Volume 2: Midwest United States
North Dakota: ND-13

Benedictines. Assumption Abbey. Archives
418 Third Avenue West
Richardton, ND 58652

Phone: 701-974-3315


Open: By appointment only

Access: Some restrictions apply

Copying facilities: Yes


History: The Benedictines self-identify with the post-nominal initials, "O.S.B." They founded Assumption Monastery, 1893, which was elevated to an abbey, 1903. Assumption Abbey administered the following Native American (Arikara, Hidatsa, Mandan) missions on the Fort Berthold Reservation, North Dakota.

1889-1969 (closed)

Immaculate Conception/ Sacred Heart Mission, Packineau Dam Site/ Elbowoods

1906-1969 (closed)

St. Andrew Mission, Nishu/ Armstrong

1906-1969 (closed)

Holy Family/ St. Michael Mission, Shell Creek/ Shell Village

1907-1921 (closed)

St. John Mission, Crow Heart's Landing

1911-1980s (transferred to Bismarck Diocese)

St. Anthony Church, Mandaree/ Independence

1928-1980s (transferred to Bismarck Diocese)

St. Joseph Mission, Twin Buttes/ Crow's Heart

1955-1970 (closed)

Queen of Peace Mission, Raub

1963-1980s (transferred to Bismarck Diocese)

Sacred Heart Mission, White Shield


Holdings of Catholic records about Native Americans:

Inclusive dates: 1815-1980s, undated

Volume: At least 5.0 cubic feet

Description: 4 series include Native Catholic records:


/1 "Parishes"

Inclusive dates: 1887-1980s, undated

Volume: At least 1 cubic foot, 1 reel of microfilm, and 3 audiotapes

Description: Indian mission records are found in the "Fort Berthold Reservation Records":

A. Correspondence, 1887-1913, 1915-1916, 1919, 1922, 1925-1931, 1933-1934, 1936-1937, 1951-1952, 1955, 1958-1959, .3 cubic foot: Major correspondents include Rev. Leon Favreau, Rev. Paul Lotter, Rev. Peter Fehrenbach, O.S.B., Rev. Reinhard Kaufmann, O.S.B., Rev. Aloysius Bittman, O.S.B., Bishop Vincent Wehrle and Bishop John Shanley, the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, and U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs; approximately one third of the letters are copies from other collections, most notably from the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Records, Marquette University Special Collections and Archives, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the Diocese of Fargo Archives, Fargo, North Dakota

B. Financial records, 1913-present, .2 cubic foot: Primarily annual financial reports

C. Audiotapes, 1975, 3 tapes: Rev. John Odermann interviewing his mother, Re: Sacred Heart Mission, Rev. Francis M. Craft, and the Congregation of American Sisters (Hunkpapa)

D. Photographs, 1910-1970s, undated, 340 prints

E. Mission publication, Smoke Signals, 1969-1971, 1 folder

F. Histories and historical notes, 1940s-1970s, .2 cubic foot: most of the historical notes are written by Rev. Louis Pfaller; includes the first draft of Rev. Pfaller's thesis, "Catholic Missionaries and the Fort Berthold Indians before 1889"

G. Sacramental records, 1889-1968, 1 reel of microfilm: baptisms, 1889-1968, marriages, 1892-1967, deaths, 1918-1942, 1951-1968, first communions, 1955-1967, and confirmations, 1929-1967


/2 "Members"

Inclusive dates: 1914-1980s, undated

Volume: Ca. 2 cubic feet and several reels of microfilm

Description: Arranged alphabetically by surname.

A. Berheide, Reverend Edward, O.S.B., 1941-1954, .1 cubic foot:

1. Scrapbooks containing form letters sent to benefactors, 1941-1951, 1 volume

2. Lists of "begging letters" sent, 1945-1954, 1 folder: includes date, amount received, and number of masses said

B. Fehrenbach, Rev. Peter, O.S.B., 1914-1930, undated, .2 cubic foot:

1. Correspondence, 1915-1917, 1919-1920, 1922, 1924-1925, 1927, 1929, 3 folders: major correspondents include Bishop Vincent Wehrle, Bishop Vincent J. Ryan, and Rev. Martin Kenel, O.S.B.

2. Journal, 1914-1921, 1 volume

3. Photographs, undated, 6 prints

4. Biographical and personal records, undated, 1 folder

C. Kaufmann, Rev. Reinhard, O.S.B., 1931-1970s, undated, .5 cubic foot:

1. Correspondence, 1931-1972, 1 folder: to and from Abbot Alcuin Deutsch, O.S.B. and Abbot Cuthbert Goeb, O.S.B.

2. Biographical notes, undated, 1 folder

3. Photographs, 1930s-1970s, 1,250 photos: Indian and family related

D. Pfaller, Rev. Louis, O.S.B., 1940s-1970s, approximately 1.2 cubic feet and several reels of microfilm: primarily Rev. Pfaller's writings, his research notes, and copies of records he generated or collected; prominent items or topics include a partial copy of the Soeurs grises Chronicle for the Fort Totten Agency Schools, notes on the Fort Berthold Reservation, the "Roy Johnson Collection" of records relating to the Red River Valley, notes and copies of publications pertaining to Rev. Pierre-Jean de Smet, S.J., microfilm copies of federal Indian agency records obtained from the U.S. National Archives, and a manuscript copy of his book James McLaughlin, “The Man with an Indian Heart”


/3 "North Dakota - Ecclesiastical"

Inclusive dates: 1815-1880

Volume: 1 cubic foot (2,200 pages), or 3 reels of microfilm

Description: Contains the "Rev. Julius M. Belleau Collection," which includes records assembled by Rev. Belleau while pastor of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, Pembina, North Dakota, 1934-1947. The majority of the records are typescripts of correspondence (most in French) of French-Canadian missionaries in the Red River Valley among the Métis and Ojibwa Indians. The typescripts are arranged chronologically, and the majority are preceded by a table of contents and Reverend Belleau's summary in English of each letter. Major correspondents include Rev. Severe Joseph Nicholas Dumoulin, Rev. Joseph Norbert Provencher, Rev. Georges Antoine Belcourt, Rev. Joseph Goiffon, Rev. J. Lafleche, Rev. Lawrence Simonet, and Rev. Jean Baptiste M. Genin, O.M.I., Bishop Joseph-Octave Plessis, Bishop Alexander-Antonine Taché, O.M.I., and Joseph Rolette. In addition to the correspondence, the collection includes a baptismal register for Assumption Mission, Pembina, 1858-1862, created by Rev. Joseph Goiffon; historical notes by Rev. Julius Belleau; and biographies of Rev. Joseph Goiffon and Rev. Georges Belcourt. Rev. Belleau copied these records from the Archives of the Archidiocèse de Québec (Quebec, Quebec, Canada) and the Archives of the Archidiocèse de Sainte Boniface (Sainte Boniface, Manitoba, Canada) and then donated the collection to Assumption Abbey in 1956.


/4 "North Dakota - Secular"

Inclusive dates: 1876-1920

Volume: Approximately .3 cubic foot

Description: "Major James McLaughlin Papers," which include approximately 300 letters pertaining to Catholic Indian missions and schools, written primarily while McLaughlin was agent of the Fort Totten and Standing Rock reservations. Major correspondents include Bishop Martin Marty, O.S.B., Rev. John Baptist A. Brouillet, Director of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, Rev. Joseph A. Stephan, Indian Agent and later Director of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, Rev. Rev. Martin Kenel, O.S.B., Rev. Claude Ebner, O.S.B., Rev. Francis M. Craft, Rev. Louis Bonin, and Sister Clapin, S.G.N.


Unless otherwise noted, the repository on this page holds (or held) the records described here and they are not held at the Marquette University Archives.