Belden, ND

Belden was founded by Finnish settlers in 1904. Like many ghost towns, the origins of it’s name are still in dispute. It is named either for W.L. Belden, US Indian Agent-at-Large at Fort Berthold, or for the Postmaster’s hometown in Indiana.

Although the locals denied it, Belden was once said to be a hotbed of communist activity. Couldn’t have been much of a hotbed however considering Belden’s population never really got above 25.

In the late 2000’s, the oil industry began booming in the area and some site visitors have reported new residents in abandoned towns like Belden.


64 Comments on “Belden, ND

  1. A New Store was built across the Highway from a New Cabin that replaces the Old Store site and a Electrical Substation along with several oil wells dot the Highway there. The Church is used regularly.

    • Can I get the name and number for the church. I am looking for some information on my grandmother who was born near Belden. Thanks.

      • Marie, I’d be happy to try help you find info on your grandmother. I was born and raised here and have been back living here in Belden for several years now.

    • The “new store” was originally the Post Office that was remodeled and added on to. My grandpa homesteaded 4 miles west of Belden at the bottom of the hill on the south coulee (TTT) road. The yellow house in the pictures was my Great Aunts house. Across from the store where a trailer house now sits on the northwest corner was Husa’s General Store that was in business until the early 90s.

      • Joe, are you speaking of Vic & Marian? I’d love to be in touch with you…..the Aho family were very dear to my family……

        • Yup that was aunt Marian. I am one of the few Aho’s left in the area. You can contact me at ndfinnlander at yahoo.

  2. There is a bed and breakfast that was once my grandfathers farm.

    • we lived across the road from the Isaacsons…the Matt Niemitalo family….I remember Robbie, Greg, Mona Lou, and Bebe very well and often wondered what happened to them..I am Susan

  3. The old Beldon Store used to have the best deal around for maverick jeans – cheaper than Minot and the Husa’s would usually throw some free candy in on the deal.

  4. I have lots of fond memories of Belden N.D.My Grandparents Nestor and Annie Laukala were from there.They had a farm there for years.Almost all the houses and bussisness I have been in are gone.There is oil activity there.Lots of wells pumping.I miss the way it used to be.Everything changes and it is sad.I was in Belden in July.There is a little convienient store where the post office used to be.The church still has services every Sunday.There is a beautiful cabin in town that we stayed at for the Belden Reunion back in 2007.This last time we were there we stayed at Fred Evans place.They have a lovely place in the counrty.They have extraordinary cabins out there.We stayed in there cabin for a week.It was so peaceful and relaxing.I am so glad I went back one last time.The Good memories will always be in my heart.

    • My name is Mary. My grandmother and grandfather lived in Belden. My mother was born there. My grandmothers name was Helga Maki her husband was Jack Maki. She later married Eli Laukala. Did anyone know them. They are buried at the Beldon Finnish Cemetery. Also, does anyone have information on how I can find out about the mineral rights.

      • I vaugley remember all those people visiting with my Grandpa August when I was real little.

      • Hi Mary,

        I am Joe’s brother.

        I don’t know if you realize that we are cousins.
        Second cousins once removed to be exact.

        Our dad was David Aho, who was the youngest son of August & Myrtle “Morrel” Korkia-Aho.
        August was the son of Joel & Ellina “Rajaala” Korkia-Aho.

        Your Grandma, Helga “Korkia-Aho” Maki Laukala was the youngest sister Joel Korkia-Aho.

        What was your mother’s name?

        I could get some information from my uncle, Allan Aho.

        I look forward to hearing from you.

      • Hi Mary,
        You can find mineral deeds and mineral leases at the Mountrail County Recorders office. The state recorders offices have a website. North Dakota Recorders Office Network.
        There is a subscription fee. $25.00 a year.
        Using that website you can find a treasure of the type of information that your looking for. The one problem is that their electronic records only show the last few years. If your living in North Dakota or visit there then visit the recorders office. It’s on the 2nd floor of the courthouse in Stanley. You’ll find records reaching back to homestead days.
        Good Luck

  5. Tried to find Belden, ND, in the Highway Atlas, but was not listed, so Googled it. Obituary in the Plattsburgh, NY, Press Republican, July 20, 2012, for one Odean D. Schaefer, age 80, born August 5, 1931, in Belden, ND, died July 18, 2012, in Port Henry, NY. Will be buried in Moriah, NY, way up by the Canadian border. Wonder if he wa born in one of the old structures above?

  6. Hi there – a few friends and I travel around the state as well to take pictures of old ghost towns and abandoned farms/farmsteads. We came across Belden because it wasn’t very far from Minot (where we live) and I was curious as to how the oil activity has affected the town.

    From the road, facing the hill, there is a building to the left that has fell for the most part but appears to be trying to hold on to it’s shape. I usually want to explore old farms inside and out, but even I wouldn’t risk this one. Looking to the right (which I think is the building pictured above that slants), that building has completely fallen. The roof itself seems to be holding up, but the walls and such have lost their fight with wind and nature.

    Down the hill, looking from the two aforementioned buildings, there is what looks like the first pictured building and more to the right, the white house. Both are still there and appear to be in decent shape. They seem sturdy (well, more so than the other ones) and hopefully they withstand time and wind here on the prairie.

    There is a house right next to this ‘town’ that appears to be lived in. We didn’t see anyone there, nor any vehicles, but to me it didn’t look abandoned. It was very disconcerting to be standing in this old town and watching over the fields the sheer number of tankers, trucks and oil field equipment driving by. The old church (for this town? not sure?) is across the main road and to the left if you are still standing on the hill. I managed to get it in some of my pictures of the old buildings.

  7. Loved summers there. The Husa boys, their sister Ellen Ingeroi and their sister-in-law, Martha, ran the store. The store was a gathering place for gossip and exchange of information. There was a town hall on the other side of the highway and there was the Belden cemetery. The old school house and the ingeroi and Husa homes have either been torn down or moved away.

  8. Mary Hill was my grandmother who lived in Belden for many years. She cared for a couple of elderly men but I cannot remember their names. The store, Husa’s is well remembered along with Laukala’s Ingerois, Niematalos. I believe Gramma’s house caved in. She left in about 1962 or so to live with us in Minot. I remember the big wooden swing my Uncle Ervin built for her, it was green with bench seating. No running water just the pump in the kitchen sink and the cistern in the basement when you moved the rug you could lift the trap door and look down there. It sees like most of the houses were in a circle in a valley? Anyone remember that? Thanks!

  9. My great grandmother Saima Aliina Typpo lived 18 miles from Belden and 10 miles from Sanish (1913) with her uncle Sanfred and his family. My grandmother Sally was born August 15th 1916 and we are looking for who was her father. Later Saima married William Kuismi and moved from the area. I am wondering if someone knows anything about the Typpo family and was there a Finnish church in the area that might have birth records. Maybe a list of all the people who lived in the area around 1915 to 1916? Thanks..

    • Contact John Niemitalo Sr (listed in the phone directory) he is one of the few older survivors in the area and could probably answer questions. Or Dorothy Kanniannan, another older member of the community with ties to the church.

      • our friends, Victor & Marian Wardlow Aho lived in Belden…..last I heard Marian still owned property there….the Aho family is buried in the Belden Cemetary

        • Hi Deb,

          I am Joe’s brother.
          I just happened to come across this website by accident.
          Had I know about this website I would have been on here long ago.

          Marian was a very dear lady.
          She was always my favorite great-aunt.
          I barely remember my Grandma Mytrle
          So Aunt Marian was more like a grandma.
          For several years she only spent summer in Belden.
          She still spent winter in Surrey.
          Then in 2001 she sold her house there and moved into an apartment in Minot.
          Every time that we were within 5 miles, we had to stop in and have a cup of coffee,
          which usually ended up being a pot or 2.
          After the Belden Store closed, she would often have us
          deliver groceries and other items that she needed.
          She always had coffee & cookies, whether it was in Belden, Surrey, or Minot.

          When Marian, went into the Bethel Home, in Stanley, she told me that I was to have the house in Belden and her old F100 Pickup that she called Nellie.
          Unfortunately, she did not have a will.
          Transferring the pickup was easy.
          However, we checked into what it would cost to get the house deed transferred to us.
          The legal fees would have been more than it was worth.
          My wife said that we did not need that “fallen down shack”.
          Unfortunately, the vandals, weather, & wildlife have taken their toll on the house.
          I wanted to get a trailer house or modular home and move down there.
          However, my wife said that she did not want to be driving to Stanley, every day, for work.
          Warren had even contacted us about buying the store.
          But, my wife said that she was making much more at her job, than we could ever make running a store.
          It was not long after that when I had my first stroke.
          I have had a few more since & am now almost completely wheelchair bound.
          So we have not done anything with the house.
          There are still some items, of sentimental value, that I would like to get out of the house.
          These items are probably ruined by now.
          We received a tax notice last spring stating that the taxes were 5 years behind.
          The letter said that if they were not paid within 180 days, the property would go up for auction.

          I hate to see the place tore down or burned down.

          We have not heard anything more since then.

          • OK

            It’s 2:00 AM, so please overlook the typos in my previous reply.

          • Jim, I’m so sorry to learn this…I just found your email, how are you doing now ? we were in Belden in 2016, went to the gravesites …. I wish Curt was with them….do you know how he passed ? if I’d known these things I would’ve gotten them for you….I feel so sad because I remember how much Belden meant to Marian…I had a friend in Elk Grove CA who grew up with Marian …. they went to dances together….when I was in Belden in 1984 it was so hard to find the Belden Cemetery, hidden way back in the prairie grass with cattle grazing around it….the grave sites were almost unrecognizable, no map to locate families ….I did find the Aho’s …. now in 2016 everything was completely different and easy to find the family…..I have pics of Marian in 1984 if you would like to see them….I so hope this finds you better and able to respond

  10. What year did the Belden store close? I still have a pair of western booths that I purchased there shortly before they closed. I also was given some ice cream with that purchase

  11. It was a great place to grow there. My parents owned a farm west of Belden. A couple of the pictures are of my grandparents house and windmill. Marvin and Milford Husa, the gentlemen who ran the store were wonderful, They treated the neighbor kids so wonderfully. Could get a pop and candy bar for 30 cents. Wranglers and cowboy boots cheaper than anywhere else. My mom was the postmaster in town till they closed the office, in the late 80’s. The new store is where the post office used to be.

  12. I believe the first picture was the home of Annie Kivi, she was my Great Aunt. Several times in the late 60’s early 70’s my mother, grandmother and I would drive to Belden in the summer. What a treat, I remember aunt Annie’s kitchen with the hand pump and the counters so low it seemed like the house was built for short people. I remember all of the old Finnish women gathering in her kitchen speaking Finn with my grandma. Grandma Julia was a Laukala who was at one time married to Ruben Oja, Aunt Annie’s brother. My mother could understand some of it me, not any. No trip to Belden was complete without a trip to the Husa boys store. Martha was taking her break visiting with the other women at aunt Annie’s.
    There has been several mentions of being a hotbed for communist actity and according to my late Grandfather Ruben Oja, there was. There is an aticle that was written in the Minot Daily News re: this subject, Mother Blor or something like that. Grandpa Ruben’s father died when Ruben was young and his mother remarried several times (after the death of husbands) and I have been trying to find information about the Oja family. Where in Finland they came from etc. I’m sure no body alive would have first hand information about him but, maybe there would have someone that has heard a story or two.

    • My wife’s mother was Arlove Kivi and her grandmother was Anna Kivi from Belden. Her mother always spoke about a family store in Belden. I recall her (my wife) talking about the “Sugar Loaf” mountain in the area.

      • Indeed Kivis had a small store just to the north of Vic &Marian Aho’s place.
        It was still standing in 2010, but I am not sure if it still is…

        It seems hard to believe that at one time Belden was big enough to support 2 stores.

        The little stucco house that is the first house is Annie Kivi’s.

        It is good that there is still someone alive that remembers all of this.

        I spent a few hours with my uncle, Allan Aho, the other day.
        He was very helpful.

      • I assume that “Sugar Loaf” Mountain is what we always knew as the “Chocolate Drop”.
        Either name was a fitting name.

    • Hi. My name is Lyle Thomason. My Great-Great Grandfather was Herman Oja (Ojala). His Daughter was my Great Grandmother and her name was Esther Edla Oja who married John Gustav Niemi. Their Daughter was Melida Ruth Niemi who was my Grandmother. They left the Belden area in 1931 and moved to Duluth, Minnesota. I took a trip out there with my Grandma Melida as she put it I want to see Belden once last time before I go home to my Lord. She showed me all the sites around Belden. Her memory was as great as when she left Belden at 12 years old. She remembered right where the cemetery was. She showed me where all the relatives were buried. She took me to Annie Kivi’s house and showed it to me. It was still in good shape then. We looked in the window and it looked like someone had just stepped out for a few minutes. I asked her if anyone still lived there and she said no but Annie would come back here every Summer from Minnesota where she now lived. What a great story we share. Rueben was my Great Grandma Esther’s Brother. So Annie and my Grandma Melida were cousins.

    • Hi. My name is Lyle Thomason. My Grandmother was Melida Pryor maiden name Niemi. Her father was John Niemi and her mother was Esther Edla Oja . Esther was the sister of Ruben Oja. Their father was the Herman Oja (Ojala) in the old country. He was born in 1860 in Laihia-Lansi-Soumen Lanni, Finland. He died March 22, 1909 in Sykes, Mountrail County, North Dakota and is buried in the Finish Cemetary in Beldon. Herman Oja was my Great-Great Grandfather. I have been doing a lot on Ancestry.Com and cannot find anything past him. I hope this helps you out a liitle.

    • Please contact me. My name is Lyle Thomason and my Great Grandmother Esther Oja (Niemi) was Rubens Brother. I have info. I live outside of Duluth, Minnesota. My number is 218-428-0834. I look forward to hearing from you.

  13. The house that my mother was born in still stands down in the valley, at the time of her birth the property belonged to John Oja. I would like to know who owns it now and get permission to explore it.

  14. I have friends from Minot who are buried in the Cemetery and I’ve been there to pay my respects….Vic Aho family are buried there…..Marian Aho still spent time in their home in Belden a couple of times a year…..I was there in 1994 before this oil mess started up and it was peaceful and beautifully AWESOME !!! I live in Northern Idaho now and miss my hometown, Minot, like crazy…..scared to come home again because the oil activity…..

    • Hi again Deb,

      If you have not been back since you left the message in 2014, you will not recognize anything.
      The oil activity has destroyed that beautiful rolling prairie hills.
      If they have not been leveled of for an oil well, they have been dug up for a gravel pit.

      The things that have changed the most are the towns.
      Most of the smaller towns like New Town, Stanley & Tioga have at least quadrupled in population & doubled in area.
      Stanley now has homes and business almost all of the way down to the Knife and north to old US 2. What used to be fields north & east of the golf course is now all town houses.
      Along new US 2 , homes & businesses go from the bottom of the hill east of town to the west juntion of old US 2 & new US 2. The new retail zone is between US 2 and the airport, across the Hiway & to the west of what used to be the Prairie Host Motel.
      Tioga & New Town are almost as big.

      Minot & Williston are so big that I cannot even begin to describe it.
      The biggest changes in Minot is the growth on North Hill.
      Everything out to the US 83 Bypass is either residential or business.
      The main growth south is all the new business west of Walmart and new residential east of US 83 going all the way out to southeast of the Schatz Truck Stop.
      Once again what was fields 5 years ago is now businesses or homes.

      It will be a surprise when you see it.


  15. oh my gosh….I came across this site when I was doing some family history searching. My family originated from the Belden area when they came to America from Finland. My grandfather’s name was Levi Davidson (son of David Niemi) and he married Ida Oja (shortened from Ojala). My family tree includes surnames of Lahti, Laukala, Kyllonen, and Maki which all from that area. Thank you all for sharing your stories!

  16. Our friends, Victor & Marian Wardlow Aho lived in Belden….last I knew Marian still owned property there and the family is buried in the Belden Cemetary…..

  17. I was born and raised in and around Belden, and I currently live in Belden with my wife and kids. I”m also the current President of the Belden Finnish Cemetery Association. Please look me up on Facebook or in the phone book (Stanley, ND directory) if you have any questions about Belden – past or present – or the cemetery. Most of the buildings in the pictures no longer exist, having been burned down in the past few years. Some were skunk havens and others were caving in, or both.
    I love Belden, even though the noise and traffic have increased many-fold compared to my childhood. I remember taking walks to the Belden Hall one mile south of town and walking right on the highway. You could hear a vehicle coming long before it appeared over the hill to know when to take the ditch.
    The Belden Hall was torn down in the late ’80s if I remember correctly, and the Belden Store closed down in 1994, again, if my memory is correct. The Post Office closed in 1986, and that was remodeled into a little store in 2008 by Warren Lahtinen. He has since sold it to Russ and Katie Nichols.

    • My mothers family is also from there. As a matter of fact I have been trying to find information about my great grandfather who is buried in the section with those that died in 1909. I was told to check with the person that has the old church records. His name is Herman Oja. His wife is buried in the other section. If you are able to find any info re: where he was born etc. it would help with my search.

      • Darley,
        Herman Arvid Ojala (1861 – March 1909) Born in Laihia, Finland. Married Edla Maria Ketola in 1883 and they emigrated to the US in 1886, settling in Annandale, MN. There they shortened their name to Oja.
        As you mentioned, both are buried in the Belden Cemetery. I have more information if you want to email me at so I have yours. Thanks.

      • Darley, Herman Oja is also my great grandfather. Who are your parents and grandparents?

      • Hi Darley! Herman Ojala (later Oja) moved to Belden, ND from Alajärvi (Alajarvi), Finland. The year was 1904. At the same time from Alajärvi to Belden moved Matti ja Victor Nurmi, Antti Lahti, Abrahan Niemi and Oscar Niemi. Johan P. Husa, Väinö Husa and Ivar Husa came from Karunki, Finland. Their names are in a book “Amerikan suomalaisten historia III ” (The History of American Finns III) which is printed in Hancock Michican 1926 by Finnish-lutheran publishery. My sister’s summer cottage lies near Alajärvi so I visit the town every summer.

        My name is Perttu Hemminki. I live in Turku, Finland.

    • Hi Jordan,

      I was wondering who took over after Joyce retired from the board.
      I thought that Judy had.
      I believe that I am still on the board.

      I still have all of the cemetery records, much of which is on my computer.
      I’m not able to do the physical labor anymore, but I can still do the record keeping.

      Let me know if you need anything.


    • Herman Oja was my Great-Great Grandfather. His Daughter was Edla Esther who married John Niemi. They were my Great Grandparents. They had a Daughter Melida Niemi who was my Grandmother. They all lived in Belden until the drought came through in 1931. They then moved to Duluth, Minnesota. My Great Grandfather John Niemi worked in the Husa’s store. One day when he was working there he got robbed at gun point. I Brought my Grandmother back there about year 2000. I’m sure things have changed with the oil boom. If you would like to contact me I have more info I can share. Take care now. Lyle Thomason 218-428-0834.

  18. As a child my family went to Belden nearly every summer in the 60s and 70s. The town hall building or “The Hall” as we called it, on the east side of the main road was abandoned then. I went there with my Kannianen cousins to play softball in the field around it and I’m remembering they had a basketball hoop set up inside it as well. The floor was already failing then though. “The Hall” was apparently used by the communists for meetings Although the town of Belden was quite small, it served dozens of nearby farms but they were already being sold and consolidated into larger farms when my mother was a child in the 1930s and 1940s and the population in the numerous small wooden schools nearby was already dropping.

  19. I grew up 8 miles south of Belden and visited the store many times. Oddly enough I now live near Wadena, Minn. where Nestor Vorderbruggrn owns property, my husband hunts deer on his cousin’s land by Hillview where many Ahos live and he went to high school with them–probably related somehow to the Ahos by Belden. I went to high school with Fred Evans–great guy as I recall.

  20. I was raised six miles east of Belden . Went to dances at the dance hall. My parents sold cream at the post office and bought groceries at the store. I always enjoyed listening to Marvin and Milfor telling stories about the old days. You always got a bag of candy from them and Marvin would always give you a “good deal”. Great people

  21. I was home this past summer and went out to the Finnish Cemetery…. it is beautifully taken care of….when I was there in 1994 it was overgrown and hard to fine so this was a pleasant surprise…our dear friends, Vic & Marian Aho are buried there along with 3 of their 4 children…..

  22. I am doing some research on my Great Grandparents. I Thought they settled in Dawson ND. Taking a closure look Belden ND keeps coming up. I am wondering if there were any Dugan’s living in Belden ND around 1917 to 1925?
    I would appreciate any info. Thank you!

  23. I should mention that my great grandparents, Chris and Carrie Holmgren, lived near Belden until they moved to Seattle in I think the 1940s. My grandpa Clarance (Kelly) Holmgren grew up there on the farm. My family has been back many times to see the farm. I think the Isaacsons there are related somehow.

  24. I have been reading all of the comments that each one of you have written. It is very interesting to hear of your stories growing up, having a relative near the town, remembering stories of fun & laughter, and also of hard times in Belden ND. I am Bennett (Benn) Belden, a descendent of W L Belden. If anyone looks at this site & could pass down any history of him serving as the “Agent” at Fort Berthold I wold be honored to receive it. My email is

    Thank you

  25. Hello! I’m Felecia (Niemitalo) Clifton, daughter of George and Margo Niemitalo. We lived in Belden until about 1967, when we moved to Stanley. Does anyone know where the photo of that last building was taken?

  26. The white building appears to be our old sauna. Our farm was 3 miles North of Belden, We moved to Stanley when I was starting school.. vandals and years of being abandoned destroyed all buildings and house. I believe Doug Niemitalo’s boy put a house out there now…

  27. Hi this is Benn Belden. I had left a previous message on 1/2/2021. Just was wondering if anyone has the start up, photo’s or history of the “BELDEN” town. My email is

    Thank you

Leave a Reply to Derek Niemitalo Cancel reply