Thankful for My N.D. Ancestors

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for my ancestors who chose to settle in North Dakota. I admire the strength and stories of my forebears, especially as a seventh-generation North Dakotan with roots reaching back to 1877 in the Red River Valley. 

The Duras: Julius and Rosa Dura moved their young family from Argyle, Minn., to Loma, N.D., in 1906. Among their children was Arthur Dura, my great-grandfather, age 3. Julius's father August Dura moved to his daughter Mary Wild's farm near Milton, N.D., in about 1923, after his wife Mary died in 1917 in Florian, Minn. 

The Gettes: Andrew Gette, my great-great-grandfather, came to the Munich-Alsen area of Cavalier County, N.D., in 1913 from his home in Semenovka, Russia. Eleven years later, his wife and three of five surviving children would join him, meeting at a Thief River Falls, Minn., train station. My great-grandmother Barbara, age 16, was among them. A few years later, she would meet Arthur Dura at a dinner gathering arranged by his aunt Frances Dura Fohr. They married in 1928 in Munich, N.D., and had seven children. 

The Paynes: Mark Payne, my great-great-grandfather, and his brother Sidney came to Argusville, Dakota Territory, in March 1887. Mark was 15 and Sidney was 16. They had come from Berlin, Wis., where their mother remarried in 1877 after their father's death in 1875. The brothers' sister Ella later joined them. The siblings lived the rest of their lives in Cass County. Ella died in 1901 at age 26. Mark and Sidney died a month apart in 1949. 

The Perceys: My earliest ancestors to North Dakota were Andrew and Ellen Percey and their three children, Marguerite, Ellen and Robert. Ellen "Nellie" was my great-grandmother, and she and her sister Maggie married Mark and Sidney Payne, respectively. The Perceys arrived in Dakota Territory from Ontario in July 1877. Andrew Percey died in Argusville in 1911, and Ellen died three years later. Mark Payne and Nellie Percey were parents to Percy Payne, my great-grandfather, born in Berlin Township, N.D., in 1904. 

The Thompsons: Ellen Percey's family joined her in Dakota Territory in 1882. Her parents Robert and Margaret Thompson were joined by several of their children, including William, Roberta, George and Thomas. Margaret Thompson died in Mapleton, N.D. (one of the state's oldest towns), in 1910, and her husband Robert died in 1911. 

The Keatings: Thomas and Mary Keating have the honor of my being my only direct ancestors to move to North Dakota and then relocate. They came to Langdon, D.T., in 1885 from Grey Eagle, Minn., and departed for Lampman, Sask., in 1901. Their son James, my great-great-grandfather, stayed in Langdon with his wife Emma, who he married in Minnesota in 1888. They moved to the Langdon area from Stearns County, Minn., in 1895. James had come to Minnesota from Ontario in 1878 while Emma was born in Melrose, Minn. Emma Keating died in Langdon, N.D., in 1935, and James died in Fargo in 1942. Their youngest daughter Estella was my great-grandmother, born in Perry Township, N.D., in 1904. 

Cecil and Helen Williams: My mother's father's parents arrived in Fargo separately, meeting through friends, I believe. Cecil came to Fargo to join his brother Neal in the early 1920s, leaving Hawthorne, Wis. Helen worked as a nurse anesthetist at a Fargo hospital. She hailed from LeRoy, Minn. They married in 1927 in LeRoy, living in Fargo. 

R.C. Little: My mother's maternal grandfather was a beloved rural doctor in Traill County, N.D., delivering over 2,000 babies in his decades-long career, and never losing a mother. He hailed from Madison, Minn., moving to North Dakota at some point before 1925. He married my great-grandmother Marion, a lifelong Traill County resident, in 1926. 

Henry and Ella McNair: My great-great-grandfather Henry Hubbell McNair arrived in Dakota Territory in about 1882, moving west from New York for his asthma. He met and married Gabriella Olson Neste, a young widow with a small daughter. H.H. McNair and Ella Neste married in 1888 in Portland, N.D., where H.H. McNair was mayor from 1893 to 1894. He later served in the state legislature from 1919-22. Ella McNair came to Portland in 1881 with her first husband E.E. Neste, a merchant who she married in Wisconsin in 1880. He died from tuberculosis in 1885, and the couple lost their 15-month-old daughter Edna in the same year.