Steele County is located in the eastern portion of North Dakota. It was established in June of 1883.
The story of the agitation of Steele as a separate county reflected the eagerness of each fledgling town in the area to be the biggest and the best. Hope had been the county seat of the larger Griggs County; but in 1882 the county seat moved to Cooperstown. With this event the seeds of the "secession movement" to establish Steele county were firmly planted. The residents of southeastern Griggs County did not want to see Hope forego the prestige and possibility for growth that being a county seat provided for the town.
To the east, in Trail County, another county seat waged war, this one between Hillsboro and Traill Center. Since a new Steele County would take much of rural population that supported the Traill Center as the county seat, Hillsboro residents were all for Steele County. The Hope Pioneer newspaper was full of pro-Steele County articles in the months before the June, 2 1883 election to decide if the new county would be established.
On election day an effort was made to have every eligible male in the Hope area cast a vote. The hope paper reported election irregularities in Traill Center, including a mob of men who allegedly drove the election out of town. When the poles closed there was a clear line of how voting in the town processed.
Although the grueling creation of a county was completed, the citizens were faced with the monumental task of setting up a county government. Nevertheless, the development of Steele County was the reaction of the citizens to reform if certain situations did not meet their desired outcome.
Steele County Historical Society
The Steele County Historical Society is a non-profit educational organization founded in 1966 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, and making accessible to the public, information and objects relating to the history of Steele County.
Although incorporated and granted tax-exempt status in 1966, the group's origin can be traced to about 1957, when local historians gathered to help celebrate Hope;s 75th anniversary. This group evolved into the Hope Community Historical Society, which then became the countywide organization in 1966.
The organization has grown and developed over the years, and now operates a historical museum, archives, and cultural center at its facilities, which are located on one block in the center of Hope, North Dakota. Hope is a tiny town (population 280) in one of the smallest counties (population 2400) in North Dakota. Yet this organization continues to thrive and has earned a reputaion as one of the most active local historical organizations in the state.
The group has more than one hundred members, a board of nine volunteer directors, and operates on a budget of approximately $40,000 per year. A part time Museum/Artistic Director oversees operations and supervises staff and volunteers, which normally consist of one senior worker and one youth worker (working under Job Service North Dakota programs), a summer intern, and about ten active volunteers.
The collections have been donated by the people of the county, and include home, school, church, and lodge furnishings, buggies, sleighs, vintage clothing, quilts, needlework, general store merchandise, newspapers, journals, family histories, photographs, toys, dolls, books, folk art, farm implements, musical instruments, cook stoves, churns, windmills, spinning wheels, looms, and much more.
The Steele County Historical Society maintains numerous collections including a large textile collection with items dating from the 1880s, a toy tractor collection with more than 900 pieces, and a collection of artifacts from the Masons and Odd fellows, and more. The Society also maintains an archive collection that includes diaries, correspondence, and personal/business records of early pioneers in Steele County. The Museum houses an extensive collection of genealogical records of Steele County residents throughout the past century. Please feel free to come and research in Hope. We would love to have you and offer all possible assistance!