History of Drayton, ND
The Original 12 Settlers
Other Early Settlers
Within weeks of the first settlers’ arrival, at least three cabins had been erected, and prairie was broken to begin farming on each of the claims selected by members of the little colony. The population was augmented by the arrival of other individuals attracted by letters from their settler friends, including Henry Healy, Frank Wallace, Rev. Almon Healy and his wife, A. W. McCrea’s family, William Mills, Frank Healy, Robert Tweedlie, Nathan Upham, James Bellamy, T.U. Henry, Ambrose Smith, Joseph Smith and his son D.K. Smith, R.B. Richardson, Isaac Mussel, and Charles, Frank, and Richard Edwards and their mother.
Some Early Events and Milestones
July 1, 1878 – First post office established (Ezra Healy, first postmaster), mail carried by stagecoach.
Oct 1879 – Disastrous prairie fire sweeps area, killing Michasel Duffy, Mrs. William Bellamy and her child. It also severely burned D.K. Smith and J.W. Fawcett. Considerable damage done to property.
1880 – Drayton formally organized; first river ferry began operation; first school built (James Healy, first teacher); first stores, hotel built; year of big immigration as railroad extended to St. Vincent on Minnesota side of the Red River brought immigrants who either walked to Drayton or were met by friends with ox carts.
First newspaper established, R.H. Young, editor
First church built, Methodist
Drayton, the Red River of the North, and Steamboats
Navigation on the Red River began in 1859 with the launching of the Anson Northrup at Fort Abercrombie. Steamboats became an important means of transporting people, equipment, and goods along the Red River. Some of the steamers’ names were the Minnesota, Dacotah, Manitoba, Alsop, Grand Forks, Grandin, Fram, Pluck, Selkirk, and Ogama. The last steamboat cruise from Grand Forks to Winnipeg was made with some fanfare in June 1909 and was hailed at the time as the beginning of a new era of pleasure excursions on that route. Unfortunately, it marked the death of such trips. By around 1912, the Grand Forks, and all the other steamboats and barges had long since fallen into disrepair and were disposed of.