The Founding of Fullerton, North Dakota

Sofia Fuller daughter of Samuel Fuller & wife of Edwin Sweet

Sofia Fuller daughter of Samuel Fuller & wife of Edwin Sweet

The founding of Fullerton is deeply embedded in earlier American history. The name Fullerton comes from the Fuller family whose ancestry includes Dr. Samuel Fuller, the physician for Plymouth colony who had arrived in America on the Mayflower.  Edward P. Fuller of Michigan was a direct descendent of Dr. Samual Fuller of Plymouth Colony. In the 1880’s Edward P. Fuller  was a major investor in the Dickey County Dakota land aquisitions made by his daughter and son-in-law, Sofia (Fuller) Sweet and Edwin Forrest Sweet.

Edwin Sweet was a Michigan lawyer, Grand Rapids Mayor, U.S. Congressman and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for both Presidents Wilson and Harding and was a close friend of Woodrow Wilson. Edwin and Sofia named their firstborn, Carroll Fuller Sweet, in honor of the Carroll branch of their ancestors. One of these ancestors, Charles Carroll, came to America in 1688 from Ireland where the O’Carroll named had been prominent for hundreds of years. His grandson, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The naming of Fullerton’s “Carroll House” derives from this linage.

In the early 1880’s as a foundation for the approximately three thousand acres that the Sweet’s had acquired in central Dickey County the “Sweet Ranch” was located just to the southwest of what would later become the city of Fullerton. In addition to grain crops Edwin Sweet planted thousands of forest and fruit trees. While developing their property into both a useful and attractive estate he enjoyed hunting and riding horseback for hours over the vast prairies. In the early years of

Home of Edwin and Sophia Sweet Family

Home of Edwin and Sophia Sweet Family

Fullerton they built a large “farm home” on the retreat in the Dakota’s. It was describe as being as modern and comfortable as their home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For up to four weeks at a time, throughout his career included the hectic years in Washington and into his retirement, Edwin Sweet continued to return to the land and people that he loved in North Dakota.

In 1887 Fullerton’s original town plots were surveyed. The Soo Line Railroad accepted the Sweets’ offer of free right-of-way through the town site. By September 1887 the railroad was completed followed by the construction of a railroad depot. The Sweets also donated land for a town cemetery, Union Church, baseball park and lots for several business establishments. In 1888 Edwin Sweet initiated the ground breaking for a 40 by 60 feet, three-story hotel with a Mansard roof  (reminiscent of some of the prominent Grand Rapids, Michigan, buildings of the time). The “Carroll House” was completed on June 1, 1889.

Edwin Sweet, son-in-law of Edwin Fuller

In an 1889 Michigan newspaper article Edwin Sweet is quoted, “…In 1882 Dickey County  was a wild, unbroken prairie, with not a foot of land occupied or a sod turned. Now, I don’t believe there is a foot of land in the county that is not owned, and most of it by actual settlers.
“Buildings are springing up everywhere, and comfortable, handsome buildings, too. Great big Pennsylvania barns, painted red and full to the rafters with hay, grain, stock and implements, dot the prairies in every direction and give substantial evidence of the unrivaled prosperity of the county. And all this in the space of six years… [Fullerton is] growing wonderfully, and the citizens of both the village and the surrounding country are as fine a class of people as I ever met anywhere.
“There is a big grain elevator there and another one in course of construction, and I haven’t doubt but that this fall they will handle from 150,000 to 200,000 bushels of grain. They haven’t got a church yet, but they have a Presbyterian organization and will soon have a church edifice. They hold services in the hall in the hotel, and that hotel, by the way, which I have just built and is now being finished, is the finest hotel on the ’Soo’ road west of Minneapolis. They have just bonded the town and sold the bonds for a new $3,000 schoolhouse, and everything in the town and in the country round about is in a good healthy state of growth and boom…”

In January of 1908 the people of Fullerton submitted a petition to the Dickey County Commissioners to allow it to become independent of the township and to incorporate. The County Commissioners approved the petition. On February 11, 1908, thirty-six of forty-four eligible voters cast their ballots and approved the incorporation by a vote of thirty-two to four.

On February 20, 1908 a Fullerton newspaper, the “Fullerton Farmer” included the following verse written by Edwin Forrest Sweet:


Fullerton, youngest village of the west,
And fairest; may thy future life be blest!
Municipalities from sea to sea
With arms outstretched, a welcome give to thee
And from their rich experience, gladly teach

Old historic photo of Fullerton, ND

Old historic photo of Fullerton, ND

How you their faults may shun and virtues reach.
As men who prosper most, must dare and do.
So ’tis with cities and will be with you.
But be not rash or try to move too fast.
Take steady gait and one you know will last.
No three-score-ten limits your earthly stay
But you’ll be young when we have passed away.
Yet, blind and short-lived creatures that we are
Your future’s in our hands, to make or mar.
With us it rests to say if you shall be
The home of order, thrift and courtesy.
Near Lincoln’s comes this fair birthday of thine
And Washington and good Saint Valentine.
May counsels wise your tottering footsteps guide
And keep you far from error and false pride!
May Providence its richest blessings pour
With lovely peace and plenty in great store!
And when your age to centuries extends
Kindly remember us, your first friends.

This article is based on material found on pages 63-74 as condensed and edited by JV Glynn from the book “1887 – Fullerton – 1987 A Century of Community”  published in 1986 by The Fullerton Centennial Book Committee and printed by J&M Printing, Gwinner, ND.