Granville, North Dakota History

Incorporated as a city in 1906, Granville was the first incorporated town in McHenry County, North Dakota. Of course, there were people living there before the town was incorporated. Mr. and Mrs. William Christianson were the first people to come to Granville when they came in 1895. Christianson, as the first Great Northern Railroad depot agent, lived in a box car along the railroad. He was also the town's first postmaster. His son, Ivan, was the depot agent at the time. Mrs. Christianson was the first woman to live in Granville.

Granville was named for one of its early settlers, Granville M. Dodge, who was a civil engineer for the Great Northern Railroad.


The first newspaper published in Granville was "The Mouse River Valley Number Granville Record", published in 1904. There were three sections to the newspaper, each with eight pages, making twenty-four pages in all.

In 1904, there were five hundred people living in Granville, and no other town had a better showing for population growth in McHenry County. Between 1900 to 1904, Granville added fifty businesses. In 1904, Granville shipped out three million bushels of grain.

For the sake of comparison, Granville had a population of 241 at the time of the 2010 census.

After William Christianson, Granville's early settlers included Harmen K. Smith, who came in 1900, opening a general store on Main Street. Mr. Nordmarken came in 1901 and opened an implement business that was known as Nordmarken and Brothers. In 1902, Mr. Alaven took up a claim two miles east of Granville, where he opened the first law firm.

There were churches too. The Reverend Ivey was the first minister to come to Granville, arriving in 1900. Later that same year, a Methodist minister by the name of Rev. W.H. Young came to Granville by appointment. George Lippman built a small Methodist church in Granville, which became a Lutheran church after the Methodists moved away from Granville. George Lippman had expressed his wishes that, upon his death, his funeral would be held in the church that he had built, but the Lutherans would not permit it, as it had become a Lutheran church by that time. Not long after that, a Holy Methodist Church was built in Granville, which were soon followed by Congregational and Catholic churches.

In his reminiscences, Maxwell Morrison, who lived in Granville from 1902 to 1915, speaks of a Christmas Eve service that was held in the Methodist church during a Christmas Eve service in 1903 or 1904.

In 1903-04, a Christmas Eve service was held. With the large Christmas tree, surrounded by gifts for the children and every branch holding a lighted candle, most of them in a sloping position, the program got started… and that is about as far as it went… the tree caught fire and the congregation dispersed.

P.A. Olson was prominent in the early years of Granville. Besides being president of the school board, he was also the Justice of the Peace.

Granville's first doctor came from Quebec, Canada in 1902. Dr. J.H. Barrette was well respected, and liked by the people of Granville.

In 1904, the railroad constructed a branch line that ran from Granville to the northern part of the state, which also helped to boost the population growth in Granville.

George E. Stubbins is generally thought to be the "Father of Granville", as he owned the greater portion of the townsite. He also played a large part in promoting the growth of Granville through immigration, which is a role he had previously played in enhancing the growth of Britt, Iowa. Many early settlers in Granville had moved to the town from Iowa, in large part due to the efforts of Mr. Stubbins.

There were no commercial buildings on the east side of Granville's Main Street until the spring of 1902, when it grew as rapidly as the other side of the street had previously. Its first buildings were made of wood but, due to a series of fires over the years, most of them were replaced by brick buildings.

Miss Myers, who took a claim two miles east of Granville in 1900, built the Great Northern Hotel in  the spring of 1902. In 1903, Mrs. McCarthy opened a boarding house.

During the years from 1899 to 1904, the population of McHenry County increased to four thousand, many of the new settlers being immigrants from Norway, Sweden and Germany.

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