This is the first cache in a five-part series chronicling the history of the Benedictine Sisters of the Annunciation in Bismarck. This cache is placed as part of my final project for HIS 350, “Intro to Public History” at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. This cache is located near St. Mary’s High School, an offshoot of the original St. Mary’s School founded by the Sisters.
The patron saint of the Bismarck Sisters is Saint Benedict, who founded several monasteries in the sixth century A.D. Benedictine monasteries continued to pop up over the centuries that followed, including St. Walburga’s Abbey in Eichstatt, Bavaria, which was founded on July 24 in the year 1035. The story of the Sisters in America begins in 1852, when Mother Benedicta Riepp and two other companions arrived in the New World to begin St. Joseph’s Convent in St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania. Five years later, Sisters from St. Joseph’s arrived in St. Cloud, Minnesota on July 4 to begin the Convent of St. Benedict’s. The Sisters remained there until November of 1863, when the convent relocated to St. Joseph, Minnesota.
Our story moves to North Dakota (then Dakota Territory) on March 21, 1878, when five Sisters from St. Benedict’s arrived in Bismarck, North Dakota to begin a school there. The building that served as their school and church stood on the corner of Main Street and Mandan Street. and was a mere 30 square feet. The first class consisted of 21 boarders and 80 students overall. The Sisters continued to use this building most years until 1906, at which point the school relocated to a new building between 9th and 10th street and between Broadway Avenue and Thayer Avenue. In 1978 the school relocated again, this time at 8th Street and Thayer Avenue. The previous building was torn down, and the site is now a parking lot for St. Alexius Hospital.
BYOP. Parking is available in Arrowhead Plaza, which is adjacent to the school. Happy Hunting!