Lostwood: Where Time Moves Slowly

Lostwood, North Dakota

What’s in a name? In a place like this, maybe everything. Our initial interest in Lostwood was aroused by the name… Lostwood. It brings to mind images of an old-fashioned, silent town, lost in a haunting copse of elms and knotty oaks; a place where time moves slowly and the residents wouldn’t have it any other way. With a name like Lostwood, we felt compelled to visit and see for ourselves what remains.

Lostwood, North Dakota

We arrived to find Lostwood a captivating remnant of a prairie settlement, if somewhat lacking in the elm and oak tree department. In truth it is a ghost town in the sense that very little remains here to show a population of 100 residents, Lostwood’s all-time high, reported in 1920. Only a well-kept church and a boarded up school appear to be original structures. On the other hand, there are several inhabited homes in the area, and those folks likely consider themselves residents of Lostwood.

Lostwood, North Dakota

Lostwood School was featured in our first book, Ghosts of North Dakota, Volume 1.

Lostwood, North Dakota

This school is so evocative in real life. Just bending on one knee here to take a photograph, it’s easy to have a moment of nostalgia while imagining students coming and going, carrying lunch pails and dressed in the clothing of the era.

Lostwood, North Dakota

There are population figures for Lostwood township in the US Census, but none for Lostwood as a town. According to “North Dakota: Every Town on the Map and MORE,” by Vernell and Louise Johnson, Lostwood was first known as Chida, then renamed for the lake nearby, which had been named Lostwood Lake by settlers after a load of wood was lost there in a blizzard.

Lostwood, North Dakota

Douglas Wick’s North Dakota Place Names offers an alternate explanation for the name Lostwood. About 1900, a settler cut some wood and left it here to dry, but a nearby family used it to heat their home over the winter, and when the settler returned in the spring, he discovered the wood had been “lost”.

Lostwood, North Dakota

Lostwood is perhaps better known as a duck and waterfowl breeding area and migratory and nesting bird sanctuary. The surrounding Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge is partly made-up of the Lostwood Wilderness,  “a region well known for numerous lakes and mixed grass prairie”. Lostwood Wilderness “ensures that the finest duck and waterfowl breeding region in North America remains wild and unimproved”. It was created by an act of Congress in 1975.

Lostwood, North Dakota

Tim Steele sent some photos of Lostwood’s post office back in the day, and we’re trying to figure out what year the photo was taken. Can you help?

Lostwood, North Dakota

The church is quite nicely kept in Lostwood and we’re told it still holds services and hosts other events on occasion.

Lostwood, North Dakota

Lostwood, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media

66 Comments on “Lostwood: Where Time Moves Slowly

  1. The church pictured is a Lutheran Church. I believe it is still used. There was also a Mennonite Church near Lostwood but further out in the country. That church was purchased by the Assembly of God Church and was moved to Stanley, ND.

    One of my uncles was raised in Lostwood in the 1920’s-1930’s. There were so many ducks that you could feed a family most of the year by shooting a couple a day in your back pond. It was an idealic life till the drought of the 1930’s wiped out many farms.

    Thanks for pictorially taking me to a place I’ve wanted to visit for many year.

    • Hello Patty Galloway! Your mother Beverly (Marsh) Jungberg was my maternal grandmother’s youngest sister. My grandmother Ethel Rose (Marsh) Miller and most of her sisters were born right there in the same Lostwood farm house. In turn, Grandma gave birth to her first four children, including my mother Geraldine Joyce, right there in that same Marsh Family farm house. If you’re still planning to visit Lostwood, I hope you have the opportunity to visit and obtain photos at the gravesite of our most distant common maternal ancestor, Elen Bergitt Larsdatter Jårstad (Elen J), who was married to Even Evenson on 23 February 1854, the same year that Elen & Even left Norway for America, recording their names in the Norwegian Emigration Records called ‘Udflyttede,’ meaning ‘Those Who Left.’ However, because Americans struggle to understand the Norwegian naming patterns, it’s most likely that her tombstone reads “Elen J Evenson” (1836-1926) after her husband’s surname – the American way.

  2. Can you tell me where the school sits in relation to the church? I’m writing a book in which I’m rebuilding Lostwood and could use any information you may have. It doesn’t have to be exact but a general idea of the town would be nice. Thank you. Lorraine

    • The school site almost straight north of the church on a small hill.

    • The church, once and perhaps even now, known as English Lutheran Church, is at the south end of the ghost town of Lostwood. All of the old buildings were to the north of it. The church is still active, in a very reduced way, as a paid-for building with considerable funds in the bank. In fact the church is very well kept up indeed, with modern facilities.

      My father was pastor there from 1952-1956, so email me if you want a couple of interesting anecdotes to put in the text of your book.

      • My father also was pastor there, I believe from 1960-1964. I remember going there as a child. It was part of a parish that included the church in Coulee, Bethlehem Lutheran Church out in the country, about 1/2 way between Lostwood and Coulee. I am happy to hear the church is still going.

      • Pastor Xavier married us at the Lostwood church, almost 61 years ago. Still doing pretty good at our age.

    • I tried emailing you directly but have gotten no response. My mother’s family was from Lostwood, and my aunt would be very happy to talk with you… But you would have to contact her via one of the old-fashioned ways, e.g. snail mail or phone. For that info, you can contact me.

  3. My father died in 1947 as the result of a drowning in Sawyer Dam…. He was young -early 20s. His name was Lawrence Haroldean Nelson- adopted Son of Mary Jackson & Nelson. Lawrence worked in the coal mines near Sawyer/lostwood and mom worked for a farm couple. He is buried in Lostwood cemetary.
    Alta Nelson Winkelman-born in Stanley ND.
    Myra Nelson Herick
    Sharon Nelson Roque, all daughters
    Wife/ mom was HelenJean Lucille Erickson Nelson ( deceased 9/1996) from Parshall ND.
    Helen was daughter of Erick Erickson and Gertrude Geise Erickson.
    I visited the cemetary in the 60s but could not find his gravesite.
    Just some interesting tidbits abt former Lostwood people.
    Alta Winkelman

    • I am a niece of your grandmother, Mary Nelson. I remember your dad, whom we called “Bud”. He is buried in the catholic side of the Lostwood cemetary next to Mary and John. I would like to hear more from you.

      • i am Sharon Nelson Roque, daughter of Bud and Helen.
        i think I remember visiting your family and remember Grandpa jackson.and
        henry and Erma. i just happened upon this site and would love to hear from you. My e-mail is Mumaleone@hvc.rr.com.

        • My grandmother was annabell Jackson sister to henry Jackson. my parents are doris meyer/Clarence ostdahl

          • My grandparents were Ole and Hazel Martinson. I remember the names of your family, Henry Jackson and Annabell being named when in their home. I myself don’t know who they were.

    • As you probably know, he was their adopted child. I have the genealogy on his biological parents.

      • Any genealogy on my cousin Bud (Lawrence) Nelson you would like to share?

      • mr. Mogren,

        i am the oldest daughter of Bud Nelson.
        i would like to have some information on his geneology.

      • John, I have a letter from Laurie. Dad’s bio half sister s daughter from .Alta Winkelman -Buds youngest daughter…..E mail altawtucson@aol.com Misplaced my copies of what you had sent me.

        Years ago……

  4. My grandparents were married in Lostwood in 1930. Her family moved from southwestern Minnesota to farm there, and he came as part of a threshing crew. They met and the rest was history!
    Her name was Aganetha S Harder and she Married Henry Milton Harder of Butterfield, MN. They moved back to Butterfield where they farmed and raised 5 children.
    I don’t know where my great-granparents farm was in Lostwood, but I would love to visit the area sometime just to see where she lived.

    • I was raised at Lostwood. My parents bought the Hepner farm before they moved back to MN. I am not sure which farm was the Harder farm but will research information to see if I can locate it.

      • Coleen,
        Thank you! My Great grandparents were Peter P Harder and his wife was Margaretha. I am not sure how many children were still home (maybe all of them) They had seven sons and one daughter. I don’t know if this will help you in your search or not.

      • Coleen, are you someone that went to school with a Linda Heppner. She went through the second grade in Lostwood, and she remember a Coleen Jackson in her grade. I am Bernice Heppner now Janzen and I was born on a farm close to Lostwood, but when I was 7 months old my family moved to eastern ND. Linda is my cousin and she doesn’t have internet, so she asked me to write. We are all from the Mennonite group that came in the 1920’s and left when the drought came. three year ago, there was a Heppner reunion in Lostwood, in that Church. there is a graveyard out in the country and our grandfather Dietrich Heppner is buried there along with two others. my e=mail address is olbjanzen@juno.com. would love to hear from anyone.

      • My parents did not buy the Heppner farm; they bought Henry Friesen’s farm. The Hardy farm was about 1/4 mile west and a mile or so south from there. My sister in ND said no one lived in the house when we were growing up in the area.

      • I just happened upon this site today. I believe the Henry Friesen that your parents purchased the farm from was my grandfather. He was married to Hattie Unger. My mother told me stories of growing up next to the Hepner farm. My mother was Agnes Josephine Friesen Leas.

  5. I was raised at Lostwood, still go to church there and now live in Minot, ND. I would like to hear from anybody who has any ties to the community or even heard of it. Wayne. 12-25-10

    • My grandmother lived in Minot North Dakota as a girl. Her father was Virgil Merchant. He was a circuit rider in that area. For a Methodist denomination, maybe. That would have been in the early 1900s. Maybe 1910 or thete about. Anyone who has information on our family can contact me at susiescatsx8@msn.com

  6. Were any of you related to any John Nelsons…See My comments.
    Alta Nelson WInkelman

    • My aunt Mary was married to a John Nelson…whom I believe was your grandfather.

      • jan steen,murhpy, peterson,jackson,charles lungren…all people mentioned in my great grandmother’s journal from 1914,her name is Anna Belle Drake and she was in Lostwood for her land claim.Anyone hear of her or these other folks. With all the oil activity there our family has been thinking about her a lot. I am JodyJ.L.Drake
        great grandaughter in Nashville.Thank you!

        • Annabelle Drake was my great great grandmother. I live in Vegas,last name Heiden

  7. My grandfather was raised in the Lostwood area. Ray Lindberg. I have been inside the school a few times. I love this area it is so peaceful, it just calls out to me. I knew from the time I was a teenager this was where I wanted as my final resting place. Strange I know…..

    • My Grandma Ruby was raised in Lostwood. Her brother was named Ray Lindberg. She married Art Christensen and moved outside the town of Kenmare. I think your grandpa Ray was my great uncle. As you say it is so peaceful up there. What you say is not strange to me at all….I love it there.

  8. Thank you all for the interesting tidbits of info about the area. I’m still working on the series and hope to see it in print someday. 🙂

  9. Three of my relatives lived in Lostwood. My uncle Arthur Afseth operated a general store, my uncle Albin Afseth farmed just north of Lostwood and my aunt Minnie Afseth Haugile, along with her children, Herbert and Jane, lived there in the 1940’s. I visited the school with my cousin Herbert in early 1940’s and have been in the church for funerals and other occasions. My parents, Maurice and Clarice (Afseth) Jensen lived in Lostwood when I was very young (about 1940) before moving west to my grandparents (Afseth) farm, then to Lunds Valley and eventually to Stanley. I have a lot of fond memories of the area. Lowell Jensen

    • Lowell…I ran across this website. I am your Mother’s sister’s (Alyce) son Roger Schaefer.

      We currently live in Broomfield Colorado….a suburb of Denver.

      Where are you and how are you doing?

      • I was surprised to find your message. I still live in Bismarck and spend winters in Arizona. If this reaches you I would love to hear from you.

  10. I am the cousin of ;
    Alta Nelson Winkelman-born in Stanley ND.
    Myra Nelson Herick – aka; Mitty
    Sharon Nelson Roque, aka; sherry- all daughters for Helen
    Their mother was Helen Jean Lucille Erickson Nelson ( deceased 9/1996) from Parshall ND.
    Helen was daughter of Erick A. Erickson and Gertrude Wilhelmina Albertina Geise Erickson.
    My mother was Doris Mae Hilma Erickson Burchard (born 12/1927 -died 11/2001 ), She married Francis Gustiv Burchard (born 9/1925 -died 2/2006) of Havre Mt. They had 8 children Sandra Mae, Micheal Francis, Patrick Allen, Jane Ann, Susan Marie, Larry James, David Jon, Lynn Mari.
    I would love to visit Lostwoods and walk in the foot steps of such dear people. My parents moved to Calf. 1965 from Glascow Mt. The Glascow air base was closing and my father was civil service.
    They transfered him to Vandenberg AFB. I still recall the trip here as my mother traveled with her 7 kids and was about 7 or 8 months pregnant with Lynn, we flew into LAX. My father drive down later.

    • Sharon Roque: I don’t think Grandma and Grandpa Erickson lived there. They lived closer to Parshall. I will look it up for you.

    • I am Dennis Hanson and grew up in Parshall. I was born to Ole and Anna (Erickson) Hanson 2/1946. My mother was a sister to your father Erick Erickson. He lived in Parshall while I was growing up. I remember meeting Doris Erickson Burchard in Parshall while she was visiting your Father. I live in Jacksonville, Fl and would very much like to communicate with anyone from Erick Erickson’s family. I am quite likely the last of my family. My brother Richard is about 95 if still living.

  11. I live on a farm three miles north of Lostwood, which my great grandfather Matt Biwer bought in the early 60’s, and drive by the old town site on a daily basis. Every time I do I am filled with a sense of nostalgia for the simple Northern European farming culture that once thrived here, before Agribusiness started driving all the family farms out.

    I am a bit of a history buff and have been trying to find some pictures of the town back when it was inhabited, but haven’t had any luck. Does anyone have any they can share?

  12. When I was a kid (born in 1954) our address was Lostwood but changed to a Stanley address later on though we kept the same mailman. My dad, grandfather and cousin played for the Lostwood baseball team. My older brother has a picture of the team.

  13. For years my great-uncle, Art Tenderholt was the sole resident of the town. He never married and was a confirmed bachelor.

  14. Actually it is not accurate that no one lives in Lostwood. Our family is 1 of at least 3 that live in Lostwood. My husbands grandparents use to run the post office here. The land has been in the family for 100 years. Recently we have started a business in Lostwood, Lostwood Media as well. It is a beautiful place to live. The cemetery is along our property.

  15. My grandparents, Hazel and Ole Martinson farmed near Lostwood and went to church at the English Lutheran Church.
    I have many fond memories of spending time in the summers with them. When reading these emails, I recognize many of the names: Nelsons, Lindbergs, Aafseth, Footh , Westby, and Mikkelson are a few. I’ve been to the church many times, but one Sunday night service stands out to me. It was a Luther League meeting and my uncle Lowell led as we sang, “I love to tell the story, the old, old story, of Jesus and His love.”

  16. As my sister mentioned above our grandparents the Martinson’s lived just 3 miles north of Lostwood. I spent the summers of the late 50 and early 60 on the farm. Lostwood had a great old depot that we used to haul the cream can’s to. Our grandfather Ole worked in the general store as a young man. Art Tenderholt was their hired hand for many years.

    • I currently live at the farm you just mentioned. My grandfather Lenard Biwer purchased it from Ole Martinson in the late 60’s.

  17. I believe that my father, Robert Monson, was born in/near Lostwood, in 1930. His father was Ole Monson. He had four sisters. At some point, they moved west into Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Does anyone remember the Monsons?

  18. The following are three cemeterys (of 61 or so in Mountrail County) that are in and around Lostwood. I added the Moslem Cemetery at Ross, ND just because I find it interesting. The German Mennonite Cemetery stands near the location of the Mennonite Church of Lostwood, ND. This church was moved to Stanley, ND. The Russian-German Mennonites of Lostwood, ND came from Mountain Lake, Delft, and Butterfield, Minnesota. They thrived for almost 20 years before the drought of the 1930 wiped them out financially. Most returned to Minnesota.

    Lostwood Cemetery, Mountrail County, North Dakota:

    German Mennonite Cemetery, Mountrail County, North Dakota:

    Lunds Valley Cemetery, Mountrail County, North Dakota:

    Moslem Cemetery, Mountrail County, North Dakota:

  19. I have two photos of the Steele Store and Post office in Lostwood. Can anyone help me with dates or any info on the Post Office. These pictures came from my grandfather’s photo album I know they are older than my dad and he was born in 1931. I don’t know how to post them or if I can. But I will sent them to anyone who would like to see them.

    • Tim, you can send them to the troy at sonictremormedia.com and we’ll take a look. Thanks!

  20. Pingback: Letters to Lostwood : GhostsofNorthDakota.com

  21. If memory serves me correct, the picture of Christ in the front of the Lutheran church was donated in memory of my Grandfather, Frank Lindberg. At one time there were many Lindbergs in the Lostwood area, my Great Grandparents, Dave and Emma, Art and Vi, Marvin and Millie, Harry and Lorraine, Darrie, Gust, Walt, Dennis and Claudia, Albert and Muggy, Clinton and Donna, my folks, Duane and Ellen until the early 60s. I apologize for any omissions or errors.
    I was baptized in the church as were many of my cousins.

    • (Milie Jorgenson)and Marvin Lindberg were my aunt and uncle. My dad was LeVern Jorgenson of Powers Lake.

    • Danny, I too was baptized in that church. I believe my sister Kasey (Age 41) is the last one on the baptismal roster at the back of the church. I know she wasn’t the last baptized there but it probably didn’t get updated. My grandparents were Margret (Muggsie) and Albert Lindberg. I remember amazing Sunday school programs in this church. I also have fond memories of bible school in the old school house.

  22. Someone mentioned the German mennonite church was moved into town in Stanley. Is that the church at Flickertail Village, or is that a different church?

    • My uncle, Terry Sheets, funeral was at that church and I believe
      he was buried in the cemetery. He was part of the music dept at the church before he passed. He was much loved… at the funeral, the church was full, the basement was full and we had speakers for the people outside… He was married to Leona Lindberg and had 2 boys, Scott and Jeff.

  23. The Mennonite Church became the Assembly of God Church in Stanley

  24. My uncle Mickarl Mickelsen farmed north of Lostwood for recent death. My cousins Ruth and Elaine were married in the Lostwood church in 1959 and I have fond memories of that occasion. I was twelve at the time. My father told me a story of attending a dance in Lostwood in the 1930’s (perhaps at the school?) He walked back to his brother Mickarl’s and almost froze his toes because the temp had dropped and snow had fallen during the dance.

  25. I am planning to visit Lostwood this year. My mother, Beverly Jungberg was born there in 1930- to Clarence and Alice Jungberg. Does anyone have any geneology to share on this family?

  26. Hello Patty Galloway! Your mother Beverly (Marsh) Jungberg was my maternal grandmother’s youngest sister. My grandmother Ethel Rose (Marsh) Miller and most of her sisters were born right there in the same Lostwood farm house. In turn, Grandma gave birth to her first four children, including my mother Geraldine Joyce, right there in that same Marsh Family farm house. If you’re still planning to visit Lostwood, I hope you have the opportunity to visit and obtain photos at the gravesite of our most distant common maternal ancestor, Elen Bergitt Larsdatter Jårstad (Elen J), who was married to Even Evenson on 23 February 1854, the same year that Elen & Even left Norway for America, recording their names in the Norwegian Emigration Records called ‘Udflyttede,’ meaning ‘Those Who Left.’ However, because Americans struggle to understand the Norwegian naming patterns, it’s most likely that her tombstone reads “Elen J Evenson” (1836-1926) after her husband’s surname – the American way.

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