Dakota Datebook

Fredonia and Sherwood

Sunday, July 11, 2004

At least nine North Dakota towns are celebrating their centennials this year. Fredonia was founded when the Soo Line Railroad was extending its line from Kulm to Lehr. In 1904, area volunteers, mostly farmers, built a sidetrack to a site they called Denevitz. A crew of Frenchmen built a grain elevator and store there that fall and supposedly renamed the site Fredonia. Fredonia means “place of freedom” in Latin and was considered as a name for what became the United States of America. It was also the name of the country that Groucho Marx became president of in the movie, “Duck Soup.”

Sherwood was founded under unusual circumstances. In 1904, Owen Moon moved his farm post office named Nina to the new town site of Sherwood without getting permission. Post Mistress Minnie Alexander, on the other hand, had the government’s blessing when she moved the Bolaker post office there, and for three months, the two operated simultaneously. When the Nina office closed, the town was renamed Sherwood, which is an Old English word meaning “from the bright forest,” as in the legend of Robin Hood.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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