John H. & Mrs. Seright

John H. and his young son, John L. Seright left Hancock, Iowa on August 1, 1902 in a light covered democrat and a driving team for North Dakota. A democrat was a light, horse-drawn wagon, usually having two seats.

John H. Seright was a Civil War veteran, and had filed on his claim in Iowa by acclaimation, which was a privilege given to war veterans.

They arrived at what was to become the Seright ranch on September 1, 1902. As Sunday was a day of rest, Mr. Seright would not travel on that day. After arriving, he and his son constructed a 12x14-foot car roof shack, putting it three feet below ground. They put up enough hay for their horses and one cow, and then built a sod barn. Their intention was to prove up their claim in fourteen months, then return to Iowa. The fourteen months lengthened into many years.

In December of 1902, Mrs. Seright came, and the four daughters arrived in the spring of 1903, although not all at once. The four Seright girls (Kate, Ruth, Mary and Nina) were all teachers. They taught school for a few terms around Riga. They also took homestead claims.

John H. Seright owned land in Iowa, and did not intend to stay in North Dakota any longer than it took to prove their homestead claim and get clear title to the land but, when they had been there a year, his son Johnny, said, "Papa, let's stay." They stayed, and generations of Serights have made North Dakota their home.

Ruth was married in St. Paul to her boyfriend from Iowa in 1905. In 1906, Mary was married to a man who worked at the train depot. Kate taught Riga school for three years. A lawyer, William Jackman, came to Dakota from Boston, taking up a claim near Norwich. He became acquainted with the Seright family, came for weekends, visited the school, and eventually he and Kate were married. They moved to Burnstead, North Dakota, where William practiced as an attorney and together the ran the post office. Nina taught at the Indiana School, which was south of the Glen Dilley residence. She then went to visit her sister, Kate, and met Theodore Lawrence, who became her husband in July.

John L. Seright (Johnny) met Renie Proffitt while she was teaching at Bergen. They were engaged, and were married the following winter. She was twenty at the time, and Johnny was nine years older. The marriage took place at the Methodist parsonage in Minot on December 23, 1915.

Johnny and Renie Seright had been married for nine years before their daughter, Sue, was born. Two years later, John Wilson was born. When Sue was nine and John was seven, their second son, Wilson Proffitt Seright, was born. All of the children were born at home. All of them were baptized by Rev. Jones, a Congregational minister who lived in Velva. They had joined the Congregational Church by that time.

As of 1976, there had been five John Serights in the family, one in each generation.

John H. Seright died at the age of ninety-five in 1938. His wife pased away in 1945, at the age of ninety-seven.

The depression years were tough for the John and Renie Serights, but they survived. They also survived seven years with no crop, as it seldom rained. They milked fifteen to twenty cows, grew a garden, canned, and earned money wherever they could. Most of the people in the township left during those years, but they remained, and bought quite a lot of land at one dollar an acre.

Johnny Seright suffered a heart attack in September of 1966, and was hospitalized for a week. He returned home and seemed fine. In early November, he had a severe heart attack during the night, and was again hospitalized. He improved some, and was able to walk around. He came home for Thanksgiving, but that night he was again rushed to the hospital, where he died a week later. He died on December 3, 1966. The Rev. Gary Davis officiated at the funeral, which was held in the Hope Congregational Church in Granville, North Dakota.


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