What Is The Oldest Town In North Dakota?
We were having a discussion the other night about the oldest town in North Dakota. Several guesses included Williston, Fargo and even Wahpeton. None of us at the table were close.
The oldest town in North Dakota is Pembina!
Pembina's motto is "Oldest Settlement in the Dakota Territories"
According to the town's website, as a result of investigations by the French-Canadian Pierre de la Verendrye and his sons, who began exploring "Dakota Territory" in 1738, the French were the first to claim the region where the settlement was located. The Red River is named after Verendrye, who records in his notebook that the native people informed him about a "Riviere Rouge" in 1729. (Red River).
As early as 1780, Pembina was known to be a fairly populated location. A group of people known as the Metis was created as a result of intermarriage between European fur traders—mostly French—and indigenous people. All of this happened when John Adams was the second president of the United States; the Dakota Territory would not come under American control for a number of years after that.
Pembina served as the site of the first public school facility in North Dakota, which was operational from 1875 until 1881. The building is currently rented by the neighborhood Masonic Lodge and owned by the city. You can still see the original blackboards in it. The first Masonic Lodge in the Northwest was founded in Pembina in 1863–1864 by six soldiers from Major Hatch's Battalion who were stationed here temporarily. You can get all the of this information, and more at the Pembina State Museum.
The 2020 US census puts the population of Pembina at 512. So, as you're sitting around the table tonight, test your kids' knowledge about North Dakota, and see if they know what the oldest town in the state is.