Orrin, ND

R. David Adams contributed these photos of Orrin, ND, a near ghost town in Pierce county, west of Fillmore.  We checked census records going back to 1920 and found no listing for Orrin.  As we’ve seen time and time again, Orrin began it’s final decline with the closure of the elevator, which happened in 1965.  The school shown below, and the last store, closed in 1972.

According to North Dakota Place Names by Douglas Wick, the population was just 35 in 1984.

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Photos by R. David Adams
Original Content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

55 Responses to “Orrin, ND”
  1. Barbara (steffen) Samek says:

    My grandpa and grandma lived in Orrin, N.D. Englebert Kuntz was my granpas name, they live down the street from the catholic Church, We use to visit them there, they are buried in the cemetary there, Alot of my relatives still live around in that area . My mom was Frances(Kuntz) Steffen married to Andrew Steffen, My mom grew up on a farm somewhere around Orrin.

    • Linda Gimbel says:

      I told my dad (Anton Kuntz) about this site. He was talking about Martin, Engleberts dad and he said if you want more information. About any family members you can call him at 228-4252. They now live in Rugby, and said to come and visit any time.

  2. monabroad says:

    Hey Barb! That’s my grandma and grandpa too! Sad to see Orrin looking so rundown and neglected. Went to church and Sunday School there and many wedding dances. Good memories.

  3. Barbara (steffen) Samek says:

    HI Mona, I can remember playing with Betty and Mike and maybe some others too, running on the road past grandma and grandpas house, There was not much to do there but we had fun, Yes the memories will always stay with us.

  4. Phil says:

    I often read on this site, that people have fond childhood memories of these dying towns, full of heart-warming stories of ancestors. Would it be possible to get the state gov’t to simply put a small historic plaque giving a brief description of the towns history? What is a state for if not to preserve the culture of its people?

  5. Linda Lingohr Rehberg says:

    Linda Lingohr Rehberg—the white house which does not look to bad is mine, we own the 2 lots around it. I grew up on a farm 5 miles west of Orrin, when I was 12 we moved into that house, and for some reason, God’s will, the property came back to me. I would not give up that small piece of property for millions of dollars.

    I actually would have rather have had the farmstead, but it was not available, so I settled for my little house on the Orrin Prairie.

    The saddest part of Orrin dying, is the Church is no longer a church, it is a chapel. My most favorite time, was when I came to Orrin and entered my beloved Sacred Heart Church, the candle was glowing, next to the Tabernacle, where our Lord was reposing.

    His spirit is there, but the Tabernacle is empty. I console myself with imagining all my ancestors still sitting or kneeling in the church praying.

    I love Orrin, I love North Dakota with all my heart and soul.

    • Karen Meier says:

      Hi Linda,
      We are quite possibly related. My husband’s great grandfather was Benedict Meier and his wife Elizabeth married Clements Lingohr (lingor) after his wife’s death and her husband’s death.

      I am traveling to ND this week and hope to visit Orrin and the St John’s Blumenfeld cemetery. Do you know where that is or how to find it?

      Karen Meier
      Spouse: Mark Meier
      previously of Jamestown ND
      now Dallas TX

      • Linda Rehberg says:

        So sorry, I do not check this site often. I only now read your message. I am not able to spend a lot of time on my response to you—I am intrigued—hope to send another message to you soon. Hope you found the cemeteries.

  6. Linda Lingohr Rehberg says:

    As an fyi, I also know the history of the other houses shown. And garage. I attended the school pictured for the last 2 years, we had an old school for the first 6 years of my education. Oh I have so much to share.

    • Lindsey says:

      I would love to some of the history of Orrin! I grew up in Orrin in the 80s and have been trying to learn more about its history for years. Were you in Orrin during the Father X thing?

    • Karen Meier says:

      Hi Linda,
      I think we are related as my husband’s father was a son of Mike Meier and Rose Lingor from Orrin.

      I am making a trip to Orrin in early August 2015 and I wondered if you know where the Blumenfeld/Orrin Cemetery is?

      Karen Meier

      • Donald Kile says:

        The only cemeteries I know of around Orrin is Sacred Heart at the Northwest edge of Orrin & St Anselm at Fulda about 8 miles South of Berwick at about 5825 19th ave NE , just South of the church is a cemetery.
        But might want to check with Rugby, Little Flower church. or McHenry county clerk in Towner.

        • allison says:

          I was just in Orrin two weeks ago to see the place my grandmother was born. No cemetery there that I could find and the church is from the 40s so postdated my relatives. But a neat old place.
          If you will be driving the farm roads in ND get a recently updated map. Google and gps are not correct. I got quite lost looking for the blumenfeld cemeteries. There are 2 St John blumenfeld cemeteries, north and south. North is older. Gps coordinates are on findagrave. Some roads are now under water, so find a local if you can.

          • Karen Meier says:

            Thank you so much. I knew GPS/mapsco wouldn’t be any good so looking for a local is a great
            piece of advice. I have coordinates but knowing ahead of time (I grew up in Rugby ND) how
            farm roads can be I will be prepared.

            Thank you all for your comments!
            I’m excited to be heading to the prairies of North Dakota!

          • Donald Kile says:

            The Sacred Heart Cemetery is down North of the Church, several are buried there and the others including the Axman’s are buried in Sacred Heart cemetery go North of the church and before a right at the end is a road of to the left, goes right to the cemetery, When great grandmother Fischer was buried they had horse driven carriages.

          • Donald Kile says:

            My friend, Willie Fettig’s brother Thomas Fettig is buried right North of the Church along with 3 others in a memorial, 350 + are buried in the cemetery Northwest end of town near the road the Karlsrud. Many of the Bachmeier family are buried at St Anselm Cemetery South of Berwick.
            Hope the weather is great

  7. Keith Jensen says:

    I recently discovered this website, and the pictures and comments are speaking to me in a profound way. Thanks to all those who have traveled and taken these photographs. And thanks to all those who are sharing some of their memories and stories in the comments.

    I grew up on a small farm in the 1960’s in the prairies of Sun River Valley, Montana.

    Linda Lingohr Rehberg, thank you for your comments. I think one could justifiably substitute the words “Orrin, North Dakota”–or the names of hundreds of other small rural towns and communities that are slowly fading away–for the word “prairie” in the following excerpt from a DVD I recently discovered:

    An excerpt from the DVD “America’s Lost Landscape: The Tallgrass Prairie”:

    A Young Native American Man Speaking:

    “There’s a circle and someday anything that was at one time will again be. So, as traditional people, we believe that prairie is not dead. Prairie is alive. It may sleep. But underneath the invasive grasses, underneath the carved up subdivisions that land is still there.

    We have a story that the first seven feet are the flesh and bones of our old people—the S’Asage(sp). And, those people are not going to let this place die.

    Someday this culture is not going to be anymore. The culture that we live in is not always going to exist. But, the prairie—as long as there’s one stem of grass somewhere—it’ll come back.”

  8. Linda Lingohr Rehberg says:

    you are so right Keith, there are so many other towns in ND I am familar with that are now ghost towns, but faith prevails. St Josephs, south of Glen Ullin, ND, Haymarsh, ND, Fallon, ND, Timmer, ND, Odense, ND—I am sure there many others.

    But the prairie will always remain.

    Again, I love that Prairie, along with the God that led our ancestors to our beloved ND prairie, the prairie has been the nurturing, guiding spirit in my life.

    Linda Lingohr Rehberg

    • Valerie Morman Sampson says:

      Linda, my Dad’s family was one of the first homesteaders in Haymarsh. My great great grandpa was Clemens Wehri, and he brought the lumber for the original St. Clement’s Church. My grandma was from the area south of Glen Ullin that you mentioned-would love to hear any stories you have of the area.

  9. I worked with a Tony who said he lived in Orrin and really bragged about it…this was in 1978 and 79,we worked in the Beulah- Hazen area those summers for Border States Paving out of Fargo….anyone remember Tony ?tall red haired guy if I remember right,curly hair,loved those Chevy cars..he had a 554 dr. and a 63 convert

  10. Sally Wakefield says:

    Sat Oct 14, 2012 My husband and I were driving around out near Orrin, ND and drove into the community. We were stunned to see the beautiful church and then the grounds around the church the shrines and the monument to the fallen soldiers.
    I took some pictures. They are not nearly and great as R David Adams pictures but would love to share them. Peeked into the windows of the church.
    Did someone say it is a Chapel now? So if you wanted to see the inside how would you go about doing that? Thanks for posting these pictures R David. Sally

    • Suzy says:

      You can enter the side door of the church. It is always open. There is also a guestbook in the entryway. Please sign it! There is also a beautiful photo of the monument in it’s early days. It is truly beautiful!

  11. James Mason says:

    In the mid-1950s I dated a girl from Orrin. She was going to Rugby High School. Her name was Rosellie Burghard. Are the Burghards still in the Orrin area? Anyone know the whereabouts of Rosellie? The last I heard, she had married an Army officer wgo was making a career of the Army and they had been assigned to somewhere in the Pacific. One of her best friends lived in Balta and went to school with her at Rugby. She now lives in Fargo, but she lost track of Rosellie as well. Can anyone help.

    • Hello James and Peggy!!! Happy Valentines Day. Nice to see your story and pix of Orrin,North Dakota. What a surprise. Not much left of those tiny communities including York. On Rosellie Burghard, Angie says she and her husband live in Harvey…not far from Balta and Orrin. Angie is feeling quite well these days. She is half done with the latest chemo-therapy treatments. I am doing ok too. take care. Glenn and Angie.

  12. Cindy Bromberg says:

    My mother’s family lived in Orrin. When I was about 12 years old, we had a huge family reunion there. I remember the bar, gas station, post office, church and school. Someone’s bull got loose and was running through the streets during our reunion. My mother’s maden name is Schuck. She is the daugher of David and Lena Schuck.

    • Kimberly says:

      What is your mothers name? I am looking for my Dad’s mothers family. We don’t know much about them. We just have names.

      • Cheryl Pfeifer Lesmeister says:

        What names are you looking for? I have been working on family history for many years and I have several books where I can look information up for you. I look forward to hearing from you my email is scles@srt.com.

  13. Linda Graham says:

    What a charming town and beautiful church! Love the conversations on GhostsofNorthDakota. Though I’ve never lived in ND, both my parents were born there and we’ve visited many times. It’s a beautiful and fascinating state.

  14. Francis And Rosella Pfeifer says:

    I am familiar with the Orrin area. My grandmother lived SE of the church. Her name was Josephine Pfeifer. Just wondering if you knew her. My dad had a half brother by the name of David Schuck and a half sister Agatha Leier. My dads name was Odmar, his brothers were Louie, Lawrence and Pete Pfeifer. His sisters were Lena and Rose. I still have a sister that lives south of Orrin and she still owns the homestead quarter. My mother is from the Orrin area also and was wondering if you knew her.

  15. Cheryl Pfeifer Lesmeister says:

    Posting for Francis and Rosella Pfeifer,

    I am familiar with the Orrin area. My grandmother lived SE of the church, her name was Josephine Pfeifer. Just wondering if you knew her. My dad had a half brother by the name of David Schuck and a half sister Agatha Leier. My dads name was Odmar, his brothers were Louie, Lawrence and Pete Pfeifer. His sisters were Lena and Rose. I still have a sister that lives south of Orrin and she still owns the homestead quarter. My mother is from the Orrin area also and was wondering if you knew her. I knew almost everyone in Orrin. I would like to hear from you my email is rj55@srt.com.

    • Cindy Bromberg says:


      I spoke to my mother and have emailed some information to you. My email is cbabrom@aol.com.

      She was thrilled when I told her about this website. I plan to send her the book as a surprise!

  16. Colette says:

    I grew up in Orrin as well. It has many great childhood memories. My brother and his family still live there today.

  17. Tim Rauch says:

    Hi all – my grandpa, Ralph Rauch, grew up on a farm near Orrin, in the 1920s I believe. My father still holds the title to the land and we may be visiting in 2014. Living on the East Coast means this trip has never been made by me before and I’m looking forward to it. Would there happen to be anyone living there now who might have known Ralph and his family? His parents were Frederick and Aasta.

  18. Hi All–

    It’s great reading & sharing these memories. My grandparents lived in Orrin also–Joe & Frances Schneider. They owned Joe’s Bar with the dance hall in the upper (above ground) floor. Many times i fell asleep below listening to the polka (wedding) parties above. Back then, 2-3 day wedding celebrations were the norm. I remember the beautiful church and grounds, grocery store, post office, beautiful school & gas station. I barely remember riding the train in to visit in the early years. The platform was just across the street from the bar–i remember an old hand water pump there as well. I remember “uncle” Adam Schell’s place there–he “recycled” bleach bottles & other items as windmills/spinners.

    Sadly, Grampa Joe was diagnosed with cancer & they sold the bar around 1976 & moved to Rugby. They’re both buried in the Orrin cemetery. They both taught me life lessons I carry with me today–they’re greatly missed.

    Thanks for sharing your memories with me!


  19. Greg Buechler says:

    From a long ways away (California).

    My Grandfather was Joseph Buechler, his twin brother was Wendelin Bickler (not sure why the different names)…

    This article references Orrin, Rugby and Balta.


    • Helen (Axtman)Evans says:

      Greg, I just started researching my families history. My cousin gave me some typed papers with the whole Buechler (Bickler) history on. You may have these papers.. They display the two branches of the Buechler brothers, Karl and Michael (first in America). On one page it explains that Michael wanted to change his last name spelling the Bickler instead of Buechler.. Joseph may have taken it upon myself to change his last name back to Buechler. The rest of Joseph’s sibling (Louis, John, Peter, Nick) left their last name, Bickler. My family is related through Louis Bickler (your grandfather’s oldest brother)….. Margaret Bickler (Louis’ daughter) married Adam Axtman and through Nick Bickler whom married my grandfather’s ( Wendlin Axtman) sister Philippena in 1925. Hope this helps.

  20. Delwyn Hager says:

    My Dad, Frank Hager, spent quite a bit of his childhood years in the Orrin area with his cousin, the Father Joe Singer family, and aunt and uncle Pete and Tillie Fettig. This would have been in the 1930’s. The Fettig’s later ran a grocery store in Towner. Dad died in 2003. In the summer of ’02 he and I took a day trip to Orrin and the surrounding area including the Odessa Cemetery where his grandfather and an uncle are buried under unidentifiable iron crosses. At the Orrin cemetery we looked around for quite some time. As we were about to leave, he said to me, “I know every person buried here.” Amazing!!

  21. Tabatha says:

    My great-grandmother was born in Orrin, ND her name was Bernadina Duchscher on May 13, 1910 then her parents moved in 1917 to Canada.
    What I am looking for if anyone is able to help me, is a way to get birth records, or some information on her, her parents names anything really. I haven’t had much luck finding information on the last name. I was told story’s that before living there her parents lived in Germany.
    Any help would be grateful

    • Cheryl says:

      Was Duchscher her maiden name? What is her married name? I will try and help you. I have quite a few books from the area

  22. Gail Grefe says:

    Hi Greg, I am Wendelin’s grandaughter. Your grandfather and mine built the shrine by Orrin. Did you ever hear of that? I have family history and pictures. Would like to hear from you. glg1020us@yahoo.com.

  23. Allison says:

    The family name has many spellings: Duchscher, even Dukeshire. Bernadina is not on the list of people I know about, but I would guess that she is likely descended from Mathias Tuchscherer (b. 1823) and Katharina Schneider. My grandmother, Theresa, born in Orrin in 1916, was the daughter of their son Bruno.
    If I am correct about you ancestors, check out this fabulous website: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/

    Good luck!

  24. Samantha says:

    Is Orrin, ND featured in any of the volumes of the book? I looked at all of the photo indexes and didn’t seem to find it. Wanted to give as a gift to my family in ND.

  25. Donald Wayne Joseph Fischer Kile says:

    Oh such fond memories of Orrin, my mother, the last of 9 children of Joseph and Francesia Fischer lived in Orrin. I remember coming for visits and Grandma up early getting the coffee pot on, and out to the Southeast would come the train hauling threw town at a pretty good rate kicking up dust, I remember my 7th Birthday in Orrin Easter Sunday, High Mass at the church after the Good Friday stations of the Cross and a 3 1/2 + hour service, March 29, 1959, after the high mass most all of my cousins, Aunts & Uncles gathered and we all a surprize birthday party for me.
    One time while visiting Orrin us kids were left at the house on Shell street, while the folks went up to the dance hall, we curious walked up there as we could hear the music from the house, the moon was so bright we could see so clerly, we peeked inside the dance hall and there wa mom and dad, grandma and grandpa dancing cheek to cheek to a waltz to accordion music. We would go over to the Shell house and get fresh milk and eggs, go to the store for some very special candies.

  26. Lindsey says:

    I grew up in Orrin with my grandparents, Sebastian and Margaret Haman. I was back recently with my sister and her family and my husband. I was saddened to see my old house is no longer there. But not surprised. I sure do miss that little town. I am so glad I got to show my husband where I was raised. I am who I am because of where I’m from :-)

  27. Jennifer Hager Shoemaker says:

    My Grandparents lived just south east of Orrin (Frank & Nina Hager). I was baptized at the Catholic Church in Orrin. My Mom and I moved off the farm in 1976 after my Dad passed away (Kenneth Hager). I still go back to the cemetery there to tend to my Dad’s grave and go look at my Great Grandfather’s grave. I don’t have many memories of living there because we left when I was so little. I do have to say that for a rural cemetery it is well maintained.

    • Delwyn Hager says:

      Jennifer, before my dad, Frank Hager, died, he showed me grave sites in Orrin and the rural Odessa cemetery near Selz where our relatives were buried. Others in the family have more genealogy info than I do. In case you are looking and don’t know him, I believe Mark Schaan of Rugby, formerly Balta, knew your dad well.

    • Donald Kile says:

      Wow, Interesting. My Grandparents lived up there in Orrin on the Corner of Shell & 4th until they moved to Rugby back in 1963 September of that year. They then went to live with my Aunt Mary and Uncle Nick out West of Heaton on a farm that got indoor plumbing in 1964. When Grandma & Grandpa Fischer passed away in 1968 & 1973 respectively, they were buried at the Catholic Cemetery in Sykeston, many miles from all their friends & Family in Orrin where they had lived for over 50 years. s I understand it they came from Odessa Russia then to Aberdeen South Dakota then to an area near Lake George known as Fischer Hill, about 15 miles West of Orrin, then before they moved into Orrin they lived about 3 miles West of Orrin and rode horses into town, My Cousin, Aloy Miller is buried at Orrin and several other relatives In 1990 my Sister Jacqueline married David Hager of Harvey in Devils Lake at Saint Joseph Catholic Church. She and Dave now live in Idaho. My mother Regina left Orrin in 1942 to go stay with her Sister my Aunt Mary and her husband Casper Hoffart in Jerome, Idaho. Help out with Mary’s babies. That stint lasted a year or so until returning to North Dakota, My mother met my dad on a blind date in 1948 somewhere around the Hoople-St Thomas area of North Dakota and they married November 24, 1949 at the sacred Heart rectory in East Grand Forks, Minnesota and moved to Cavalier North Dakota Later on the Hallock, Minnesota, where dad took a job as Deputy Sheriff during the day and had an auto body shop on the side. Mother made it a point come hell and high water that we go back to Orrin at least once a year, sometimes thru flooded roads during the Spring. Had fond memories of visiting Orrin, kind of a small house so the kids all slept on the floor, Grandma never spoke English but would cuss at us if we got near her garden. The Train, Soo Line, would haul thru town before 9 am kicking up a lot of dust going Northeast to Balta and East to Fillmore. We would go down to the store and get some candy and the folks danced there in what I would call The Grange. My last visit to Orrin, I did not find much there, but for the church and cemetery according to my friend and mother’s first boyfriend, the late Willie Fettig, the town was bought up by his cousins and the rest is history. The Shell’s had the best freshest milk in all the world. Always looked forward going over there to get milk and see what was going on there.

  28. Jerry says:

    Hi Linda. Jerry Adam here. Enjoyed your message above. Long time since I’ve been to Orrin but I remember the church well. So sad to see the small towns decline. Warwick lost the postoffice couple years ago. A school, gas station and bar is all thats left.

  29. Linda Lingohr Rehberg says:

    Hi Jerry Adam, are you my cousin Jerry Adam. You must be, I can’t imagine 2 Jerry Adam in Warwick.

    I haven’t checked this site, well I guess since October.

    I am so glad you commented.

    Please stay in touch.

    My e-mail is foreverorrin@yahoo.com (imagine that).!!!

    Hope you had a good Christmas and are having a great 2013.

    Linda Lingohr Rehberg

  30. Aggie says:

    Jerry. Happy I found this site. Going down memory lane. Also, trying to keep track of my brothers who still farm outside of Warwick. Their health is failing but they love the farm life. Also enjoying all the Orrin and Balta info as my Mom was a Bickler from that area.

  31. Aggie says:

    Gregg. My mom was your Dad’s sister – Margaret Bickler Hartle. Uncle Joe kept the original family spelling. While Uncle Wendelin took the phonetic spelling entered the registry coming thru Ellis Island. We have a cousin in Fargo, ND who has done an extensive family tree. Also, remember your Dad and family visiting us on the farm by Warwick -rode horses and trapped gophers – and that was for fun! Would love to hear from you.

  32. James Mason says:

    As I was looking at the pictures of Orrin, the first thing I noticed about your house was the beautiful flowers. As Alabama’s Master Gardener, the first thing I notice about houses is the landscape. One thing we as Master Gardeners know is that beautiful flowers and landscape show the people who live there have pride in their homes. You certainly fall in that category. So from Alabama’s Master Gardener, I congratulate you on your beautiful home. I too have fond memories of all the little towns in North Dakota as well as the larger ones. I love driving down the roads going east early in the morning just at sunrise and seeing those beautiful wheat fields. And as you say. . .the Prairie Grasses are unforgettable. . .thank you for your comments. I enjoyed them immensely. Keep writing.

  33. Gail Grefe says:

    Aggie, my Mom Dorothy (Bickler) Gamble says she used to babysit you and spent a summer with your family helping Aunt Margaret and Uncle Mike with the pig farm and the house. We were going through all of the comments on this site. I put my email on here in response to Gregg, but would also like to hear from you. Mom lives with me in Rochester, Minnesota. My brother and I were just up in Orrin in 2009 and traipsed through the weeds on the old farm to go back to see the shrine. A lot of memories.

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