Checkered Years House

Bonanzaville Historic House Tour

Checkered Years House

West Fargo, North Dakota 58078, United States

Created By: North Dakota State University


This home was built in the late 1800s on a bonanza farm in Mapleton Township. Mary Dodge Woodward lived in the home with her children from 1882 to 1889. Walter, one of her sons, had been hired to manage the 1,500 acre bonanza farm for their relative Daniel Dodge. Walter was paid $1000 per year along with expenses. The land was used to grow No.1 hard wheat.

Mary chronicled her life on the bonanza farm in her diary. The diary provides valuable insights on the life of a woman on a bonanza farm. For instance, Mary wrote that in 1882 there were only 2 buildings on the property but by 1887 there were 27 buildings. She wrote that people could easy mistake the farm for a town, especially if they were to build a saloon. She also writes that one winter the snow was as high as the second story window and, in another entry, that on a clear night it was possible to see the lights of Fargo from the upstairs window.

After moving back to Wisconsin in 1889, Mary became ill and passed away in 1890. After her death her granddaughter, Mary Boynton Cowdrey, compiled her diaries into a shortened form, The Checkered Years, which was first printed in 1937. The book is available for purchase in the Bonanzaville gift shop.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Bonanzaville Historic House Tour


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