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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Ashley Jewish Homesteaders Cemetery
Reference Number 15000807
State North Dakota
County McIntosh
Town Ashley
Street Address 48th Avenue Southeast. 3 miles north of Main Street and 5th Ave.W near Ashley, ND
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 11/17/2015
Areas of Significance Religion, Social History, Agriculture, Exploration/Settlement
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The Ashley Jewish Homesteaders Cemetery is significant under National Register Criterion A, as it is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history at the state level. Specifically, it is the only permanent physical reminder of the McIntosh County Jewish farming community --the largest Jewish agricultural settlement in North Dakota. North Dakota had the fourth largest number of Jewish homesteaders in any state in the United States - 1200 farmers who farmed on two hundred fifty homesteads in at least fifty settlements spread out over at least twenty-three counties. The McIntosh County Jewish homesteader community was made up of Russian and Romanian immigrants escaping persecution, including the Russian prohibition against Jews owning lawn for farming. They came to America after pogroms in their native lands, with a migration of 1.25 million fellow Jews between 1880 and 1920. Unlike the great majority of their Jewish brethren who remained on or near the east coast in bigger cities, they headed to "The Great Northwest" to become farmers. The Ashley settlers came in the second wave of immigration to North Dakota and sought a better life, despite having no farming experience and not being able to speak English upon their arrival. Most were successful enough as farmers to either own their land after the requisite five years under the Homestead Act, or to have purchased it outright prior to that time. Nevertheless, the McIntosh county homesteaders almost all moved off their farms to small towns and bigger cities within twenty years after arriving, for reasons set forth in Section 8. Despite their distance from the larger population centers in North Dakota, these Jewish farmers maintained their religious identity, as evidenced by the traditional ways in which they buried their own in this separate cemetery. Among those buried here are homesteaders who became leaders in the religious and business community of Ashley. The property has significance from 1906, when a Russian Jewish homesteader first claimed her homestead land on this site, through 1932, the year of the last burial in the cemetery, representing the end of the era of the farming Jewish homesteader in McIntosh County.

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria