Barns Galore, It Was!

A group of histroy buffs load a buss to take a tour of barns around the region. (Courtesy Photo)

On a hot and windy Sunday afternoon, through a copper-colored, smoky haze from western prairie and forest fires, hardy area folks boarded the Hettinger Public School activity bus driven by Dave Erickson on September 3 for the fourth free bus tour in a series, sponsored by the Dakota Buttes Historical Society/Museum (DBHS/M).
Dakota Buttes Museum
As the closing event of the BARNS GALORE project, the free bus tour took people across county roads to see more than 22 barns with stops at four. “It was wonderful, just wonderful,” said Marilyn Foley from Mott, ND.
Entertained on the tour by Loren Luckow’s commentaries, tour participants learned about the 66 barns photographed for the project, about the 22 barns they passed, and about the four barns on the stop sights.
The Solseth (Klovdahl)/Solseth/Lutz barn was first stop on the tour. Individual homesteaders in Bucyrus Township, Albert Solseth and Julia Klovdahl lived on Julia’s claim after their 1911 marriage where they built their barn in the 1920s. Later owners of the barn were Elmer and Mary Solseth in 1946 and Rodney and Lee Ann Lutz in 1998.
The second barn the group stopped at was the Thorson barn, built, owned and operated by three generations of Thorsons: Herman and Sophie, Obert and Faye and Bill and Eljean. Herman and Sophie homesteaded in Argonne Township in 1907 where they built a large white barn with 12 milk stanchions and four double horse stalls. Obert and Faye took over later until the 1950s, followed by Bill and Eljean.
The third site on the bus tour was another third generation barn, the Hallen barn in Taylor Butte Township. Built in 1918, the right 2/3 of the Albert and Annette Hallen barn on their 1907 homestead was added on to in 1942 by Olaf and Bernice Hallen, In 2017 Bob and Jean (Hallen) Pagel applied gallons of paint and 30 lbs of screws to restore the structure.
Last stop on the tour was the Beckman/
Quail/Dragoo barn. With a fieldstone first level and a wooden gambrel roof, their barn in Holt Township was constructed prior to 1920s by Albert and Rosa (Zimmerman) Beckman, 1913 homesteaders. Ron Quail later purchased the site now owned by Ron and Brenda Dragoo.
People in the county or trade area are encouraged to bring a photo of their barn to the museum or to contact the museum if they wish their barn to be photographed. “In addition to the 66 photos we have, ten barns are on the yet-to-be- photographed list,” says Ceil Anne Clement, DBHS/M president, “but it’s an open-ended, historical preservation project. We’ve barely scratched the surface.”
Upon returning to the museum at the end of the tour, people were welcomed into the museum by music from the 1920’s Etsey organ donated this year by the Honeyman family. While the bus had been out on its tour, Darrell Ressler and Karen Kobilansky had been hard at work readying the organ for its first concert in the museum. A crank organ, not a pedal organ, the vintage instrument is played only when someone continuously cranks air into the bellows. “What a treat to walk into the museum after the tour and hear live organ music!” said one participant.
With a homemade supper served by DBHS/M volunteers and board members, and a visit to the Earl and Clara Elkins; handcrafted barn and windmill on display at the museum for the first time this August-September, the fourth annual free bus tour on Labor Day weekend came to a close.
“Thanks to all who helped, to all who came and to all who worked on the BARNS GALORE project in any way,” says Bonnie Smith. “Many, many people made this possible, and we are grateful for the continued community support for the museum, its projects and activities.”
Dakota Buttes Museum is officially closed for the season, but can be open for appointments as needed, weather permitting. Call 701-567-4429 to leave a message, or call any of the people listed on the front (west) door of the museum.
Dakota Buttes Museum, the official historical society of Adams County, is owned and operated by the Dakota Buttes Historical Society/Museum, 400 11th St. South, Hettinger, ND.