Wells County, North Dakota Genealogy

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United StatesGotoarrow.png North Dakota Gotoarrow.png Wells County

Guide to Wells County, North Dakota ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.


County Facts
County seat: Fessenden
Organized: January 4, 1873
Parent County(s): Buffalo [1]
Neighboring Counties
Benson  • Eddy  • Foster  • Kidder  • Pierce  • Sheridan  • Stutsman
See County Maps
Location Map
North Dakota Wells Map.png
This page is available for adoption

County Information


Wells County was named after Edward Payson Wells, a Jamestown banker, early promoter of the James River Valley, and member of the legislature in 1881. The county government was organized on August 28, 1884. Its county seat is Fessenden.[2]

County Courthouse

Wells County Courthouse
700 Railway St N
PO Box 596
Fessenden, ND 58438
Phone: 701.547.3122
Wells County Website
Clerk District Court has birth, marriage, death, burial, divorce probate and court records;
Register of Deeds has land records[3]

Wells County, North Dakota Record Dates

Beginning Dates for Major County Records
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1893 1887 1893 1873 1873 1873 1890

Record Loss

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Boundary Changes

1873--Wells County was created 4 January 1873 from Buffalo County (Old).

County seat:Fessenden [1]

Populated Places

The following are locations in the county[4]

Unincorporated communites
Census-designated places
  • Berlin
  • Bilodeau
  • Bremen
  • Bull Moose
  • Cathay
  • Chaseley
  • Crystal Lake
  • Delger
  • Fairville
  • Forward
  • Fram
  • Germantown
  • Haaland
  • Hamburg
  • Hawksnest
  • Heimdal
  • Hillsdale
  • Johnson
  • Lynn
  • Manfred
  • Norway Lake
  • Oshkosh
  • Pony Gulch
  • Progress
  • Rusland
  • Saint Anna
  • Silver Lake
  • South Cottonwood
  • Speedwell
  • Sykeston
  • Valhalla
  • Wells
  • West Norway
  • West Ontario
  • Western
  • Woodward


Bible Records


Business, Commerce, and Occupations


Cemeteries of Wells County, North Dakota online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See North Dakota Cemeteries for more information

Cemetery transcriptions for cemeteries in Wells County, providing name, date of birth, and date of death where available

Census Records

Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1890 1,212
1900 8,310 585.6%
1910 11,814 42.2%
1920 12,957 9.7%
1930 13,285 2.5%
1940 11,198 −15.7%
1950 10,417 −7.0%
1960 9,237 −11.3%
1970 7,847 −15.0%
1980 6,979 −11.1%
1990 5,864 −16.0%
2000 5,102 −13.0%
2010 4,207 −17.5%
Source: "Wikipedia.org".

State Census Records

Federal Census Records

Federal Censuses were taken for North Dakota starting in 1910. For links to Federal census indexes, see North Dakota Census.

Church Records

Church records can be found online, kept onsite at the church, or housed in a church archive or library. See North Dakota Church Records for more information on how to locate the records.


  • Records of Concordia Lutheran Church, Fessenden, in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at Archives.com ($).

Court Records


Emigration and Immigration

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups

Funeral Homes



Land and Property Records

When the United States acquired North Dakota, most of the land became available for homesteading or purchase from the federal government. After land was transferred from the government to private owners, the registrar of deeds in each county recorded the land transactions in the form of deeds and mortgages. For more information, see North Dakota Land and Property.

Online Land Records

For more information see North Dakota Land and Property

Local Histories

Local histories, including those of the county, are available for Wells County. These histories can include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information.

Maps and Gazetteers


Military Records

Civil War

World War I

Naturalization and Citizenship

Online Naturalization Indexes and Records


For more information see North Dakota Newspapers.

North Dakota Newspapers Online

North Dakota Newspaper Catalogs


Other Records


Probate Records

Probate records, including wills and estates, are at the county clerk's office. See also North Dakota Probate Records.

Online Probate Records

School Records

Tax Records

County tax records are at the county treasurer's, auditor's or clerk's office in the county courthouse. Some tax records may have been moved to the North Dakota State Archives.

Vital Records

Birth, marriage, death, and divorce records may be recorded on registers, certificates, or other documents at the county clerk's office. Many records are also being digitized and put online. See North Dakota Vital Records for more information about availability and how to access them.




Online Death Indexes and Records


Research Facilities


Family History Centers

Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes.



Bowdon Museum and Library
232 40th Ave. NE
Bowdon, ND 58418

Manfred Heritage Museum, Inc.
PO Box 321
Harvey, ND 58341-0321
Telephone Number: 701-547-2564 (summer) or 701-324-2027


Wells County Historical Society
903 4th St. N.E.
Fessenden, ND 58438
Telephone: 701-547-3684


Research Guides


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  2. http://genealogytrails.com/ndak/wells/ accessed 09/29/2016
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Wells County, North Dakota. Page 527 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Wells County, North Dakota," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wells_County,_North_Dakota, accessed 16 November 2016.