North Dakota History
The following important events in the history of North Dakota affected political boundaries, record keeping, and family movements.
1803-1818: The United States acquired the southwestern half of North Dakota as part of the Louisiana Purchase from France. The northeastern half was acquired in 1818 by treaty with Britain.
1812: The first permanent white settlement in present-day North Dakota was made at Pembina by Scottish pioneers from Canada.
1861-1868: The Dakota Territory was organized. Its boundaries were reduced to include the area of the two Dakotas of today when the Montana Territory was created in 1864 and the Wyoming Territory in 1868.
1863: Free land was offered under the first Homestead Act, but the Civil War and Indian Wars delayed settlement.
1871: White settlement began in earnest in northern Dakota when railroads reached the Red River from St. Paul and Duluth, Minnesota.
1878-1886: The eastern region was settled in the first Dakota boom era.
1889: The Dakota Territory was divided, and both North and South Dakota were admitted to the Union.
1898-1915: Additional lands were settled in a second Dakota boom. The peak year for new homesteads was 1906.
Helpful sources for studying the history of North Dakota are:
Robinson, Elwyn B. History of North Dakota. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1966. (FHL book 978.4 H2r.)
Lounsberry, Clement A. Early History of North Dakota. Washington, DC: Liberty Press, 1919. (FHL book 978.4 H2L; film 1036397; 1916 edition with biographical volumes is on films 982024-5.)
A bibliography of local histories for North Dakota is included in Daniel Rylance and J.F.S. Smeall, Reference Guide to North Dakota History and North Dakota Literature (Grand Forks, North Dakota: Chester Fritz Library of the University of North Dakota, 1979; FHL book 978.4 A3r).