They Left the Desks in the Old Niobe Schoolhouse

Niobe, North Dakota

Contributor Tom Pence sent these photos of Niobe, North Dakota, in Ward County, just a few minutes west of Kenmare. Niobe was founded in 1907, and the Post Office was built in 1908. The all-time peak population was reported as 250 in 1920, and there are still residents in Niobe today. Tom’s comments on Niobe:

Really, only one good “ghost” of a building in Niobe. The rest are either in relatively good shape and lived in, or else in shambles falling into the basement. This was a school building. It was fun stomping around the old territory once again.

Niobe, North Dakota

Niobe, North Dakota

Such a charming little schoolhouse.

Niobe, North Dakota

Niobe, North Dakota

Niobe, North Dakota

The last generation of students left this place–graduated to the school of life–but the desks remained behind.

Niobe, North Dakota

Photos by Tom Pence. Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media

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23 Comments on “They Left the Desks in the Old Niobe Schoolhouse

  1. When Niobe was a new town… the children attended school in the Tall & Johnson General Store on Main Street. The first school house was erected in August of 1908. But they soon discovered it was too small for all the children so they had the first four grades use other buildings in Niobe for classrooms. Then the Jessen School house was moved off that location and brought into Niobe and added as an addition. The Niobe school even had high school a couple years. In the 1950’s it closed and the children rode the bus to Kenmare for school. In the 1960’s the Jessen addition to the school house was removed and relocated to main street in Niobe where it was made into a garage. The pictures you have are of is the original (1908) school.

    • I am interested in whatever you can share about the “Tall and Johnson General Store” mentioned above. In tracing my ancestry, I’ve seen old property ownership maps of the Niobe area that show a P.E. Tall as owner of what appears to be 160 acres near Niobe. I’d appreciate whatever help you can give.

  2. We lived in Niobe in the 50s and 60s I rode the bus to Kenmare back in the day. It made for a long day..I rember the

  3. My father was born in Niobe in 1923. His father worked in the iron mines, and was a bootlegger. They later moved to Ironton, Minnesota and Crosby, then later to Portland, Oregon.

    • Steve… who was your dad? I know the majority of Niobe having grown up in this area…

  4. My dad used to kid about his buddy and him taking off to find a wild time in Niobe. He was in his 70s, with excellent sense of the ridiculous.

  5. I was baptized at the Elmdale Lutheran Church in Niobe – I still pass by there every year when I make my trip to my parents home, which is on the other side of Niobe, about halfway to Bowbells. My aunt Gloria lived there for some time, but her old house burned down some years ago. I remember a general store being there when I was a child – I can’t remember who owned it. I remember the woman’s name was Lillian, though. I love that area – feels more like home than Illinois ever has, although I was born and raised here.

  6. I lived in Niobe from about 1946 until I went to College in 1960; I had 2 borothers (James and Robert). My mother was Linnea (Fleckten) O’Gorden and my father was Odin O’Gorden; we lived on the Fleckten Farm. Our father worked as a Pharmacist at the Minot Drug Store. I completed grade school in Niobe; Ray Ford and Larry Masters were in the grade after mine. Our Niobe Grade School teachers included Russel Pommier (for only 1 year I think) and Mrs. Louise Myron (for several years), and my earliest classmates were Robert Jessen and Arnold Hanson (Arnie and his mother, brother, and sister moved to Kenmare after Arnie’s father passed away). My mother’s mother (Julia Sand Fleckten) lived in Niobe until she passed away at about 103 years of age. My mother sometimes operated the Niobe General Store when the owners (Lillian and Wallace Larson) were on vacation.

  7. I have lived in Niobe my whole short life and love it with everything I am. I am 23 and am remodeling the house I have always lived in ( the old parsonage directly in front of the church). I believe it was built in 1904. When I was young we bought the old train depot and made it an addition to our house. I love having the extra history connected to the house. Hearing all these comments are such a blessing and I wish I could find more pictures of what Niobe used to be. When I was younger I always thought I wanted to develop Niobe, but in away, that would take away the quaintness that I love so much about it today. We used to have garage sales in the old Hall and rollerblade in there. It held awesome memories and I was very sad when they moved it to the pioneer village, but I’m pleased it’s being well taken care of. My parents think I was alive when they tore down the general store. I don’t remember it, but I wish I did. I would love to hear more stories of Niobe as it is very near and dear to my heart!

    • Hi Erika, Wally and Lill Larson bought out Victor Nelson’s grocery business in August of 1934. It was formally changed to Wallace & Lillian Larson Grocery Store but more commonly known as Larson Grocery. In addition to being postmistress it is remembered that Lillian Larson ran a lunch counter for many years in the store. Lill recalled that for many years the railroad employees were steady customers at the lunch counter and that often she would have to get up in the dead of night to serve them. She said she never complained as they were good customers and it was consider just part of the job. Because of her fondness to her rhinestone jewelry she was nicknamed “Diamond Lil” by the local men. In August 1971, the Larson’s sold their business to Russell C. and Myrna Nelson and they took over operation on January 14, 1972. They who operated it until it closed in May 1974.

  8. June 20th 2016 My mom is Janette Durham (Jessen) Catherine and France Jessen was my grandma and grandpa I have many good memories of Niobe. I remember going down to Lillians and Wally’s to get candy that is when a nickel got you a lot of candy . My mom worked for them also when they went on vacations was the daughter they never had.

    • I lived in Niobe from the mid-1940s until I went away to college in 1960; I graduated from Niobe Grade School and Kenmare HS. I have two brothers; my older brother, James, lives in Kenmare and my younger brother, Robert, lives in Oregon. Our mother, Linnea (Fleckten) O’Gorden grew up in Niobe with her 3 brothers and 3 sisters; Linnea worked in the Niobe Bank until she and her brother (Arthur) moved that bank to Drayton (ND) in the mid-1930s. Linnea’s father (Victor Fleckten) was the manager of the Niobe Elevator for many years, and Linnea’s mother (Julia Sand Fleckten) lived to be 103 years old; Linnea’s father and mother were born in Sweden.

  9. My mom has some old calendars and stuff from Niobe its fun to look at

  10. Hi, my name is Greg Westberg, I’m the son of Julius Westberg and grandson of John & Anna (Norberg) Westberg. I was wondering if anyone knew my dad, uncles etc. Would love to hear from anyone who did. Thanks so much! Greg

  11. Does anyone recall the year that the school closed? When it did close, did it have all 12 grades? It is such a blessing to have this web site to keep alive the memories of all these old towns, schools, churches and people that were such an important part of our past history.

    • Lynn,
      Linnea (Fleckten) O’Gorden told me that the upper grades existed only a few years and closed in 1933. The school continued until about 1958. John O’Gorden might know the actual year it closed.
      John Mogren

  12. A short dustance south of Niobe was an Air Force gap-filler radar station on Little Butte. I think that all remains have been replaced with a communications system now. In 1957 whike in the Air Force out of Minot, I helped to get this station into operation.

  13. Looks just like the desks we had at Sts. Philp & James school in Cleveland.

  14. I am from Sweden, province Västergötland, and I am very interested in Swedish American History and specially from small and forgotten places. Please help me to get information about your area and the Swedish-American memories you can help me to find. I will do a speech about North Dakota and the Swedish Ancestry in your state. Kind regards Jan-Ove Ahlgren, Götene, Sweden.

    • Jan-Ove Ahlgren you may contact me at . I can tell you about the Swedish settlement in this area. The majority were from Dalarna however my greatgrandparents as well as Julianna Sand who is mentioned above and died at the age of 102 years were from Västergötland. John

  15. My great-grand uncle, John Patrick Caroline, built the Caroline Hotel in Niobe in 1912. Does anyone know when the hotel was torn down or where it was actually located in Niobe? I have a couple of pictures of the hotel but don’t think I can post them in the comments.

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