North Dakota - Fall 2014 travel blog

City sign

The sign in Sentinal Butte

city sign



Uncle and Aunt


The fire engine in the Beach historical muesum (This is for Ken)

This goes with the fire engine

This journal entry may be boring to those of you that are not family. One of the reasons for coming to North Dakota was to visit the area where my mom and dad grew up. That is Sentinel Butte and Beach North Dakota.

We headed out this morning on old Hwy 10 out of Medora heading to Sentinel Butte about 15 miles west of Medora. My mom graduated from Sentinel Butte High School in a class of 8. My parents were also married in Sentinel Butte and we discovered the church they were married in had been torn down. Very disappointing! There were only about a couple dozen houses there, Small community of only about 60 people.

We continued on to Beach, ND another 15 miles away. A little bit bigger town and this is where my dad's family had a farm. We decided to go to the cemetery here to see how many relatives we could find. What we didn't know was that there is a Lutheran, public and Catholic cemeteries. Oh brother where do we start? We drove into the public cemetery and found a lady that was dealing with "moles", even in North Dakota. We asked her if she had directory. She said she did, but that it was at home. Hmmmm! She explained to us about the three cemeteries so after checking all through the public plots, which she stopped working and helped us, we moved into the Catholic section. I knew the family was Catholic, but not sure if anyone stayed active. Much to our delight, we found Nick & Bessie Gamroth and Tom & Henrietta (Babe) Gamroth and their 4 year old son, Thomas C. After getting pictures, we got ready to leave. I went back to let the lady know that we found who we were looking for. I asked her her name as I wanted to send a thank you to the cemetery board thanking them for her help. She said her name was Judy Ridenhower and she grew up in Sentinel Butte. She said she knew a Gamroth that worked at the Ford garage and wanted to know if that was a relative. Unfortunately, I didn't know. She didn't know Nick or Tom, but after some talking she did know of Charlie and Mary (Nick and Bessie's daughter). I told her we knew her as Mary Lu ( her name was Mary Luella). I asked her if it would be beneficial for me to go to the county historical society. She then said that she was the president/director of that and if we wanted to go have a bite to eat, she would clean up and meet us there. She was delightful!

After a great lunch at the only restaurant in town, where we stood out like a sore thumb as outsiders, we met her at the Golden Valley Historical Society. She had already been looking things up for us and found the plat map of the county and outside of Golva, ND found my grandfather's parcel of land. AJ Gamroth , my grandfather, Andrew had two sections of land and was a partner listed in a third section. My cousins, G. Hess and a section and then Jesok's, my father's mother's family had three or four sections of land. WE found Nick, Bessie, and Tom's obituaries. and then the most exciting of all. Judy remembered who she was thinking of that worked at the Ford garage. It was Willie Gamroth, Nick's son. She then told us that Willie's daughter, Judith Scheiffer was a long time resident of Beach and was working right next door. She went over to the school next door and brought Judith over. We got to meet her and learn all about her family. Willie, her dad, died in 1955, but her mother, Myrtle is alive in Butte, MT. She has 4 brothers and sisters and I got all their names and where they live.

We explored all the materials at the Historical Society and bought a Centennial book they had published in 2012 about all the schools in the area. There we found many relatives names and years. I was beyond excited.

We spent several hours with Judy and felt how lucky (or meant to be) that we ran into Judy Ridenhower at the cemetery. Many thanks to a wonderful lady! She made my day and trip!

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