Bartlett… Almost Gone

Bartlett is about twenty miles east of Devils Lake and is about as close as you can get to ghost town without actually being totally abandoned… there is perhaps one occupied property, and we saw the remains of several crumbling homes.  The former town site is quickly getting overrun by nature — the roads are shaded even on a bright day like this one. As we drove into town, untrimmed branches reached into the road to greet us, nearly touching the sides of the car.

Bartlett, North Dakota

The Andreas Historical Atlas of Dakota (pre-statehood), published in 1884, describes Bartlett like this:

This place, located near the east line of the county, on Section 25, Town 153, Range 61 was commenced in the fall of 1882, upon the completion of the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway to that point, and for a number of months had a wonderful growth and business, the population, at its maximum, reaching 1,000. there were 250 buildings in the place, and the people had high hopes that its boom would be a permanent one. But the laying out of Lakota, in Nelson County, four miles east of Bartlett, and the establishment of the county seat at the new town, resulted in the removal of the bulk of its business to Lakota and the city of Devils Lake. One hotel building was taken down and removed to West End, in Benson County, where it was metamorphosed into a number of cottages. There remains at Bartlett two hotels, several stores, and altogether some twenty five or thirty buildings.

Bartlett, North Dakota

A population of over one thousand in 1884 had become just 120 residents by 1910.

US Census Data for Bartlett
Total Population by Place

1910 – 120
1920 – 98
1930 – 67
1940 – 78
1950 – 51
1960 – 39
1970 – 19
1980 – Delisted

Bartlett, North Dakota

Order Ghosts of North Dakota Books

Bartlett, North Dakota

When you’re the only resident left in town, there’s nobody around to object when you rename the streets with a paint brush.

Bartlett, North Dakota

This part of the state in the Ramsey/Nelson/Grand Forks County area has a couple cool little places to visit, like Whitman, Mapes, and Niagara.

Bartlett, North Dakota

Bartlett, North Dakota

Bartlett, North Dakota

Bartlett, North Dakota

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

61 Responses to “Bartlett… Almost Gone”
  1. Marie says:

    My favorite picture is the last – look at the detail! And, the curtains are still in tact. This is so neat. Thanks, guys.


  2. M. Lindemann says:

    So much history of ND is being lost with the abandoning of all these towns. Maybe one day they will be revived! Thanks for the pictures.

  3. Jordan Peterson says:

    Hey, my motorcycle mechanic lives there. I wouldn’t call it dead yet, there’s still 2 people there.

  4. Lisa Pogatshnik says:

    My mom went to grade school in Bartlett and the family farm was right across Highway 2 from the Bartlett sign. When I was in grade school my mom drove school bus for Lakota and we would pick up a couple of kids that lived in Bartlett. Wayne Hooey and his wife are now the only residents. The town was built because of the railroad and when one of the railroad officials came through he said the town was actually supposed be further down and shortly after that the entire town burned to the ground so then they moved the town to the correct spot and rebuilt.

    • Peter says:

      I rode that bus back in the day and lived NW of Bartlett

    • Michele Widmer says:

      Hey Lisa! Don’t forget about the pig farm 😀 Driving by that on the bus on a hot day was always a blast lol I rode the bus from school in Lakota home to Doyon. We dropped off one kid in Bartlett in the early 80’s. Mikey was his first name, he was my mortal enemy lol We’d fight over who got to sit next to your mom and run the lights :)

      • Lynn Messner says:

        Michele, when you were between one and two we lived about one mile from Bartlett on an old farm for a summer. I’m sure you don’t remember it but it was quite a step up when we moved to Devils Lake! Ask your dad why we had to leave the farm!! 😉

  5. Sharon Klemm says:

    Great shot of the door.

    Are any of these houses liveable or are they all literally falling to pieces?

  6. Dash says:

    Cool old trailer!

    • Verlin Hanson says:

      That “cool old trailer” was my home for many years. My Mon & Dad bought that in 1959 & at the age of 12 I had running water for the first time. I have a picture of it taken from the same spot as this one when our home new and most of those tree were very small.

  7. Dave D says:

    So what was Hooey Ave. called originally? I do have a picture of the Hooey Ave. sign somewhere but the presence of a couple dogs dissuaded me from investigating more closely.

  8. Rachel says:

    I knew the Hooeys. I was in school with their son, Cole, when I went to school in Lakota from ’97 to ’03. As far as I knew, they were the only ones living there the whole time.

    I just love your site. :)

  9. Dash says:

    Here is an interesting link to a great northern railway site, with a number of ND depots including Bartlett.

  10. Sister Donna (Janet) Schroeder says:

    My grandmother, Victoria Schroeder, lived in Bartlett. I have many childhood memories of visiting Bartlett and I knew the stories about “When Bartlett was the end of the Great Northern Railroad.” My grandmother had a beautiful garden with stepping stone pathway and a wishing well. Her house and the Foley house next door were burned down by vandals at some point. I am afraid, because of wells, cellars and heavy brush to explore the east end of the town where she lived. I have a clipping about a birthday party given for my grandfather, Charlie, for his 65th birthday. It claimed that 147 people attended that party, more than the population of the town.

    • Richard {Rick} Allen Schroeder says:

      Hello, Sister Donna (Janet) Schroeder :
      Your grandfather, Charles {Charley} William Schroeder and my grandfather Otto Ferdinand Schroeder were brothers.
      We are able to trace back two more generations in North America but have no names or details of the previous generation Schroeder family in Karzig, Prussia.
      Has your life’s journey found anything about our great, great, great grandfather?

      • Sister Donna Schroeder says:

        I do not have anything before great, great grandfather. I was grateful for the family history done by Otto’s descendents. I have three volumes of the family history. My sister lived in Germany for a time but did not get to investigate the earlier generations of Schroeders. I have a copy of the newspaper that was done for the Centennial of Bartlett – KW Schroeder looked like a tough customer.

        • Jen Munoz says:

          By chance have you ever lived in Downey, CA? Thank you

        • Richard {Rick} Allen Schroeder says:

          I have the “Bartlett Was Once A Boom Town” eight page supplement to the Friday, June 12, 1971 Devil’s Lake Journal. Is that the article you reference?
          On page seven of that article is “tough customer” Carl Wilhelm {William} Ferdinand Schroeder. However the picture quality is poor. Do you know who might have the original photograph so that a high quality image might be captured for all of us to hand down to future generations?
          Yes, I also have the extensive volumes done by Donald Schroeder and Kathleen Schroeder.

        • Angie Betterman says:

          Are you related to Florance Schroeder Unglesbee?

    • Leslie Dykhoff Mowbray says:

      Jeannette Barron Olson where are you? Please contact me on facebook! Who knew that Bartlett would get us in contact again?! Memories! Also, Lynn M-yes we were the Dykhoff’s that moved to Abercrombie for a short while. Rob is in Eagan, MN, Rick in Blaine, MN, and I am in Minot, ND as well as Bill, & Tracy, & Joni is in Auburn, NE.(amazing that you remembered my red hair!) I also remember Mrs. Schroeders wonderful garden! It was magical-paper mache animals along the walkways……

      • Lynn Mickelson says:

        Great to hear from you, Leslie! I don’t remember Bill, Tracy or Joni. Are they your siblings? If so, they must be quite a bit younger than you. Don’t recall for sure, but I’m guessing that you were in about 5th or 6th or 7th grade when you were in Abercrombie. My wife Donna and I live 4 miles south of Colfax (not far from Abercrombie). We have been active this past year in the anti-drunk driving campaign in ND since losing our daughter (Allison Deutscher) and her family from West Fargo to a drunk driver on I-94 back in July of 2012.
        I love this, fairly new to us, website. Take care.


  11. Jim Leith says:

    Growing up on the family farm two miles west of Bartlett, it was our post office. I recall a grocery store, grain elevator, run by the Sundeens, and the post office in the home of the Cruises. I am planning to visit what’s left of Bartlett and the two cemeteries where a number of relatives are buried. I remember the empty school house and was told that the church was cut in half and moved 4 miles west to Doyon. Grandma Balsley, Foleys, Hansons, Cruises, Unglesbees, Barrons were some of the families living in the village. I have my 40th class reunion at Lakota and hope to visit the surrounding area in June.

    • Jeanette Barron Olson says:

      OMG! Robert and Pearl Barron were my grandparents, and Blanche Balsley was my great grandmother. I remember when my grandparents ran a general store just across from the railroad tracks, then later moved into a trailer house in Barlett. My grandfather worked for the railroad and he would wave to me with his lantern every night before I went to bed. My aunt and uncle, Bev and Lawrence Dykhoff, also lived in Bartlett, along with my aunt Karol and Andy Frelich. I also remember the post office being in someone’s house that I would walk to to get the mail when I was a young girl. Does anyone know if my grandmother Balsley’s house is still there. I have not been back to Bartlett since my grandfather Barron passed away when I was younger. I was in Lakota for my grandmother Barron’s (Pearl) funeral 33 years ago. I actually remember some of the houses that are shown in the pictures, talk about bringing back memories. I would love to revisit Barlett before it totally disappears. I also remember the Foleys and Hansons.

      • Lynn Mickelson says:

        Interesting! Was reading your post and saw the name “Dykhoff”. I am wondering if that is the same family that moved to the Abercrombie, ND area probably in the early 60’s? Reason I ask is that they had at least 3 kids that came to our school, but seems they only stayed for a couple of years. If memory serves me right, I believe that 1 boy was named Rich and his sister was Leslie. Seems that I remember that Leslie had beautiful long red hair. I don’t know for sure, but I want to guess the other boy was Rob. I remember them talking about going to school at Lakota before they came here. Any idea where they might be today? I also want to say that they operated the café in Abercrombie for a while. Can’t be sure of that one though.


      • Deb Thompson Marquart says:


        Don’t know if you remember me or not, but my parents were Kenneth & Cecile Thompson. I have many memories of your family visiting Grandma B’s in the summers. The house is still standing to my knowledge (I haven’t been through town for quite a while now) but is in very tough shape. We live on a farm just south of Bartlett a few miles. Philip used to visit my parents when they were on the farm, but that has been many, many years ago now. Where are all your siblings at now? I remember Philip, Bobbie, Mike and you, but I think I’m missing some others?? I am not on facebook, but if you want to email me that would be fine.

  12. Doug Voerding says:

    I found a letter written by my great-grandfather Mathias Voerding from Bartlett to his home in Foley, Minnesota, in 1915. The envelope has the old traditional printed round dated postmark showing Bartlett, ND, with the date Oct 7 1915. He apparently was working in the area during harvest because in the letter he comments about “getting 20 to 25 bushels of wheat to the acre” and “70 of oats.” I have no idea how long he stayed there, as he had a second wife and young child, as well as several older children, back in Minnesota. I was interested in finding the location of the town and did not realize until I found this website that the town is nearly gone. The photos are wonderful, but poignantly sad.

    • Ruth Ann Allison says:

      Dear Doug Voerding,

      My great-grandfather was also Mathias Voerding of Foley Minnesota. I am the granddaughter of one of the older children you mentioned, Andrew Voerding. He had one brother, Albert, and four sisters, Eleanor, Agnes, Louise, and Della.
      I came across this website by accident after doing a search using the name Mathias Voerding. Is your grandfather Albert Voerding from St. Cloud Minnesota? Any information you can share with me is greatly appreciated. I love looking into my family history and my grandfather shared so many wonderful stories about his family and their life. I have great memories of those stories.

      • Doug Voerding says:

        Ruth Ann,
        My grandfather was Alfred, not Albert. Albert was born in June 1887 and died in September 1888, two months before Alfred was born.
        Your mother and my father were cousins.
        I have done extensive research on the Voerding family. We have relatives in Germany. and the Voerding name is traced back to the 1700s in Germany.
        I would love to share more with you. Please contact me. You can find my address if you google my name.

        • Ruth Ann Allison says:


          I realized my error as I told my sister about your post. She reminded me of uncle Alfred…not Albert. My error, however, helped me to learn that my grandfather had an older brother BEFORE Alfred who died. I didn’t know that. I visited your grandfather’s home many times with my grandparents, Andrew and Viva. My sister, Kathy and I traveled with them to Minnesota during the summers of our youth and we visited each of my grandfather’s siblings. In the late 80s she and I also attended a family reunion in Minnesota where we met relatives from Germany. My grandmother, Viva, was with us as was my mother, Leila. Were you at the reunion? I seem to remember a male cousin of my mom’s named Leo. Is Leo your father? I will definitely be in touch after the holidays. I love to explore family history and am anxious to hear what you have discovered about our ancestors. Froeliche Weinachten! Ruth Ann

  13. Mary Lou Harper says:

    I have great-grandparents buried in the cemetery on the south edge of Bartlett. They homesteaded well to the south along the channel between Stump Lake and Devils Lake (the land is now 2/3rds under water). Bartlett was the “go to” town at that time – early 1900s. The last time I attempted to visit the graves I was thwarted by the chest-high overgrown grass, filled with mosquitos and wood ticks, on the short road to the cemetery.

  14. Kathy Peterson says:

    Last I heard Wayne and Shirley Hooey were alive and well. They are also pretty lively.

  15. Jeanette Barron-Olson says:

    Leslie, I have finally found a way to contact you, can you believe it? All it took was to view this website about Bartlett. It is simply amazing. The pictures of Bartlett brought back all the good times we had while growing up with Grandma and Grandpa Barron, and Grandma Balsley. I miss them all so very much. I am so excited to be able to contact you and your family. I have tried for so long, almost gave up. Glad I found this website. Will contact you on facebook! I can’t believe I found my closest cousin through this website.


  16. Bartlett ND once had a population over 10,000 people from 1878 until about the early 1880s It had everything from hotels, lumber yards, businesses. It burned around 1881 about the time when Lakota was in the making. Bartlett once had a Semi pro baseball team also. It was once called the town the end of the track. But, ND and James j Hill had other plans and the railroad pushed on further going west. Bartlett once had a block long saloon, schools, churches, and a rumor of a big load of gold stolen and buried somewhere in the community. Also, someone in the area once sabotaged railroads that moved through town heading either east or west. This could be a metal detectors dream if you can go about 2 feet down. There is probably much gold and silver with coins alone around the business district. All the farm land going out to the cemetery northeast of town was once houses. If you were to go west that way, the town spread out for at least a mile or more where the hotels and lumber yards once were. If you go east, the town easily went out to the hog farm that was once in use and the farm house south of there was part of the town along with other farm houses nearby. If you go south of the town, that was all houses and such.

  17. “Ghosts of North Dakota” is a great site – Not only do I enjoy the photos but look at the all the family history information these few pictures have generated. Very Interesting. Many of the Bartlett “kids” went to school in Doyon and were good friends of mine. My Dad, Harvey Rice, had both the Bartlett and Doyon Mail Routes. In the summer I sometimes rode with him in the red jeep and we would stop and pick up mail at Cruises’ Many times we were served lemonade and cookies. Good Memories of Bartlett.

  18. The 1956 Doyon School Annual has a good “History of Bartlett” page. I don’t know if this page will accept jpeg or not?

  19. Sister Donna (Janet) Schroeder says:

    Hello Richard {Rick} Allen Schroeder.

    I had not looked at the “Bartlett Was Once ‘Boom Town'” for a long time and my memory was off. It was not for the Centennial but for a supplement of the Devils Lake Daily Journal dated June 12, 1971. You have almost all that I have except a few pictures from my grandmother Victoria that I have scanned into my pictures. I will try to find out if the Devils Lake Journal knows the source of the pictures in the supplement. I do not have any that were in the supplement. I have one of my grandfather and a mule that was taken when he was in Canada and another taken at a somewhat later date plus a good old photo of a thrashing rig but I do not know whose rig it was. I do know that at one point my grandfather Charles Schroeder had a thrashing rig.

    • Richard {Rick} Allen Schroeder says:

      Hello Sister Donna (Janet) Schroeder

      Yes, one of our relatives must have been the source of photos in Devil’s Lake Supplement.
      I would be pleased to fund necessary scanning work if the photo owner can be found.
      Seems a shame not to have a better quality picture to pass down to future generations.
      Specifically the picture on Page 7 of the supplement showing our common Great Great Grandfather Carl Wilhelm {William} Ferdinand Schroeder (1816 to 1897).

  20. Donna (Janet) Schroeder says:

    I did get a response from the Devils Lake Daily Journal. They do not have the originals. The paper is saved in the state historical archives but that would not be better than what we have. my best guess would 1620321be that it might be with the family that had the home farm. I will see.if I can find out who is left if anyone.

  21. Sister Donna (Janet) Schroeder says:

    Richard Allen Schroeder

    There are some possibilities of old Schroeder pictures. My e-mail address is if you are interested.

  22. Leslie Mowbray says:

    Jeanie, I have tried to find you on facebook, but lots of Jeanette Olson’s! And I haven’t received any requests from you. What town do you live in? Please keep trying. And Hi to Verlin Hanson! I keep in touch with Cathy on Facebook. Great website-I love remembering growing up in Bartlett.

  23. Shelly Axtman says:

    My grandparents were Wendell and Elaine Hanson. I saw they were mentioned in some of the earlier posts. My grandfather worked for Burlington railroad and my mother Cathy has shared many stories about living in the depot. My uncle Verlin posted a couple years ago. The trailer was their home. As their granddaughter, I am grateful to have quite a few memories from there. I have always wanted to save the horse tie pole shown in the trailer photo! I remember eating peas from my grandmothers garden and riding in the back of the truck to the spot where the garbage was burned. I recognize quite a few names in the earlier posts and I know a lot of you head back to Lakota for the turkey bbq every year. Thanks everyone for sharing stories!

  24. Cole Hooey says:

    I grew up here. My parents are the 2 remaining residents.

  25. Zita Hanson Braun says:

    Hi Verlin, I was so surprised to see the trailer still standing! I will have to drive through some time to take a couple of pictures of it. I have memories of your “cool old trailer”. I remember grandma and grandpa being there for picnics with the family. I remember the depot. I remember all the neat bottles you used to find when you would dig in the garden…I do remember. Verlin’s, Dad, my uncle Wendel, was the mayor of Barlett for a while and Verlin and I are first cousins.

  26. Julie Neidlinger says:

    Wayne and Shirley Hooey are very much alive, well and active, and still happily living in Bartlett! :-)

  27. Rodney Polak says:

    We lived in Bartlett in and moved to Texas in 1967, my parents were Darrel and Germaine Polak. I will be there next week 6/17/14 and plan on taking pictures.

    • Brandon Sundeen says:

      Hi Rodney. I think we might be related. Germaine was a daughter of Belle (Mootz) Dahlin if that sounds right. My great-grandpa was Belle’s younger brother Harvey Mootz. I have been working on putting together a little history of the Mootz family.

  28. Helen says:

    My Great Grand uncle Herman Wolfgram and his wife Viola farmed the area for many years until his passing in 1962. Then his wife Viola and business partner Edward Blank farmed it until I don’t know when. Still trying to locate Viola and her maiden name and when they quit farming or sold the property.. I have a copy of a lawsuit over the property by Mr. Blanks children. Would appreciate any information anyone would have on them. Or pictures!

  29. Susan Simons says:

    Does anyone have any connection to Frank and Mabel Simons? My father-in-law, Gerald F. Simons, passed away last Dec. and my husband and I are taking his ashes back to ND. We know he was born in Bartlett, but we would like to know if the Simons’ had a house in town or a farm outside of Bartlett.
    Like many things, he did not talk about his life as a child.

  30. Helen says:

    if you want to find where your father inlaw lived in Bartlett, check the census. they usually list an address

  31. Lin Taylor says:

    My mom was born in Bartlett at my Great Grandparents home (Orchard) on December 31, 1935. I have grown up listening to stories about Bartlett, and was lucky enough to visit the little town in 1992 with my mom. Sadly, my mom just passed away last week, and I was visiting this site looking for “memories”. Thank you

  32. Brandon Sundeen says:

    My great-grandmother Mary Sundeen was born in Doyon and raised in Southam. Her grandparents, Emory and Lydia Cole, lived in Bartlett and he operated the elevator there from about 1892-1902. Her parents, Frank and Ann Cole, farmed south of Bartlett for several years.

  33. lana says:

    Would anyone know if there is anyone by the name of Justus and Elizabeth Appeman or last name Affeman in any of the cemeteries around Bartlett? I believe they were Lutheran. They moved there in the 1893 from Zuriuch Ontario. Looking for ancestors. Thank you!

    • Deb M says:

      My aunt(my mother’s sister) was married to Harvey Appeman. I don’t know what his parents names were. There are 2 cemeteries near Bartlett, but I have not been in them in years, so I don’t know if there are any Appemans buried there. Harvey and Delilah are buried in the Lakota, ND cemetery. They have a daughter that lives in the area and a daughter that lives in Minnesota also.

      • Sister Donna Schroeder says:

        With Respect to Justus Appeman, maps are very interesting. In 1909 Justus owned land on the western edge of Lakota Townshiup, closer to the town of Bartlett than to Lakota. In 1928 much of that land was owned by William Appeman. Later much of the same land was owned by Harvey Appeman. I did not know him but during my childhood, my parents who were married in 1937 during the drought and depression still talked with gratitude about a wonderful wedding gift they received from Harvey Appeman during those hard times. Harvey’s wife was a Schroeder.

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