Social Life

Social Life of Early Residents in Hampden, North Dakota

Pioneer life was not an easy one. Although the early settlers of Hampden did not encounter hostile Indians, as did settlers in other parts of the state, there were hardships. The long, hard winters were cruel, especially to those who were not yet accustomed to North Dakota weather. Roads were merely trails, and there were crop failures, crop damage from grasshoppers, droughts, and fluctuations in price. However, in the winter, parties were held in homes, especially those few homes that had three or four rooms. The whole family went, and children fell asleep on beds or in the corner on coats. There were midnight snacks of sandwiches, cake and cookies. In the summer, there were picnics, with fried chicken and potato salad, and there were many gatherings in town, including ball games and other competitive sports.

The Fourth of July brought homemade ice cream, made in hand-turned freezers, with ice procured from the ice house, which ad been cut in late winter and packed in flax straw. There would be lemonade, and children could earn money picking potato bugs, doing chores, or picking mustard in the fields. Children generally went with their parents whenever they went anywhere, or the whole family would stay at home. Other activities included home talent plays, generally held in the Morton Hall, and later the Fisher Hall, which was also the venue for school program, basket socials, dances and other events.

The Hampden Farmers Telephone Company was organized and telephone lines were installed in 1908 and 1909. Although records are incomplete, the names of its telephone operators included Sylvia Morstad, Myrtle Nelson, Helen Claus, Ethel Bordson, Mrs. Irons, Verna Werner Peters, Carol Mortenson, Avis Aanstad, Violet Werner Overbo, and Clara Lennon. There was no telephone service available between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am, or on Sundays. Later, Sunday service was made available, but only after noon.

When Hampden, North Dakota first received electric service, the lights would blink at 11:30 pm, and electricity was cut off at midnight, remaining off until 7:00 am. The first owners of the electricity plant were the Harpster Brothers, managed by Clarence Mitchell, an uncle of Mrs. Carl Mortenson. Later, the Otter Tail Power Company took over, and the Rural Electric Authority began providing electric service to the rural areas in December of 1949.

Fisher Hall played silent movies, with Albert "Shorty" Cumbers operating the projector, while Mrs. Harry Neidlinger played the piano to add to the entertainment. When the Hampden Community Hall was built, sound films were shown, with Linden Borg, Ray Reimer and Carl Mortenson taking over. Movies often played in Hampden before they were shown in Devils Lake.

Hampden Lodge No. 143, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was organized in May of 1911. The fraternal organization won several trophies in competitive drill contests. The Odd Fellows purchased the former John Waade Harness Shop Hardware, and renovated it as a lodge. The Harness shop was demolished in 1999. The North Star Rebekah Lodge No. 81, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was organized in March of 1912.

The first Homemakers Club in this Hampden, North Dakota was organized March 20, 1935, with eighteen members. Its officers were Mrs. Clarence Hedlund (president),  Mrs. O.W. Neidlinger (vice president), Mrs. Glenn "Helen" Neidlinger (secretary), and Mrs. Carl Mortenson (treasurer). Other members included Mrs. L.O. Flott, Mrs. Henry Reimer, Mrs. Palmer Freed, Mrs. Ted Taylor, Mrs. M.A. Knutson, Miss Selma Hosterman, Mrs. Pete Rudser, Mrs. Norman Hoiland, Mrs. Dale Roberts, Mrs. Theodore Olson, Mrs. Jerry Bragg, Mrs. W.L. Howe, Mrs. E.A. Neidlinger, and Miss Emma Waade. They chose as their motto, "Joy is not in things". The club colors were pink and green, and the flower was the wild rose. Other Homemakers Clubs were later organized, including the Town and Country Homemaker Club, the C&R Homemaker Club, and the Banner Homemakers.

Information derived primarily from:

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