History of the Court House Building
(Spokesfield, Walter E., The History of Wells County and Its Pioneers, 1929)
In the spring of 1895, the county commissioners called a special election for May 7th of that year to vote on the proposition of Wells County issuing bonds for $12,000 for the purpose of building a court house and jail at Fessenden. The canvassing of the votes disclosed that 274 votes were cast in favor of the proposition and 125 against it. The bonds were issued and sold to George R. Fulton & Co., bond brokers, of Grand Forks.
The court house plan was drawn by J.W. Ross, a Grand Forks architect. H.B. Chess was given the contract to build, and D. McDonald of Valley City was hired by the county as superintendent of construction.
E.A. Folendorf and John Swanson excavated the basement. There was no ceremony in connection with the laying of the corner stone. A board of auditors in connection with the court house construction was composed of Banker T.L. Beiseker, County Treasurer C.J. Schmitt, and County Auditor John A. Williams.
Contractor H.B. Chess was required to furnish a good and sufficient bond to Wells County for the faithful performance of his contract. T.L. Beiseker, S.H. Wikey, and D.J. Lloyd were his sureties. Mr. Chess failed to complete his contract, however, and his bond finally disappeared from the county auditor’s office. The county commissioners then had to complete his contract with Supt. McDonald in charge.
W.E. Cooke of Harvey furnished most of the lumber used in the construction. The brick were manufactured by H.T. Von Wagoner at Minot. E.J. Makinson was the head bricklayer. Joe Buch did the lathing and W.M. Cahill did the plastering. The furniture was purchased through Geo. A. Heard. A.E. Speiser was the first janitor. The cost of the court house complete with the jail was approximately $19,000.
The board of county commissioners at the time were John M. Lloyd, chairman; Robert Schultz, and John M. Montgomery.
The court house was completed and the county officers moved in on January 1, 1896. On New Year ’s Eve, December 31, 1895, this new court house building was dedicated with a grand ball which was attended by of 100 couples. Special trains from Carrington and Harvey were operated by the Soo Line for the occasion.
The committee in charge of affairs were:
Committee on dance arrangements - Mark E. Wilson, John Foos, E.H. Wiper, John A. Williams
Program committee – T.S. Hunt, J.A. Regan, D.J. Lloyd
Committee on music – Dr. W.J. Proctor, W.A. Stickney, A.L. Parsons
Committee on reception – J.K. Swan, S.H. Wikey, C.V. Brown, George W. Brown, L.L. Walton, A.C. Sanford, J.J. Youngblood
Committee on floor – D.D. Clendenning, E.F. Volkman, W.W. Lyness
The music for the occasion was furnished by Grey’s Little Brownie Orchestra of Leal, North Dakota. This orchestra was composed of Mr. Grey, his little daughter and two small sons.
The grand march was postponed until just before supper and was led by Editor Warren A. Stickney and Miss Emma Poole, of Melville, who was station agent for the Northern Pacific at Carrington and Melville for many years. The dance supper was furnished by the John Foos Hotel, then located across the street, opposite the court house entrance.