Benson County, North Dakota Genealogy
Guide to Benson County, North Dakota ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.
- 1 County Information
- 2 Resources
- 2.1 Bible Records
- 2.2 Biographies
- 2.3 Business, Commerce, and Occupations
- 2.4 Cemeteries
- 2.5 Census Records
- 2.6 Church Records
- 2.7 Court Records
- 2.8 Directories
- 2.9 Emigration and Immigration
- 2.10 Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups
- 2.11 Funeral Homes
- 2.12 Genealogies
- 2.13 Guardianship
- 2.14 Land and Property Records
- 2.15 Local Histories
- 2.16 Maps and Gazetteers
- 2.17 Migration
- 2.18 Military Records
- 2.19 Naturalization and Citizenship
- 2.20 Newspapers
- 2.21 Obituaries
- 2.22 Other Records
- 2.23 Periodicals
- 2.24 Probate Records
- 2.25 School Records
- 2.26 Tax Records
- 2.27 Vital Records
- 3 Research Facilities
- 4 Societies
- 5 Websites
- 6 Research Guides
- 7 References
The county was named for B.W. Benson, a member of the Dakota Territory legislature. The county government was first organized on June 4, 1884. The county seat is Minnewauka. The County is located in north central area of the state. 
Benson County Courthouse
311 B Ave Street
Minnewaukan, ND 58351
Benson County Courthouse Website
Clerk District Court has birth records from late 1890’s, marriage
records from late 1800’s, divorce, probate and court records from 1895
and burial records from Register of Deeds has land records
Clerk District Court Website
Benson County, North Dakota Record Dates
Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.
|late 1890s||late 1800s||1895||1883||1883||1883||1836|
Full compliance by 1924.
There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.
The following are locations in the county
Spirit Lake Reservation is located primarily in Benson County, with a portion in Eddy County. Historically it was also known as Devils Lake Reservation, and sometimes incorrectly referred to as Fort Totten Reservation.
- Benson County Biographies, on North Dakota Genealogy Trails website - alphabetical list of early settlers and prominent individuals from county histories
- North Dakota Biography Index at North Dakota State University Archives - Index only; gives references to publications containing information on North Dakotans, living and deceased
Business, Commerce, and Occupations
Before North Dakota was a state in 1889, parts of North Dakota were included in the 1836 Iowa Territory census (also known as Wisconsin Territory), 1840 Iowa Territory census, 1850 Minnesota Territory census, and the 1860-1880 Dakota Territory censuses. See links listed below.
- Benson County Census Records, USGenWeb Archives
Territory and State Census Records
- 1836 - 1836 Wisconsin Territory Census – index only; North Dakota was included in the 1836 Wisconsin Territory Census
- 1840 - United States Census, 1840 at FamilySearch Historical Records — index and images; North Dakota was included in the 1840 Iowa Territory Census
- 1850 - United States Census, 1850 at FamilySearch Historical Records — index and images; North Dakota was included in the 1850 Minnesota Territory Census
- 1860 - United States Census, 1860 at FamilySearch Historical Records — index and images; North Dakota was included in the 1860 Dakota Territory Census
- 1870 - United States Census, 1870 at FamilySearch Historical Records — index and images; North Dakota was included in the 1870 Dakota Territory Census
- 1880 - United States Census, 1880 at FamilySearch Historical Records — index and images; North Dakota was included in the 1880 Dakota Territory Census
- 1885 Dakota Territory 1885 Census Index at NDSU Archives – index only
- 1885, 1915, 1925 North Dakota, Territorial and State Censuses, 1885, 1915, 1925 at Ancestry.com – ($), index and images
- 1915 North Dakota Census, 1915 at FamilySearch Historical Records — index and images
- 1925 North Dakota Census, 1925 at FamilySearch Historical Records — index and images
Federal Census Records
Federal Censuses were taken for the state of North Dakota starting in 1890, although no records survived. The 1900 Census is the next Federal Census available. For links to Federal census indexes, see North Dakota Census.
Church records can be found online, kept onsite at the church, or housed in a church archive or library. See North Dakota Church Records for more information on how to locate the records.
Online Church Records
- 1875-1940 - U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Records, 1875-1940 at Ancestry — ($); Index and images; Dates vary for each county
- Records of Flora Lutheran Church in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America database at Archives.com ($).
Emigration and Immigration
Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups
Land and Property Records
When the United States acquired North Dakota, most of the land became available for homesteading or purchase from the federal government. After land was transferred from the government to private owners, the registrar of deeds in each county recorded the land transactions in the form of deeds and mortgages. For more information, see North Dakota Land and Property.
Online Land Records
- Benson County BLM Land Records Index, USGenWeb Archives
- Land Patent Search - index to federal patents and homesteads on the Bureau of Land Management website, some images available
- 1796-1907 - U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907 at Ancestry - index, info taken from Bureau of Land Management website
- 1863-1908 - U.S. Homestead Records 1863-1908 at Ancestry.com - ($), index and images
For more information see North Dakota Land and Property
Local histories, including those of the county, are available for Benson County. These histories can include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information.
- Knox area history. 1977. Newgard, Thomas Phillip. Self Published. At various libraries (WorldCat).
Maps and Gazetteers
- Interactive Formation Boundary Map of North Dakota - shows boundary changes for North Dakota Counties
- North Dakota Maps at NDGenWeb -historical maps
- 1861-1865 - Dakota Territory Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865 at FamilySearch.
- 1890 - United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War, 1890 at FamilySearch.
World War I
- 1917-1918 - North Dakota Military Men 1917-1918 at Ancestry ($)
- 1917-1918 - Roster of the men and women who served in the army or naval service (including the Marine Corps) of the United States or its allies from the state of North Dakota in the World War, 1917-1918, Vols. 1-4 at Ancestry ($)
- World War I Casualties, Benson County (Genealogy Trails)
- Nels Wold, Congressional Medal of Honor Citation, USGenWeb Archives
World War II
- World War II Army Casualties, Benson County (Genealogy Trails)
- World War II Navy Casualties, Benson County (Genealogy Trails)
- Korean War Casualties, Benson County (Genealogy Trails)
- Vietnam War Casualties, Benson County (Genealogy Trails)
For further information see North Dakota Military Records.
Naturalization and Citizenship
Online Naturalization Indexes and Records
- North Dakota Naturalization Records Index at NDSU Archives – index only, covers various dates and counties
For more information, see North Dakota Newspapers.
North Dakota Newspapers Online
- GenealogyBank - ($), contains images of North Dakota newspapers
- Newspaper Archive - ($), contains images of North Dakota newspapers
- Chronicling America - contains images of some North Dakota newspapers; searching tips
- Elephind - Free; search engine that retrieves newspaper images from other free newspaper websites
North Dakota Newspaper Catalogs
- U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present on Chronicling America - contains a list of all known newspapers and the dates they cover; once you locate a newspaper name, contact the local library to see if they have copies of the newspaper
- State Historical Society of North Dakota - contains inventory and catalog of all known ND newspapers
- Benson Obituaries (NDGenWeb project)
- Obituaries and Death Notices, Benson County (Genealogy Trails)
- Cornelia Olava Isaacs Torgerson, 1954 (USGenWeb Archives)
Probate records, including wills and estates, are at the county clerk's office. See also North Dakota Probate Records.
Online Probate Records
- 1800 – 1985 North Dakota and South Dakota Wills and Probate Records 1800-1985 at Ancestry.com — index and images $
- 1917-1925 - Maddock High School Graduates, 1917-1925 (Genealogy Trails)
County tax records are at the county treasurer's, auditor's or clerk's office in the county courthouse. Some tax records may have been moved to the North Dakota State Archives.
Birth, marriage, death, and divorce records may be recorded on registers, certificates, or other documents at the county clerk's office. Many records are also being digitized and put online. See North Dakota Vital Records for more information about availability and how to access them.
- 1872-1958 - North Dakota, County Marriages, 1872-1958 at FamilySearch — index and images
- Benson County Marriage Announcements (Genealogy Trails)
North Dakota State University Archives
West Building 3551 7th Avenue
NFargo, ND 58102
Libraries NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Family History Centers
Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes.
Fort Totten State Historic Site
PO Box 224
Fort Totten, ND 58335
Lake Region Pioneer Daughters Museum
at Fort Totten State Historic Site
c/o Bonnie McNaughton
817 7th St. NE
Devils Lake, ND 58301-2634
Brenorsome Historical Society
c/o Louis Garcia
PO Box 232
Tokio, ND 58379
Minnewaukan Historical Society
c/o Richard Peterson
PO Box 183
Minnewaukan, ND 58351-0183
- USGenWeb project - Benson County. May have maps, name indexes, history or other information for this county.
- FamilySearch Catalog The FamilySearch catalog contains descriptions and access information for all genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications) in their collection. Use Historical Records to search for specific individuals in genealogical records.
- USGenWeb Archives - Benson County
- Benson County, North Dakota Genealogy and Family History (Linkpendium)
- Benson County, North Dakota (Genealogy Trails)
- Benson County Genealogy (LDS Genealogy)
- The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
- Benson County, North Dakota Genealogy and History (Genealogy Trails)
- Wikipedia contributors, "Benson, North Dakota," in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benson_County,_North_Dakota accessed 8/27/2018
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Benson County, North Dakota. Page 522 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
- Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Benson County, North Dakota. Page 522 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 517.
- Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Rev. ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 1992), 562; Alice M. Hetzel, U.S. Vital Statistics System: Major Activities and Developments, 1950-95 (Hyattsville, Md.: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, ), 58.
- The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
- Wikipedia contributors, "Benson County, North Dakota," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia
- Alice Eichholz, ‘’Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources,’’ 3rd ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 2004), 511. Free online version; FHL Book 973 D27rb 2004; WorldCat entry.