History of Hampden, North Dakota

Hampden, North Dakota is situated in Ramsey County, in northeastern North Dakota. Founded in Northfield Township in 1903, Hampden soon aborbed most of the nearby town of Northfield, whose post office moved to Hampden in July of 1903. Hampden was incorporated as a village in 1917, and as a city in 1968.

The climate in Hampden, North Dakota is mild during the summer, when temperatures tend to be in the 60s, and very cold in the winter, when temperatures fall to zero degrees and lower. The warmest month of the year is July, when the average temperature is 79 degrees, while the coldest month is January, with an average minimum temperature of 9.5 degrees below zero. Temperature variations between night and day tend to be moderate during the summer, with a difference that can reach 26 degrees, and moderate in the winter, with an average difference of 20 degrees. Annual average precipitation in Hampden is 18.16 inches. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, but the wettest month of the year is July, when the average rainfall is 3.32 inches.

Before Hampden, North Dakota was founded, a village by the name of Northfield was located just south of the current site of Hampden. It was assumed that the railroad would soon be extended to Northfield from Edmore. However, when the land was surveyed for the track, it bypassed the village. George Haugen had homesteaded the northeast quarter of Section 4, Township 158, Range 62, where the current town is located. He sold his land to the Great Northern Railroad Company in January of 1901, and the GNRR deeded the property to to the village of Northfield. It wasn't until 1904 that the village was moved to the current site of Hampden. Most of the village of Northfield was moved to Hampden, including the post office. The Crawford and Moore store was moved, along with eighteen other businesses. Others were added, including the Werner and Stoltz, Robertson, Redlake, and Nels Hawkinson lumber yards, the Adams and Swathout livery, the Wilson and Litscher drug store, Shipley and Son Real Estate Company, a hardware store operated by M.A. Knudson, and a barbershop run by F.A. Woodward. The first residence was constructed by A.E. Swathout.

Founded in 1903, Hampden, North Dakota was incorporated as a village in 1917, becoming a city in 1968. After its founding in Northfield Township, the town quickly grew to absorb most of the nearby town of Northfield, whose post office was moved to Hampden on July 15 of 1903. The postmaster was Joseph A. Elliott. Great Northern Railroad officials disliked the Northfield name, as it caused confusion with Northfield, Minnesota, so the post office took the name of Hampden. It is thought that the town was named for Frank Hampden, who was a pioneer settler in the region, but some believe that it was named for a John Hampden. Northfield had been named by settlers who had come there from Northfield, Minnesota, and it was said that mail intended for one town was often confused with the other.

The elevation of Hampden is 1,569. The town is situated near the northern edge of Ramsey County. Settlers began entering the region in the late 1890s, particularly in 1898, coming from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois, while a W.P. Faulk came to the area from Virginia. Although the settlement was about twenty miles from the nearest railroad access, in Edmore, the town continued to grow. Lew Barnes was the chief landowner in the region, and Mrs. John Carroll built a hotel there in 1898, and Ole Korsmoe established a small grocery store, and Joseph Elliot put a drug counter in the store. In the beginning, supplies had to be brought from Edmore by dray operated by Hermon Simon and Gus Schonauer, who also carried passengers and mail, as well as lumber and anything else that was needed. Soon, other business establishments were added, including a machine shop, a blacksmith shop, general store, hardware store, grocery store, livery, furniture store, and billiard parlor. Even without a railroad, Hampden became a thriving village. Two banks were opened in 1903, and Dr. Morrison opened a doctor's office. Although its early growth of Hampden was rapid, the village was not incorporated until 1917. Art Elliot built the first town hall, which was also used for church services, with Rev. Egge as minister. Later, that building became an implement store.

The first passenger train reached Hampden in December of 1904. The McCabe Brothers, with W.N. Brown as manager, built the first elevator. Prior to that, grain was weighed on the street and then loaded into railroad cars. The Ames elevator burned soon after it was built, but others were soon added.

The town had a veterinarian, Dr. Craig, who was a permanent resident of Hampden. He and his wife built the house that was later owned by the Iver Iverson family, and then by Mrs. Nellie Wolf. When Dr. Craig retired, he was succeeded by Dr. G.N. Campbell, who married Lillian McDougal, the daughter of John McDougal, who had moved to Hampden from Park River. The McDougal family was comprised of several children, named Edward, Allie, Willie, Emma, Lillian, Harriet and Harriet's twin sister, who died. Dr. A.K. Blair had an office over the Litscher drug store, before moving it to his residence. Dr. Blair was assisted by his wife, who was a trained nurse.

The first car in Hampden was owned by Otto Shipley. His car could go about 25 miles per hour when the roads were good, which would occur when it had not rained for a couple of days. Mr. Shipley also bought a pre-manufactured home from Sears Roebuck, which many people lived in over the years.

In 1976, many of the buildings on Hampden's Main Street were razed, and a mini-mall was built on the north side of the street. The grand opening for the mall was on April 30, 1977, with the slogan, "Watch Hampden Grow".

Information derived primary from:

  • Ramsey County History: vol 2, p 598, 1983
  • Hampden Diamond Jubilee Book, 1979