 1946, 1950, 1956-1959, 1960 & 1961, from the Werner School. We are open every day for the 2016 season from 10 am to 4 pm mt.

  25. looking for pictures of Werner train depot and surrounding town for my HO train layout. Shots of any trains in depot or running by on tracks.

  26. Paul Hoffer, my grandfather had his Hoffer Blacksmith shop to the left of the grain elevator. Around the early 1930’s it was closed and never used by the family again. It was burnt down in a fire. I did find remains of his equipment after the fire.

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