Perley, Norman County, Minnesota

Information taken from an article written by Debra A. Jacobson, Mayor of Perley, 1998.

Perley is located in the southwestern corner of Norman County, MN and is surrounded by Lee Township. S.G.  Comstock, who bought land for the railroad, picked the present town site and it was platted for him and A. A. White. The town was to be named in honor of Comstock's friend and Moorhead attorney, George E. Perley.

Before the village was settled there was a trading post located at a river landing 4 miles southwest of Perley on the Minnesota side of the Red River of the North. At the time there were 3 boats carrying passengers as well as freight which was being shipped to market. The first building on this site was a 40,000 bushel elevator used to store grain until it could be loaded on the river barges. The trading post was a store operated by Andrew Aabye. A post office was also located in the Aabye Store with Mr. Aabye acting as the first postmaster. This post office was called Aabye or Noble.

When the railroad came through, up to 200 men were camping in the woods near the original Aabye Store location while laying the track. There was little, if anything, at the village site until the time the railroad came. Then things began to happen fast. It was a short time after the railroad came as far as Perley that A. T. Aabye decided to move the store to Perley.

Two large oak trees were cut down, the bark trimmed off and these were used as skids. The big logs were put under the store building and 36 horses were hooked on to pull the store to Perley. Everything was left right in the store and Mrs. Aabye even prepared a meal while the store was being moved. The Aabye Store was one of the first buildings in Perley.

The post office was moved with the Aabye store to Perley. The postal service had a hard time pronouncing "Aabye" so, for a time it was called the Lee Post Office. But it was found that there were two or three other post offices by that name, so it was changed to the Perley Post Office.


The Village of Perley operated under the auspices of Lee Township until its incorporation November 22, 1906. The following official oaths had been filed with the recorder elect: President of the Council: G. E. Erickson; Trustees: A. J. Ostby, S. N. Peterson, and A. L Olson; Recorder: E. D. Anderson; Constable: J. W. Wells; Assessor: J. O. Distad; Justices of the Peace: Theodore Odegaard and Joseph Gaare; Treasurer: J. B. Hovden; Street Commissioner: Ole P. Wiig.

Early Businesses

Some of the early business established in the village were: a general store and post office, a hardware store, a privately owned bank, a photograph gallery, a meat market, furniture store and undertaking parlor, drugstore, blacksmith shop and a creamery.

Jens Hest built a hotel and operated it from 1891 until 1898. This hotel remained active until it burned in 1947. A restaurant and residence was then built on this site by Mr. & Mrs. C.O. Eian.

The Lee Cooperative Creamery began on February 1, 1902, and was located east of town in the SW corner of Section 20 in Lee Township. Later, plans were made for a new building which was built just west of the village limits in 1926. The name changed and it was known as the Perley Cooperative Creamery Association. The first butter maker was N.C. Blow who was paid $70 per month. Later George Jacobson was hired as a helper at $30 per month. The creamery corporation was dissolved in 1961.

The First State Bank of Perley was organized in 1906 by Harry Richards, E. H. Holte, J. G. Johnson, G. H. Hansell, Louis Sontag and E. D. Anderson. The First State Bank closed in 1929. The Farmer's and Merchants State Bank of Perley was organized on Oct. 12, 1914, by S.S. Dalen, G. E. Erikson, B. O. Lee, Ole Ohnstad and others, but the promoter was S. S. Dalen. This bank closed in 1932.


Children living in the Village of Perley first attended school in a schoolhouse about one mile east of town until a school was erected in Perley in 1900. In the beginning, there were 8 grades and 3 years of high school. Miss Adair Ash dedicated many faithful years of her like to teaching the youngsters of the community. Later, Perley School District consolidated with the Hendrum School District. The last teachers at the Perley School were, Mabel Christianson, Adeline Kragnes, and LaMae Egland.


The city of Perley has had two churches within the city limits. The first plans for beginning a congregation were made in 1880. Its original name was Sogn Congregation and it was part of a parish with a Trysil Congregation in North Dakota and Immanuel Congregation in Hendrum. In 1883 a constitution was adopted and the name was changed to Kirkebo. In 1891 a church was built on the cemetery grounds of the John Jacobson farm. In 1900, shortly after the railroad came through Perley, the congregation decided to move the church to Perley. Click Confirmands for a list of those individuals confirmed at Kirkebo.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church was established in 1902. The first pastor was J.I. Krogstad. Bethlehem was formed from a few members of Kirkebo and others. Bethlehem merged with Kirkebo in 1910. The Kirkebo church building burned in December, 1955. A new church was built on the same site and the first service in the new building was held in February, 1957. A number of young people were confirmed while the congregation was called Bethlehem. The following is a list of known confirmands: Marie A. Hovland, Olga Johnson,  Oscar Tinglestad,  Constance Alrick Tjornhorn, Anton Nelson,  Ida Hovland Nelson,  Carl I. Ostby,  John Winter, Clara Mjordahl Dalen,  Nora Alrick Sundet, Alfred L. Ostby, Gunhild Hovland Hagen, Albert S. Iverson.



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