St. Joseph’s Catholic Church from 1895

Leroy, North Dakota

Terry has family in northeast North Dakota and managed to duck out of holiday festivities long enough to photograph this place in 2014 — St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Leroy, North Dakota.

Leroy, North Dakota

Leroy is in Pembina County, about ten miles northwest of Cavalier.

Leroy, North Dakota

Terry was told they stopped holding regular services here about a decade ago.

Leroy, North Dakota

This church is featured in our fourth hardcover coffee table book, Churches of the High Plains.

Leroy, North Dakota
Leroy, North Dakota

A small community center and auditorium.

Leroy, North Dakota

This area is absolutely steeped in history, stretching back to a pre-homestead, trader and trapper time in our history, when settlement of what would become North Dakota by European settlers was very sparse.

Leroy, North Dakota

UPDATE: Although the sign makes it look like the church is for sale, according to a comment below, the church is not actually for sale. See the comment below from Gaye Carpenter.

Leroy, North Dakota

Photos by Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2014 Sonic Tremor Media

43 Comments on “St. Joseph’s Catholic Church from 1895

  1. Howdy:

    While this was an active Catholic parish in the 1950s and 60s, and while it was outside of Walhalla (old St. Joseph), everyone of all the various religions and social groups knew about Leroy and the church. At that time (and even now) that part of northeast North Dakota is described as peppered with names of long-standing families. Of those, Letexier remains probably the most prominent, but I don’t have my Walhalla papers handy to prompt my memory of other names. Many of those names were, of course, French in origin.

    The photographer is correct on the statement that this is really ancient history for this part of the north prairies. There was plenty of back and forth with the British territory now called Canada. A lot of trading of buffalo hides, pemmican and more, all the way down the great Pembina Oxcart trails into St. Paul. So yes, much history. Father Belcourt’s name is appropriately mentioned. Fr. Belcourt is also renowned for his linguistic work with the Native American peoples, as is the author, as I recall, of what is still considered one of the major dictionaries of their languages and dialects..

    Hats off to the people of the Leroy parish

    • Other family names include Beaudoin, Longtin, Lauzon, Dame, etc. All French names & my ancestors. In Leroy area since early 1880s. Some earlier than that. The cemetery near Leroy includes many of these names, also.

      Cathy (Herman) Langemo
      Bismarck, ND

    • John Xavier of the class of ’63?
      My parents were parishioners in their childhood days, and were married there. We celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary there in 2008. They celebrated 76 years before Dad passed away last year.

      • Yes, Marilyn Dalzell Smith, to your question. Ghosts of North Dakota as a site has proven over the years to be an interesting source. This site combines the fresh approach of the photographers with their energy as travelers.

        If ind their work to be a breath of fresh air among all the other professionally produced works about North Dakota. Their work concentrates on a neglected aspect of North Dakota, the “overbuilt” history of a state once thought to be awaiting a population equal to, say, Pennsylvania.

        Part of this history includes work of my own (Saami, Norwegian, and German) extended family, which in this case largely included association with the Norwegian Lutheran Churches of several towns included in the books related to this Facebook site. Leaving aside the theological aspects, the main point in our family history has always been about the people. And North Dakota offers a highly diverse and colorful history of its own people. This is especially true int he area excluded from the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, carried out by Pres. Thomas Jefferson. Hence, the on-going dominance of French names, history, and culture in the part of the Red River Valley known around Walhalla (old St. Joseph area).

        The Saami aspect of this becomes quite interesting, as much as the Icelandic groups in North Dakota. The Saami are an historical and active group in North America, descended from the ndigenous peoples of the North Arctic of Scandinavia and the Nordic regions of Finland and Russia.

        The towns covered by family and friends include (in approximate chronological order) Minot, Hettinger, Drake, Enderlin, Coulee (Mountrail County), Walhalla, and Fargo-Moorhead. Friends of Saami background included coverage in Stanley, Mott, and other areas. Further Saami were known to be around Gackle, North Dakota, but were not related to the Xavier, Selid, or Beckmen families.

        There is really no end to all of this, but allow me one more aspect. Many of the smal towns featured in the Ghosts books are the satellite towns of those related to Saami-Norwegian churches. These include Coulee, Balfour, and others. They have not always been ghost towns, and in many cases down in the Badlands areas were in fact highly dynamic communities, right up into the 1950s and 60s. But then, the roof caved in economically on the smallerareas, equal in impact to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

  2. Beautiful building and so sad to see these historical buildings unused. Too many ghost towns in N. D. Hope someone buys it and uses it or makes a home out of it.

  3. Beautiful old church. Very well kept. Sad to lose these historical pieces of the past.

  4. I can see how the placement of the For Sale sign can make a person believe that the church is for sale, but that is not the case. It is actually pointing to the house behind the church. You check Watson’s website for pictures.

  5. In 1998, My wife and I had our wedding reception in the Leroy hall (community center next to the church). Wonderful memories.

  6. This church and the Leroy hall holds happy, fun memories. In 2001, I had been dating my husband Thomas LeTexier and attended the LeTexier family reunion. I had the pleasure of meeting my husband’s great Grandmother Lena LeTexier along with so many others. We played games, ate lots of food, and shared stories of the past. Such a wonderful place.

    • Your great grandmother Lena LeTexier was my Aunt… my mother was her sister 😊

  7. My great grandmother and five aunt and uncles moved there in 1880. Yeado (Guindon), McAndrews and Burton. I know many are buried in Leroy.

  8. My mom (Shirley (Bruce) Salinas) was born in Leroy, ND as well as her dad. My grandfather’s name was Vernon Lawrence Bruce, his father was Joseph Bruce and his mother was Josephine (Duprius) Bruce.
    I am just trying to collect any data or info on my ancestors.
    My grandfather’s DOB is 10/12/1917.
    Thank you!

    • In reply to Shirley Salinas. Hi I have some information on a Jean Edouard Bruce and Joseph Albert Bruce, both young babies, buried at the St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery, Leroy, N.D. If you are interested I will send it to you..

  9. I am the french cousin of Letexier Family living close to Paris.
    In French we spell it in two words “Le Texier”, the separate prefix “Le” (meaning “The”) indicates generally an origin from Bretagne (in west of France)
    I remember quite well coming in 1995 to the Le Texier Family’s Reunion. We were warmly welcomed by Gene and Leena Letexier and many other cousin. I remember also the great grandmother Lena who was very
    We visited Gene’scholl around Leroy’church. I was with my mother (Janine Le Texier) and the daughter of my sister (Emilie). We spent one night in a house close to the church. All the inhabitants of Leroy and around were very kind.
    The reunion was great, full of memories. Leroy is a part of my history now.
    I hope we will organisze a new reunion in Leroy one of these days / years. We will cross again teh sea with great pleasure.
    Congratulations for this site.

    Michel Le Texier ( Paris, France.

  10. This place holds many memories for me… attending Mass with my grandparents, Louis & Olive Bailly, when I was a child… Longtin Family Reunion in 1996 (my Grandmother Josephine Dalzell’s maiden name)… Vernon & Marie (Bailly) Dalzell’s 70th Wedding Anniversary in 2008 – with their original attendants there too! The hall on the grounds is still used for community events. The church is maintained by the community.

  11. lived on a farm 2 miles east of leroywith my grand parents PETE and DELIA KAREL. I went to 1st grade in the school and had my first communion the church. I go back there every spring and fall,still have an uncle living on the farm. lot of great memories there.still home to me.

  12. We have a preservation group, St. Joseph’s Preservation Society, who try to maintain the church and hall as best we can. We have 2 bingos during the year to bring in some cash, we rent out the hall for various functions and we have memberships to belong to the society. If you would be interested in becoming a member, the dues are $5.00 per year per person and can be mailed to Kathy Bjornstad, 10460 County 12, Walhalla, ND 58282.

  13. . If you would be interested in becoming a member, the dues are $5.00 per year per person and can be mailed to Kathy Bjornstad, 10460 County 12, Walhalla, ND 58282.

  14. I was born somewhere around Leroy, was baptized and made my 1st Communion there. My grandmother was a Bruce. My Dad’s mother was Rosalie LaTraille. I plan on moving back there when I retire. It is a beautiful part of
    North Dakota. I would buy the church if it was for sale.

    • Hi Patty Houle. My Gramma’s mother was also Rosalie LATRAILLE. My gramma was Clotilda HOULE, dau of Patrick HOULE and Rosalie LATRAILLE. She was b. the same year The St. Joseph Church was built. My g-grandfather, Alex CAVALIER was named as one of the Godfathers of the bell in the steeple of St. Joseph Church. I have the book “Foot prints from the Past” if you would like for me to do any historical look-ups for you. A few other family members of my direct lineal of this Catholic Parish were, Cavalier, Martel, Bartlette, Decoteau…far to many names but I do have the Catholic Parish records from 1832-1970 for the St. Joseph Church records, and for the Old Assumption Catholic Parish in Pembina. Martineau is still a prominant name in Leroy and the family still resides there.

  15. I am looking for my family, and happened to have found this forum. I’m the Granddaughter of Francis and Noella (nee White) Gariepy. Steven Gariepy was my father(Grandson of Eugene and Rose (nee Houle) Gariepy. I hope maybe someone out there can help me .

  16. I am a descendant of Joseph Felix Latreille and Marguerite Jolibois. We are also from the Martineau and Pelletier families. Proud Canadian equally as proud of our American past!

    • Hey if you would like we can exchange info! My email is above
      -Kendra Gariepy

      • Hey Kendra! Thank you so much for the reply! Please keep in touch!

      • Hi, I’ve been doing some research and am having trouble confirming how exactly my family tree intersects with the trees mentioned (Latrailles/Joilibois/Gariepy). My great-grandmother was Flora Latraille. If any of you can help, please email me at

  17. Absolutely, the history of our pasts is interesting and fun to see where everyone connects 🙂

  18. I’m Louis (Louie) Martineau, a member of the old Martineau families that lived at Leroy. I was raised on a farm 3.5 miles east of Leroy. This was “the home place” for the descendants of Andrew Martineau and Felix Latraille families. I have documented and written history and photos of this farm, if anyone is interested. My e-mail:

    • Hello everyone, and hello Louis. I recently visted the Martineau/Soli residence. The log house is fallling down. It was originally built for my GG grandfather, John Dease. There are many decendants who would love to see this historical site also preserved. I would love to see your written history and photos. Perhaps I have some also, but check it out on facebook- Martineau/Dease log house. Michael Tetrault.

    • My great grandfather. Fortunat Martineau settled in St John, ND in the early 1880s. How would he be related to the Martineau families in Leroy?

  19. Hi Michael,
    I’m glad somebody is trying to restore this historical house. Too bad they waited so long…
    I remember visiting there when I was younger. I knew Alphonse and his wife and some of his kids in the fifties and sixties: Emile, Stanly, Joe, May, Frances, Marguerite, Simone, also the younger boy. The old house was already in pretty bad shape when they lived there.

    Not to confuse anyone: The photos I posted on Facebook and here are the Felix Latraille / Adrien Martineau log houses that were on the family farm I grew up on. Adrien’s homestead was 1/2 mile east of Felix’ homestead (my Sketch provided). The small structure was Latraille’s homestead house that he built in 1855. the large whitewashed structure he built in 1858. The family in front of the house are my grandparents Romain and Delia Martineau and their oldest four children (fourth from left is my father Eugene). The other log house was on Adrien’s homestead, which was just east of Felix’ homestead. These farms were located about 2 1/2 miles due east of the Dease / Martineau farm you’re referring to.

    I’ve written two books on my Martineau family genealogy and my grandfather wrote a book on his uncle Adrien (Andrew) Martineau. I also have other documents pertaining to this family and sites in Leroy. If you want additional information on these farms, I’ll be glad to try and help out. Good luck on your endeavor,
    Louis Martineau

  20. My dad and his sibling were born and raised in that tiny historical log home on the Martineau farm. I paid a visit last time I went to Leroy with my parents abt year 2000 along with a couple of my dads siblings. I took a pic of dad and his brother Bobby…They gave me the same exact pose at the doorstep as was back in the day. That home had siding on it to preserve it. But since, the sidng was removed?

  21. Does anyone have a list or burial register of those buried in the St. Joseph Church Yard? My dad told me we have family buried there.

  22. My parents Cecil Gelder and Leonora Dalzell were married in this church October 23,1948.
    My uncle Vernon Dalzell and aunt Marie Bailly were also married here.

  23. For Jan Cavalier
    I would like to correspond with you about names of persons listed in parish records of Pembina and old Saint Joseph. I live near Old Crossing where the treaty of 1863 took place. Every year we commemorate the history of that era. Many persons from Pembina and old Saint Joseph came to Old Crossing in 1863. Old Crossing is located near Crookston and Red Lake Falls, MN. Thank you in advance. Virgil Benoit

  24. Jan,
    I am almost certain that my dad, Merton Beaudrie has a register of all the individuals buried at the cemetery. I used to mow it for about 12 years as well, so I can remember where a lot of the graves are and such as well.

  25. Hello I am the great granddaughter of William Dupuis and Mary Bruce granddaughter of Zephirin William Dupuis who was born in Leroy North Dakota (November 15, 1906). We believe Mary Bruce died in North Dakota possibly in childbirth. William came to Canada with his young son and then established a home in Saint Agathe. Would any information be available concerning Mary Bruce …she’s a ghost we have nothing on her. Thank you.

  26. Does anyone know if parish baptismal or marriage records for this parish exist before 1870? (Gail Morin’s book covers 1870-1931, I have purchased that). I have an old letter that mentions a baptism at St Joseph of Leroy Co, ND, in 1863 to a family much mentioned in the later years, but I have no way to corroborate this.

    I am looking for an 1863 baptism in the Venne or Jeanvenne family, probably a boy named Pierre or Jean Pierre 21 May 1863 is the birth or baptismal date.

    thank you!

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