John Yegen was one of Bismarck’s first settlers, and founder of the region’s first business, which later became Yegen Dairy Company. John was born in Switzerland in 1844, and moved to the United States 1866.
John lived in New York for one year, before moving to Minnesota. He moved to Bismarck (then called Edwinton) in 1872, where he opened a bakery and restaurant out of a tent. It was one of the first private business to open in the region. For some time, John also rented to “tenters” for $9 a week.
John’s first store was located at 416 Main Street, but burned down in 1877. He rebuilt at the same location, which remained until 1913. Yegen Dairy opened in 1919, and relocated into a brand new facility in 1939. It was eventually purchased by Land O’ Lakes Dairy.
John was married to Anna Peterson. Four of their children had initially continued the business. Ultimately, only one, Chris, remained in the business.
The Yegens owned much of the land in southeastern Bismarck, including much of present-day Lincoln and the land that now holds the Bismarck Airport.
In addition to his business ventures, John also served in the legislator from 1891-1893, and was an agent for the International Harvester Company.