North Dakota (USA)

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1957 Article

Mennonites first began to move into this state in the late 1890s. The first group of 10 Swiss Mennonite (General Conference Mennonite) families came from Freeman, South Dakota, in 1898, and settled in the Starkweather area in Mansey and Cavalier counties. In this same period Low German Mennonites (GCM) also moved in from the Mountain Lake, Minnesota, and Henderson, Nebraska, communities. The fact that land was available at reasonable prices seems to have been the special attraction. Land agents of the Great Northern Railroad Company were especially anxious for settlers to come. The first Old Order Amish came in 1894.

The first congregation of the Mennonite Church (MC) was established in 1903 at Minot (Surrey), when a group settlement was made by Amish Mennonites from the vicinity of Belleville, PA. A second congregation was organized at Kenmare in 1905, which died out about 1939. Later congregations were organized at Wolford in 1916 and at Casselton in 1929.

North Dakota. U.S. Census/TIGER map

Settlements were later made in a number of counties in the state, viz., McHenry, Billings, Burleigh, Wells, McLean, Rolette, Sheridan, Pierce, Walsh, Ward, Mountrail, and perhaps others. The settlements in Cavalier County near Alsen, Munich, and Langdon have always been the strongest. In this vicinity there are three General Conference Mennonite churches, one Mennonite Brethren, and one Church of God in Christ, Mennonite church. In 1939 several of the churches in this area co-operatively established a Bible school at Munich. For many years the school operated only during the five winter months. One full-time teacher was engaged, usually assisted by several of the local ministers. The peak enrollment (35) was reached in 1941. In 1951 this Bible school became Bethany Bible Academy with G. W. Schroeder as superintendent. In 1954 the Academy had two instructors and 13 students.

While agriculture has remained the predominant vocation through the years, some of the Mennonites have ventured into business, especially in the Alsen and Munich area. Statistically, there are 1,000-1,100 Mennonites in the state, besides the 75 members of the one Hutterian Brethren colony in the state, distributed as follows: General Conference Mennonite (GCM) 313, Mennonite Brethren (MB) 493, Mennonite Church (MC) 218, Church of God in Christ, Mennonite (CGC) 36. These congregations are as follows: Bethel (GCM) at Dresden, 40 members; Zion (GCM) at Arena, 31; Salem (GCM) at Munich, 166; Swiss (GCM) at Alsen, 76; Rosehill (MB) at Munich, 70; Harvey (MB), 206; McClusky (MB), 25; Sawyer (MB), 98; Kief (MB), 44; Lakeview (MC) at Wolford, 109; Red River Valley (MC) at Casselton, 45; Fairview (MC) at Minot, 55; Rockway Gospel Chapel at East Minot (MC), 9; North Unity (CGC) at Wales, 28; Grafton (CGC), 8; Old Order Amish at Wolford, 8; Forest River Farm, Hutterian Brethren, at Inkster, 75.  -- J. D. Unruh

1990 Update

In 1988 three congregations of the Northern District (General Conference Mennonite) with 289 members, six Mennonite Brethren congregations, and three congregations of the North Central Mennonite Conference (MC) with 197 members were located in North Dakota. One of the congregations listed had membership jointly with the Northern District and North Central Mennonite Conferences. In addition there was one unaffiliated congregation and one congregation of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite. An emerging fellowship in the Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorehead, Minnesota, had members belonging to the Northern District and North Central Conference. An Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Shop was located in Minot. -- Reynold Sawatzky


Handbook of Information, General Conference Mennonite Church. Newton, KS (1988): 10, 31, 141.

Horsch, James E., ed. Mennonite Yearbook and Directory. Scottdale: Mennonite Publishing House (1988-89): 31, 72, 99, 149.

Author(s) J. D. Unruh
Reynold Sawatzky
Date Published 1988

Cite This Article

MLA style

Unruh, J. D. and Reynold Sawatzky. "North Dakota (USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1988. Web. 29 Sep 2023.

APA style

Unruh, J. D. and Reynold Sawatzky. (1988). North Dakota (USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 September 2023, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 916; vol. 5, pp. 638-639. All rights reserved.

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