Antler, ND

Antler is a small town in Bottineau county, just two miles south of the Canadian border.  The 2010 Census tallied 27 residents, but a local resident says there are 35.  We’ve been meaning to get to Antler for some time, but we just never made it.  Thankfully, Vince Azzarello recently sent in these photos for your enjoyment.  Vince’s comments are included as captions below.

This is a front view of the former Antler Bank (also known as the Customs House), where an American flag and a Canadian flag are still waving. Glenn Tennyson, the proprietor of the local auto shop and gas station, informed us that the town still has 35 inhabitants. This bank is in the center of town, with a road circling around it. It was also used as a Post Office, Rooming House, and Telephone office.

A look at the rear of the building located at the center of the town square. This building was also used as a rooming house and telephone office, as well as a bank

There are 2 former banks featured in this shot. This is a view from the rear of the bank in the town square, and a front view of the other former bank building. I believe the bank in the center of town to be slightly newer than the former bank in the distance.

This bench is situated in front of the old band, which is in the center of town. The blue bench is painted with the dates “1905” and “1984”, making it one year shy of their 80th anniversary.

This is the original entrance to the school, before the addition was built. The white structure in front of the brick building was also added after the brick building was completed.

An excerpt from “In 1907 a contract to build a brick, four room school went to Jas. Finnin of Devils Lake for $7,219.03 without a heating plant. The school was ready for use by late 1907.” Several additions were added on throughout the years, including a gymnasium in 1949-50, and a “science room, a commerce room, a library, a dining room, a well-equipped kitchen and an office” in 1964. This was the last addition to the school. High school classes were held in the new addition until 1976. Then, the grade children in kindergarten through sixth grade used the new addition until the closing of the entire school in 1987. That is the same year the school district was dissolved. “The older school is now occupied by the Antler Historical Society as a museum. The newer addition, at present, is owned by the City of Antler”. That was printed in 1989.

I took this photo from inside the school building on a staircase leading up to the higher floors. To the left of this shot would be the main entrance of the school.

This classroom is located on the 2nd floor of the original school building. As you can see, part of the 3rd floor caved in on it.

Another shot of a different classroom, also found on the first floor of the school building. This room is quite empty compared to the previous classroom.

My friends and I walked into this classroom in the school, and this is what we saw. A couple of desks still remain, containing several books still inside. This classroom is on the first floor of the 3-story school building.

This is a picture of the cafeteria in the school. On the left of this picture you can see the opening where the kitchen was located. This was part of the addition to the original school. The addition was built in 1964. The floor is littered with broken glass.

This is a shot of the basement in the old school building, located northwest of the town square. It was pitch black in that basement, so in order to see clearly what was down there we needed to take pictures and investigate more closely later.

The original Fire hall, built in 1907 on the east end of the town square.

A view from the town square eastward.

A look at the firehall and IOOF building. The Firehall was built in 1907, followed shortly by the Odd Fellows Hall.

This building is also known as the Odd Fellows Hall, and is located next to the Firehall just east of the town square.

This was the former First National Bank building, located to the west of the town square.

Many people don’t know that at one point in time, Antler, ND was the home of the World’s Largest Quilt. Here is an excerpt fron “Antler, North Dakota, birthplace of the largest quilt in the world. First certified by the Guinness Book of World Records July 14, 1988. 85 feet by 134 feet. The project was coordinated by Leona Tennyson, Executive Director.” I encourage you to check out the website and read the entire story behind this magnificent quilt.

I included these pictures because they give a detailed history of the town, printed in an Antler school yearbook dated 1928. The yearbook was called “The Screech Owl”, and commencement was held on Thursday, May 31, 1928.

This is known as the Antler Community Church, and is still in use today. This church has been around since 1906, and has changed denominations several times.

Photos by Vince Azzarello, all rights reserved.
Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media

45 Comments on “Antler, ND

  1. What used to be my Grandma’s house is across the road from the Community Church. Antler, Antler we’ve been thinking’! Anyone remember that line from a song during the All-School Reunion Parade in about 1987ish?

    • The yearbook was in the possession of Glenn Tennyson, the owner of the local garage. He has stacks of historical documents and a huge photo album containing tons of pictures, dating back to the town’s inception. He’s a great guy, and loves talking about his town. If you take a trip up to Antler, stop in and he’ll share some amazing stories with you.

      • Hi. My name is Richard Freeberg, my mother was Martha Manning the author of the “history” in the year book. Her father was Dan Manning who, along with his brothers Jack and Mike, were the first white men to settle the Antler Creek in 1880-1882. Dan and his brothers were Canadians of Irish Descent who left Portage la Prairie, Canada to seek their fortunes further west, and found what they were looking for along the Antler Creek, where they built a house. At one time they had the largest cattle operation in that area, and eventually applied for American citizenship, and subsequentl homesteaded seperate plots. The town came later, and the Mannings donated several tracks of land to help establish the town – park, cemetary, etc. My information is derived both from my mother, her relatives and the ND State Historical Journal, where the Mannings are mentioned in several articles. Sadly, it seems that the Mannings have been entirely forgotten in the current ‘history’ of Antler…

        • Hello Richard, Really a good article, and thanks for clearing up the Manning contribution to the history of Antler. , I would be related to you, as my great grandfather was the Manning that stayed in Canada. My wife has researched the Manning’s in Ancestry and we’d be happy to give you any “extended” information on the family. I would be your 3rd cousin on your mother’s side.
          Bob Manning

          • Hi Bob. I guess I should check this site out more often. Just noticed your response to my comments, a year later! It’s hard to look at these images some times – knowing the emotional connection they once had for folks long gone. Yes by all means I would be great to get some information on the Manning clan. Perhaps I can provide some other clues to add to your collection from my own efforts. I can be reached via

          • My father Glenn Manning was born in Antler and often spoke of his Uncles Dan, MIke and Jack
            He was about Buster’s age abd talked a lot about his adventures on Antler Creek
            I am also interested in learning what information you may have on the faily .

  2. Vince, are there any buildings/businesses in Antler that are still up and running or is the entire commercial district in addition to the school abandoned?

    • Sharon,

      Yes, there are 2 businesses still operating and 2 churches as well. The “I Have No Idea Bar & Grill” (aka The Cabin) is a nice bar with good food and a nice area to play pool. When I visited there in October of last year I ate there and talked about the town with the owner (Mark Jorgensen, who created and operates, and who incidentally no longer owns the bar). Glenn Tennyson still runs the garage. Bethel Lutheran Brethren Church is on the outskirts of the town, while the church pictured above is located on the north end of town.

      I’m excited to visit Antler again on September 8th for a car show. For such a small town, it’s great to see fun events still planned for the area.

  3. there used to be a soap company there, still have relatives that live there, when in high school my daughter had to prove their was a Antler, ND for her history teacher, didn’t believe her, so she took a picture of her with her history book by the sign of Antler for him. I also grew up having picnics at the creek. Debbie J. Wahpeton, ND

  4. I’m disappointed you had no pictures of the Antler Community Center, Antler Fire Dept, Antler Post Office, Souris River Coop elevator or Antler citizens. We may be few in number but we’re proud country folks!

    • Shannon, I had many more pictures, over 200, but I selected the best quality shots out of all I had taken. And I wanted to include some history by including the documents. Antler is a lovely community and definitely a proud people. I had the opportunity to attend a car show in Antler on September 9th. Well over 40 cars were there and all of the people were extremely friendly. Outlaw Days are this coming weekend (September 14-16)! It’s amazing to see the amount of love current and past citizens have for their community.

  5. Had friends who operated the Hill family farm. Visited there several times. Was the bar at one time called “Pete’s”?? Shannon Gessner – aren’t you origininally from Newburg? I grew up on a farm 4 miles south and 2 miles west of Newburg!!

    Joanne Bahn Dieterle

    • Joanne Bahn Dieterle: I am writing about a comment you left on here Sep 2012. I was just wondering about the Hill family farm you mentioned. Do you remember the names of the members of the Hill family? Where was the farm located? Hill is my maiden name, and my Hill grandparent’s (Bill and Fern Hill) leased a farm near Antler, so was just wondering if they are the same Hills. I don’t recall another Hill family around there. My mom is from Antler (Johanna Fox Hill). Anyway, was just interested if they are the same Hills as my family. Thank you for any information. Jean Hill Mikeselll

  6. When did everyone start leaving this part of North Dakota? I alwas assumed the decline of these towns happened due to WWII when people left to go fight or work in war industries and never came back after the war. If they needed an addition to the school in 1964 the town must have had a sizable population even after the war.

    • Most of the towns in ND stared shrinking in the 1920s and 1930s with the Depression. Yes, there was probably enough in 1964 because of the post-World War II baby boom, but the overall trend was fairly steadily downward. Each town has its own unique trajectory, however.

  7. Lived in Antler for many years before moving to Oregon.the people were great,friends were made easily……..My fav. was the hunting and fishing within minutes of Antler…….Nothing like raising your children in a small town too…….

  8. Wasn’t there a gentleman who gave away tracts of land to try and keep Antler growing ?

    • Yes, His name was Bud Kissner. He offered free land to families to homestead. His aim was to keep the school from dying. It was a controversial topic in Antler, before, during, and after those years (from about 1981-1986. I am the daughter of Lynn Price and Barbara Schaan. We were one of the 6 families that were given land to live on by Bud. Our family is the only family of those that were native North Dakotans. All the other families came from other states. In the end, the families dispersed due to the lack of employment opportunities. The school closed within a year or two. My father is still living in Sherwood, North Dakota, where he moved our family in 1985, which is about 15 miles from Antler. I loved many things about Antler and it’s people. I would love to see it again someday.

  9. i was among the last kids ithink we were 6 og the last to go to school in antlerwe went to sherwood after that i still go to the creek it gives me peace inside very nice place to camp

  10. My grandparents Alice and Arnold Thorpe were the last inhabitants of the town square building. They along with Harold Thorpe lived in the building for decades. Too bad that wasn’t mentioned.

  11. Fascinating pictures and info about Antler. So many interesting buildings in and around town. The town square and the buildings around it are really fascinating. The yellow building just west of the square (I think it was once a bank) really caught my eye, and I’d like to know more about it. Is it currently occupied, or is it just waiting for someone to come along and “give it a new lease on life?”

  12. Antler town has been declining in population since the 30’s. In the 1960’s, one local farmer offered 10 free acres on the Johnny Carson Show to anyone who’d move there. I think he got maybe one taker. It’s not the easiest place to live. The first Europeans to move into the area were land hungry and poor. It was open range, no fences, just Indians and Buffaloe. And then there was the Homestead Act. Later the Rail Roads. Those families who’ve remained and persevered, bought out the ones who emmigrated or died. If you have enough acreage and like hard work, you can make a go of it. My maternal Grandfather begged my mom and dad to buy his homestead on the border, but my dad was no farmer and hated real estate, espaicially ag real estate 2000 miles away. Should have just bought the mineral rights to the land, but hind sight is twenty twenty so they say. I need to go back and find the graves of my ancestors – Grandfather, Grandmother, Uncles, and pay my respects, in the “Old Cemetary” – that is, if I can find them… Someday.

      • Hi Troy. My mother, Martha Manning used to own the title to that cemetary. I think she signed the deed over to the state of North Dakota before she passed away, but I’m not certain about that. My brother was the executor of her estate and might know if it was one of the many details he took care of. I can check on that if you’d like.

        • That would be great. I actually stumbled upon it once in the middle of the night many years ago (a long story), and I cannot now remember how to find it.

          • OK I can ask my brother Jim if he knows anything. You might also try talking with the Artz Family whose farm is outside of town.. They’ve been there forever and were friends with my Uncle Buster. They’d probably know exactly where it is. Do you live in Antler?

          • It seems not many people live in Antler these days. I have a cousin who lives in Surrey outside of Minot. Is that a U of O hat you’re wearing?

  13. It’s so fun to read all that people have written about Antler, North Dakota. My mom grew up in Antler (Johanna Fox). My grandparents, Fred and Ruth Fox, ran the Meat Market for years. I have fond memories of visits from Alaska to Antler. My siblings love it there also. My dad, Jim Hill, grew up on a farm outside of Antler. He passed away in Dec. 2008. My mom is living in Anchorage, AK. I was able to go with my siblings (except for my twin) , four children and grandson plus nephew and nieces to visit in July 2008. It was good to visit the places our grandparents lived and visit with my dad’sister Gladys Hill DeMars in Westhope. I still live in Alaska and love it, but I sure miss Antler and Westhope. North Dakota was a great place to be born.

  14. I’m actually looking for the family of a former resident. His name was Charles J. Reid and he was a member of the Antler Freemasons, Lodge 80 back in the 1920’s. Is the building still there? Any ideas where the records might have gone?

  15. I have many fond memories of Antler, North Dakota. My uncle and aunt, Don and Olga Shuman owned and operated Shuman’s Bar for many years in Antler. We would come and visit them and always enjoyed the friendly people we met there. Olga was my mothers sister, who is Doris (Salte) Hallquist. My mom Drois, attended school in Antler, before moving to the Middle River and Thief River Falls MN area. I also remember playing with Bonnie Haugh when I was younger and spending time with her and her folks, Helen and Loy. I’m glad for all the good times, I had there.

  16. I grew up in Antler until the 60’s. Had numerous relatives there. Some moved on & some past on. Enjoyed reading people’s comments & questions. Most of all the awesome pictures. Is there a way to get a write up of Antler with people’s names dating back to 1905 with pictures of when Antler flourished?

  17. I to grew up in Antler. I still have many memories of Antler. I remember playing with all my relatives and friends. Going out to my Grandpa Marvin and Grandma Barb Getchell. farm. So many great times there. My wish one day to go back to Antler one day.

  18. My grandparents were married in Antler in April of 1907. Their names were John Neville and Ethel Ward. Anyone remember them?? Dennis Allen, Columbia Falls,Mt

  19. Looking for a woman whose family lived near Antler. I knew her in the mid 70’s. She lived in Phoenix, Az., her name was Lorie Artz or something close to that

    • Hi David. There is an Artz family still living and farming just outside Antler. Perhaps they have information regarding your friend…

  20. Researching my grandfather, Alton Stine.
    He was a customs collection officer sometime between 1920 and 1930, in Antler. Their older children attended school there. I am grateful for this information and photos. Thank you.

  21. My mother ( Vera Stratton) and father (Ed Ashley aka “Eddie”) are from Antler, and share so many interesting stories about this little town. I’m looking forward to learning more about my ancestry and visiting Antler. Thank you for this site, beautiful photos and history!

  22. I do family research and my grandparents for a time farmed in Antler in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Two brothers had gone to ND from MN together (married sisters from the Antler area). This was an absolute delight to find.

    Local family: Engstrom, Moody, Floyd (and Martin Wille – who has since passed)

  23. I was adopted as an infant in 1952 and did not realize until 2017 that my birth family is all from Antler. Their last name was Leslie. I plan to visit Antler this summer (2021) just to look around. This site has been really informative! Love the photos.

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