Heaton – Six Years Later

We returned to Heaton, in Wells County, nearly six years after our first trip in 2004, to find things had changed noticeably.

This is an animation showing the former Heaton Bank and the Hawks of Heaton Gift Shop (which we believe may have been the Post Office at one time as well).  As you can see, sometime between 2004 and 2010, the structures disappeared.  We don’t know what happened to them.  Several homes which used to stand in Heaton are gone now as well.

56 Comments on “Heaton – Six Years Later

  1. It seems like the new thing with ghosttowning is to make visits several years later to chronicle the changes that have taken place. Even I can pick out differences in photos I’ve taken in visits to towns already visited by the GND people.

    • I lived in Heaton in 1942-45/46; then Fessenden until1949. My mother and I lived with my grandparents, Ike and Dodie Loeppke. Ike and half-brother Sam owned the hardware store, lumber yard, gas pump and glaziers. The post office was tucked between the hardware store and auto shop. Great place for kid to explore.

      Dad decided to accept the Army’s offer of a Reserve commission and we packed up and went to post-war Japan for three years. I was a roadshow after that. I went Air Force and continued the roadshow.

      Ike built a new house across from the hardware store while I was there. He and Dodie eventually moved the house to Carrington. I think the last time I was in Heaton was about 1976/77.

      Anyone have a picture of hardware store?

  2. Some of these towns were centers of commerce at one time. Heaton, Sykeston, Woodworth, Edmonds, now ghost towns. But, how I remember Saturday nights when all the farmers came to town to sell their cream, buy a few groceries, and visit on Main Street. All over now. The Ford 350s and SUVs just fly by on the highway to Wal Mart in Jamestown, to the shopping center in Fargo and even to Minneapolis. But, there was a day these were wonderful little towns. I no longer live in North Dakota, but I still miss the state.

  3. I visited Heaton with a friend of mine August 2008 to take pictures, and those buildings were all still there then! I cannot believe they are just gone, with basically nothing left behind! How unfortunate. That was an interesting little town.

    • Heaton no longer has water hooked up to it and that happened a few years ago. So the one family that lives there has a cistirn. The buildings were torn down in 2009 by the rural residents of the township that surrounds it. Once the buildings become county property to no one paying on the taxes the rural township made a vote and decided to tear them all down. They have had a real problem with scavengers going into the remaining homes and taking items out of them. Some of the oldtimers saw these buildings as an eyesore vs. a ghost town or something to preserve. Very sad really.

      • The items they did take out of them probably weren’t much of value anyway. Some bad decisions people make.

      • Heaton has had rural water since 1987. I was a senior in high school when it came thru and we retired our water trailer.

    • One of the Gordon’s accomplices in the murder was well known to my family who lived in Harvey at the time. There are still people in Harvey that mention him or the case from time to time. Definitely one of Dakota’s biggest crimes.

      • Defending one’s self when being fired upon is not a crime. Gordon Kahl did not have “accomplices” nor was he a murderer. He was singled out by a heavy handed government. Kahl was himself murdered in Arkansas — see Death And Taxes documentary.

        Apologies to the website managers. Didn’t mean to hijack this interesting thread. Just could not let a good man’s name be further besmirched.

        • Even Hitler had his admirers!

          I am also apologetic about hacking the thread, but felt it necessary to comment.

          And LOVE this website! I haven’t heard of most of these small towns and it’s great to see the rich history they have!

        • I despise big government, and I despise the intrusions to which Americans and North Dakotans are subjected every day. But Gordon Kahl was NOT a good man. A good man does not shoot a wounded human being in the head as he lays helpless on the ground. Gordon Kahl is the most despicable man to ever soil the good name of North Dakota. Every year beyond 1983 is another year to forget this murderer’s name. And that’s a good thing.

          • Ted wrote: “Gordon Kahl was NOT a good man. A good man does not shoot a wounded human being in the head as he lays helpless on the ground…”

            Perhaps you would shoot a man, Ted, if while you were shouting “everyone calm down, let’s talk this out,” one of the men shot your son.

            After his son was shot down, Gordon did have a firefight with 3 men (who were the aggressors). Makes no sense to hate him because he survived that fight. When he was sure those men were no longer a threat to himself, his wounded son, or his poor wife who lay crying on the floorboard of his car, Gordon walked over to deputy Steve Schnabel (who was not wounded), took Schnabel’s gun from him, and walked away. Schnabel himself remarked “I guess he didn’t shoot me because he didn’t have to.” Same for deputy Kapp, whom Gordon encountered again at the town clinic where he rushed his gut-shot son. He didn’t shoot Kapp because Kapp was not an immediate threat to his or his loved ones.

            I have no sympathy for wacky religious cults; but what the ATF did to the Branch Davidians was terribly wrong. I have no sympathy for skinheads; but what the FBI and ATF did to the Weaver family at Ruby Ridge was a terrible atrocity. What they attempted to do to Heaton farmer Gordon Kahl and his family was just as wrong. Like Mr Kahl, the Davidians shot back at the invading ATF goons. 14 year old Sammy Weaver shot the masked trespasser whom he saw shoot his dog (before they cut little Sammy down without automatic gunfire). Makes no sense to hate Sammy, or Gordon, or the Davidians just because they took down a few of their attackers before being overwhelmed.

    • Gordon Kahl is one of my ancestors. The family tell an almost identical story, except that his son was not armed and he is in prison after being falsely accused. Gordon was very verbal and had too much attention brought to himself. AND, believe it or not, before Gordon passed away, my father, brother and other members of my family with the last name of Kahl, had unwanted visitors in their homes when they were not home. Some of the visitors were so stupid, they walked in mud and left tracks through my dad’s home. My dad was a state policeman. He met the man who had been in our home and confronted him. Sometimes he would receive telephone calls with people asking for Gordon Kahl. Gordon never made it to where we lived. Dad never met him. But, the IRS always assumes they are correct.

  4. Pingback: Heaton, ND « GhostsofNorthDakota.com

  5. The last photo and photo-6,7,8 are the pictures of Heaton Lutheran Church. Tiny little chuch on main street. I was baptized in that church. Most every other building I can name and tell you whol live there in the 60’s and 70’s. I grew up on a farm south of Heaton and my grandmother and aunt & uncled lived there, so spent much time there. Was a wonderful small town–with great people–some real characters too–as all small towns have. I often now miss the simplicity of that time.

    • Interesting!! I also went to church in that little Lutheran church…..and was confirmed there in the fifties….lots of good memories growing up as a lad in this small prairie town…..

      • Another Heatonite…great! It is always interesting when people share some of the same memories….I was 6 when the church closed in 1966 and most of the congregation transferred their membership to Bowdon Lutheran. But have vivid memories of the town all through my teen years and up until the last of my relatives left or passed away. Often drive through town on Memorial day weekend after visiting Heaton cemetery where my parent are both buried.

    • Good to read remarks of Heaton memories…brings back a lot more. I grew up SW of town on a farm; beautiful school building; grandparents, uncles & aunts lived there; carried a lot of water from the old town pump to Grandma’s house; hauled a lot of grain to those elevators, attended the Congregational Church..
      Would love to be in touch with former residents.
      Also would like to find the name of the ‘town’ before it was incorporated as Heaton. Have an old picture which may be “heaton” -would like to identify.

        • Larry, you may remember Lois & Margy (who finished school in Bowdon).
          I was there 1938-1946. Lois is gone, but I’ll relay to Marge of our
          communicating. Your name is familiar and i’m sure she’ll remember.
          Sorry, I’ve been away from this spot for a while; will try to get back again soon.

  6. I have been to Headon with my family before. We were just wanted to drive through it and check it out becuase we had heard of ghost stories and that made my parents want to check it out. Well driving through we saw lots of abandoned houses. But one house had a new screen door!!! We thought was weird. So as we continued driving through the place we were driving past i believe onebof the last houses, and there was obviosly nobody living there, and as we were passing it, there was a swingset with an older man with long, gray, kind of messy hair was sitting on a swing, and there were at least 5 or 6 children around the swingset… I remember driving a little bit qiucker as we saw them, and as we were, the man eyeballed me through the window as far as i could see. this was i believe in the summer of 2007. But now talking to my parents about it, they saw somehing differnt than me. They remember seeing a few older guys, and one guy leaning on an older car smiling at them a s we drove away. But all of us are sure we saw somthing, and we are for sure those men and children were spirits..

  7. Iam sittin in the tractor today and was readin about heaton and thought I would post an update of the towns status since iam the only living resident right now(there’s plenty of nonliving ones there to). I grew up on our family farm just north of heaton and moved a house into heaton fall of 2009 where I currently live with my dog and chickens in the back yard. I have rural water right to house (which I read in earlier post there was none), I can walk 2 blocks to our local butcher shop which my parents own and is the only business left in town, it is the former gas station building on corner of town, they also have a house there which we rent out to hunters during hunting season. There is an elderly couple that live just west of town, they are my closest neighbors. The township is taking over more lots and will continual cleaning up. I love living in heaton cause of the freedom and I can walk right out my back door and go hunting. Don’t be afraid to stop and talk if you drive thru town, iam not a ghost walking around.

    • I am going to be in the area in a couple of weeks, are there still any buildings left to take pictures of besides your house? I plan on making it up there on April 13th or 14th, I will stop an say Hi if I make it.


  8. I was a car collector for years and was always driving into small towns off the highway looking for treasures….About 1996 or so I drove thru all the lil’ towns along Hwy 200 from Carrington to Hurdsfield checking out the old car situation on my way to Bismarck by myself to visit my sister….She had to work til 5 P.M. so I started out early and checked a bunch of these towns including Heaton…there was a lot more to it then,maybe some ol’ cars too,but not what I was looking for,mainly muscle Mopars like Cuda’s,Challengers and Road Runners…..No such luck in Heaton,Gordon drove them to Arkansas for getaway cars…Fast you know,lol.lol

  9. Went to first grade in Heaton and then we moved to Iowa but were up there a lot when I was a kid. I always thought the church south of school was Congregational but 1947 was a long long time ago. Remember a lot of people from there and we visited several years ago. Weren’t that many names in the cemetary south of town I didn’t know or had heard of from my parents. Still have relatives in the area but have pretty much lost contact over the years. They’re all considerably younger than I. I remember one house that I thought was so big as a child and think the girls name was Barbara Lepke but don’t know if that is the correct spelling. Wasn’t as large as I remembered it.

    • Hi, Mike. Glad to see you had posted. My sis & I drove thru Heaton about a month ago. Who would have thought our/my home town would someday look like this. But then I’m not younger either. Didn’t get up to decorate my parents’ and our grandparents graves this year.
      Let’s get in touch soon, OK? Hi to your bro & sis.
      Arlene James Franchuk

      • Will have to give you a call one of these days. Seems like Dad told me that Uncle Bob and himself hand dug that well downtown by hand. Pretty sure he said it was 36′ deep! I kind of lost track just who lived where there anymore but remember a lot of names including a number of which I wouldn’t have a clue how to spell. Many fond memories of Heaton and it was saddening to see it even though I knew it was a ghost town basically before we were there that time.

  10. Heaton was a home away from home for me we lived there 2 years then moved

  11. I went to summer vacation bible school in Heaton and my mother’s family was raised there… The Swart’s….

    I remember My grandma and grampa Mary and Lester both long time residents and every building in that town… I will have to run through there this summer and just remember all the good times…

    I sent several dimes at Lyle’s… knocking at his door to open the little gas station and “candy store” for me…

    too many memories!

  12. Interesting comments here…….I went to school in Heaton from the 5th grade through High School…graduated in1957….lots of happy memories! Left the spring of 1960…..anyone that remembers me, feel free to send a email….Larry, sdtumbleweed1@yahoo.com

    • I have an old picture I’d like to be able to identify; possibly Heaton before the town was
      “organized.” Can’t make out the name, but is definitely not ‘Heaton.’ Anone know what it
      was called before “Heaton”?

      • As far as we know, it was always called Heaton. According to North Dakota Place Names by Douglas A. Wick, Heaton was founded as Heaton in 1899 and named for George Heaton, a land sales manager for the railroad.

  13. I remember visiting the Miller’s with my parents as they had been friends of my grandparents in Russia. I remember Kathryn the banker – the little store and a town with nice lawns. I once had a patient whose parents had owned the grocery store. They saw my name and asked who my Dad was – I told the lady and he had sat behind her in grade school and interpreted for him from English to German since she knew Yiddish and some German.

  14. I have kin that was on the force in Heaton he still talks about the murder.

  15. good man? His views on taxes may have been right but his views on race and religion made him out to be a nutjob.

    • Yes, Irv. A good man. A better man than most. Or maybe you knew him, and he wronged you in some way.

      Some of his children and grandchildren still live in the area, as does his widow. I have never heard ONE person who knew Mr Kahl say a negative word about him. Quite the opposite, in fact. Now, they will tell you that he could be rigid if you were in a discussion of religion with him, but he never held a grudge if you disagreed. (Personally, as a non-believer in the supernatural, I think all religious people are missing something…)

      As for his views on race, they were probably more correct than your views on race. He probably knew alot more on the subject than you do, Irv. Doesn’t make you a ‘nutjob,’ just another underinformed/misinformed victim of the liberal media.

      • I agree grm – I met Gordon and his wife just a few months before this happened. Gordon was a very kind person – he was very anti-tax, anti big government – but on that day from the stories told by many who were suppressed – Gordon had been in the barber shop getting a haircut prior to the meeting in Medina. The local law enforcement had the chance to arrest if desired at that time since he was also there. The story goes that the two (Gordon and local law – had not been friends even in younger years. The trap that was set for him was an ambush – I agree he should not have had weapons as I understand that was part of a prior agreement from prior tax case. Gordon, his son and the other kid were left in a no win, no retreat situation. All reports say the local law or Feds shot first. The “law” then ravaged the house destroying walls, furniture and more in a “search” of the house. This is as described by Gordon’s wife and a couple others who were there.

    • Gordon was my Uncle by marriage. I doubt that you knew the man, sounds like you got your info out of the papers or that idiotic movie that was made about him. When he was in prison he told me he regularly talked to the black inmates about religious things. Obviously living 600 miles apart I didn’t know everything about him either but I did have numerous hours of talks with him at his home and my folks place. Never heard him say anything racist or knock anyone’s religion. He would tell you what he knew if asked but he did not shove it in your face. Don’t know what your particular religion is but I’m betting he knew as much and probably more about it than you do. I was raised Catholic and he knew more about it than I ever have and he never knocked it that I heard.
      The whole thing was an avoidable tragedy in my view and I doubt the real truth of it will ever come out.

      • The photo of Gordon Kahl’s marker doesn’t show everything. There is also a plaque saying “he loved his country”. He was a good man.

  16. Pingback: Ten More Lost North Dakota Places : GhostsofNorthDakota.com

  17. My childhood best friend that was her grandpa, it’s been a long time since I thought about that story either. Crazy thing that took place so many years ago.

  18. Pingback: Watch Verendrye Age Forty Years : GhostsofNorthDakota.com

  19. Mike – that house was my Grandfather’s place. Aunt Barb is still in ND as is her surviving brother. The other two sisters live just over the state line in Minnesota. Unfortunately one of the brothers (the eldest child) passed away a number of years ago. You did pretty well with the spelling – should be Loeppke

    • Hadn’t looked at this site in quite some time. I think Barbara was just a little older than I (now 71) and I’m thinking she had real dark hair. Danny Mack, Duane Heinetz were both in my little class and a guy named Calvin Shimmelfineg who I remember visiting in Wisconsin. Might have been a Barbara or maybe Bobbie Lausch also. Those spellings are REALLY a big guess at this point in life. I can remember my Grandfathers funeral in ’57 when I suppose I’d have been about 15 and instantly being in “love” with a sister of Duane H’s named Cloy I think. Course I was too backward to do anything but stare at her if she wasn’t looking!

      I think Iowa is a great place to live but I’ve often thought North Dakota might be just fine except for those winters! Ours can be bad enough and the south part of the country holds no interest for me.

      Got to remember to check in here a little oftener, it’s an interesting site.

  20. The description to the picture has a few misidentifications in it….The Picture, if you could go back and get one from the 1950’s or so – may have to check my parents photos – The photo would contain Jap’s General store (gone), the Heaton Bank and if I remember right a meat locker that had closed long ago.

    Across the street from these building (to the left of the photographer) would have been the location of the Train Elevator.

    To the right, and slightly behind where the photographer is located would have been the town hall with its gym court, stage and grounds (used to be fun seeing family (family reunions) there and playing in this stuff). Beside the Town Hall on the street you had the Post Office (Grandmother ran the post office for many years in the 1950’s to 1970 time frame). Beside that was The Lumber Yard/General Hardware store including the Garage (auto repair) owned and run by my Great uncle and worked at by his brother – my Grandfather. Facing the Lumber Yard across the street was my Great Uncles home. 90 degree turn at the intersection was my grandparents house (the “big one Mike speaks of in his comment). Across the road from my grandparents lived the Swartz family – I think some still live there. Behind them was the old school – and the wonderful swing sets (a regular swing set and one that had hand holds where you would run and then pick your feet up and swing around the pole….) and slide.

    Back toward Main Street on the other end of town from the picture above was the gas station run by the Anderson brothers. Between the gas station and my grandparents there were small water ponds (when water was present) that was a great place to collect Cattails and frogs.

    Will be there again this July to see the old place; my mother’s parents land out of town and the family burial plots. First time back there since Heaton had their last All School reunion back in the 1980’s??

  21. my husband and i moved out of heaton left behind in-laws , a rotten place to live way to close to family , and the area is full of thieves including family. we stored 2 plus houses of things in 2 houses and 3 other buildings.most we not only owned but are pictured here the house with the door ply wooded i put that plywood up to try to prevent break ins did no good. we went up to get our stuff and only had 2 boxes left.they even took my brother who died 30+ yrs. GO BUT mY Husbands, army and navy uniforms and our marriage license.as to what happened to the buildings like the street lights after we moved the town- ship board and county came in and either tore them down or burned them.
    as to the how well after we paid taxes and mowed and got stolen from enough we gave all of our property back to the county the taxes kept going up. the house and buildings with ply wood over doors etc. that was arthur johnsons house when we moved in he died years later and left everything to us as we took care of him oh and the building in the pic. with water in ditch it was the original church in heaton . pretty much all of these pics. belonged to the hawks family. oh when we moved there the area residents called us a cult . we all laughed over that.

  22. her, Alice Louise Corey Paine was born and spent her early years in Heaton, she was born in 1915. I am currently copying her handwritten memoir and am right now in the Heaton, Jamestown, Lake Williamson years. She wrote everything from beginning of the Lutheran Church there, the Congregational Church, the doctors and delivering babies, the post office, the trains, etc. Her family later moved to Montana then Washington. She ended up in Illinois after WW2. Her mother immigrated from Russia, Mary Hoffman, her father was James Corey. She talked about her life there so much I felt I’d lived there myself!
    Barb Smith

  23. My aunt & uncle Helen &
    Jake Stubert raised 3 children in Heaton. Wilbert, Edna, & Marlys. Does anyone remember them? Uncle Jake worked for the railroad. Wilbert was killed in a car accident about 1951/I952. Uncle Jale died in 1960. Aunt Helen moved to the west coast in the mid-1980’s and died in 1995. Edna & Marlys have since passed away too.

    I spent many
    days at their house next to the Anderson brothers. Loved that house & yard & pretty fence.

    Is there anything left of the town?

    • I remember the Stubert family very well. Jake worked for my father, Lawrence Munson,on the railroad. Marlys was a good friend. I remember the sad day when her brother Wilbert died.

  24. I attended heaton school my first four years. Marlys Stubert was one of my friends. I visited there even after we moved away as my grandparents lived there. This site is so interesting!!
    Margie James Paulson

  25. this site is displaying differently on my phone and laptop. I posted more heaton memories on my laptop

Leave a Reply