Souris, ND

Thank you to Miranda Schuler of Upload Photography for contributing these photos of Souris. Miranda’s comments:

Souris didn’t have as much to offer as I was hoping for. I remember as a chld going to the school auction when they closed it down, and there were few people in the town. However, with the increased oil activity, it’s actually a got very few abandoned buildings. I took some pics of the bank and the old school though. My folks have a farm in the Souris area and told me that the whole town and area around has leased out the mineral rights, so that may be breathing some new life into the whole area.


Editor’s note: the owner of the school contacted us to demand that we remove these photos from our website. Since these photos were taken from public property, we declined. However, we agreed to mention that the school is private property and visitors are not welcome.


Photos by Miranda Schuler, copyright Upload Photography.

61 Comments on “Souris, ND

  1. I taught at the school the year it closed. I have wonderful memories of my time there..thank you for posting this!

  2. I grew up in Souris. Our farm was 1/4 mile south of town. I have often wondering what happened to all the buildings along main street. I believe Hilmen’s Hardware burned but I know nothing about the other buildings.

  3. I went to school in Souris for my elementary years. Lots of great memories there of teachers/staff and classmates alike! It closed the doors about two years after I was out. 🙁

    Thank you for including “my” town and the ones nearby (Roth, Landa)!

    (Should have pictures of the Swedish church north of Souris in this grouping!)


      • Rick-

        Billy is my father’s cousin! Gene is my father. 🙂 Glad you had a great time with Billy and have the same fond memories of the area that I do.


        • Gene was one of my best friends in high school. Bev and Howard were in my grade, and Gene a year younger. I still occasionally have dreams about the halls of Souris Public School.

  4. My father graduated from Souris High School in 1950. My dad is Gene Billehus and lived on a farm 1 mile east of Lesje Church. His father was Arthur Billehus. My family is related to the Tonnyson’s and Lindstrom. I remember stopping in Souris in the early ’70s. My father was a great basketball player. The BB team practiced outside until the gymnasium was built in 1948.

    • I played basketball with your dad. I graduated in 1950 and was captain of the team in that year. It was a small school but we had some fun times. I remember the first game played in the gymnasium – in fact I played in that first game.

    • Just wondering if you would have known George A. Page he had a homestead about 6 miles from town I believe. He is my grandfather would like more information if you happened to know the family Thanks

      Marti Page

    • I remember Gene Billehus. Great basketball player. Redhead? He had 2 sisters who were older. I graduated in 1955. No, they did practice in a building on Main St. I think.
      Bueatiful sisters. Lots of pictures at Bottineau museum of graduates.

  5. I taught school in Souris for a few years and also have fond memories of the town — or what little there was of it at the time. I remember Bert Garwood, the Siercks kids, etc. I was there the day of the auction and bought a set of three history books from the school library — that I had tried to buy before I left town. I have fond memories of “my” gang of boys and returned for Sherman Tolstad’s funeral after the MS finally took him from us. Does anyone remember that two automobiles were built in Souis back in 1908? August Frykman built the two Frykman Friction Drive Autos there. The Frykman’s were later Ford dealers in nearby Bottineau.

    • Now that is interesting re: the Frykmans. They operated a light plant in Souris between 1925 and 1928.

      • I’m curious, what was a light plant? I remember Frykman Motors in Bottineau kitty corner from Trutna’s store.I think my parents bought a car or two from them.

        • Deb: Before the power companies built lines from town to town in the 1920s, almost every town had their own (usually DC) power plant. These were often very small with only enough capacity to run a few lights on each customer’s premises for a few hours in the evening and a couple mornings a week for laundry.

    • Benji, my brother Sherman talked highly about you every time I went home to see him. What was the name of that play they were in, Sherman and Guy we’re 2 of the crazy ones in it. I wish I could have been able to speak with you after the funeral. Ty for the memories. Laurie Tolstad

  6. Jim B. ,is this the Jim that I know from the car club VALLEY CRUISERS…If so,I learn something new about you every time I turn around..

    • Is Jim Benjaminson the one & only Mr. Benjaminson our very kind, patient teacher? Where RU now? My husband, from Baltimore said, Souris is the only place he ever saw student parking for the elementary kids! We were all driving at 6, weren’t we? It was normal for there.

      • Jim lives in Walhalla ,N.D.
        I think I saw him him in Lake Havasu City az. tonight on main,not sure.

        • Yes, Clif, you did see me in Lake Havasu tonight. Thought you might come back around the block. Do I have your phone number? Still on Ranchero? I’m at 1298 Park Terrace Lane (just off Palos Verde North). email is benji at

  7. My grandpa, Genhard Holen, helped lead the Souris Blue Jays to the State Class C Title game in 1959! But his doctor said he couldn’t play in the championship game against Plaza because he had a heart murmur. If he would have played, no doubt Souris would have killed Plaza!

    • I remember my grandpa telling me about this. My uncle, Dwight Ballantyne, was also on the team.

    • Your Grandpa and I have talked many many times about that tournament as I was there and watched it. I was a 8th grader at the time.

  8. My grandparents, Lyle and Esther Ballantyne, lived south of Souris near Verdeen and Gladys Skarphol until 1959, when they moved just west of Souris. They drove kids to school in their station wagon back before there were school buses. They chaperoned many kids as they went on Senior Trips and to basketball tournaments. In their later years, they were janitors at the school up until it closed. My grandpa took such great pride in making sure that everything was “just right” in the school. They absolutely loved being around the kids every day. Through the years, grandma worked at Monkman’s Café, Charnholm’s, Fafnis’ Grocery, and Nicholsen’s Hardware. She also sold Mary Kay and Avon. Sadly, since my grandparents passed away, I don’t get up in that area much. I have many fun memories of Souris, playing steal sticks and kick the can in the park and roller skating on the sidewalk in front of the church. Back then, there were so many kids in town! Almost all of the older townspeople are gone: Buddy Foss, Dorothy Counts, Vivian Patterson, Axel Erickson, Marian Olson. It’s sad. The end of an era. It was a great town back in the day.

    • Lyle was my bus driver in my first few grades. He and Esther were wonderful people, and Ester was close friends with my sister, Kay Thorsgaard. (There was some family connection with Kay’s husband. Harvey). Me niece, Joni, now lives in their big house at Souris.

  9. I grew up on a farm northwest of Roth which is west of Souris. Went to School in Roth until 6th grade and then we went to Souris. Graduated in 1963. There were 25 in that class, if I remember correctly it was one of or maybe the largest class to graduate from Souris. Lot of memories growing up in the Souris area. At one time there was Elevator, 3 Implement dealers, The Bar, Hardware Store, Grocery Store, Post Office, Bank, Cafe, Farmers Union, 2 churches and the school. I am sure there were more that I forgot. Now there is The Bottineau Farmers Elevator/Souris Branch, The Smokin Gun, Cenex, and The Post Office still in operation. Lot of good Memories!

    • I believe my maternal grandparents, Mathias and Marit Lotten homesteaded near the Gravseths. If you are old enoigh you may remember my uncles Marvin and Emil Lotten. There were also the Klokstads and many others i cant recall. My father’s cousin was Olav Stavheim, whose children were Renee and Kenneth. One of my first cousins is Linda Nordmark, from Roth. Most of the Souris Olsons are/were my uncles, aunts, and cousins. It is good to connect with people on this site.

  10. A light plant was the local generating station that provided electric power to a community. In the earliest days, it was usually a local enterprise. Over the years these “light plants” were sold out to the big power companies. Farmers could also buy their own generating units for the farm – most popular was the 32-volt Delco light plant. The system would generate electricity and store it in huge glass enclosed batteries. The city operated plants usually turned on as it grew dark but you went without electricity during daylight hours. In my hometown, the plant also ran during daylight hours on Monday so the women could do the clothes washing……..the good old days.

    • Oh Mr. Benjaminson always the consummate teacher! THANK YOU:) Dr. Utgaard, the great band & choir concerts. When I brought my Baltimore raised hubby home, we ran out of gas a mile outside of Souris. I wasn’t worried as we were within walking distance of gas & pavement too. Of course the first vehicle that came by stopped & asked if we needed a ride. I said, Great! As we were crawling into the minivan, my husband was freaking out a bit that we were climbing into someone’s vehicle we didn’t know. Of course we all knew the family names mine being Klokstad & the kind people picking us up in the van were Larry Brandvold’s wife & some children. As we began to connect the dots, my husband was like, “I thought you said you didn’t know these people?” I said I don’t but the family names are generational & that is just how it is everyone knows someone who knows someone which gives you the everyone knows everyone feel. When we got to the Farmers Union, Buddy told us where the gas can was & the keys to the service truck. As I started the Farmers Union truck, my husband was having a fit because he thought Buddy would be upset that we would be just taking the truck and leaving him. I said, “Well Buddy can’t come with us he has to man the station!” It was all an incredible experience which my big city husband still tells his friends about. Every little thing was so different. Like when we got home and my Mr. pulled the keys from the vehicle we were driving, put them on the kitchen table & my Dad had a fit! NEVER take the keys out of a vehicle. My Mr. was like, WHAT???? Dad said, “Vell if you pull the keys out of a vehicle how will you know where they are when you need them? And they will get all mixed up and where you need them is ALWAYS in the vehicle ignition so why would you pull them out EVER!” We only visited the farm for 1 week but every day had some incident like the above that sent my husbands head spinning. IT WAS GREAT!! Thank you SOURIS for the best time ever!

      • Hi Jean – So you are a big city girl from Baltimore now? Some difference from Souris! I was in Baltimore this past June – first time there. I was very surprised at how green everything was and the amount of trees – I expected nothing but “big city”. We flew out to attend an auction where we purchased a 1925 Case automobile that has historical significance to my hometown of Cavalier. It was an enjoyable trip but we didn’t leave the keys in the car! Somehow you running out of gas just doesn’t surprise me at all! Its good to hear from you. I am retired and still live in northeastern North Dakota. Don’t get back to Souris very often anymore – not much left of it.

        • I live in Racine, WI. Home of JI Case. Lots of interest in his tractors, cars and race horse JI Case. Google all. Sheila class of 1955.

      • My mom is Lois (Condit) Noraker-Johnson, daughter of Marion and Hilda (Brandvold) Condit, so Larry is a cousin of some sort. This story doesn’t surprise me at all, knowing the quality of people in the area. My grandparents from both sides retired to Bottineau, and we would visit Souris many of the times when we were up for a visit from MN. I live in a suburb of Minneapolis, and wish we could trust people like they do in that area of ND.

  11. My grandparents had a farm a few miles outside of Souris. My mother went to school there and I still go visit my relative Lance out at the old Kjelshus farm when I’m in Bottineau. My mom (Maureen Kjelshus), met my father Dan Vandal in Bottineau and my father’s parents still live there. Sad to say, my granny Shannon Kjelshus passed away a few years ago but my grandad John Kjelshus is still kicking like an old mule. I have great memories of Souris to this day, even though I was very young, and I’m glad the town might still have some life.

    • Did you have family out by St. John? I have come across mention of a Sergius Vandal who operated a garage there in the 1920s, and I’m looking for more information on that garage as it also had the light plant for St. John in it.

  12. My dad was the Superintendent there for a few years and my mom taught upper elementary their. That used to be a nice school, can’t remember the names of the husband/wife who were the janitors but I remember my folks always commenting that they were the best they had ever worked with, school was always nice and clean when I was in it. Sad to see it looking the way it does now.

    • Don Paulsrud. I remember your dad well. I was in high school when he was there. I wanted to participate in the school play. I lived out of town and didn’t have a ride home. He told me if I would like to be in the play he would give me a ride home as our farm was on his way home. I don’t know if he really needed to stay late to work but he waited until play practice was out every day and gave me a ride home. I will never forget his kindness. It was 30 years ago.

      • Thanks for the kind words about my Dad Laurie. He and my mom had some great memories from their time at Souris Public School.

        • Your so welcome. He was a nice man. I wonder if the janitors you are speaking of would be Arlan and Tessie Nelson. They did a great job. The school sure does look a mess now.

          • my name is Marti (Martha) Page my grandfather homestead just outside of souris, and my father and his siblings were born and raised there was wondering if anyone knows of the George A. Page (my grandfather) or Clinton A. Page he is my father I believe he graduated from H.S. either 36 or 37. would like to talk to someone from Souris if they knew of the Page family. Thanks

            Marti Paige.

  13. My mom, Lois (Condit) Noraker-Johnson grew up there. Her parents were Marion and Hilda (Brandvold) Condit, and their farm was just south of town on one of the first roads west of town. My cousin’s (Mike Condit) son, James, bought the house and is fixing it up.

    Mom has a few old pictures of Souris that her mom had kept. Shoot me an email and I can hook you up with her. I did take a picture of a couple of the pictures last time I looked at the album, including one of a main street in town, as well as the train depot.

  14. Good memories from Souris High, (1965 – 1974) I remember my bus driver Rudy and the janitor was Jerry Rice – he waited many nights for my rude to pick us up after practice. . Still live in the area – Lake Metigoshe.

    • Yes Prudy. I remember Jerry Rice. Was such a fun janitor. He would always sneak cigarettes ( they were those long skinny ones) to a few of us. 1964-1975. Many fun times at Souris school. We lived in town across from the church, where my dad still lives.

  15. Hei.
    i live in Norway – but many of my family did live in Souris. Does anybody know of someone whit the name Kjelshus?

    • Yes, there were several Kjelshus families in Souris. I had two different Kjelshus boys in class – Lynn and Lance – from different families. I believe Lance lives in Bottineau and Lynn is in Fargo. If you want to email me (benji at I will give you Lynn’s address which I hope is still correct – I haven’t heard from him in awhile.

      • I also have contact info for Lynn and his children, as I am in Fargo as well, and grew up only a few miles away from their farm in Souris. 🙂 siercks at

  16. I just saw Mark Kjelshus when I went home for Christmas Mark still has a place outside of Souris and his brother Lance lives at the farm they both grew up at. Mark was one of my best friends growing up. We always seemed to have lots of fun. My Dad (Bob Patterson) still lives directly south of Souris. 1/8 of a mile

  17. My dad was born there March 10, 1919. They lived @ phone company/home where he was born.
    I had a great uncle that lived there Ned Thomas.

  18. I used to rent a home just south west of town from Rueben and Martha Gravseth in 1995. They were AMAZING people. Such a sweet and loving couple.
    I didn’t appreciate North Dakota for the quietness and simplicity it offered back then. I certainly would welcome some of that again now… but ND has changed so much in the last 20 years… I suppose it’ll ever return to anything close to the same as it was when I left.
    Oh nostalgia, how cruel you are!

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