General Info

Long before it was called Rolette County, it was known as Buffalo County. Abraham Lincoln appointed his friend Dr. William Jayne as governor of the territory. After several county line changes it was finally named Rolette county after “Jolly” Joe Rolette. He was a fur trader and a huge part of the development of North Dakota. In 1861, Yankton was the county seat but in 1883 settlers began arriving near St. John and Dunseith. In 1884 Dunseith was named as the new county seat. This created much controversy in the area. Residents from St. John petitioned to have the county seat be there and likewise with Dunseith residents. After much squabbling and repetitive arguing, neither side had respect for the others views. Both sides were said to have used illegal practices to get there way. There was a worse offender though. It is said that of the 225 voters from St. John, 1,125 votes were cast. This isn’t the end of it though. Officials from St. John went to Dunseith to get the records. On their way back, a large safe carrying important papers and books “fell” into a creek and scattered the documents. Although Dunseith residents felt they won the battle, they did eventually lose… In 1885 the county seat was moved to St. John but in 1890 was moved again, to Rolla.