The day Dickinson joined the United States

In a brand book for stockmen, a notation from August 1889 reads "Territory of Dakota" and the next, in November 1889, has the title scratched out and amended to read "State of North Dakota." (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

On Nov. 2, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison signed the proclamations bringing North and South Dakota into the United States of America.

Dickinson, by then, was eight years old. "The metropolis of western Dakota," the Dickinson Press called it on every week's four-page edition.

The Dickinson Press chronicled events as the territory readied for statehood.

"Officials at the capitol are busy preparing for the closing of the territorial records and the final transfer to the state of North and South Dakota," the Oct. 26, 1889 edition noted.

In the Nov. 9 edition, the Dickinson Press ran both proclamations made by President Harrison "from the Executive Mansion" at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, 1889.


"The last act in the admission of the two Dakotas as states in the union was completed this afternoon at 3 o'clock and 40 minutes," the edition reads, "by the president signing at that moment the proclamations required by the law."

It added, "This is the first instance in the history of the national government of twin states" and that "North and South Dakota entered the union at the same moment."

The same edition also called for action on the part of the U.S. Congress in helping to address the newly created state's most urgent needs.

"The most important legislation for the western states to come before the next session of congress is that of irrigation," it reads. "A large appropriation of money will be demanded and North Dakota's senators and representatives will have an opportunity to show what they can do for their constituents."

At Dickinson's Joachim Regional Museum, there are many artifacts showing the impact of that event on the city and Stark County.

In a brand book for stockmen, a notation from August 1889 reads "Territory of Dakota" and the next, in November 1889, has the title scratched out and amended to read "State of North Dakota."

The museum also has a program in its archives from Dickinson's 50th anniversary celebration of the statehood in 1939, Collection Manager Alison Hinman said.

"We also have things related to when they celebrated their 100th anniversary," she said. "The reason we have more on that is because one of the major persons there was Dorothy Stickney. She was a premiere Broadway actress, and she's from Dickinson."


E.F. Messersmith, who operated the Northern Pacific train depot that served as the seed that grew the city, was later also leader of the city's cemetery association.

"Among his papers, we have one of those papers requesting a plot, and on that paper it says, again, Dakota Territory scratched out and he put in 'state' instead," Hinman said. "Those kinds of papers are relatively rare for us."

Being able to access such artifacts of that time, or any other, is fun, Hinman said.

"There's that personal connection between the historic event and the artifact itself. For me, that's hugely significant," she said. "It doesn't always have to be the big discovery that makes it exciting for me. Finding small household items that belonged to people in this area is also important to me, too."

County records, such as these originally kept in Stark County's first courthouse, were amended to reflect the inclusion of the state into the reunion, first reading "Dakota Territory" and then changed to read "State of North Dakota" after. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

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