Stories of things that happened in North Dakota and vicinity. Sitting Bull to Phil Jackson, cattle to prairie dogs, knoefla to lefse. In partnership with the Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by the North Dakota Humanities Council, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National…
The year 1919 saw a lot of turbulence, in many ongoing matters, and especially politically in North Dakota. The North Dakota governor was Lynn Frazier, the Nonpartisan League was a major player in politics, and World War I had recently ended.
By September 1943, residents in the Red River Valley and across North Dakota had become accustomed to their lives during wartime. The Fargo Forum newspaper featured a daily reminder of the costs of WWII battles as well as activities on and off the war front.
The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917. The guns fell silent on November 11, 1918. During that time, 35,448 North Dakota men served in the Armed Forces. Over 1,300 of them did not survive. There was sadness across the country as families held funerals for their loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice. There was even greater tragedy for the families of those who never returned from the war. Without a funeral, there was no sense of closure.
In an effort to encourage future generations of farmers, the Better Farming Association of Barnes County sponsored programs that appealed to boys. The big project for 1912 was the corn growing contest. The boys were challenged to grow the highest yield per acre. The Association noted that its most important work was arousing an interest in farming as a career. On this date in 1912, 112 Barnes County boys were enrolled in the corn yield contest, enticed by valuable prizes.
On this date in 1917, Williston had a bit to boast about within the walls of its county jail. The Williston Graphic reported: “It is not every county jail in the state that can boast of an artist (yes, a really truly [good] artist that paints color and pen and ink sketches that sell on their own merit), [but] Williston can.”
In 1899, revised laws in North Dakota stated that no two townships could have the same name. However, most townships didn't act on the change. Pembina's Pioneer Express opined, it was a law “in existence, but … in innocuous desuetude”—which was a fancy way of saying a harmless state of disuse.
Standing a few miles east of Richardton, North Dakota, is a modest conical hill with a lot of history. It's called Young Man's Butte. Several legends exist to the origin of the name. One of the most plausible came from Rain-in-the-Face, a Lakota Sioux, born near the Cheyenne River in present day South Dakota in 1835.
Dan Panko was born on this date in Ukraine in 1895. He emigrated to America in 1906 with his family and they homesteaded in North Dakota. A railroad branch of the Soo Line ran near their homestead and young Dan would hop on the train as it went by, ride a few miles, hop off and run back home.
Perhaps the most violent moment in Dakota territorial politics was the killing of the territorial secretary in 1873. General Edwin Stanton McCook was a distinguished Civil War veteran and one of the “Fighting McCooks,” a prominent Union military family. In February of 1872, President Grant appointed McCook as secretary of Dakota Territory, a position which also served as acting governor. McCook soon afterward arrived in the capital city of Yankton with his family.
A man wanted for various crimes in other states met his demise in 1938 in Oberon, North Dakota. A sheriff's deputy intervened in late-night street brawl, and as one of the troublemakers fled, Benson County Deputy Sheriff Walter Crane called for him to halt. The man drew a gun and fired at Crane, who shot back, killing the man.
In 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad was completed with the driving of the Golden Spike. The railroad ran from Omaha in Nebraska Territory to Sacramento in California. It was the first means of mass transportation to cross the country. And as the first, the Transcontinental Railroad overshadowed the later Northern Pacific. The Northern Pacific, however, has its own inspiring story. It also reached the far west, but had to overcome financial challenges to do it without government loans.
North Dakota's Legislature has 80 days every session to do its business, and that can be a tight clock. But that time-limit used to be even tighter – only 60 days. On this date in 1976, voters narrowly approved a constitutional amendment that increased the 60 days to 80 “natural days.”
After the Erie Canal was built, farmers found it faster and cheaper to transport their grain. The improved transportation system led to mass production of grain. Over the next ten years, the amount of grain arriving in Buffalo, New York grew from just over one hundred thousand bushels to over two million. A new system was needed to store the grain. The answer was the grain elevator.
North Dakota sent many of its sons to fight in World War I. Some called it the “War to End All Wars,” though it was not. In the spirit of patriotism, young men across the state joined the military to help win the “Great War.” The recruits, 31,269 in number, came from all corners of the state.
We live in a time of hyper-sensitivity in matters of contagion. Dr. Kelley and I are members of a rather conservative—actually, really conservative—Lutheran parish where some members still exercise the option of the common cup. On the other hand, we recently took part in a communion service where we were issued little sealed plastic packages, one compartment of which contained just a splash of wine, the other a dime-size gluten-free wafer.
When you see an eagle soaring on high in the skies, you might marvel at its magnificent size, with a wingspan seven-feet-wide. You might admire the bald-eagle's snow-white head and tail gleaming in contrast with its chocolate-colored wings and body. You might visualize an eagle's claws or its pointed beak that rips and tears its victims into bite-sized pieces. Eagles truly are legendary as birds of prey.
The grandeur of the plains is more subtle than most landscapes. It appeases the need for simplicity, filled with absences. Quiet, modest, and if one is not accustomed, lonely. However, for a faithful lover of the prairies, it holds not loneliness, but peace. This peace appealed to a group of Franciscan Sisters who made their home in Hankinson, North Dakota, in 1928. On this date in 1926, the location for the Sister's intended community was selected.
North Dakota saw a rash of bank robberies in 1935 and 1936 in Denhoff, Zap, Cummings, New Leipzig, Dickey and Maddock. In the Denhoff case, the robbers must have gotten spooked, because two boys found loot from the Denhoff robbery in a haystack!
On this date in 1923, a search was launched in pursuit of an organized crime group active in the Aneta area. Thieves had been targeting local farmers with innovative tactics. What was the crime, you may be wondering? These criminal masterminds were stealing chickens.
Frank LaFayette Anders was born in 1875 at Fort Abraham Lincoln where his father was stationed. When his father died in 1890, Frank, age 15, quit school to help support the family. In 1894 he enlisted in the National Guard and served as a member of the Young's Scouts in the Philippines during the Spanish American War and the Philippine American War.
In early August, 1908, citizens of Cranbrook, British Columbia, were fighting a fire that threatened their city when news came over the wire that the Fernie-Fort Steele Brewery in nearby Fernie was on fire. Then the lines of communication went dead. Several hours later, when Cranbrook's fire scare had mainly passed, communication was reestablish—only to learn that the fire in Fernie had spread, destroying most of the town.
North Dakota rarely stands out on the national political scene, but one figure did at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, which began on this date in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Future Governor George Sinner was a state senator and a delegate. He was also an unsuccessful candidate for Congress that year.
On this date in 1917, North Dakota Senator Porter J. McCumber announced that the Senate had passed his bill mandating the draft of alien residents. It directed the president to enter into negotiations with European allies to approve drafting their citizens in the United States into the American Army.
On this day in 1980, the Bismarck Tribune reported on the tiny town of Jugville, which had a population of two. However, Sig and Josie Jagielski weren't the holdouts in a dying town. In fact, they had built the town themselves. Sig loved to collect antiques and odds and ends. He soon filled up his basement with his vast collections. In 1968 he married Josie, and she brought collections of her own. She encouraged Sig to find a solution to the overstuffed basement, and thus Jugville was born.
On this date in 1947, two hefty machines made their way through Ward County to spread weed and insect sprays containing DDT. The spraying was apparently a welcomed development. County Agent M. W. Erwin received many letters and calls from those looking to add their properties to the route for a minimal cost.
In early years of automobiles, they had to intermingle with pedestrians, horses, and bicycles. The rules of the road were few, and evolving from town-to-town. On this date in 1910, the Hope Pioneer newspaper reported on a recently-passed ordinance that sought to address the regulatory challenge.
In the summer of 1910, former president Theodore Roosevelt was still making headlines in the Fargo Forum and Daily Republican newspaper. Roosevelt had been on page one in June as the paper recorded his interaction with passengers at sea off the coast of Ireland as he began his return after a triumphal tour of Europe.
Few county officials in North Dakota have been removed from office, but one of the most dramatic cases reached the state Supreme Court. Sioux County State's Attorney George H. Purchase was serving his second term when on this date in 1927 five voters filed charges against him for misconduct in office, malfeasance and habitual drunkenness. The accusations prompted Gov. Arthur Sorlie to suspend Purchase.
Grandma Mary, a pseudonym, got AIDS from a blood transfusion in 1984. Her friend, a nurse, wanted to lift Grandma Mary's spirits, so the Bismarck Tribune ran a story about her, and gave a post office box address for people to write her. On this date in 1990 the Bismarck Tribune reported that Grandma Mary had received 300 letters. Mary said, “I was amazed. It was overwhelming. It was a surprising, amazing thing to happen to me.”
When we picture high-powered attorneys or the leaders of major corporations, we often think of the stereotype presented by Hollywood – someone who got their start as a brash twenty-something with East Coast roots, fresh out of an Ivy League college. However, as is often the case, such stereotypes are inaccurate, and the real version is much more interesting.
At the end of July 1877, Steamboat Captain and Missouri River pilot, John Harris of Missouri, passed away in Bismarck. At his death, the author of his obituary acknowledged his fondness for drinking, commenting that the passed soul “was master of a very lucrative profession,” and that he “might have enjoyed a happy home …” and that he “Might have been able to breathe out his last moments surrounded by loving, sympathizing friends,” if he hadn't given in to “intemperance.” The author ended this article by stating, “Truly, virtue brings its own reward.”
This week in 1974 brought a sudden change in Vice President Gerald Ford's schedule when he abruptly cancelled a 12-day political excursion. The reason soon became apparent. The news leaked out, and a three-inch-high headline on the front page of The Fargo Forum screamed “Nixon to Quit!”
Born in Springfield, Ohio in 1818, Charles Cavalier moved to Carmel, Illinois at the age of seventeen. After a few years he pulled up stakes and headed west. He settled in Red Rock, Minnesota, six miles south of St. Paul, but soon relocated to St. Paul where he opened a shop in 1845. He sold out in 1847 to start the town's first drugstore in partnership with a doctor. However, he was a restless soul. In order to move on to other adventures, he sold his share of the drugstore to the doctor.
On this date, in 1920, a newspaper advertisement touted the virtues of Huiskamp's “Barn Yard Shoe” and Huiskamp's Barnyard Shoe Oil. These work-shoes, according to a 1913 advertisement in Valley City, were manure-proof and ammonia proof; guaranteed “not to rot or crack-through from barnyard service.”
Mary Sherman was born to Michael and Dorothy Sherman on a small farm near Ray, North Dakota in 1921. She graduated from Ray in 1939 as Valedictorian and went on to college at Minot State University majoring in chemistry. When World War II broke out, most men joined the service creating a shortage of chemists and other scientists. Mary was noticed in her chemistry classes and offered a job at Plum Brook Ordnance Works in Sandusky, Ohio. Short on money, Mary decided to postpone her degree and take the job.
Five thousand Indians of the Sioux nation gathered in 1888 for discussions on a treaty that would open up land in the Standing Rock reservation for non-native settlement. The government was represented by three commissioners who needed three-quarters of all adult Lakota males to approve the treaty. Today marked the eleventh day of discussions, and the commissioners had yet to gather a single signature.
In our state, as elsewhere, there are internationalists who believe the U.S. should be deeply involved in foreign affairs; and isolationists, who do not believe the U.S. should be heavily involved with nations that don't want anyone telling them what to do. In the 1930s, the prevailing mood was isolationist – that the U.S. should not intervene as the winds of war swept over Europe and Asia.
Seth Bullock arrived in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, on this date in 1876. Bullock's history as Deadwood Sheriff and U.S. Marshal was featured in the HBO television series, "Deadwood," but his lasting legacy on Dakota Territory is much more legendary than his portrayal in the television show.
The introduction of television in the fifties changed the way Americans spent time in their homes. While TV entertainment was a leap forward from the earlier fascination of radio, viewers were often familiar with personalities who had been successful on radio, or even earlier in vaudeville acts.