Doll Picked for Honorary Old Settlers

Long, Jackie. "Doll Picked for Honorary Old Settlers." Hazen Star, 7 June 2007, 17.

The Doll’s Last Hope Ranch was Ed and Leona’s pride and joy for many years. Their oldest son, Robert, still helps them with the farm. Shep was their farm dog many years ago.
Chances are rather likely that if a person lives in a small town of less than 1,000 people, they are going to meet other townspeople a few times. In the town of Center lies a small group of individuals who have lived in the area for years; residents who remember a time when the streets were bustling with visitors and greeting one another on the street daily.

One couple has lived in the area before they met one another at a dance in New Salem. After getting married Ed and Leona Doll decided to make their home four miles west of Hannover and settle down on their farm.

The Dolls will become honorary Old Settler’s this year at the annual Old Settler’s Days in Center this June. The title is given to people who have lived in the area all of their lives and still call it home.

“I guess the chose us because we are well known,” Leona said. “We did work in the courthouse for 22 years.”

Ed and Leona Doll have been married for over 50 years and will become honorary Old Settlers this June.
The couple enjoyed working at the Center Courthouse but drove many miles each day to work. Every morning Ed would drive to the courthouse to work as a janitor. He would drive back to the farm later in the early afternoon or late morning and then drive both Leona and himself back to the courthouse in the evening.

Their work ended in 1999 because the jobs became a little strenuous for the two.

“I was 81 years old,” Ed said proudly.

Being with the rest of the town was fun for both Ed and Leona. Ed enjoyed chatting with the people he saw every day and didn’t want it to end. Leona said she could have retired earlier but Ed wanted to continue going to town each day.

The Dolls drive to Center every week to attend church services at St. Martin’s Catholic Church. But most of their time is spent on the farm.

Leona was born and raised in a town that no longer has any residents but once was a lively township. Otter Creek used to be directly south of their farmhouse now but lost most of its residents during the 1960s. Leona is the oldest daughter in her family of seven children and has an older brother. Most of her siblings are living in Mandan or New Salem.

Ed had been living in Almont, a town located southwest of New Salem. Ed was the sixth child in his family of eight children. Two of his older sisters are living in Mandan.

After the couple met and were married June 19, 1950, the Dolls decided that since they had grown up in the area and enjoyed the location they should stay even longer. They saved up their money to buy the land and remodeled the farmhouse they are living in currently.

Ed has always had an enthusiastic work ethic and enjoyed owning his own ranch and farm. Ranching was their favorite and the couple owned many cows at their Last Hope Ranch.

Because the Dolls have retired they have decided to take it easy by hobby farming and having a few animals to take care of every day. Leona also loves to garden and work around the yard. Ed has always had a love for animals and enjoys watching over the sheep and cows they own.

The farm life has always been natural for both Ed and Leona. Living in the city just wasn’t their cup of tea.

“We hope to die here,” Leona said with a laugh. “We love to farm. And we will stay here as long as we possibly can.”

The Dolls have three adopted children, Robert, who is the oldest and helps them with the farm, and Greg and Virginia. They also are foster parents to their three nephews who are Leona’s brother’s children, Kenneth, Damon and Aaron.

Ed and Leona’s children went to high school in Spring Brooke, a country school. Virginia lives in Bismarck and Greg lives in Mandan so they are home to visit quite often. Both Ed and Leona love to see their grandchildren visit them on the farm. They have three grandchildren from Virginia and Greg and five grandchildren from their foster sons.

Old Settler’s Days was always a nice time for the Dolls to meet up with friends and talk about their families and activities. Ed has been going to the event every year and mostly enjoys watching the parade and the different floats each time.

“They used to have big crowds at Old Settler’s,” Ed said.

Ed and Leona have spent many years watching the changes made in the Center area. Each year that passes has brought about new joys and sorrows but they have always enjoyed growing their memories into the farmland around them.

Reprinted with permission of the Hazen Star.

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