Monday, April 13, 2015

Mansion on the Prairie

Elevated view looking over Northcote, Minn. bonanza farm.  Visible is a
large two-story brick house with hip roof, several barns, and a water tower.

[Source: Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU, Fargo, ND (2023.42.11)]
Swathing & Bundling during harvest, at the Hill Farm
[Source:  Minnesota Historical Society]
Hill's personal train, often used to travel to Northcote farm
[Source:  Minnesota Historical Society]
Until I track down interior photos of the Walter Hill home (hopefully in its prime, before modifications), my old school friend Dee Dee Giffen Bakken has graciously agreed to share her memories of inside the mansion:

Monday, March 02, 2015

PROFILE: Dr. Alexander B. Campbell

Dr. Campbell was a versatile man, with credentials as a Dentist as 
well as a Physician, from the Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinnati
[Source:  Google Books]
Alexander B. Campbell, Surgeon was a local physician living in St. Vincent from approximately 1880 onward.  In today's terminology, he was practicing alternative, or complimentary medicine.1 Such practices were taken quite seriously in this era, and often worked in conjunction with more mainstream physicians such as Dr. Harris, who practiced out of Pembina during the same time period.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

OUR History!

This video says it so well. It's how I feel about history period, whether it is my own, my family's, or my town's. I urge you to watch it, and get excited about OUR history! :)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Saloon Manslaughter: The Rest of the Story

It all started with a trade:  One hat, for one bottle of whiskey...

If there's one thing I've learned writing this blog, it's that history often reveals itself slowly, despite doing what you feel at the time is due diligence researching a subject.  New records become available that were not present the first time around. People come forward with information only they were privy to.  Etc.

Such is the case concerning a particular murder that occurred in St. Vincent in 1899.  The new records came in the form of old newspaper accounts now available through the Library of Congress.  The new information came from an old friend of this site, Jim Benjaminson, of the Pembina County Historical Society.

When you read the accounts below - along with the links to earlier posts on this subject - you will get something very rare for local history of a small town nature:  As complete a picture about the subject as could be expected.  A rare treat, indeed...

George Bates Murdered While Intoxicated
Wednesday morning (March 8, 1899) the news went mouth to mouth that George Bates had been found dead in his house. The details as they began to develop were highly sensational. Mr. Bates was addicted to excessive drinking. When under the influence of liquor he was apt to quarrel with his family. On Wednesday afternoon he had trouble of this kind. Later, he went to St. Vincent. What happened there is still somewhat contradictory at this writing. 
Wednesday morning, Mrs. George Bates came downstairs and found her husband lying on the floor with every evidence of having been severely pounded. She hastily summoned Register of Deeds Chisholm from the office nearby and upon examination it was found that Bates was dead. He had a hole in his skull near the right temple from the effects of a blow of some kind and his face was badly bruised and had been bleeding profusely. As nearly as the facts can be gotten at they are as follows:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

St.Vincent Memories featured in Star Tribune

Recently, I was interviewed by Curt Brown of the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper.  Curt writes a column for the paper called Minnesota History, and was interested in finding out more about St. Vincent Memories...

Minnesota History: Memories from the tiny town of St. Vincent

Sheriff Charley Brown didn't recognize the decapitated corpse at first...

Read More

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Off to the Races!

Metis Rider; note the beaded saddle blanket...
...The following month, the annual horse race known as the Dufferin races, was held in Emerson. Participants included the Irish Catholic proprietor of a livery stable in Emerson, J.F. Tennant, and two local Metis horsemen, Joseph Godon of Deux Petites Pointes, in Montcalm, and Roger Gosselin of St. Vincent, Minnesota. At such events social boundaries were more fluid.

- The Limits of Rural Capitalism by Kenneth Michael Sylvester

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Monday, September 08, 2014

The Dead of Fort Pembina

Some of the graves that were originally in the Fort Pembina Cemetery.
In anticipation of Fort Pembina (1870-1895) closing, the graves were  
disinterred and reburied at the Custer National Cemetery in 1892.

When Fort Pembina existed (1870-1895), it was in a sense its own town, almost entirely self-sufficient. That included having its own cemetery.
As Fort Pembina's time was winding down, the U.S. Army knew it would need to find a new home for the graves at the Fort's cemetery.  It was determined they would be disinterred, then transferred for reburial, to the Custer National Cemetery.  This was accomplished in 1892.
I recently became curious about whether the Fort had its own cemetery or not, and that's when I learned about the above after doing the initial research.  That wasn't enough for me - I had to know more.

I eventually learned that prior to Fort Pembina's establishment, the people of Pembina demanded protection due to the recent Dakota Uprising of 1862 in Minnesota.  To fulfill their request, the government formed a special unit which eventually became known as Hatch's Battalion.  Mustered in 1863, the battalion was ready to head to Pembina, Dakota Territory in early October; they arrived - after many challenges and losses of stock and supplies - on November 13th.  They encamped over the winter, building as best they could log buildings for the 300 men that comprised the battalion.  Their main objective was to hold back the hostile Dakota that had retreated across the boundary into Canada.  [In the end, they captured over 300 Dakota; the prisoners were remnants of the 1862 uprising that had been hiding 60 miles north of Pembina...]

Hatch received orders in April to transfer the Battalion to Fort Abercrombie.  In that same letter, dated April 26, 1864, he was ordered to put one company on patrol duty, up and down the Red River of the North between Fort Abercrombie and Pembina, " protect the route to Pembina, and keep open communication."  The immediate threat had passed, but an eye would be kept on the situation with the patrols.  Meanwhile, communications and plans were coming together, to obtain authorization for what would become Fort Pembina. In 1869 Major General Winfield S. Hancock, commander of the Department of the Dakota, recommended the establishment of a post near Pembina. Lobbying by citizens and local area politicians had worked.  With General Hancock's recommendation to the War Department, the fort would finally become a reality; "...danger from the Sioux and construction of two railroads" were cited as reasons for providing military protection to the area.

During the time prior to the fort's establishment in 1870, two soldiers with Hatch's Battalion were the first to die while stationed in Pembina:

- Joseph Gague (Co. C, Hatch's Battalion) D. 24 April 1864
- John Munger (Co. A, Hatch's Battalion) D. 8 March 1864

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fighting Back

One of the reasons I began writing this blog was because I saw my village, even as I was growing up within it, declining before my eyes.  My mother bemoaned the same observation, even moreso in her case, going from a thriving, vibrant town with many families, businesses, social events, and promise, to one in obvious decline.  I had known nothing but decline.

It is a story being observed all over Minnesota and beyond.  And that, Dear Readers, is one of my main reasons for my posts here:  To document what was here before even the town, to learn how the town came to be, what it was through the years, and yes, even viewing it as I pass it by and it passes me in turn.

Everything has a time. And's gone.

Friday, August 08, 2014

News from the Past V: Brown & Moorhead

Pembina Pioneer Express masthead
[Courtesy:  Pembina County Historical Society]
Jim Benjaminson recently shared some excerpts from old local papers.  There is a reference to Sheriff Charley Brown in one story, and in another we even find out the likely reason for a well-known local man's nickname...
Northern Express – Drayton (R.H. Young, Editor; Weekly, published on Fridays - $2 per year)
December 9, 1881 Vol. 1 No. 1 is the first issue
(Becomes the Pioneer Express April 20, 1883 at Vol. 3 No. 38)
December 23, 1881 Vol. 1 No. 3 
The train loaded with some $2,000 worth of goods which Ricard Bros. sent out from here the 7th to Turtle Mountains was captured by Indians and half-breeds at or near Pembina mountains. The Indians claim the land as their own, and say that no one has the right to cross it, and therefore appropriated the goods to their own use. Sheriff Brown of Pembina was out there yesterday and found most of the goods, but could not get them as they refused to give them up. They were too many for him, so he returned for help. We understand he has gone out today with a squad of soldiers from Fort Pembina. We will give full particulars tomorrow. – Independent (Emerson, Manitoba) 
February 10, 1882 Vol. 1 No. 10 
Announcement – We announce this week our intention to remove the Northern Express to Pembina, at which place the next issue will be published. (page 1) 
February 24, 1882 Vol. 1 No. 12 
Amongst many drawbacks and inconveniences incidental to the removal of our business and the enlargement of our paper we lay before our readers this week as good a paper as we can under the circumstances.

Townsite Auction Bill
March 24, 1882 Vol. 1 No. 16 
[Indian Title to Dakota Lands – page 1]
The St. Vincent townsite company have sold their interest in that town to a Winnipeg syndicate. St. Vincent has invested $200 in a hook and ladder truck with other fire apparatus. This is a wise move which should be a reminder to this town of its duty in the promises. Of course when Pembina takes hold it will be on a larger scale. 
March 31, 1882 Vol. 1 No. 17 
Quite a number of our citizens went over to St. Vincent on Tuesday evening to attend the auction sale of town lots.

April 21, 1882 Vol 1. No. 20 
The unmistakable double-toned whistle of the steamer Selkirk was heard on Tuesday evening for the first time this season. Passengers from various points on the river improved the opportunity of making a business trip to Town and taking in interesting features of the flood along the way.

The Selkirk has had a lively business the last two days carrying freight across from St. Vincent.
The ice made a new door into the engine room of the St.Vincent elevator last Sunday. At St. Vincent the situation is becoming somewhat unpleasant. Several of the streets are covered with water. Around the Northern Hotel it is nearly a foot deep, but the higher portion of town is dry yet. 
April 28, 1882 Vol. 1 No. 21 
Moorhead has had several bets at stake including a town lot and a suit of clothes, that the water would not rise to the level of his saloon floor. He has won the bets with just a quarter of an inch to spare. 

Now we know how William Moorhead got his nickname, “High Water Bill”...!