Wells County, North Dakota

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Wells County administrative offices are located at 700 Railway Street North, Fessenden, ND 58438; phone: 701-547-3141.

Wells County is located in the grain belt of central North Dakota and is also one of the leading stock-raising and diversified farming counties in the state. Created in 1873 by the territorial legislature, it was first named Gingras County after Antoine Blanc Gingras (1821-1877), a wealthy trader of French and Chippewa Indian parentage residing in the Pembina district. In 1881 the name was changed to Wells County in honor of Edward P. Wells (b. 1847), banker, railroad builder, and territorial legislator from Jamestown. The original county seat was at Sykeston but was removed to the more centrally located Fessenden in 1894 after towns had developed northwestward along the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste Marie Railway (Soo Line). Shortly afterward, when plans for the new courthouse came under consideration, a stone fabric for the building was first favored, but more economical brick and frame construction was ultimately chosen. Lumber was obtained from W.E. Cooke, a dealer in nearby Harvey, and the brick was manufactured by the H.T. Von Wagoner Company in Minot. [1]

Created by the 1872-73 territorial legislature and renamed by the 1881 session for Edward Payson Wells of Jamestown (1847-1936), a banker and early promoter of the James River Valley as well as a member of the legislature during 1881. Government organized: August 28, 1884. County Seat: Sykeston, 1884-1894; Fessenden 1894-present. ]2]

  1. Dawn Maddox, Architectural Historian, State Historical Society of North Dakota, Wells County Courthouse, Fessenden, Wells County, North Dakota, nomination document, 1976, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
  2. North Dakota Association of Counties, County Histories, www.ndaco.org, accessed December, 2014.

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