Almont North Dakota

1906     Centennial     2006

Almont Museum & Historical Society

The following history of the Almont Historical Society was written by Marge Peterson with some minor changes made by the web site author.

The Almont Historical Society was organized on June 15, 1977 with 16 interested persons present. Then Ben Ramsland offered to donate an old building on Main Street if the organization would fix it up and display many of the artifacts he had accumulated over the years. Several years earlier the Commercial Club had moved several buildings into town on the vacant land that held the old jail and named it 'Heritage Park'.
     The above events stimulated the formation of the Historical Society which would assume the responsibility and upkeep of the buildings and artifacts. The first meeting was held on July 27, 1977 with the following elected officers: Sig Peterson President, Hazel Hoovestol, Vice President, and Cassie Ritz secretary-treasure.
     The village gave them a small building on Main Street where Almont’s first newspaper, the Almont Arena, had been published until 1914. The New Salem Journal purchased the Arena in 1914 and took the printing equipment to New Salem. When the Society took over the building the New Salem Journal donated some of the old equipment back to them and it may well have been some of the original equipment. After the Arena closed, Frank X. Todt had a barbershop in the building and finally the Village stored its firefighting equipment in the building. The building was last used by farmers who left their cream cans there to be picked up for market.
     In 1982 the Society bought the old Town Hall (SW corner of Main Street) from Fred Ramsland for $300.00. It was torn down and some of the lumber was sold. It was built in 1907 by Ole Jacobsen and Ted Peterson. Over the years it had been used as Town Hall, gymnasium, butcher shop, cream buying business, gas station, welding shop and a beer parlor. It had been vacant for several years.
     In 1983 Thorleiv Peterson and Valborg Fisher bought the old Ben Olson building for the Society. Ben had a cream buying station and a shoe shop with living quarters in the back and up stairs. The building was remodeled into a gift shop where local items were consigned and sold for a 10% commission. Lillian Peterson managed the popular Country Store until her death in 2000.
     The museum on Main Street soon became too small for all the items that were being donated to the Historical Society. In 1985 it was decided to build a larger museum. A sizable donation to fund the project was made by Thorleiv Peterson, Valborg Fisher, Harvey and Wilma Thorson and Sig and Marge Peterson.
     In 1986 a 99 year lease from the Village was given to the Almont Historical Society to carry on it's project in Block 1 of the Village. The lease was signed by Claude Ritz, then mayor of Almont. The buildings in Heritage Park were rearranged. Bids were let for the project and Ron Groninger's bid for $26,000 was accepted as the lowest bid. The project included a 40 X 80 cement block structure with 12 foot walls, to include water, sewer and rest rooms. The total cost came to $29,000.
     In 1987 The Almont Museum was accepted as Almont’s State Centennial project. A Memorial Plaque was started for Memorials for the Museum. The Society received $4,000 from the county mill levy.
     The Museum was completed in 1988. A ribbon cutting ceremony with program and demonstrations was held on Memorial Day. Buckshot Hoffmer, State Centennial leader, was guest speaker and in charge of the ribbon cutting. School children and others took part in the program, and plaques were given to Toby Ramsland, Thorleiv Peterson, Valborg Fisher, Harvey and Wilma Thorson and Marge and Sig Peterson.
     In 1989 the Society recognized that the museum was too small so the building was extended another 30 feet at a cost of $8,000.00. Valborg Fisher donated $10,000 for the addition. The executive board was increased to 11 and included the Almont Mayor. In November an Annual Meeting was held with a dinner and business meeting followed by home talent entertainment. In 1990 an insulated suspended ceiling and fans were added.
     Artifacts continued to be added. Show cases were received from the State Historical Society. Teri Nelson and Janet Esser assisted Sig and Marge Peterson in the arrangement and layout of the Museum. This made it very interesting and unique.
     In 1993 Clarence Lippert of Bismarck gave the Society a house on his property in the Curlew area. The house had been built by Olous Christianson in about 1920. It was moved to Heritage Park by Weiss House movers of Bismarck at a cost of $3,500.00. Chuck Bahm of New salem donated the bridge timbers. The main floor of the house has been restored and furnished with articles of furniture and decor from the ‘50’s. Doris Christianson Hickle, who lived with the family in the house at one time, has given several items that were originally in the house. Much of the other furniture was donated by Guy Anderson. A set of china dishes from that era was donated by Audrey Walton. The house has been named “Curlew House”.
     In 1994 Pat and Penny Floral rented the old museum building on Main St. for their business. the building had to be wired for electricity. Their business outgrew the building in a few years and it has been empty since then.
In 1995 Lance Olson of Williston spray painted the Curlew House and other buildings at Heritage Park and also some buildings on Main Street. That fall Janet and Church Esser and several others from Bismarck catered a dinner at the Museum for AMACO employees who were the paying guests. Local talent provided the entertainment. A $1000.00 check was left for the Almont Historical Society.
     In 1996 Lutheran Brotherhood gave $400.00 towards the deck of the depot., Local men constructed the deck. $313.50 was received from Women’s Life Insurance Society for Curlew House improvements.
     Events in 1997 included the annual Morton County Historical Society Picnic which was held at the Museum grounds. That summer 25 members of the NPRR (Northern Pacific Railroad) Historical Society, headquartered in Minneapolis, visited the Almont Museum and the old depot. Sig Peterson had spoken to a general meeting of about 200 members the day before in Bismarck about the early railroad through Sims and Almont. These members signed up for a tour by Sig following the old road bed with stops at Sims, Almont and Curlew. All of those present agreed that it was the highlight of the 3 day meeting in Bismarck. The tour ended with those present gathered around one of the old pianos singing "I’ve Been Working On The Railroad" with Marge playing the piano and Sig leading the singing. They all enjoyed coffee and carmel Rolls provided by Sig and Marge.   Roger Becklund, a former resident, had arranged for Sig to speak to the meeting.
     In the spring of 1997, 20 docents from the State Heritage Center in Bismarck visited our Country School, the Museum and the other building at Heritage Park. Later that summer, seven Heritage Center employees visited the Museum and Heritage Park. Both groups were impressed and had favorable comments.
     In 1998, Janet Hanson donated a space heater for the museum, in memory of her aunt, Ragnhild Feland. That same year a 40x100 pole shed was built to house machinery. Donations for the building were from Almont Development Assn., Almont Commercial Club, Harvey and Wilma Thorson, Joel and Donna Johnson, Dorothy Bettencourt, Mark and David Willman and Sig and Marge Peterson. Lyle Peterson was the contractor.
     The museum receives many interesting artifacts every year. A mounted golden eagle, shot by Herman Hartman in the 1920’s near the Heart River, was given to the Museum by Condon Hartman of New Salem. A Ladies side saddle was given by Ernest Blaich of Bismarck. Both donors were from outside the community.
     The Historical Society hosted the Annual Morton County Historical Society dinner and meeting in October, 2001. It was held at the Almont Lutheran Fellowship Hall and was very well attended. Vicki Olson catered the delicious meal. After the business meeting, a program was presented, emceed by Rodney Nelson, and included music by the Fiddlers, a solo by Vernon Knutson, two numbers by the Sims Trio, solo with guitar accompanied by Leland, a hunter from Alabama and a solo and yodeling by Sig Peterson.
     In 2000, our 25th year Lance Olson painted the Curlew House and Country School. The Museum has many visitors curing the summer months, the most being on Labor Day. A sing-a-long around the old grand piano is a popular part of the Labor Day events. Many favorable remarks are heard and the “tip” jar was overflowing at the end of the day. The last few years Condon and Sharon Hartman have taken care of the museum for several hours in the afternoon of Labor Day while the rest of us are involved in the program at the school.
     Our first 25 years have been very interesting and rewarding. Our accomplishments are far above our expectations. We can be very proud of our Almont Historical Society.
     P. S. Other historical buildings in Heritage Park include the following. The native rock jail, built in 1908 is on the property at the site where it was originally built. The Almont Depot, which had been moved from Almont to North Almont when the Railroad moved in 1947, was moved back to Almont and Heritage Park. The building was purchased from NPRR for $1.00. Norman and Nettie Hansen gave a one-room country school to Heritage Park and a blacksmith shop was brought to the park from the Oscar Jacobson Farm.