Other Hampdens (1): Hampden, North Dakota

How many Hampdens are there in this world?
The other day we looked up Hampden on Google. There are, of course, a few pages about our Hampden, but there are many other Hampdens. Hampdens of various sizes can be found in the US, Canada and South Australia. We noticed a village called Mount Hampden, just on the outskirts of Harare in Zimbabwe as well. And of course there is the original one in the UK, Great Hampden in Buckinghamshire. Like ours, most of these Hampdens and some ink-saving cousins without the 'p', are named after John Hampden, an Englishman who lived in the 17th century. He is the chap who is regarded as one of the designers of English style parliamentary democracy which we inherited in New Zealand and many other democratic countries where there are Hampdens. (Not too sure about Zimbabwe, but that is another story.)

We thought it was strange that we don't know much about these other Hampdens, even though we share the name. However, because we are all named after the same historic figure known as "the Patriot" perhaps there are some characteristics shared among Hampdenites? How nice if we could get in touch with people living in other Hampdens to find out how they live, eat, work and feel?

So we sent out emails to Hampdenites all over the world asking if they could contribute to the Rag and tell us what their Hampdens are like. The response so far has been overwhelming. Many want to hear about our Hampden as well.

The first reply was from North Dakota, USA and our correspondent was Judy Neidlinger.

Hampden, North Dakota is in Ramsey County (pop. 11 234 in 2006, with Devils Lake as its major city), right near the border with Canada. They are on the latitude of 48 N, so we are almost equidistant to our respective poles. Our Hampden is often talked about as having been one of the smallest boroughs in the country. This one in North Dakota occupies a total land area of 0.4km2 (with a population of 60 in 2000).


We found Judy through her daughter Jacqui's website which claims to be "the online home of all things Hampden."
The website has lots of history and photos. We asked her whether she could write something for the Rag and she got her mother Judy to write the following piece:


Hampden, North Dakota
by Judy Neidlinger

Map of Hampden, ND (USA).

Hampden, North Dakota is a farming community in the northern part of the state. It is actually quite close to Canada.  It was started in 1904 and like most towns in our state, it came into existence because of its location near the railroad.  As the railroad arrived, people started building and creating a community. 
In its early years it included every kind of business to meet the needs of the people.  It thrived and met the needs of those living in town and the farmers surrounding it.  The town's size has decreased through the years; farms are bigger and fewer and hence the population is smaller.
In 1980 the school closed and children from the community were bused to the three surrounding schools. In the late 1970s a shopping mall was built to replace deteriorating buildings. That mall has been a key to the life of the community. It has included a cafe, grocery store and Senior Citizens center for all the years since it was built as well as having been used for sometime as a hardware store, beauty shop and quilt shop. Today it is the location of the post office. The Senior Center had a large number of people using their space in the early years, but today even that number is down. That area is also used as a small Hampden museum. 
The railroad which brought the people here is no longer here. Supplies and produce come and go to this community via truck. Regardless of the smallness of its size, the people here care about its appearance and keep it neat and attractive. In 2004, former residents and area people came back to celebrate its existence for 100 years.
We invite you to come for a visit and you can learn about us through our website
(Their website address is http://hampden.wordpress.com/.)


The aerial photo was taken in recent years showing the size of Hampden.


This old photo of Hampden shows how simple it was back then, no pavement on main street. 


The wide view of Hampden was taken in its early years and someone got up on a building and took two photos which have been combined.

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