Friday, March 17, 2017
“Imperial Cass” County is more than just Fargo. North Dakota’s most populated county also includes a smattering of rural towns as elsewhere in the state. Page, North Dakota is about an hour from Fargo, north of Interstate 94 and about 20 miles from the Red River. The city’s post office was established on this date in 1882, inaugurating its status as a town. Historically, the Wahpeton and Sisseton bands of Dakota Sioux lived in the area.
The town site was originally a station, built in 1881, along the Great Northern Railroad. A local land tycoon named the site for his brother-in-law, who lived in Des Moines. Back then, the site was called Page City, but came to be known as Page. Frank Longstaff was the first postmaster, and the town formally incorporated in 1903.
Cass County has produced several North Dakota governors, especially from Casselton, but Page also contributed a governor. Louis B. Hanna was North Dakota’s eleventh governor. He came to Dakota Territory in 1881, initially farming near Hope, but he moved to Page the following year, the start of a 17-year residency in the town. He owned grain and lumber businesses and also worked as a banker. His bank went on to become the First National Bank of Page, where he was president. Hanna entered state politics in 1895, serving in the state House, then the Senate. He moved to Fargo in 1899, where he became vice president of the First National Bank. In 1905, he was elected again to the state Senate. And in 1909, it was off to Washington as the state’s congressman during the Taft administration.
He switched hats once again in 1913 to begin his one term as governor. His tenure included a trip to Norway where he presented Norwegian citizens a statue of Abe Lincoln. He also served in France during World War One as a captain for the American Red Cross, and was made an officer of the French Legion of Honor.
Louis Benjamin Hanna of Page died in Fargo in 1948 at the age of 86. He’s buried in Fargo’s Riverside Cemetery.
And tiny Page? Well, the population’s gone up a touch the last 20 years, now standing right around two-hundred thirty.
Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura
Wick, D.A. (1989). North Dakota place names. Bismarck, ND: Prairie House