School’s Out in Kempton, North Dakota

We were on a trip to explore some spots in east central North Dakota when we ran across Kempton. It was a place we had taken note of previously, with the intention of visiting some day, and here we were, just passing through.

This old schoolhouse was converted to a garage at some point in the past, but it still looks good.

Kempton was founded in 1884 and opened a Post Office three years later, but the population never rose above one hundred residents.  The population dwindled and the Post Office closed on Halloween, 1970. Today there are a few remaining residents, some occupied places, plus the places you see here.  Kempton is about 30 minutes southwest of Grand Forks.

Kempton, North Dakota
Kempton, North Dakota
Kempton, North Dakota

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp

12 thoughts on “School’s Out in Kempton, North Dakota

  1. I remember when Kempton was a thriving community of, well a few families. We knew the Henry’s on a farm across the road south of town and I’m sure there were some in town we knew also but I don’t recall the names. The story was that when ground was first plowed in the area the mule teams would start at Larimore and plow until noon, six miles south to Kempton and plow back after dinner, the noon meal isn’t lunch on the farm it’s dinner. My dad, being the last to be married, farmed an Elk Valley farm, formerly a bonanza farm, starting in a place along the highway from Larimore to Northwood past Kempton before moving to one west of town closer to his father and brother.


    1. I lived in Kempton from 1933 to 1949. Been years since I’ve been back but went to school with Bill Henry and knew his parents tvery well.


      1. I was in school with the Henry boys, Kirk and Scott. My mother was in a Homemakers club started in the Kempton area for many years with his wife, Shides and many other ladies I don’t remember. Duane Mutch, state senator for many years, ran a gas station in Kempton before moving it to Larimore.


  2. I used to spend a beautiful summer morning each year counting birds for the Audubon Society and/or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (I think it was), ca. 1964-1976. We (Frank Kelley and I) would start in Kempton at 5:00 a.m. and proceed East until 9:00 a.m. We’d end close to I-29 near Merrifield. We followed a set route and stopped every half-mile to watch and listen for birds and record how many we’d seen and heard of the various species. It was a wonderful experience to see a beautiful rural landscape “wake up.” The route we followed was called the “Kempton Route.” I think that I still could drive it from memory today!


  3. Our family moved into Kempton in April 1952. My brother and finished 8th grade in that school house before going to school in. Northwood. Dad sold his Kempton house in the fal of 1999 or 2000. This was my home until graduation from UND in 1963. Some resident families included Henry’s, Becks, Lloyds, Storackers, Mutches, Paupsts, Halvorsons, Bundays, Heskins, Pushors, Petersons, Brorbys, Ohmses,Burasses, Canons, Warnes. We moved into Kempton from a farm 1/2 mile North from that historic round barn. Other names nearby include Kortgaards, Pazderics, Walls, Stovers, Gravdahls, Schols, Kvemshagens, Maurestuens, Nygaards, Rochs, Shides, Nelsons, Thorsets.


    1. Hi Donn, I’m curious which farm north of the round barn that you lived on??! My granparents lived on the farm with the round barn (now my aunt lives there), but my aunt and uncle used to live 1/2 mile north on a farm. There were two farms (and a schoolhouse). They lived in the north side of the road farm. The south side of the road was another farm. My parent bought that house and moved it to a farm west of the round barn. Which one did you live in??!


  4. Hi Don. You got us all. Hope everything going well for you. We last talked or maybe it was just e-mails probably 10 years ago. Good memory. I forgot 1/2 of them although I didn’t live in Kempton. Halloween was always fun.


  5. I believe the Kempton school ran until 1961, as that fall my brother Kirke started 1st grade in Larimore.
    Mr. Soderberg (sp?) bought it and used it as a TV repair shop.
    I remember the post office being open, as we would ride our bikes over to pick up the mail.
    The only business open that I remember was the grain elevator.
    It was a great place to grow up.


  6. I relieved the regular Great Northern Railway Depot Agent (Mr. Zyllo) at Kempton in 1960. At that time
    there was still lots of grain moving out of Kempton by rail. I think Post Office, Depot and Grain Elevator
    were only business places left at that time. At the Kempton depot the main source of communication was the telegraph.
    The small towns you have listed that have gone by the wayside bring back lots of memories to me
    as I worked a lot of them as an Agent-Telegrapher for the Great Northern Railway in 1950’s & early
    Thank you very much for the work that you have done.


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