City of Ray

City of Ray City of Ray, doings and announcements.

Operating as usual


City of Ray office will be closed Friday, December 24th
Friday, December 31st

Utility payments can NOW be left at CITY HALL- use black drop box to right or north of new front doors!!

Call 568-2204 with any questions.


Great Plains Food Boxes
CANCELLED for 11-24/21


Utility payments.
Please use the drop box at City Hall. The black payment slot is to the right/north of new front doors!!
We r getting closer to moving back.



The village of Ray grew rapidly in 1903, which prompted the organization of the “Ray Booster Club” by Emil Gunderson. Its purpose was to promote and sponsor activities. Churches, schools, streets, and improvements came about through this club.
The need for entertainment was a concern of the club. In 1903, they held the first 4th of July celebration, which attracted a crowd of about 3000 people. The first basketball game was held that day. Carl Mathisen was an accordion player from Norway. He played an accordion and drums at the same time. He advertised himself as a “One Man Orchestra.” He entertained at the Opera House and at various dances around the area. His son, Ralph was also a gifted singer.
Orhpa Brunsvold reminisced about membership in the One O’clock Dance Club, which consisted of about 50 couples. The dances would start at 8 p.m. and end at 1 a.m. The ladies would come in their best attire and there was no drinking allowed.
The Ray Auditorium, owned by the Brunsvold family, because the center for entertainment. It was used regularly for dances, roller skating, traveling shows, and reunions. The ray school also used it for graduation ceremonies and for a temporary gymnasium when the high school burned in 1948.
The Bijou Theatre was operated by L. B. McFarlin and Carl Mathisen (1912). Silent movies were shown with Mrs. McFarlin providing the piano music. Through the years it provided good entertainment for the young and old. Prior to the main feature, a news reel would be shown, as well as a short serial (usually a western story) that would keep patrons coming back week after week. Donald and Donny were the last owners of the theatre. They closed it in 1960. There were only two people at the last movie. They were Julaine Christensen and Phyllis (Jacobson) Amb.
In 1922, William Brunsvold organized the Knickerbocker band financed largely by local businessmen. There were 20 to 30 boys in this band, ranging from 8 to 18. Mr. Brunsvold was the leader, promoter, and teacher. He was very strict. It was apparent that if one was not interested in music, he was out. They presented concerts at the auditorium on Saturday nights. During the summer they played from a bandstand on Main Street.
This band also toured L. B. McFarlin was the advance man and went ahead to make arrangements. They traveled in touring cars in caravan fashion. This was sometimes very difficult because of the poor road conditions in those days. On one trip to Billings, Montana, the boys were able to buy watermelon for 10 cents each. Some became ill from overeating and were unable to perform.
The Knickerbockers organized similar bands in other areas. They were given high ratings at music contests.
Church sponsored events provided much of the early entertainment. After services some members of the congregation participated in various games, while others enjoyed visiting.
House Parties were popular. Several families would gather at a neighbor’s home. Everyone would provide food and refreshments. The furniture would be moved out, rugs rolled up, and dancing would be enjoyed. Music was provided by self-taught musicians. Various games of cards were also played. Whist and rummy seemed to be the most popular.

Please share, share, share…..If you know a neighbor that needs help getting things to the curb- the City is willing to p...

Please share, share, share…..
If you know a neighbor that needs help getting things to the curb- the City is willing to pick things up and get to roll-offs- just call us!!!

Please share, share, share…..
If you know a neighbor that needs help getting things to the curb- the City is willing to pick things up and get to roll-offs- just call us!!!


FUN FACT FRIDAY! in honor of deer opener!

There are rare indications that hunting and trapping were actively engaged in at the nineteenth century. An advertisement of the Ontario Store indicates it did a brisk trade in furs. A furrier in Ray made coats. Reports of bounties paid by the County Commission filled several newspaper columns monthly. Sharpshooters were bringing wolves in for bounty and the occasional bald eagle in 1905. The amount of bounty received depended on whether the wolf was a gray timber or prairie (coyote) wolf.
Hunters had restrictions on limits and the three guys that shot 225 ducks at Cottonwood Lake in three days were right on target (1907) The duck population has grown and grown. A bird watcher would be pleased to document the various species; whereas, the farmer, knowing the extensive damage they can do to a crop, develops a hatred. Ray lies in the migratory fly way. Pelicans and Canadian geese nest every spring at Lake McLeod and spend the summer.
Whenever the grasshoppers are thick the skunks plentiful. In the twenties skunk pelts were marketable, the less white the higher the value. One farm lad sent 200 pelts to Montgomery Wards, but Monkey’s didn’t pay enough so he had them returned and planned to send them to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. The depot agent complained, “I sure hope you sell them this time.” Skunks brought $1.50, prime coyotes $6 and a weasel fifty to seventy-five cents.
One week in November of 1931 there were 800 antlered deer killed on the river flats ranging from the state line Bismark. The sharp reduction in population must have been noticed in Williams County for years to come. There were few deer in the Ray area in the fifties and sixties. Today they are quite plentiful. In the thirties, the Wildlife Club of Ray released Hungarian partridge, wild turkey and pheasants. So many members had to be farmers and the land had to be posted for a few years. The birds multiplied rapidly, except for the turkeys, which moved down to the river.
The Ray Sportsman Club released twenty-two wild turkeys in the mid-nineties, which have grown to a flock of about one hundred and sixty, who stay in one tight area close to the Kota Ray Dam. Other game birds are the plentiful native grouse and a fluctuating population of Hungarian partridge. The Sportsman Club released ring-necked pheasants each year 1995 through 1999. The birds were tagged, and the core group was released on property that is open to public access for hunting. Farmers donate screenings and the pheasants have two feeders. Winter casualties are caused by the pheasants’ eyes icing over.
Wildcats have never been plentiful in recent memory, but “Dutch” LaBere shot one of the last lynx in about 1949. Duane Imsland brought one of the last bobcats to town in about 1954.
Two ermine were watched (rare a sighting) playing a cold crisp winter day in 1976. Muskrat are plentiful when the sloughs are full. No one is sorry the destructive beaver is gone.



There was a free land in Williams County in 1901, but there was a price to be paid. The Commissioner of Immigration made the following statement (1887), “A man, the head of the family and tending to settle upon a farm, should have, in money or property, not less than $500. Even then, the settler must be possessed of grit and energy to succeed.”
At the very least a claim shack, built or rented, had to be put on the homestead. A claim shack was typically one room, maybe eight feet by twelve. Sometimes as large as sixteen by twenty. A coal burning stove and a mattress were the essentials. The foolish had single board walls with tarpaper exteriors. To survive a winter the inside had to be insulated in some manner. The shacks either a sod, ridge, lean-to, or hip roof. A few of these shacks have survived and can be seen mounted on wheels. Threshing crews used them as cook cars. A sod house typically had one door and a trap door in back which was opened to let in light.
Eva Kleven recalls “My Aunt, Solveig Larson, said that one bitterly cold winter night in her homestead shack, she pulled her cot so close that she could feed the stove without getting out of bed. With overcoat, cap, overshoes, and mittens as her night clothes, she kept the little combination cookstove and heater red hot, while her coffee pot which was pulled slightly to the side, froze.”
Improvements on the land required by the Homestead Act usually included breaking, picking rocks, and maybe boring a well, the farmer in 1902 brought his stock with him in the immigrant car. He received free railroad passage if he rode with his stock. A homesteader without stock or machinery hired his breaking done.
Iva (Ulshafer) Nielson recalled, “They (Orville and Nellie Ulshafer) hauled all their water for drinking, cooking, washing, and watering stock from a creek five or six miles away in wooden barrels on a stone-boat drawn by horses. Later, they got their well dug in 1904 or 1905 by a well driller whose name was Levi Gas. He had a big bucket, three feet in diameter and perhaps four feet deep, with an auger in the center bottom like a huge post-hole digger.
“This was raised and lowered from a derrick and powered by a team of horses pulling a sweep around a circle. They dug 101 feet deep, got water and stopped digging because it was solid coal. The well was so full of gas that, when a lighted lantern was held at the top of it, the gas put the light out. It was curbed up with planks, standing endwise which stood about three feet above the ground.”
If a settler intended to commute, he could reduce his expenses by spending the required six months residency on the homestead during the summer, thereby decreasing his need for coal. However, when the residency for commuting went to fourteen months there was a winter’s worth of coal that had to be bought; twenty to thirty tons at about a dollar a ton.
Pearl (Reeser) Long recalled, “In those first early years, if we (J. F. Reeser in Golden Valley Township) ran out of lignite coal in the winter, some of the neighbors would get together to make the long trip as they would have to stay overnight, and often other teams would have to be unhitched from their wagon to help the head team through the deep snow when the trail was opened. I remember my mother standing at the little west window when it began to get dark and when she would see them coming, she would dance in a circle and clap her hands, her long skirts flying. She was so happy they had gotten through.”
Reported in the Wonder of Williams, “For heat against the cold and bitter winters, after the boys got old enough to drive a team of horses, Andrew (Westman) and his sons would go to the lignite mines for four triple-box loads of coal. That carried them through the heating season (Oliver Township – 1907). As for food, Andrew was always a good provider. In the fall of the year, he would stock 2,000 pounds of flour, 200 pounds of sugar, 100 pounds of coffee and 100 pounds of salt. He would slaughter a beef and a couple of hogs. Anna always did a lot of vegetable and fruit canning, besides making jellies and jams.”
The settler was nearly self-sufficient having poultry, stock, and a garden. A ‘ring’ of families participated in butchering. Louis Kiffe would bring his knives and kill a steer or hog. Everybody participated in preparing it for sharing. Cleaning out the big tub after butchering was a hard and distasteful job.
Martha Tancre remembers, “I was kept busy milking, cleaning barns, and butchering chickens. When someone came and we didn’t have anything else, I caught a chicken and wrung its neck. I dunked it in hot water, plucked it, seared it, and drew it. At that time, I had a pressure cooker and could have it done in half an hour.
“The rural mail carrier would bring my baby chicks out in the spring. I ordered them through The Farmer. When they were ready to butcher, and I saw Cleo (mailman) coming, I would get one ready and put it in the mailbox for him. Cleo (Gould) just said the other day at lunch like the ones he used to find in the mailbox.”
“The kids used to run around the country and ‘coon’ a few chickens to have fry. Real raccoons did get a few of my chickens.
The white leghorns laid white eggs. The bigger chickens: English Leghorns, Plymouth Rock, and Rhode Island Red, laid brown eggs which were bigger. The English leghorns were good fryers. The Plymouth Rocks had speckled feathers. The white Wyndots are a bigger heavy white; good for mothers if you want to raise chickens. Eggs aren’t supposed to be good for you but sometimes Alvin ate a dozen a day.”
Mr. O. L. Alspach’s chickens (1909) produced 272 dozen eggs in six months and produced 150 young chickens that summer. In March alone, they produced 65.5 dozen eggs. Empty tin cans dotted the prairie near the shacks; unless the settler was on a limited diet, such as, potatoes and salt or bean soup. Magdalene Ulmen remarked that she never had to worry about what to have for meals because, “…the menu was always the same, syrup bread for breakfast, dinner and supper.” A bachelor couple lived on jack rabbits and biscuits.
Those farmers coming with the intent of receiving the 160 acres free, by living five years on the claim, had to have resources for living expenses.
Every little bit of income earned increases the homesteader’s quality of life.


FUN FACT FRIDAY is back!!!
Due to illness and life- we missed a few weeks, our apologies.

As each area was settled (relatively in a short time) two or three families with perhaps six or seven students would start a school in a homestead shack. Within a few years they usually had a framed building built. A township might have three or four schools by the time it was fully settled.
A relative local homesteader taught at those first schools. Within ten some teachers had taught at two or three schools within the area. The schools often had split summer terms. Sometimes a school board requested a teacher that did not have a teaching certificate. The county superintendent might issue her a special certificate allowing her to teach. The teacher was supposed to be eighteen years old, but this wasn’t the case.
Around 1905 a female teacher received $45 per month and a male teacher $10 more. The newspaper aired the view that this pay was scandalously low that teachers were paid less than the servant.
Parents often judged a teacher on how much they enjoyed the Christmas party, how well and cheaply the teacher heated the school, her ability to discipline, and the number of students who passed or failed the seventh and eighth grade exams.
Country school teacher, Amanda Hegge, told of one of her experiences with the school furnace; “I banked the furnace in the evening before leaving school and evidently had not allowed enough draft for the coal to burn. Gas built up in the furnace, and when I opened the door to poke the ashes and clinkers through the grate. Wham!! The explosion blew hot ashes all over me.”
By 1915 teachers earned approximately $115 per month. At this time teachers usually had a Second Grade Certificate and were renewing it every two years by attending six weeks of summer school in Minot.
St. Olaf college, Morten Mortenson, taught three different schools in Farmvale Township (1910 and after). He homesteaded and later served two terms as State Representative and still later as Williams County Auditor and Treasurer (1930s).
Ohio State University graduate, Lineley Groves, taught the McGill School (Rainbow Township in 1911.
State law ruled that all children eight through fourteen years of age attend school if they lived within 2.5 miles of school. It also decreed that fifty percent of the students must attend at least sixty days of school or that school lost all its tax dollars. The teachers had the option to record of attendance published in the newspaper. Tardiness was a big problem.
Students in the early 1900s celebrated Parent’s Day, Good Citizenship Day, Lafayette Day, John Marshall Day, Illiteracy Day, Flag Day, Play Day, Arbor Day, Memorial Day, and the bicentennial anniversary of Ben Franklin’s Day. They celebrated Swedish and Norwegian national holidays.
Mrs. Raymond Ring gave this description of an early 1900 country school, “All of these schools (Rainbow Township) had one room and were heated by a big coal stove in the middle. The teacher served as janitor and usually stayed with one of the families close to the school. The State Course of Study was the guide for the teachers to follow. Ten minutes were allowed each morning for opening exercises, usually singing or the teacher would read a story aloud. This same period could also be used to read the Bible. In language class certain poems and the Twenty-Third Psalm had to be memorized. The seventh and eighth graders had to take final tests sent out by the state Superintendent of Public Instruction.” On cold winter days the children marched around the room until hear from the furnace could be felt.
According to an elderly child of settlers: “Even if you weren’t wild about doing something, you did it, it was expected. People believed the homilies they were told and tried to live by them. Momma and daddy were both firm believers that every charitable act was stepping stone toward heaven. That joy in this world came from caring for others, offering help to others, opening a door, or giving a smile, to live with daily charity and peace of mind were the common currency of living.”
Schools and churches were the township’s community centers; Homesteaders’ children can relate that they seldom went to town. They attended school parties and plays, picnics, and meetings at the school.
Clara (Daniel) Olson told of attending a basket social at Beaver Creek School in the twenties, “There would be singing, plays, recitation, pantomimes and sometimes a musical number.” The decorated baskets full of food would be auctioned off. After eating, the children would play games and then someone would start playing the organ and soon the adults would be dancing. The merrymaking went on until early morning, but the adults had to be home in time to do chores. Clara told of how proud the students were to raise money from their programs and then decide how the money was to be spent.
“A most delightful and entertaining evening was spent at the Kerbaugh schoolhouse last Friday. The entertainment, in the form of an old-fashioned singing school was led by Mr. Kerbaugh, as Squire Jezekiah Jenkinson. The school consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Hoar, Mr. and Mrs. Rorebeck, Mr. and Mrs. Roseth, and many others of the Beaver Creek vicinity. The old-fashioned idea was carried out in their dress. The ladies in full skirts and sleeves and the men in short trousers and fancy waist coats, presented a very laughable sight. Great credit is due those who took part. At the close of the evening a delicious lunch was served.”
Around 1915, encouraged by the State Board of Education and influenced by the advent of automobile, country schools consolidated. The schools in Brooklyn Township consolidated in 1913. The school had two large rooms, one for the four lower grades and the other for the four upper grades. The sliding door between the two rooms could be opened to make one large room. It had a library, a kitchen, cloak rooms, and a recreation room in the basement.
A few one room schools and some of the consolidated schools were still operating in the 1950s. During the fifties, schools were redistricted, and many of the students found themselves going to the nearest school in town. Township meetings were held in the vacant schools, and they continued as community centers. Presently, there are four rural schools in Williams County.


101 Main St
Ray, ND

Opening Hours

Monday 8am - 12pm
1pm - 3pm
Tuesday 8am - 12pm
1pm - 3pm
Wednesday 8am - 12pm
1pm - 3pm
Thursday 8am - 12pm
1pm - 3pm
Friday 8am - 12pm




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There’s a black lab- looks like the pup with the blue collar running over just north of the Ray Elevator. Headed west.
There’s a black lab with a red collar just west of Ray in the field on the north side.
If anyone is missing a small lap dog possibly older let us know we found one!!!
Anyone missing a black lab? He’s been in my yard all night. I’ll call to have him taken to the pound shortly.
If anyone has seen this dog around Ray, please call me. 701-641-1561. Last seen around 1:15 Sunday. Her name is Cedar.
The wind broke some power wires on Main Street. Power is out to some parts of town. MDU has been called and crew should be here to fix the issue before to long.
On another ND FB page... someone was asking what this hamburger & fries was all about, and stated it was located on Hwy 2 outside of Ray, ND. Can anyone explain? Thank You! :-)
Concern Patron about barking dog.. I’ve been home for over an hour a a poor cold and it’s darn cold dog has barking nonstop!!! What is the matter with the owner that he is still out in the weather?? Who can I call???
Thank you for cleaning off the walking path! No ice today :) You guys rock.
Anyone lose a grey cat with white patches in Ray. Seems nice. He/She is chilling in front of my garage in Ray. 24 Lake St. Pretty distinctive white patch over its eye. No collar.
Loving the new library box! Thanks so much!
I forgot to add another neighbor.. Delores G. Thank you so much for your kindness and opening your house up today. We are Blessed.