City of Devils Lake

Excerpt From Andreas' "1884 Historical Atlas of Dakota"

This busy, growing and important city, situated mostly on Sections 33 and 34, in Town 154, Range 64, at the head of Creel's bay, was first settled by Lieut. H. M. Creel, Colonel C. H. Uline, wm. C. Farrington and Gardner S Moore, who made claims of the land now occupied by the city some time in 1882. The Oswald brothers and a man named List were also interested at one time, but sold their interests to the parties first named. A house, the first on the town site, was erected by the syndicate in October, 1882, previous to the laying out of the town. The survey of the town, which was at first Creelsburg, was completed July 25, 1883, and certified to by John Farrington, one of the trustees and owners. The St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba railway Company owns a five-eights interest in the town site.

The town proprietors erected the second building in March, 1883, for a business office. The first regular passenger train on the railway reached the place July 14, 1883.

A United States Land District, with an office located at this place, was set apart in the summer of 1883. The office was opened for business August 1, 1883. The district embraces a region nearly 100 miles square, bounded as follows: "commencing at a point on the 12th standard parallel between Ranges 63 and 64 west, thence north to the international boundary line, thence west along said boundary line to the 11th guide meridian, thence south along said meridian to the 12th standard parallel, thence east to the place of the beginning."

The officers at the land office are H. W Lord, register and A. O. Whipple, receiver. A very heavy business has been transacted by this office since its establishment. The district embraces an area of about 6,000,000 acres.

The majority of the land within a radius of seven miles around the City of Devils Lake was claimed by squatters previous to its being surveyed.

The first lot sold in Creel City, as it was at first named, was lot 14 in block 24 for $750, by the railroad company on the 21st of May, 1883, to T. T. Lee, for a general store.

The town has had many additions and in the fall of 1883 the original plat and additions covered 1,137 acres. The lots then numbered 3,503, of which 400 had been sold for an aggregate sum of $200,000. The sales of a single day reached in some instances $20,000. The highest price paid for a lot to the time mentioned was $3,250.

The town is laid out on a liberal scale, with wide streets, and a boulevard 100 feet in width fronting the bay.

A range of low hills or high rolling prairie, technically known in local parlance as the "Devils Back Bone," sweeps across the country east and west at a distance of about five miles north from the city. The land on this swell or ridge is all excellent for cultivation.

The first religious services were held in the town site company's office by Rev. Smith, a Presbyterian Minister, May 20, 1883.

There are several organizations in the place, including Presbyterians and Episcopalians, and some of them have erected houses of worship.

A private school was taught in the summer of 1883 by Mrs. Brainard. Steps have been taken to establish public schools, and probably by the time this work reaches the place, a school will be in successful operation, for the people of this region are in no degree behind the other wide awake citizens of the Territory.

There are two important banking institutions. The Bank of Devils Lake, the oldest in the county, organized under the laws of the Territory with a capital of $25,000, does a general business, including the sale of domestic and foreign exchange, money loans and collections. A. M Ferris, president; H. G. Stone, vice-president; O. B. Corsett, cashier.

The North Shore Bank of H. L. Prescott and J. A. Burnett, does a general banking business; loans money on real estate, deals in exchange and makes collections a specialty.

There is also a large number of real estate offices, about thirty attorneys, several physicians and resident clergymen, insurance agents, and every variety of business usually found in towns of like importance. A very large mercantile business is transacted with the surrounding country, including a considerable wholesale trade. Several firms have branch houses at St. John's, Bottineau, and Rolette or Willow Creek, at the foot of the Turtle Mountains. The Turtle Mountain and Mouse River country will no doubt contribute largely to the trade of Devils Lake in the near future.