Memorial Hall honorees

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Albert T. Thompson


Albert Theodore (A.T.) Thompson was born at Star Prairie, Wis., on July 5, 1875. He grew up on a small farm and received his education near Star Prairie. As a young man, he worked in the logging camps in northern Wisconsin and on the docks at Lake Superior. In 1903, A.T. married Julia Ekern and together with his sister, Gena, they managed a variety store in Cameron, Wis. A son, Leslie, was born in 1904.

The Thompson family came west in 1906 and homesteaded in Billings County, near present-day Fairfield. A.T.'s and Julia’s homestead was alongside a main north-south route, which today is U.S. Highway 85. Located midway between the Northern Pacific Railroad at Belfield and the Little Missouri River, the homestead was a busy overnight resting and refueling stop for travelers and their teams. Sons Vernon, Allan W., and Ellis joined the family by 1913.

Besides the location and four sons, a Percheron sire named Mitchell was instrumental to the growth and success of the Thompson family’s operation. Draft horses raised and broke by the Thompsons were sold locally and many were shipped to a broker in upstate New York. Prior to the 1930s Depression era, besides the draft horses, the Thompsons raised small grains on about 500 acres and ran several hundred head of mostly Hereford cattle on the ranch and on shares with other residents in the area.

When the 1930s dust had settled, A.T. Thompson’s ranch became A.T. Thompson and Son, with Allan W. Thompson. The draft horse breeding diminished and finally ended in the later 1940s. Much of the farmland was returned to grass for hay, and the cattle herd stabilized at about 350 cows and yearlings. A.T. and Julia fully retired and moved to Dickinson in 1952, when A.T. became a regular fixture at the local livestock auction markets weekly sales for many more years.